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From the author of Guest Operating System Options

Guest Operating System Options

You have two options in completing the setup of a virtualized operating system after you install your preferred virtualizing software:

  • Install a copy of a guest operating system from original media or an ISO file (a CD or DVD image of an operating system install disc).
  • Use an installed operating system image file.

If you want to practice installing an operating system and have suitable installation media, choose the first option. If you want to practice using an operating system and would rather not create your own image file, choose the second option.

Free Guest Operating System Virtual Hard Disk Images

Microsoft uses the VHD (.vhd[md]virtual hard disk) file format for distributing trial versions of operating systems, including Windows Vista or Windows XP and Internet Explorer VHD images (see Figure 8). These images are ready to work with Windows Virtual PC and Virtual PC 2007.

Figure 8 Microsoft provides pre-configured VHD images of Windows XP and Windows Vista for use with Windows Virtual PC and Virtual PC 2007.

When you download Windows Virtual PC on systems running Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate, you can also download Virtual Windows XP in VHD file format. Windows Virtual PC works with other Windows 7 editions, but other editions do not support Virtual Windows XP.

Creating Your Own Operating System Image

All the virtualization programs linked in this article enable you to install an operating system and, in the process, create an image file for reuse. See the documentation for each virtualization program for details.

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