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. 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 »

Customers looking to tailor an application to Microsoft’s latest iteration of the Windows client now have a new tool at their disposal. In collaboration with Microsoft, ChangeBASE has introduced AOK4SMB, a Cloud-based offering designed to perform application-compatibility testing and remediation for apps that need to be adapted to Windows 7 Professional. AOK for Small and Midsize Businesses (AOK4SMB) is available for free until the end of July 2010. SMB customers, developers and IT professionals can upload their app into AOK4SMB, and have the tool assess Windows 7 Professional compatibility but also automatically remediate problems, free of charge.

“The ability to ensure application compatibility when migrating to a new operating system is crucial for any organization,” Colin Gray, global sales director, ChangeBASE, noted. In fact, one of the largest impediments associated with businesses embracing a new OS is related to incompatibility worries. Microsoft offers a range of resources capable of allowing customers to evaluate potential compatibility problems, but the twist added by AOK4SMB is that the automatic remediation of issues is also performed. More »

With the advent of Windows 7, Microsoft introduced a range of virtualization features and capabilities previously unavailable in Windows client platforms. The latest iteration of Windows supports Boot from VHD, has its own virtualization technology that integrates seamlessly with Windows Explorer, namely Windows Virtual PC, and even allows users to access a free, activated copy of Windows XP SP3 via Windows XP Mode.

However, in certain scenarios, such as virtual-machine duplication, the default resources offered by Microsoft put users through unnecessary pain. XP-More is a free tool offered through CodePlex, designed to simplify the duplication of XP Mode items, but also additional VMs for Windows 7.

“Have you started to utilize Windows 7 XP Mode to get past Application Compatibility issues? This is a great tool for SME customers but one of the issues some people experience is setting up the VM’s for each user with the required applications on them, installing virus scan, etc. 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 »