That's right! Microsoft is offering access to free downloads of Windows Vista and Windows XP SP2. I know it doesn't sound at all like Microsoft, but just bear with me, it will make sense in the end. Even though the Redmond company's Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer revealed in the past that open source was not the way to go for Microsoft and that a free version of Windows was completely out of the question, the fact of the matter is that it was not entirely true.
Microsoft is indeed offering free copies of Windows, and not just XP SP2, but also Vista. I know that the hottest downloads, at this point in time, are related to Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows XP Service Pack 3, but I also know that you will jump at the chance of grabbing the two Windows clients completely free. The sole downside is the fact that both copies of the operating system come as Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Image. Which means that they are essentially VPC Hard Disk Images designed for test driving websites in both Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8 on Vista and XP SP2.
"A VPC hard disk image containing a pre-activated Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista, and IE6, IE7 or IE8. This VPC image will expire on July 3, 2008. You will need a minimum of 1.5 Gig hard drive space free to expand the VHD file. Once you have completed the download, double-click file to expand the VHD file. Start Virtual PC and create a new VPC, and point to the files you just expanded," Microsoft informed.
There are no less than six downloads available completely for free, including IE6_VPC.EXE (435.1 MB); IE7_VPC.EXE (434.3 MB); IE7-VIS1.exe (700.0 MB); IE7-VIS2.rar (700.0 MB); IE8_VPC.EXE (438.6 MB) and IS7-VIS3.rar (590.5 MB). Of course, for all you will need Virtual PC 2007, available here. The images can be grabbed here on Softpedia or here from Microsoft.