Want to test a new windows release with no risk? Try Microsoft’s FREE virtual machines.

Many IT organizations are contemplating if they will upgrade to Windows 7. Server admins on the other hand will be needing to test server releases like Windows Server 2008, Sharepoint Server, Exchange Server and SQL Server. The quick solution to test this releases is by using virtualization.

A VHD is a common virtualization file format that captures the entire virtual machine operating system and the application stack in a single file. You may run the VHDs on top of your current OS using Virtual PC.

You can download the VHDs and evaluate them for free in your own environment without the need for dedicated servers or complex installations. You may get the VHD files from the page below:


When you visit the page, you will also see VHDs from Microsoft partners like Citrix and Datacore. These VHDs are called virtual appliances. With the pre-built and pre-configured virtual appliances, we can evaluate Microsoft and partner virtualization solutions with less time and resources for installation and configuration.

The advantages of using VHD are clear. IT organizations can deploy standardized, ‘pre-built’ configurations on a single VHD. Software engineering organizations which need a specific set of tools for a particular project could simply ‘pull’ the appropriately-configured VHD from the locations shown above. They could also create their own VHD as a backup of their known working configuration.

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