New Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Images are currently available for download free of charge from Microsoft.

The company is offering XP SP3 and Vista SP1 virtualized, packaged as Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) files, that can be used with Microsoft’s virtualization solutions.

Each XP and Vista copy brings to the table a different version of Internet Explorer. The images are designed for web devs that are building sites and need to test their projects for compatibility with multiple IE versions.

“After a little delay, the Internet Explorer App Compat Testing VHDs are now available for download on the Microsoft Download Center. Like the previous set of images, these ones are time-bombed for 90 days and will expire on January 11th, 2011,” revealed Microsoft’s Pete LePage. More »

With the advent of Windows 7, Microsoft made it possible for Virtual Hard Disks to be used with a machine even though they weren’t connected to a parent operating system, virtual machine technology or hypervisor. This is, of course, valid for both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, since the two platforms share the same core, and made possible scenarios such as Boot from VHD. A guide available as a free download from Microsoft offers a comprehensive insight into virtual hard disks (VHDs) in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, simplifying procedures such as deployment and configuration for IT professionals.

“The virtual hard disk file format (.vhd) specifies the format of a file that represents a virtual hard disk. To use VHDs on Windows Server 2008 and previous versions of Windows, you must install the Hyper-V role, Microsoft Virtual Server, or Windows Virtual PC. However, with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, you can create, configure, and boot physical computers from VHDs without a virtual machine or hypervisor,” Microsoft informed. More »

The Windows 7 Professional Test Drive website is designed to deliver a free taste of the latest iteration of the Windows client with as little effort as possible on behalf of the end user. There are other ways in which customers can try out Windows 7 to see what the new operating system has to offer. Users can download the actual bits for Windows 7 Enterprise and install a trial edition of the OS that is time-bombed and set to expire after 90 days. Similarly, customers can download a Virtual Hard Disk image with Windows 7, also time-bombed, but which requires less work, no installation, and comes pre-configured. You will be able to find links for both at the end of this article.

However, the Windows 7 Professional Test Drive website provides a much simpler way to take the successor of Windows Vista out for a spin. Users need to run Internet Explorer 6, IE7 or IE8 with JavaScript enabled, and install the following ActiveX control: ‘Virtual Server VRMC Advanced Control’ from Microsoft. Subsequently, customers will be able to either get the hands-on experience by actually test driving Windows 7 or they can watch videos about the features.

“New to the Test Drive experience? Experience Windows 7 Professional in a fully-functioning environment, without having to install the full version. Follow guided steps to complete tasks using Windows 7 Professional features,” Microsoft noted. The content is spread in three sections, “Works the way you want,” “Get more done” and “Safeguard your work.” More »

Microsoft is offering free downloads of all its supported Windows clients, including Windows 7 RTM, Windows XP and Windows Vista. Starting with the advent of Vista, customers, partners, IT professionals and developers have been able to take advantage of a variety of offerings involving free releases of Windows from the Redmond company. Furthermore, the software giant has made somewhat of a tradition from making sure that XP, Vista and now Windows 7 are available as free downloads in order to streamline various testing, training, planning and adoption programs.

Various releases of Windows, packaged both as ISO and VHD images can be grabbed from the company, and installed into testing environments immediately. In this regard, it is critical to note that one downside of the free Windows OS downloads is the fact that the bits cannot be deployed into production.

On December 29th, 2009, Microsoft has updated the virtual hard disk images of Windows Vista and Windows XP. Initially delivered following the release of Internet Explorer 7, the VPC Hard Disk Images of XP and Vista are designed for testing websites in accordance with multiple Internet Explorer versions. There are three copies of XP SP3 and two of Vista available at no charge via the Microsoft Download Center. More »

Since 2007, Microsoft has been offering free copies of Windows XP and Windows Vista for download, in order to make up for a handicap specific to the Windows client, namely the fact that two different versions of Internet Explorer cannot be installed and run simultaneously on the same operating system. While it is cooking the first Release Candidate build for Internet Explorer 8, the Redmond company is also supporting Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 6, a context in which it is a pain for developers to test their content on all versions of IE.

The situation has caused Microsoft to come up with the Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC images, a solution designed to circumvent the limitations of IE running on Windows via virtualization.

With the Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC images, Microsoft is offering developers no less than four free copies of Windows packaged as Virtual Hard Disk Images and designed to integrate with the company’s free virtualization offerings. The four VHD downloads feature a new release date, just ahead of the end of 2008, although the launched products are similar to those made available in August 2008, following the availability of Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2. More »