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My recovery disc does not work on VMWare. Is there anywhere I can find a Vista image?

Or is it simply illegal?

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It's not illegal to install an unactivated copy of vista - you can use it in trial mode for up to 120 days. However as you've discovered the recovery disk will not perform an install. You could download windows 7 or a trial VHD of vista for testing.

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http://www.vmware.com/appliances/

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If you have access to an OEM Vista install disk then you should be able to use that to install in a VM, but you should not activate the resulting installation as you will invalidating the license at this point and will set yourself up for possible copyright violation based legal action. In fact even installing from an OEM disk that isn't yours is certainly against the license, though if you don't activate it is unlikely to get noticed.

The only ways to my knowledge to legally get hold of ISO images for installation are:

  1. buy a license (in which case you can install from the CD/DVD that comes with that or create an ISO image file from those disks to use)
  2. take out an subscription to the MS Developer Network in which case you get access to downloads of ISO images for all recent Windows variants - though take note that you are not licensed to use these images in a production environment and/or for day-to-day work (just development and testing).

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