Microsoft has updated its free Windows 11 virtual machines (VMs), which could give users the perfect way to sample the new operating system before making the switch.
The previous Windows 11 VMs, due to expire on July 10, have been replaced with a new set with an expiration date of September 11. The offering is designed to give developers a way to toy around with the OS, but the downloads are available to all.
The latest update currently supports four different virtualization software options: VMWare, Hyper-V, VirtualBox and Parallels.
The news arrives on the heels of research (opens in new tab) that suggests Windows 11 is still struggling to attract new users, with Windows 10 continuing to hold the lion’s share of the market.
Sampling Windows 11
The new virtual machines are available to download via the Microsoft website (opens in new tab). However, they do not offer a route past the notoriously stringent Windows 11 hardware requirements, and users will need 20GB of empty disc space too.
The virtual machines are up for grabs until September, and will give users access to tools such as Visual Studio 2022 with the UWP, .NET Desktop, Azure, and Windows App SDK for C# workloads enabled, as well as Windows Subsystem for Linux with Ubuntu installed.
But there’s no reason non-developers couldn’t use the VMs to test out the new version of Windows ahead of a potential transition too.
The announcement lands as Microsoft has been pushing out numerous updates for Windows 11. For example, Windows 11 users are set for a newly spiced up search function with the latest round of updates.
The new “Search Highlights” feature promises to “present notable and interesting moments of what’s special about each day – like holidays, anniversaries, and other educational moments – both globally and in your region” via clicking or tapping on the taskbar.
And separately, Microsoft is preparing to roll out an update for File Explorer, introducing a tabbing system for the first time to help reduce desktop clutter and improve multitasking.
These updates are unlikely to matter much for users in Russia, however, as users in the region can reportedly no longer download Windows 10 and Windows 11 as the country continues its crackdown on Western technology.