This was a big week for us: for the first time ever Quest Software is offering trial versions of its product as virtual machine images.
That means that if you are interested in SharePoint management, reporting, or item-level recovery you can simply download the trial virtual machine image that has both SharePoint and the tools deployed for you and just open the image with Virtual Server, VMWare player, or your other favorite virtualization software.
We believe that this provides a much better evaluation experience: significantly easier than making you deploy a test lab yourself (or try new software in production!) and much more true-to-life than flash demos.
The current images are pretty big but we plan of making them smaller in the future. If this approach proves to be a success (which I am sure it will) in a few years you’ll see all our products having virtual machine sandboxes as the primary method of trial version distribution.
Virtual machine appliances are not that widely spread in the Windows world today but I believe that this is starting to change.
If you want to read about how this project emerged and why it took us so long to get here I would recommend reading this ComputerWorld article: Microsoft offers a peak at software distribution future.
P.S. Just found that Volker from Microsoft’s VHD team blogged about that as well. Volker did a lot to make this happen. Big kudos to him and his team!