VMware has offered virtual appliances for some time now. The list of available offerings numbers over 330 now, and includes demos, free products, and things you can license. It's a smart way to distribute Linux and other free os software, but because of licensing issues, Microsoft products aren't likely to show up there.
Now Microsoft has its own (skimply) list of virtual appliances. There are only four items now, and they are all evaluation demos that carry expiration dates.
The problem, of course, is the underlying OS: even if the appliance app was something they'd happily give away, they can't give you the underlying OS that services that app. That's going to continue to hamper any wide spread use of Microsoft virtual appliances. I don't see that there's much they can do about it: I suppose they could try to put out something crippled that they could use as a base, but any attempt like that would seem to let the horses out of the barn and invite abuse by those who would want to piggy-back their own apps on such a platform. The problem seems intractable.
So, while this no doubt has some value as an easy way to evaluate certain Microsoft products, these VHD's will never compete with VMware's virtual appliances: that market is strongly controlled by Linux. Of course, Microsoft may have plans to deal with that problem too, but for the moment at least, these VHD's are a yawner.
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