How to quickly and free access windows on osx or linux

Among developers, it is not uncommon for the main working computer to be mac or linux, but occasionally you need access to windows: run a specific program, check the layout in internet explorer, put the trial version of corel draw for conversion to .svg.

The “classic” way to solve this problem is to install one of the popular virtual machines, download the 90-day trial version of windows and install it in the virtual machine. But this method has one big minus - the developer usually remembers the need to keep such a virtual machine handy at the moment when “oh, you need Windows!”. And windows is not set very quickly. And the 90-day trial, which is characteristic, tends to end at the most inopportune moment. Even with rearm. Recently, Microsoft went to a meeting of developers and made an interesting service that allows you to quickly and free access to the desired version of windows.

The service was originally made for web developers so that they can quickly test their sites and applications for different versions of browsers, including the new Microsoft Edge. A service is available at:

Using this service, you can download an image of the desired version of windows with the desired internet explorer, fully configured for one of three virtual machines: parallels, virtualbox or wmvare. A huge plus is the availability of versions of Windows from XP to 10 and the fact that the downloaded image starts immediately - you do not need to install anything anywhere. If you have fast Internet, 1 gigabyte of windows XP is downloaded in a couple of minutes, another minute the image is connected to the virtual machine and 3 minutes after “oh, you need Windows!” You have a running Windows.

I will illustrate how this works with the example of osx, virtualbox virtual machine (because our technical evangelist said that it should) and windows xp (because clients are weird). First, download the zip archive with the desired version of the image for the virtual machine:

Install and run oracle virtualbox. You can from the official site , you can use homebrew cask:

sudo brew cask install virtualbox

Select File / Import Appliance and specify the .ova file unpacked from the downloaded zip archive. Appliance are exported virtual machine images for virtualbox that contain not only the contents of the hard drive, but also the settings. During the export process, you can specify an arbitrary name of the virtual machine, change the amount of available memory, and the rest of the settings, if you do not like what the guys from Microsoft configured:

The imported appliance appears in the virtualbox list of virtual machines and is ready to launch. A few seconds of waiting - and here it is, Windows. Quickly and painlessly:

An interesting point is that Microsoft itself recommends that you take a snapshot of the virtual machine before the first launch - this will restore it after the trial period expires. I don’t know how this fits with their licensing policy, but the fact remains. Apparently, for debugging purposes on internet explorer - it is possible.

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