A collection of Windows XP and Windows Vista releases offered by Microsoft was refreshed earlier this week, allowing customers to download and run the two operating systems free of charge.

The Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Image downloads were updated, with the previous version closing in on the expiration deadline.

The latest versions of the Windows Virtual PC VHDs continue to be time-bombed, but users have a good few months of usage before they expire.

According to the software giant, the new XP and Vista virtual images are set to expire on 05/18/2011.

The Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Images are offered by Microsoft for free to help web developers that need to test their websites on different versions of IE, as well as on older Windows operating systems.

The VHD files need to be used in concert with Windows Virtual PC, and can be launched as guest platforms for testing purposes.

There are no less than three images of Windows XP, containing IE6, IE7 and IE8 respectively, and two additional VHDs offering Vista plus IE7 and IE8.

“Due to the size of the Vista VHD, it is split across several files, you’ll need to download all files for that version of the Internet Explorer and uncompress them to the same directory to unpack the VHD file. This VHD only has SP1, and should be updated to ensure it has the latest service packs and security updates,” the Redmond company revealed.

Microsoft enumerated the VHD downloads:

•XPSP3-IE6.exe contains a Windows XP SP3 with IE6 VHD file. Expires May 18, 2011

•XPSP3-IE7.exe contains a Windows XP SP3 with IE7 VHD file. Expires May 18, 2011

•XPSP3-IE8.exe contains a Windows XP SP3 with IE8 VHD file. Expires May 18, 2011

•IE7-VIS1.exe+IE7-VIS2.rar+IE7-VIS3.rar contain a Vista Image with IE7 VHD file. Expires 90 days after first run

•IE8-VIS1.exe+IE8-VIS2.rar+IE8-VIS3.rar+IE8-VIS4.rar contains a Vista Image with IE8 VHD file. Expires 90 days after first run

The Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Images are available for download list:

XPSP3-IE6

XPSP3-IE7

XPSP3-IE8

IE7-VIS1

IE7-VIS2

IE7-VIS3

IE8-VIS1

IE8-VIS2

IE8-VIS3

IE8-VIS4

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