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Microsoft said this week that it will make its Virtual PC software free -- not just the older Virtual PC 2004 version, but its upcoming software for Vista, too.
Users can download the Virtual PC 2004 Service Pack 1 software from the Microsoft web site. The software allows users to run multiple instances of operating systems on a single computer, allowing users to test a new development environment or simply try out a new configuration without changing the underlying OS.
Microsoft Makes Virtual PC Free [pcmag.com]
VMware is a great product, but Virtual PC is no slouch either. If you've got a MS OS to begin with the Virtual PC product is a simple install and no challenge to use.
MSDN subscribers already get free copies of Virtual PC to test out MS software and operating systems. Although VMware gets the nod for wider OS support you can do same things with Virtual PC. Most people using this product are really only using it for mainstream MS and Linux OSs which is not much of a stretch for this software.
Rival VMware has been eating MS's lunch for quite a while now. Since the 2004 release of Virtual PC the VMware camp has been busy issuing major updates of their own (in many cases superior) product. Their recent launch of the VMware Player lets anyone run a precompiled OS as an application for free. This innovative concept has really put the screws to MS. They couldn't compete with that...not with a paid product like Virtual PC.
Then to add insult to injury VMware also released their server emulation product for free. For the marketplace there was almost no reason to use Microsoft's product. There were better, free products out there. This had to be a major reason behind this move. The competition has already moved to a nearly free model and the only product they have not made free is their Workstation software. The free version of Virtual PC goes after that important market.
Virtual computing is really not mainstream yet. I personally use it every single day. It's truly amazing what you can do with these things. MS's release of Virtual PC can only mean good things for the user. As a webmaster, for example, you can safely run multiple copies of different versions of IE to test your sites. Try that on a single install of Windows.
I'm pretty sure that the VMware camp knew this was coming. So far they've been quite proactive in keeping their software licencing ahead of MS by releasing free versions of their tools. It's doubtful that the MS release of Virtual PC as a free tool will take away from VMware's substantial lead among professionals, but it will add a new level of user; the average PC user; the consumer.
It's refreshing to see the software going in this direction. If you haven't tried it out, go get yourself a copy:
The software industry is learning that virtual machines can cause real headaches, when it comes to figuring out how to charge for their programs.
Right now, the computing world is clearly moving into a realm in which a single PC can be running many operating systems at the same time, and businesses want the opportunity to get the benefits of that flexibility, without having to pay over and over again for the same software.
In a major shift for Microsoft, the company decided last week to allow business customers to run up to four instances of Windows on the same PC. It's part of a sea change that has the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker and the rest of the industry headed into unfamiliar waters.
Putting a price on a virtual computer
Of course, you still can't run Mac OS X with Virtual PC on a Windows machine, so this move only fights the buzz. It doesn't actually provide the same "multi-OS" opportunity an Intel Mac provides.
As a webmaster, for example, you can safely run multiple copies of different versions of IE to test your sites. Try that on a single install of Windows.
That's been possible for years. I have IE5, IE5.5, IE6 and IE7 all running on the same machine (Windows XP).
VMware is great for cross-browser, cross-screensize, cross-font-size webpage testing.
[edited by: amznVibe at 6:13 pm (utc) on July 18, 2006]
Microsoft said on Tuesday it would allow anyone to use its specifications for "virtual" drives, which enable one computer to run several operating systems, with the promise never to sue for infringement of its legal rights.
The Microsoft virtualisation software has been available for more than two years, but as computers become more powerful the use of virtualisation is expected to mushroom, the company said at a news conference.
Microsoft opens virtual drives for free [washingtonpost.com]
So, has this mushroomed?