Microsoft giving away WinXP Virtual PC image

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Microsoft giving away WinXP Virtual PC image

Postby beanboy89 » Sat 02 Dec, 2006 6:35 pm

Microsoft is giving out free Windows XP images for Virtual PC so that web developers can still test out websites in Internet Explorer 6, while having Internet Explorer 7 installed on their actual PCs.

From Microsoft's IE Blog:

IE Blog wrote:IE6 and IE7 Running on a Single Machine

Many of you have asked how to run IE6 and IE7 in a side by side environment. As Chris Wilson blogged about early this year, it’s unfortunately not so easy to do. There are workarounds, but they are unsupported and don’t necessarily work the same way as IE6 or IE7 would work when installed properly. As Chris said, the best way to use multiple versions of IE on one machine is via virtualization. Microsoft has recently made Virtual PC 2004 a free download; we’ve taken advantage of that by releasing a VPC virtual machine image containing a pre-activated Windows XP SP2, IE6 and the IE7 Readiness Toolkit to help facilitate your testing and development. The image is time bombed and will no longer function after April 1, 2007. We hope to continue to provide these images in the future as a service to web developers.

Now you can install IE7 on your main machine for development, and get all the advantages of IE7, like the RSS platform, native XMLHTTP stack, and improved security, while still running IE6 simultaneously in the VPC on the same computer. Most importantly, you don’t even have to buy an additional Windows license. The VPC image runs in a virtual machine that offers all of the functionality of a full IE6 installation without giving it any access to its host machine’s hard drive, registry, etc. You can make as many modifications as you want to the virtual machine without affecting your host installation at all.

Included in the VPC image are:

* Windows XP Professional SP2 + high-priority fixes through November 2006
* Internet Explorer 6.0
* Internet Explorer 7 Readiness Toolkit 2.0

While we’ve released a VPC image today with Windows XP SP2, we’re also investigating creating other VPC images, for example IE5, IE5.5, IE6 and IE6 SP1, as well as versions of IE on different language operating systems.

Get more information on Virtual PC 2004
Download Virtual PC 2004
Download the Internet Explorer 6 Testing VPC Image

One more note - VPC 2004 doesn’t run on Windows Vista, but this image will work fine with VPC 2007, which is in beta now. You can get this free beta via Connect.

Happy testing!

PEte LePage


I'll be sure to download my copy of this image ASAP!
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Postby Pu7o » Sat 02 Dec, 2006 7:24 pm

I wonder how hard it'd be to convert that VPC image to a Parallels/Q/VMware/whatever disk image... :P
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Postby beanboy89 » Sat 02 Dec, 2006 9:49 pm

I've downloaded the image, and installed it into Virtual PC. The image already has Windows XP installed, along with the IE7 Readiness Kit. By default, according to the readme, this image doesn't have a Page File enabled to lessen the size of the image file. When I first installed the VHD, I set the machine to have 80 MB RAM, thinking that would enough to run Windows XP (I can run Windows Server 2003 in VPC with 112 MB RAM). I booted up Windows for the first time and I was presented with some EULA that I didn't bother to read.

The default desktop features a very bright, Vista-esque wallpaper, along with the Recycle Bin icon, and a shortcut to IE6. After trying to fiddle around with some settings within Windows, I soon noticed that Windows was starting to run out of virtual memory, as applications wouldn't run, and huge slowdowns occurred. I shut down the virtual machine, and then changed the settings for this machine to 112 MB RAM. I rebooted, and almost as soon as Windows booted, I opened the System properties from the Control Panel, and set the Page File to 512 MB. After I did that and set the Visual Effects options for best performance, and finally after another reboot, this copy of Windows is actually quite speedy under Virtual PC.

Now here's the catch to all this... This is a very stripped-down copy of Windows XP. There are very few Windows applications installed aside from IE6, Outlook Express, WMP (which you have to setup), Net Meeting, and Notepad. There is no MS Paint, Word Pad, games, or System Restore. Then to compound that, you don't have access to some core elements in Windows, like the My Computer window, or the Taskbar Properties dialog.

Interestingly, while browsing around this virtual hard driver in Windows Explorer, I noticed a folder named "Installed Applications" on the C: drive. Inside the folder, there is a file called "IE7BlockerToolkit.EXE."

It looks like Microsoft put in a lot of safeguards to prevent users from using this Virtual Machine as an everyday workstation, which after all wasn't its intended purpose.
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Postby SSS » Sat 02 Dec, 2006 11:23 pm

Here is a screenshot of what Billy described of the default desktop of this disk image.

Image

For me, the boot up of this image is slow, but once the OS loads the speed is pretty tolerable. :)
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Postby Pu7o » Sat 02 Dec, 2006 11:54 pm

I find it interesting that for an IE-testing locked down thing, they used XP Pro instead of Home...
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Postby DJGM » Sun 03 Dec, 2006 12:07 am

For those that have "upgraded" to IE7, there's a much easier method for running other IE's.
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SeaMonkey = Swiss Army Knife: It's versatile, reliable, and contains useful tools.
Windows Internet Explorer = Old Swiss Cheese: Full of holes, and it stinks!
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Postby beanboy89 » Sun 03 Dec, 2006 12:18 am

Now here's something that I wasn't expecting: The copy of Windows available in the image isn't a valid copy of Windows, so says Microsoft's web site. Try running Windows Update or downloading a piece of software from microsoft.com, and you'll see what I mean.

Image
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Postby Antony » Sun 03 Dec, 2006 12:50 am

beanboy89 wrote:Now here's something that I wasn't expecting: The copy of Windows available in the image isn't a valid copy of Windows, so says Microsoft's web site.
Does the free Windows image comes with a license key for installation? Or was it already installed correctly?
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Postby beanboy89 » Sun 03 Dec, 2006 12:52 am

Antony wrote:
beanboy89 wrote:Now here's something that I wasn't expecting: The copy of Windows available in the image isn't a valid copy of Windows, so says Microsoft's web site.
Does the free Windows image comes with a license key for installation? Or was it already installed correctly?

Windows is pre-installed, therefore was no license key or product activation needed.
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Postby SSS » Sun 03 Dec, 2006 12:52 am

Antony wrote:Does the free Windows image comes with a license key for installation? Or was it already installed correctly?

The OS is already installed in the disk image.

EDIT: I typed too slow :P
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Postby Antony » Sun 03 Dec, 2006 12:58 am

beanboy89 wrote:Windows is pre-installed, therefore was no license key or product activation needed.
Okay, since you don't have the license key, it's what it should be.

The images are designed for users to test Internet Explorers, according to the first post.
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Postby SSS » Sun 03 Dec, 2006 2:04 am

beanboy89 wrote:After trying to fiddle around with some settings within Windows, I soon noticed that Windows was starting to run out of virtual memory, as applications wouldn't run, and huge slowdowns occurred. I shut down the virtual machine, and then changed the settings for this machine to 112 MB RAM. I rebooted, and almost as soon as Windows booted, I opened the System properties from the Control Panel, and set the Page File to 512 MB. After I did that and set the Visual Effects options for best performance, and finally after another reboot, this copy of Windows is actually quite speedy under Virtual PC.

I noticed that now that I had the chance to play around a lot with this Windows disk image. I could hardly do anything if I was using it for a while. Now, after I set the Visual Effects to best performance and set the paging file, it works pretty well. :) I'm going to play around some more with this tomorrow.
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