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I'm looking to build a cluster of test machines that run XP, Vista and Win7 with 32/64 bit versions but I'd like to build these into a cloud system.

Looking at EC2 I can't install XP and I can't see any others that provide this.

So, does anyone know of an on-demand cloud platform that works like EC2 (per instance billing and on demand) but that would allow me to install custom operating system configurations?

Yes, I know that XP will be insecure etc and this is probably why Amazon don't want to touch it, but for my purposes I need large quantity of machines that represent real world scenarios. Hence XP, Vista and 7.

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How about NewServers or SoftLayer? They allow you to provision real, bare-metal hardware on demand (Dell blades for NewServers) which means you won't have to worry about support for odd OS configurations. The prices are slightly higher than a virtualised environment such as EC2, but you still have the per-hour, on-demand flexibility.

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Depending on how comfortable you feel with this sort of setup, you could get a dedicated server with Citrix XenServer installed and set up these test environments in virtual machines, this will however incur a monthly fee vs. billing per hour, but I don't see how else you will be able to do it otherwise, as providers can't license XP, Vista or Win7 for you to use on a server, only server editions.

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