Now that Version 2004 is out, Microsoft has released a collection of VMs ready to run on a variety of hypervisors. Supported hypervisors include VMware, Microsoft’s own Hyper-V, Oracle’s VirtualBox, and the MacOS native Parallels runtime environment. As shown in the lead-in screenshot for this story, there’s more included than just a bare OS. Those who download the 20 GB Windows 10 Enterprise edition will also get a copy of the the Windows 10 SDK, Version Studio 2019 (with updates as of 6/15/2020), Visual Studio Code, and the Windows Subsystem for Linux with Ubuntu pre-installed. In addition, Developer Mode is enabled for the whole collection, so those interested in digging into Windows development tools and writing some code will be more or less ready to rock’n’roll.
Why Does MS Offer Windows 10 Version 2004 Developer VMs?
The short answer to that question is “enlightened self-interest.” By making it easy and free for developers to dig into and play with the MS development environment’s IDE (Visual Studio) for both Windows and Linux, MS hopes to entice more developers into jumping onto — and writing code for — its platforms. The licensing terms for this free offer are worth reading over (PDF document), especially Installation and Use Rights clause 1.c, which reads:
You may use the software in the virtual hard disk image only to demonstrate and internally evaluate it. You may not use the software for commercial purposes. You may not use the software in a live operating environment.
Also, you’re limited to exactly one free instance. That’s too bad (but entirely understandable) because you could otherwise build entire test and experimental infrastructures using this download. Note also that this particular VM expires on 9/13/2020 (which is probably 90 days from when it was originally created, as is typical for Microsoft evaluation OSes and tools).
Are You Compelled to Write Code if You Download a VM?
Heck no! You can use it for anything you want to, subject to the license restrictions. I think it’s peachy keen because it gives me access to an environment with a working version of Linux pre-installed to play with inside WSL. For that alone, the VM download is worthwhile. For those seeking to learn how to use the various hypervisors on the supported list (VMware, Hyper-V, VirtualBox, and Parallels) it also provides a ready-to-run VM so users can concentrate on learning the hypervisor environment rather than having to figure out how to build a VM at the same time. And of course, for those who do want to write code, access to Microsoft’s fee-based IDE (Visual Studio 2019) and the open source Visual Studio Code collection will also be appealing. Good stuff, all the way around, if you ask me.
Grab your VM(s) from the Download a Windows 10 Virtual Machine page (it’s depicted in part as the lead-in graphic for this story). Enjoy!
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.