Update 7:50 PM EDT: Access to the missing virtual machine images was restored a few hours after the publication of this article. The original story follows unchanged – we’ll update it if we ever receive a response from Microsoft.
Original Story 4:45 PM EDT: Microsoft usually makes Windows 10 Enterprise virtual machine images available to independent developers through the developer.microsoft.com portal. For some reason, that process went awry this month: Images are now available for Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor, but are noticeably lacking for competing hypervisors VMWare, Parallels, and VirtualBox.
@windowsdev It’s pretty telling that you let the free VMWare/VirtualBox/Parallels Windows dev images expire, but updated the HyperV image. Preferential treatment much?@VMware @virtualbox @ParallelsMac @ParallelsCares Antitrust? 🤑🥳😎@FTC Yo, we got shenanigans going on!
— Matthew Boyette (@Dyndrilliac) July 12, 2021
Ars first found out about this problem via passionate tweet from Matthew Boyette, an Ars reader and independent developer whose workflow relies on these Windows 10 Enterprise VM images. The images themselves are decidedly ephemeral – they expire every month, forcing developers using the program to download new, refreshed images.
The developer’s VM images from June expired five days ago (on July 10), and despite several days of Boyette’s angry tweets, the VM images are still missing. While VM images for Hyper-V, Microsoft’s own hypervisor, were uploaded to the portal in time, developers using VMWare, VirtualBox, or Parallels to host their virtual machines are still out of luck.
The lack of images is a significant problem for developers who depend on them. While it’s true that a developer can still download a Windows 10 ISO and install a new VM from scratch, that doesn’t replace everything the developer VMs offer. For starters, a Windows 10 VM installed from scratch would be unlicensed and therefore not allow certain OS features (such as desktop personalization) that may be important to some developers’ applications.
There’s also a sizable laundry list of preinstalled and preconfigured software and features on the developer image, including the Windows 10 Software Developer Kit, Visual Studio 2019, Visual Studio Code, the Windows Subsystem for Linux (with Ubuntu preinstalled), and more . Recreating the entire environment is certainly still possible, but it represents significant hours of work on the part of the hapless developer attempting this, along with a lot of extra room for error on the part of the developer.
Oddly, the bottom of the developer image download portal shows valid filenames, lengths, and even hashes of the missing VM images – they’re just not available to to download.
Ars inquired about the status of the missing images on Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday afternoon, Microsoft’s PR agency did not respond and the images remain unavailable.