I was recently enrolled in an official Microsoft training course delivered by New Horizons. The learning platform offered labs on remote virtual machines. From my web browser, using Silverlight, I was able to create and launch a virtual instance of Windows 7 Ultimate complete with the lab material, and do work within Visual Studio.
The surprise was the Windows 7 alerts that the machine was not genuine, and that I may be running counterfeit software. The machine was only needed for a couple hours, so I'm guessing any time-based limitation for running non-genuine software would not be seen. I just really found it interesting that official Microsoft training has those kind of notifications.
It did get me thinking though. My main question, is there a fast and affordable way to build a Windows testing platform using virtual machines? Is it possible to, for example, create a virtual Windows machine image with some software on it, genuine or not, then easily copy it for testing purposes? Do non-genuine machines expire, or will the genuine authentication system only allow for X number of days usage from install before blocking access entirely, in which case copies would be useless?
I'm trying to avoid long Windows installs for testing simple things. I also don't want to I'm thinking if I wanted to test out some IIS settings, and didn't want to break a real machine. Or testing out software installers. Or alternate web browsers. Similar to New Horizons, I would only need the machine for a day at most, then could discard it.