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Free Windows XP-10 VirtualBox/Parallels Images from Microsoft (windows.com)
341 points by jlturner on Mar 1, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 144 comments

Microsoft have been offering virtual machines for years now [1].

I know they offered Virtual PC and VirtualBox previously, is the news that Parallels is now supported?

[1] http://superuser.com/q/109944/23461

they used to have a website made especially for that at https://modern.ie

Now redirects to the URL given in the submission. Not much to see here.

Nope. They've offered Parallels for years too.

I mean, I don't know when they released windows 10 VM's, that might be new.

Not that either (proof: https://blogs.windows.com/msedgedev/2015/08/17/windows-10-vi...)

Let's face it, this was a click bait (esp the free bit) and we all fell for it.

Since most of us seemed not to know about it, and since this could be useful to many of us, it's not totally clear to me that "click bait" applies here.

Just because you didn't knew does not makes it any less click bait.

Don't be a twat. Someone posted a link to genuinely useful info that many people wouldn't have been aware of. So it's not linkbait. Look up the definition.

Totally agreed with the content, but please avoid name calling on HN.

Totally got 17 points, bro.

The civility rule here has nothing to do with points.

My point is that a bunch of people favoured my comment over any civility rule.

That often happens, but it's the rules, not the votes, that are dispositive.

HN is a constitutional democracy. The constitution is https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html. Please abide by it.

Im not sure how the title is click-bait, can you explain?

For me click-bait would mean "Microsoft releases software for free! You will never believe what the 4th iso contains!" or something to that effect

haters gonna hate, some people don't like to see "Microsoft" and "free" in the same sentence, unless it's something bad about the company. Of course MS does this for its own business, and why not, that doesn't make it any click-bait title...

Well, it is "free as in beer", with some strings attached (90-day usage limit, no production use); still very useful for testing (this used to be at modern.ie, apparently moved to a new address).

Modern.ie redirects to this, not sure since when.

This just shows the importance of having date metatags - e.g. dc.date.created.

How old is this content…is it new? Was it published a day ago, a month ago, a year ago? I guess we'll never know.

Each download has a build number that is a date: 20150801

If you're on a Mac and want to use OS X's inbuilt virtualization, the VMware Fusion images work on Veertu.

So instead of buying VMWare Fusion you're suggesting people buy Veertu?

Yep. The speed destroys every other virtualisation app on OS X.

Correction: free limited Windows VM images for testing Microsoft browsers.

You can't just throw these on a copy of your favorite virtualization platform and have a free copy of Windows to legally do whatever you'd like with, indefinitely.

As far as I know, people from Microsoft recommend to snapshot the images and just roll back to avoid the 90 period.

The documentation and download page explicitly say this.. I don't no how legally valid these statements are though.

Indeed. Better off using http://browserling.com to test.

Not sure how it in the US, but latency makes browserling unusable in Europe.

BrowserStack.Com is much better

Why do you feel it is better?

Maybe because of much bigger latency which makes debugging animations so sexy (almost impossible).

I remember having been hit by this issue in the past (I'm in Europe too). It made me use a local virtual machine instead with VirtualBox.

I've used these for years in Web Development, they're invaluable.

So the main point seems to be MS has killed modern.ie -site and redirect to this dev.windows.com site. Still useful once in a while although the big disk images are PITA to download and setup. I have better uses for my laptop SSD than to fill it with different IEs and Windowses :p

XP is 1.25GB while W7 is 4GB. That is nothing compared to how useful they are every so often.

Depending on your model of laptop, you can probably get reasonable speed from expansion storage for rarely used images like these.

I opted for the 128GB SSD in my MBP (last 17" model, from late 2011) and a few years later I added a 128GB ExpressCard SSD, which i use pretty much exclusively for (largely Linux, largely via Vagrant) Virtual Machine images. Sure, I'll definitely order a bigger built-in SSD on the replacement, but on a newer machine without ExpressCard you could also use a USB3 flash drive or (if you are on a mac) a Thunderbolt SSD device.

Using one of those newer Retina MBPs which one cannot be upgraded in any way. The only disk expansion for these is the micro sdhc card hack (like this: http://9to5mac.com/2014/05/23/three-hacks-for-adding-permane...).

On your model you can even opt for bigger main SSD and probably replace dvd with another SSD like this: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing+MacBook+Pro+17-Inch+... . Oh the sweet upgradeability! <3

I have plenty of disk space but my photography hobby is eating most of it and the first thing that gets thrown away is the 14 Gb vmdk (this time it's Windows 8.1 + IE11).

Next one is probably 8 gigabytes of MS Office 2016. How can Office eat 8 gigabytes? :D (Compared to LibreOffice's 700 Mb or Office 2011 1,3 Gb.

And why worry about the new IEs and Edge? Microsoft says they support standards and so forth ... ;-D

OWC offer SSD upgrades for the Retina MBP's http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/SSD/OWC/Air-Retina/Apple-MacB...

Those are only available for the 2012 and early 2013 Retina machines, the first two models. You can also get an mSATA adapter on eBay and use any mainstream mSATA drive to upgrade those which is even cheaper than the OWC drive.

I use a service like browserstack instead for the occasions I need to test on IE

Can you use it to test sites on localhost, maybe through a ssh tunnel?

There are tools for this.. iirc BrowserStack is a service on top of Selenium WebDriver, and there's tooling for it in the node ecosystem. IIRC, there's decent Ruby tooling, but I prefer to do all my browser related things in JS.

Much more convenient, indeed. Hard to take offline though ;)

I setup a server with 16GB of RAM and a 480GB SSD, and installed 2 of each of these on the machine using VMware ESXi (the free version)

At the time we were supporting XP+IE6 for a client so this worked great for testing older browser versions, and prevented each developer from having to install their own local copies. Just RDP over to the test box...

I know I'm old, but a 5Gig download just to run Edge on OS X? (And that's a 5Gug zipfile, I wonder how much of my SSD that's gonna eat unzipped?)

In the plus side, Chrome says "6 minutes left", and I've only just clicked download. I suspect my network bandwidth improvements over the years make this no less an imposition than the outrageous 200+Kb download for Doom over a 14.4k modem...)

Oh poor you. If I want to test my app on OSX safari I have to either buy a mac or find a hipster.

I feel your pain. A (pirated) hackintosh VM doesn't cut it, as I need 3D acceleration to test a very complex WebGL app. And it's the slowest browser from the bunch. Safari is the new IE6 for me. I hate it with passion.

GPU passtrough?

From what I gathered you have 2 solutions for GPU passtrough : if you're a Unix guru and have plenty of time to spare you might make it work with Xen or if you have money VMWare looks easier but you may need a license and special hardware (if you have a regular Nvidia graphic card it won't work, you need an ATI or a Nvidia Quadro).

No. You just need to read Alex Williamson blog, for nvidia you need to patch drivers a bit - it is not hard. And compared to the price of macpro with discrete GPU - not that expensive either.


just googling vfio kvm leads you to very thorough arch linux topic (with a bit of drama on the end, whatever)

For anyone else, thinking hmm, that sounds easy. The TL;DR is that you don't "just need to read" Alex's blog, you need to read, think, try, fix, bug search, rinse, repeat, take on board a number of complex ideas and concepts, and/or buy ideal hardware. The arch linux topic is very long! I've read most of it as it came in, but reading that whole thing for tidbits and fixes that Google doesn't always turn up isn't quick or easygoing. Good luck!

That was 3 years ago. Right now the process is more streamlined.

Of course I assume that people that frequent hacker news are geeks and tinkerers.

Yeah, I'm definitely a geek and tinkerer, but testing in Safari is work stuff I don't like, and the only way to do it properly is with actual Apple hardware.

+1 for this. At least Microsoft gives us the option.

  >> or find a hipster
Seriously? This is a pretty outdated characterization...

Not on my home country where people earn 500 € on average and most IT guys around 1 000 € on junior positions.

I have a feeling that you are from Poland :)

No, but it also starts with a P a bit into the EU west coast. :)

Portugal then. As you can see it's the same on east side of Europe

Well at least the food is great.

Liked Krakow a lot, specially the subterranean bars. :)

Republik Österreich? ;) Low wages for tech people... Although, the average I believe should be higher.

No way, wages are much higher than the ones he mentioned. Maybe Hungary or Romania, sure, but Austria?

EU West Coast, all the way to the left.

No you don't.

http://www.macincloud.com works very well, and they have billing by the hour and versions of OS X ranging from Lion through to El Capitan.

No connection with them, just a satisfied customer.

A much cheaper way is to get it tested from freelancers on Upwork/Elance who have OSX!

Sometimes you need to see the issue first hand.

I mean, if you want to test Windows, spin up a VM or VPS on any number of providers. But that's not really what we're talking about here.

Not only that, you need an iPhone and several iPad versions too because they are all different. Supporting Apple devices suck unless that is your main dev platform.

If you have a mac, you can install Xcode and get access to all the iPhone and iPad emulators emulators which gives you some mileage.

This is not true. Each version of Xcode works with simulator runtimes of the most recent two major iOS versions only.

Also, no simruntime for 7.0 and before works in El Capitan, regardless of Xcode version.

Although in all honestly, it's much less of a problem. Only about 6% uses an iOS version before iOS 8 at the moment. (I'm one of 'm!)

Interestingly, by doing this developers have a harder time supporting me (iOS 6 and 7 on phone/tablet). The result is forgoing app updates and even new apps altogether that I can't download. This pushes me to upgrade, and keeps the iOS adoption rate quite high. Facilitating devs in supporting old iOS versions does the opposite. I'm not a fan of this but I can easily imagine the benefits for Apple.

You're right, it only goes back to iOS 8.1, but you do get the devices for all current iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and watchOS.

Of course having a real device is much better, but as a web developer, this helped me pick up a Safari only bug very easily without needing to spend on a real device.

You can use OSX's debugger in Safari to remote debug a web page in the simulator, which I think is pretty neat.

I thought you could download old versions. They just don't come installed by default. Xcode -> Preferences -> Downloads.

Looks like you can, but only back as far as iOS 8.1

Ah, that makes the parent complaint make more sense then for sure. Thanks for checking (been a while since I used xcode).

Is that any worse than Android? I certainly wouldn't think so, given that there are way fewer Apple models and they tend to have way better distribution of their software updates.

Aren't there hosting places where you can rent a mac by the hour or by the month? I just googled "rent a mac" and found a couple. No clue how legit or shady any of the sites are though.

Fair cop :-)

Yea, let's be devicive without cause.

> I know I'm old, but a 5Gig download just to run Edge on OS X?

Yeah, old. To scale it back to olden days disk space and bandwidth, it's like downloading a 20 meg file which deflates into a 50 meg file on disk.

I remember downloading the doom.wad from a local BBS. Ran out of disk space. Deleted command.com in order to free up space. Oops.

Remember that it's the OS and the browser, not just the browser.

And things like Windows 7+IE8 will show different bugs from Windows XP+IE8

My issue is that it's a single file. If you have a network hiccup during that 5G download, have fun re-downloading it. I wish they offered torrents...

Unless Microsoft doesn't allow range requests, any half-decent client will happily resume an interrupted download. This includes browsers and command-line utilities like curl and wget.

Edit: Just tried one of the files with curl. They resume just fine, and the download URLs aren't even tied to a session or IP. I copied the URL from my local browser and used curl on a remote server. No problem. :)

Odd, I could've sworn I used curl when I had this issue a while back. Maybe they changed something or I did something terribly wrong. Thanks for testing though.

Remember that when resuming with curl, you need to explicitly tell it that you are resuming.

Browsers don't resume downloads afaik.

Browsers certainly do resume downloads. Many sites don't honor range requests, though, typically due to passing the file data through some script. And some expire URLs.

Okay, I didn't know that. I made that assumption because I've never seen a web browser resume a download that was interrupted.

They used to have a series of separate <2GB zipfiles. That was a hassle, I emailed them asking for a single file. Pretty sure they resume.

I guess a torrent might be tricky if they want to keep a "no redistribution" licensing clause.

I know the chances of MSFT distributing these as torrents is basically zero due to their legal department, but it feels like this would be an ideal candidate (from a technical standpoint) for a torrent. Would also mean that if I download it, if our clients are set up correctly, my coworkers can download it faster by loading it from me than the internet.

If you're concerned about that, use DownloadThemAll! or some other download manager.

> I wish they offered torrents

Check out http://burnbit.com/

wget --continue http://blah

This specific site does support Range requests, therefore resuming - and most browsers can resume these days as well.

What's the licensing situation for these VMs?

What can I use them for, for how long, and what limitations are in place?

90 days. Also "You may use the software for testing purposes only. You may not use the software for commercial purposes. You may not use the software in a live operating environment. "

From: https://modernievirt.blob.core.windows.net/vhd/release_notes...

They specifically suggest "create a snapshot that you can roll back to later" to effectively remove the 90 day limit. Seems reasonable

It also shuts down automatically after about an hour

No it doesn't. I used win10 continuously for hours.

...after the 90-day limit expires.


That may be something it does once you blow past the 90 day limits but really just rebuild the VM / roll back to snapshots.

Even if the licensing terms were liberal, are you going to use an OS that hasn't been issued system updates since ages? It will be riddled with malware the moment you connect to the Internet!

The naive scenario is to fire up those VMs in a network completely contained within your development system and test locally. This makes the VMs safe.

However this seldom works because web sites, even the ones running on localhost, have all sort of external dependencies, from webfonts to third part assets stored on CDNs. So VMs need an access to the Internet and that access could compromise them.

Probably restoring them from the original image after each shutdown is the best way to fix this issue.

Use? No. Test with? Certainly.

I would almost say "challenge accepted" - this calls for a little test!

I don't believe that the images that Microsoft made available are so vulnerable as-they-are that they will be infected within hours...

You must not remember some of the more memorable worms like blaster. It was a complete nightmare and would own machines that weren't behind a firewall in minutes. Luckily long since patched, but it's only a matter of time for others.

True - those were the days...

However, I believe these OS-es come with certain presets that will not expose them to the wild-internet immediately. I assume (yes - assume) that MS has enabled the firewalls per default on these images, so unless you use them to browse to certain "entertainment sites" you should be quite ok...

Edit: ok, ran a lab-test (so not the real thing): Windows XP with IE6 on one VM, Kali with Armitage on the other. A "Hail Mary" of 22 exploits did not result in any session on the windows machine...

Actually, you can update with windows update. It will take a lot of time though.

But when was the last update for Win XP ? 2 years ago ?

So use Windows 10.

90 day limited demo version of Windows. Make sure you back up the original image in case your demo expires and you need to restore the image from the original.

I remember Microsoft used to offer ISOS of Windows with a 90 day limited trial key. There was a utility that would reset the demo clock as well as a command line option to reset it for another 90 days.

I made a snapshot before booting the image for the first time and simply restore to that snapshot when the trial expires.

Haven't used Windows in a while, but I think it used to be: Command Prompt -> slmgr -rearm

this is still it, just the - is not required

Can I register a valid XP key with it?

I don't see why not, as long as the license for that key matches the OS.

A friend of mine used to buy COA stickers from eBay that had XP keys on them for like $10 each. They are OEM keys so he used an OEM XP CD-ROM to install them with the keys on used systems. They would activate even if they have been used before. If activations run out you can call Microsoft and have them reset.

Windows 10 Keys are different, locked to the hardware. Windows XP keys can be transferred to a different system.

Just because you :can: do this doesn't mean it isn't a violation of the software license.

XP has some kind of hardware check too. I had to use a key off the internet when I cloned an ancient PC into a VM because it wouldn't accept the original key.

Depends on the type of key you have. If it is a PRO(i am assuming that's the version of OS)/non-OEM license, then you shouldn't have a problem. Definitely worth a short though.

Legally no. They say this explicitly on the TOS.

The TOS shouldn't apply if you apply a separate license. Can you please point out their reference?

It's in their document. I am not a lawyer so I don't know how binding their document is but I would personally just follow what they say.

Microsoft does allow the option to remove a license from a copy of Windows on a PC and change the key: http://www.howtogeek.com/124286/how-to-uninstall-your-window...


In a word the EULA says you can't transfer a license to a different PC, but it hasn't been tested in a court yet. People have transferred an OEM license and activated it. So it can be done, but the question about it being legal might vary by nation as Germany allows it if other nations do not.

But since it hasn't been tested in a court yet, nobody can say how legally binding it is or is not.

Agreed on not tested and my philosophy with legal grey areas is to avoid being part of the test case... However, these specific images come with their own EULA that says that you can not apply a different license to them (I checked because I would have also liked to have done so if it were allowed).

Just use this as they suggest for testing. Keep your data elsewhere and roll back/re-install every few months.

You can rearm these VMs as IIRC up to 180 days.

On a OSX/Linux I was always using https://github.com/xdissent/ievms to get Windows VM that I want.

It's probably not the intended use case, but I use these more often for testing desktop applications than for testing web pages. It's a shame there's no 64-bit VMs.

There is no IE11 on Windows 10 VM. It seems Microsoft are very committed to Edge. Or is this to avoid misuse of the testing VMs?

It wouldn't make sense as most users would never use ie 11 on Windows 10. It's possible, but it's hidden in the menu. Just get an Edge for Windows 10 VM and use the IE 11 on that, it should be there.

I used the Edge image to test Web Audio in Edge and it was perfect. I was able to test my entire web app.

if you want to use it with Vagrant: https://github.com/whatwedo/vagrant-ievms

Can the vmware converter make these work?

are these still time limited? Because I'd rather have the desktop with feature limits than time limits. Having to reinstall the VM because of a 30-day limit is just a waste of time.

These don't "auto-update" to the latest Edge browser, do they?

That would defeat the purpose of them having a large range of images available. These images are made so you can spin them up, test the site with a range of IE/Windows combos, and then spin things down again.

They don't (or shouldn't). I've been using the IE8-IE10 images for a long while now and nothing ever auto updates.

Ah, hopefully one day the ReactOS project will be sufficient and not require these dodgy VMs.

In particular, I'd love to install ReactOS and build LibreOffice, er, natively.

These are just intended for testing. A ReactOS installation wouldn't be useful for testing an app or web page against Windows.

why are they dodgy?

If these VMs use the same license as the ISOs, then they're under a 90-day evaluation license which disallows commercial usage. Maybe this is what he's referring to?

Pretty much nailed it in one :-)

At some point someone is going to have ask the questions: Who is gaming HN, why is this news and at the top spot of HackerNews? MS has been offering this for years and yet every once in a while I see posts similar to this on the front page.

Surprisingly, not everyone is aware of everything that has ever been on the front page of HN.

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