Everyone knows that we can download Microsoft Windows 11 ISO images from the official Microsoft website. These Windows 11 ISO images can be used to install Windows 11 on your PC. But not many people know that we can also download ready-to-use virtual machine images from Microsoft as well.
Microsoft allows the free download of many kinds of virtual machine images for Windows 11. These include virtual machine images for VMware, VirtualBox, Parallels and Hyper-V (2nd Generation). Of all of these, VMware is the easiest to use. Here is how it is done:
- Download and install VMware Player from https://www.vmware.com/go/downloadplayer.
- Download Windows 11 VMware image from https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/downloads/virtual-machines/. It is nearly 25 GB in size so it might take some time to download.
- Extract the VMDK file from the download ZIP file to a folder such as C:\VMware.
- Launch VMware Player, click on Open a Virtual Machine and then select the VMDK file that you extracted.
- Wait for the Windows 11 operating system to load. There is nothing to be configured for the user, it comes with all the settings well configured.
The reason why these virtual machine images are so large is because they contain many more things other than the operating system. In addition to Windows 11 Enterprise Edition, these virtual machine images also have Microsoft Visual Studio 2022 Community Edition, Microsoft Subsystem for Linux with Ubuntu, Windows Terminal and more.
As you can guess, these virtual machine images are targeted for the developers who want to keep an isolated and up-to-date development environment on a virtual machine. One thing to note that all of these virtual machines are time limited and will expire after 90 days from the day of the original release.
If you do not want to download such a big VMDK, then you can also download the Windows 11 ISO file (which is nearly 5.5 GB in size). Then you can use this ISO to install Windows 11 manually through any virtualization software such as Virtual Box or VMware Player.