Microsoft to give away Virtual PC 2004

Microsoft to give away Virtual PC 2004

Summary: This is so new that I can’t even find a press release about it yet, but Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 is now free. Anyone can download the latest release, Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 Service Pack 1, which runs on Windows XP Professional, Windows 2000 Professional SP4, and Windows XP Tablet PC Edition or later.

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TOPICS: Virtualization
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This is so new that I can’t even find a press release about it yet, but Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 is now free.

Anyone can download the latest release, Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 Service Pack 1, which runs on Windows XP Professional, Windows 2000 Professional SP4, and Windows XP Tablet PC Edition or later. And Virtual PC 2007, due for release next year and compatible with Windows Vista, will also be free.

Earlier this year, VMWare and Microsoft made their respective virtual server products free. This is a serious escalation.

I've been a big fan of VMWare's workstation product for years and was unimpressed with Virtual PC 2004 when I tried it two few years ago. Lately, though, I've been using Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005 R2 and have been impressed enough to give the desktop version another try, especially at the new, infinitely lower price.

Update 12-July 1:15PM PDT:

Friend and fellow ZDNet blogger Marc Orchant notes that the press release is now up. No wonder I missed it. Here's the headline:

Microsoft Unveils New Ways for Industry Partners to Take Advantage of Market Opportunity and Build Profitability:
Microsoft invests in partner profitability, and provides innovative, people-centric services and solutions

Someone needs to go back to headline-writing school.

The big news is for corporate customers who are part of the Software Assurance program:

One new benefit for Windows Vista Enterprise customers is the right to install four copies of the operating system in virtual machines on a desktop for a single user. This new benefit provides unique value for customers addressing application compatibility through virtualization. Responding to changing market conditions, Virtual PC 2004 SP1 is available immediately for free download. In addition, Virtual PC 2007, which supports Microsoft Windows Vista, will be available for free in 2007.

And yes, you can run Linux in a virtual machine.

Topic: Virtualization

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9 comments
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  • The press release is now up

    Here's the relevant paragraph:

    Partners play a key role in helping customers take advantage of the new Software Assurance benefits such as the partner consulting and training delivered through Desktop Deployment Planning Services, Information Work Solution Services, and the dramatically increased number of maximum training vouchers. One new benefit for Windows Vista Enterprise customers is the right to install four copies of the operating system in virtual machines on a desktop for a single user. This new benefit provides unique value for customers addressing application compatibility through virtualization. Responding to changing market conditions, Virtual PC 2004 SP1 is available immediately for free download. In addition, Virtual PC 2007, which supports Microsoft Windows Vista, will be available for free in 2007.
    morchant
  • Free?

    Question (I'm only familiar with VPC for the Mac, which I'm assuming is not available for free):

    If you're using it, don't you have to buy an additional license for the copy of Windows you're running as a virtual machine? So technically, it's not really free, yes?
    tic swayback
    • You can run a free or eval OS in a VM

      You could run just about any flavor of Linux in a VM if you wanted. You could run a trial version of Windows, which doesn't require paying for a license. Windows Server 2003 offers some 180-day trials. You could run beta OS software in it. If you're a member of MSDN or the System Builder program, you have access to all sorts of evaluation copies of Windows, both workstation and server, which you can run in a VM.

      Even with a full Windows license, previously you had to pay for both the VPC software AND any OS license. So yes, this is free, about a $99 price cut over the previous version.
      Ed Bott
    • For corporate customers, four extra licenses free

      I didn't find this until after I posted my initial reply, but see the update at the end of the original post. Under Software Assurance a single Windows license can now be used to install up to four additional copies in VMs on a desktop PC. That's a huge change for corporate customers, just huge.
      Ed Bott
      • Excuse me...

        Pardon my ignorance of the whole matter, but wouldn't 4 instances of the same OS on a single computer be a little redundant?
        harrisharris
        • Excuse me...(edited)

          Or 5, for that matter...
          harrisharris
  • Interesting

    I know one downside with VMs is that DirectX apps generally do not work. But does anyone know how a Windows on Windows setup would work? Would DirectX apps work in that setup?

    I ask that because that would be the one technical downside of running all your user apps on a VM. The only other downside would be the monetary issue (or licensing issue, depending on your point of view) of needing another copy of Windows.
    Michael Kelly
    • DirectX is supported

      The virtual video in both VPC and VS2005 supports DirectX. It doesn't support hardware acceleration, obviously, nor does it support Direct3D. So it's a terrible gaming and high-end graphics platform but just fine for business apps that use DirectX.

      See earlier comments for the cost issue. Corporate customers with Software Assurance get to run up to four copies of their licensed desktop version of Windows within VMs on a single physical machine, and non-SA users have many free or eval options available to them.
      Ed Bott
  • Cool

    I can't wait to see how it works!

    http://opendomain.blogspot.com
    opensourcepro