Microsoft, via Pete LePage (opens in new tab), Product Manager, Internet Explorer, Developer Division, has revealed that it will allow users to download free editions of Windows XP SP2 Virtual PC Images as from next Monoday.
The software giant (opens in new tab) has also confimed that there will be two distinct versions, one for Internet Explorer 6 an the other for IE7.
The products will be pre-activated which will remove the need for any product keys and serials, a boon for the targeted audience - developers.
As the operating systems are packaged as Virtual PC 2007 images, one cannot install it on a new PC for example - only on a Virtual Machine. This means that you will need a Microsoft Compatible Operating system and a Virtual PC 2007 which can be downloaded for free (opens in new tab).
These images allow web developers to test their code both in IE6 and IE7; the current time-bombed version (opens in new tab) can be downloaded here.
LePage added that "Microsoft is giving you a copy of Windows XP to test with. We can't give away a un-time bombed image as we would be giving away a free copy of Windows XP. The option of building your own VPC image is certainly available to you. Doing it yourself will not require time bombs or updating things yourself."