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I need to create a development environments with Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 on VMWare. Are there free (unrestricted) development type versions of those respective operating systems distributed by Microsoft? Or is there some kind of cheap software network/membership i can sign up for?

Other companies like Oracle make this very easy to download dev copies of Solaris and OEL, but Microsoft seems a little too protective of their operating systems and don't make it easy.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Either Technet or MSDN will suit your needs depending on the exact type of usage you're after (Your subject line says "test" and your question says "development" - they are two very different terms as far as MS is concerned)

They cost around $500/year, and provide you with almost a complete suite of Microsoft products. Their prices for technet (which is the only one I'm familiar with) is a tiny fraction of the cost of actually purchasing the software outright (but comes with a very, very tight restrictions on how they can be used)

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Thank you sir. This helps a lot! I was using these "dev" and "test" terms very loosely, I was referring to development. Yeah for test environments i believe you have to pay in full.. – GavinWoods Jan 24 '11 at 14:40

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