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Breaking News: Virtual PC is now FREE!

Happy Virtualized PersonBreaking Virtualization News

Now, like Virtual Server 2005 R2, you can download and use Virtual PC 2004 (SP1 version) for free.

“No way.”

Way.  But I understand your disbelief.  That’s what I said when I heard the news late yesterday.  And by the time you read this it will be true. 

[I see the VirtualPC home page is already announcing it prior to the official 9:00am PST launch time, so I will insert the Microsoft PressPass Link here when it’s live.]


And it gets better.

“There’s more?”

Yep.  We’re announcing that the next version of Virtual PC (2007) will be free also.  So now you folks looking to use Virtual PC Express (the limited version that was going to come as a part of Windows Vista Enterprise) will be able to use the full-blown Virtual PC product instead… and with an additional benefit.  If you’ve purchased Windows Vista Enterprise, you are now allowed to run 4 additional copies of Windows Vista Enterprise guests on your Windows Vista Enterprise host.  So whereas previously you would have had to buy those licenses for your guest machines; now they’re INCLUDED, as long as your host is Windows Vista Enterprise edition.  And that’s also true if you’ve purchased Windows Vista Ultimate edition with SA (Software Assurance).

“But I suppose I can’t run those additional licenses if I’m using VMWare or some other product, right?”

Wrong.  But I’m not surprised you would think that.  This is a little confusing to a lot of people who assume Microsoft is trying to use this to push it’s own virtualization stack. 

So here it is in a nutshell:
The licensing benefit isn’t tied to the virtualization technology you’re using, but to the OS version you’ve purchased. 

So that means that, yes, you will have the right to run 4 additional copies of Windows Vista Enterprise edition on top of your Windows Vista Enterprise desktop, laptop, or tablet, and you WILL NOT have to be using Virtual PC to do it.

“So – What happens to Virtual PC Express?”

It is gone.  There’s now no longer any need for it.  Virtual PC does all of what Express was going to do, and more.  And did I mention that it’s free?

“When can I get Virtual PC 2007?  And what will it do that 2004 doesn’t?”

It’ll be out in the first part of 2007, and include being able to run it on a 64–bit host machine.  There are also said to be performance and virtualized memory-allocation improvements.

And it’s free. 

Here’s the thing that I think is the most interesting about this change (other than it’s just very good news for virtualization as a whole):  Microsoft is once again reacting to the great competition that is out there.  One of the big value propositions of Windows Vista Enterprise was that it included the virtualization (VPC Express) needed for the sake of application compatibility scenarios, among others.  But other virtualization products are out there now that are free and would do the same or more, so the “perceived value” of Windows Vista Enterprise took a big hit. 

So now that we’re giving the full Virtual PC away for free, and we’re including the additional licensing perks for Windows Vista Enterprise, it again becomes a very valuable reason to go there in the enterprise.

What do you think?  Are you heading off to download your free copy of Virtual PC 2004 now?  I hope so!