Virtual appliances are one of the coolest and most useful little things that you can use in a virtualized environment. Whenever you need to quickly test a new software, a new platform, it’s always nice and welcomed when its creator puts out a pre-configured appliance for it. No time “wasted” to install and configure the underlying operating system and all the needed libraries, the virtual machine is ready to be powered up and used.
This has always been the case for software based on Linux, because its redistribution license has always granted the possibility to easily repackage it and distribute the final appliance. With Microsoft however, this has always been a problem. Software based on Microsoft platform cannot be easily packaged that way.
Lately, however, I found a great solution to have at least the whole operating system up and running in few minutes. Sure, you can create a series of templates and quickly deploy new VMs from them, but what if you are travelling, or you need a VM for your local Workstation/Fusion environment?
As usual, I learn new things by making a virtue out of necessity. Last week I was restarting my entire Lab, after an almost catastrophic disk failure (thanks Netapp for double parity, after 2 lost disks I can still access my data…), I had to swap my old switch with a new one, and to power on all the environment. Few months ago, since I didn’t need it anymore and it was consuming space on my SSD drive, I removed a Fusion VM running Windows 7. I’m able to do 99.9% of the things with a pure Mac environment, and everything on my Lab can be done by connecting first to a “bridge” VM running several tools inside Windows 2008 R2. Obviously, with my lab completely shut down, there was no Windows VM to connect to. Guess what? One of the few limits on my Mac is that I cannot run natively the VMware installable client…
No installation DVD at hand (and no time to wait for a complete installation…), no Windows laptop to use. What could I do? Google as usual is our best friend, so a quick (and desperate) search for “windows OVF” made me discover a really great resource that I’d like to share with you.
This Microsoft website has been created for web developers, but its content can be extremely useful for everyone in search of pre-built windows VM. In the “Virtual Machines” seciotn in fact there is a large collection of OS+Internet Explorer combinations, meant to be used for quick website tests. But obviously, those VMs were the perfect solution also for me!
You can select on the right the desired platform and hypervisor (VMware Fusion for Mac in my case) and download one of the appliances:
hopefully, my lab is connected to internet with a 50 MBps line, so I finished to download the 2,5 GB compressed archive in few minutes. After expanding it, the VM was ready to be used. I installed the VMware client, and I was good to go!
Obviously, there are no server type VM like Windows 2008 or 2012, but for creating quick desktop VM, this is a really great solution. And you can download without worrying about virus, worms or other malware, since this is not a warez/torrent site, but an official microsoft one:
% Rights restricted by copyright; http://iedr.ie/index.php/mnudomregs/mnudnssearch/96
% Do not remove this notice
descr: Microsoft Corporation
descr: Body Corporate (Ltd,PLC,Company)
descr: Discretionary Name
person: Benjamin Orndorff
person: MSN Hostmaster
Oh, and if you go to the very end because you want to download an infamous XP appliance, yes you can still download them (shame on you!), but you also have a nice easter egg, in the form of an RPG game where you have to shoot all the old XP icons trying to haunt you! How cool to finally have a chance to shoot that pesky Network Neighborhood!! 🙂