Running Test Drive VHDs on VMware

A question was asked at the WinHEC VHD Panel Discussion yesterday about whether the VHD format of the trial images stops users of alternative VM engines. I said: “No problem” but then everyone around agreed that there is indeed an issue with Microsoft’s Test Drive EULA that comes with the images and prohibits VHD conversion into oher formats.

I was not sure this was always happening and just had to note that I thought this was one of those artificial limitations that were actually hindering wider adoption of the Test Drive program and VHD format as such.

Turns out that at least with VMware this limitation is non-issue now. Quoting from the VMware Player feature list:

Use 3rd-party virtual machines and images

Open Microsoft virtual machines and Symantec Backup Exec (formerly called Live State Recovery) images. In this process, the initial virtual machine or image is left untouched in its native format and any modifications are saved in a much smaller VMware-formatted file that is linked to the initial image.

This means that you can indeed use VMware to play Test Drive VHDs from Quest, Microsoft, and other companies, and not violate the license agreement.

I think at this point of time the reality is that everyone’s best interests are actually in format interoperability. No one likes being explicitly locked and I am glad this is now going away. Good for the users, good for the industry, and at the end of the day good for all vendors.

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