In a rush and want to setup a virtual machine running Windows operating system as quickly as possible? Microsoft has published several VPC images complete with virtual machine configuration (VMC) and virtual hard disk (VHD) for Windows Virtual PC and Microsoft Virtual PC, originally intended for website compatibility testing with different Internet Explorer versions. But the VHD nonetheless contain a full fledged Windows operating system, and can instantly be powered on as a virtual machine.

Actually the offering of IE Application Compatibility VPC images has been going on for a while, and the images has recently been updated to included Windows 7 and IE9. As the VHDs are meant to help web designers and web developers to test their websites in different versions of IE web browser, there are many versions of VHDs available for selection, based on a mix of different operating system and different version of IE browser. All VHD contains clean install of Windows operating system and has been patched with latest security updates, with very few other modifications.

All the VHDs or the VPC images are hosted on Microsoft Download Center. Here’s the list of VHDs available together with their direct download links.

Note that Windows 7 and Windows Vista VHDs are multi-part downloads. Download all the files for that version and run the executable to uncompress and extract the VHD to get the actual VHD disk image file.

Note that Windows XP with IE7 and Windows XP with IE8 is no longer provided, likewise for Windows Vista with IE8 and Windows Vista with IE9, where users have to manually install and upgrade to IE7 or IE8 or IE9 (Windows XP not eligible) with the setup installers included in the image.

The Windows XP VHD is usable until its expiry date of August 09, 2011.

Windows Vista and Windows 7 VHD does not contain any product key and will not pass genuine validation. Users will be asked to activate upon system startup, which can be canceled to login to Desktop. The VHD can be used without activation for 30 days, after which it can be rearm twice for additional 60 days free usage. Of course you can choose to activate the VHD with your own product key. Microsoft also suggests that users can discard the changes made to VHD from undo disks when shutting down to reset the image back to its initial state, which allows users to have base image which never expires.

The VHD image has to be logged in with a password-protected user account. The password is Password1 and the username will be present when you first login.

Update: Free Windows 7, Windows 8.1 & Windows 10 VM Downloads (with IE & Edge)

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