Microsoft offers free Windows XP virtual appliance

To help web developers testing their designs and applications in the dual-world of Internet Explorer 6.0 and new 7.0, Microsoft released a virtual machine with a pre-installed and pre-activated (no WPA) copy of Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2.

It contains IE6 and IE7 Readiness Toolkit and comes as a 500MB compressed image.
The virtual appliance, named Internet Explorer 6 Application Compatibility VPC Image, can be used with any Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 and 2007 beta (or with any VMware product using Importer 2.0 or Converter 3.0 beta).

Obviously Microsoft doesn’t give away its OS for free so there is an expiration time set to Apri 1st 2007, and to download it you have to pass the Windows Genuine Advantage check.

Download it here.

Strangely it has not been included in the just lauched VHD Test Drive Program site, where Microsoft is starting to push their own virtual appliances.