Yesterday, MS released SQL Server 2005 SP2, and Virtual PC 2007. I'm downloading both right now, but I doubt that I'll end up using Virtual PC 2007, which is somewhat odd since I play around with virtual machines all the time.
On my disk, I have virtual images of just about every OS Microsoft has released, a virtual image of my old TRS-80 Model I Level II, and I even played around with Mac OS X 10.3 (pre-Intel--thank you PearPC). I first started playing with virtual machines way back before MS had purchased Virtual PC. At the time I was using VMWare Workstation (version 4, I think). I was an MSDN Operating Systems subscriber and an Action Pack subscriber at the time. Virtual PC was included with each of these (this was before they made it free), and since VMWare Workstation was $99, I decided to give it a try. Virtual PC wasn't quite as good was VMWare Workstation, but it was close enough for my purposes, especially considering the price difference.
Unfortunately, Virtual PC has become the Internet Explorer of Microsoft's OS division. They haven't kept up with VMWare at all. Virtual PC is slow, and you need the new 2007 version to support Vista as either a host or a guest. Also, it doesn't support having 32-bit guests on 64-bit hosts (one of the reasons I don't have a 64-bit machine yet), although I'm not sure VMWare Workstation does either. The current version I have installed doesn't support such niceties as USB, and it doesn't appear that Virtual PC 2007 does either.
So, I recently downloaded VMWare Workstation 5.5 (you get a 30-day free trial), and so far I'm thrilled with it. I'm even ready to fork over my $99 for it. Now, it's not without flaws either. I downloaded VMWare's Converter product to convert my Virtual PC's to VMWare VM's. I was specifically playing around with a Windows 98 SE image that day, so I started with that. It converted my IDE drive to a SCSI image and then proceeded to tell me that I couldn't boot because my installed OS didn't recognize SCSI drives. Hmmm...shouldn't the converter have realized that and not converted it? Actually, it would've been really nice if the converter could've left it as an IDE drive, but I didn't see that as an option anywhere.
So, I set up a new machine from scratch and installed Windows 98 SE on it. This turned out to be more painful than I expected. Microsoft doesn't support Windows 98 anymore. You can still download all the patches from update.microsoft.com with a small caveat. The site doesn't work with IE versions prior to 6 (and there's nothing to tell you that--it just fails if you try it with an earlier version), and of course Windows 98 SE doesn't ship with IE version 6. How do you get IE 6 installed? Well, you go to the update site of course.
Am I the only one who sees a problem here? I eventually did find an image of IE 6 on another site (tucows.com, I think), but while I was stumbling around, I also found the Auto-patcher for Windows 98 SE, which is beyond slick. It has all the patches released by MS for Windows 98 SE, and a few tools like TweakUI and 7-zip. It checks to see which ones you need installed and then installs them, and reboots when necessary. So, you create your new Windows 98 SE box, download the patcher, start it up and go watch a basketball game or something. A while later and after more reboots than I can count, you have an up-to-date Windows 98 SE box. Which now works great under VMWare Workstation 5.5!
UPDATE: I did end up buying VMWare. I got a NIB version off of e-Bay for $129. So far, I really like it. And, I get a free upgrade to Version 6 when it's released.