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.
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.