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.