Microsoft releases new free Windows 11 virtual machines with March 2024 updates

Microsoft releases new free Windows 11 virtual machines with March 2024 updates

Microsoft has recently released the latest version of its free virtual machine, known as the “Windows Development Environment”(WDE). The release of version 2403, originally scheduled for March, was delayed by Microsoft for unspecified reasons. The latest Windows 11 virtual machines can be downloaded from the official website. These virtual machines are offered in four prebuilt versions for different virtualization software options, including VMware, Parallels (macOS), Hyper-V Gen 2, and VirtualBox.

The March 2024 Patch Tuesday update, build 22621.3296, serves as the foundation for Windows Development Environment version 2403. While WDE 2403 does not currently have the Moment 5 features, which are still optional, it is possible to update it with KB5035942. This update is expected to become mandatory later this month.

Each virtual machine needs a minimum of 70GB of available storage and 8GB of RAM. These virtual machines can be utilized at no cost until June 19, 2024. However, they cannot be activated using license keys, meaning that you must upgrade to a newer version once the current one expires. Once expired, the virtual machines will display a black desktop background, send activation prompts, and shut down every hour. Furthermore, ARM versions of Microsoft’s official Windows 11 virtual machines are not currently available.

The latest version of the Windows Development Environment, 2403, encompasses the following components:

  • Windows 11 Enterprise (Evaluation)

  • Visual Studio 2022 Community Edition with UWP,. NET Desktop, Azure, and Windows App SDK for C# workloads enabled

  • Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 enabled with Ubuntu installed

  • Windows Terminal installed

  • Developer mode enabled

If you intend to utilize Microsoft’s virtual machines on VirtualBox, please be aware that there are some “quirks”in its rendering.

Yes, we have noticed that there are some rendering quirks when using VirtualBox to run these developer images. The Start menu may also look different than expected. We are currently investigating this behavior. In the meantime, we appreciate your patience and understanding.

Additional details regarding virtual machines for Windows Development Environment can be found on the official website here.

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