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 »

When it launched Windows 7 Release Candidate Build 7100, Microsoft also introduced the last two features it had kept safely up its sleeve until then, namely Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode. Essentially, the Redmond company revealed that it was planning to provide a fully activated copy of Windows XP Service Pack 3 to all Windows 7 users running the Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate SKUs.

Five months after the availability of Windows 7 RTM, Windows XP Mode RTM and Windows Virtual PC RTM, an update delivered by the software giant is synonymous with the evolution of the free virtualized copy of XP SP3 for the latest Windows client.

When Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC were initially introduced, they came with a set of requirements. First off, the technologies would only be available to customers running the Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate editions of Windows 7. At the same time, Microsoft had made hardware-assisted virtualization capabilities mandatory, meaning that users had to run Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC on machines equipped with CPUs with HAV support and that had HAV enabled in the BIOS. KB977206 comes to correct this aspect.
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