Microsoft launches VHD Test Drive program

Following VMware efforts in providing software as a service (SaaS) with its Virtual Appliances, Microsoft debuts with the new VHD Test Drive program, allowing customers to download pre-configured virtual machines for Virtual Server 2005.

Microsoft published the announcement as an interview with Mike Neil, Senior Director of Virtualization Strategy in Windows Server Division:

This program enables Microsoft and its partners to distribute their enterprise software and applications within a virtual machine so that IT professionals can confidently and quickly evaluate Windows Server-based software. A similar program for Windows Vista will be available in the first quarter of 2007.

We expect more than 20 partners to begin distributing their software via the VHD Test Drive Program later this quarter, including Altiris, BEA Systems, Check Point, Citrix, CommVault, Dell, FullArmor, HP, Network Appliance, Platespin, Portlock, Quest Software, SourceCode Technology Holdings, Symantec and UGS.

Read the whole interview at source.

At the moment just 4 virtual machines are available on Microsoft VHD Download Center:

Before the launch of VHD Test Drive program the company already made available a couple of pre-configured Virtual PC virtual machines for demo:

Andrew Dugdell posted some feedbacks about new VHD images available. Be sure to check them.

A final note to remember that if you are just a VMware user you still can use these images, converting them in VMware format (.vmdk) with Importer 2.0 or the new Converter 3.0 beta.