Microsoft has for free the Virtual Server or Virtual PC 2007 SP 1 as virtualization software. I wanted to test Microsoft Windows 2003 R2 Server. On the Virtual Appliance Marketplace at VMware is only a VHD from Microsoft available. A VHD is the Microsoft vm image type. I installed the Microsoft Virtual Server and had no luck to start the vhd image successfully. Virtual PC 2007 works instead. I can start the VM and configure this vm server as active directory, DNS and WINS server like described in this howto. The networking functionality in Microsoft Virtual Server/PC is a pain in my ass. For active directory and dns server is a fixed ip configured inside the vm. No clue on which ip i can reach my vm from the host system. Sun virtualbox works in that aspect more like expected. You can switch between NAT and hostonly mode. With the host only networking mode has the VM a fixed ip inside the host system. So far so good. I tested this with a ubuntu 9.04 server as guest os inside virtualbox. For updates you need to shutdown, reconfigure to use NAT and start the vm again. In NAT mode is the vm only accessible via the virtualbox window. You have to define each port manually if you want to access the NAT vm from outside the virtualbox. Typically i use such a vm ubuntu server as subversion, maven artifactory, … server for development. VMware server 2.x works for me like expected. NAT networking to have internet access from the guest os and full access on all ports from the hostsystem. The guest os see a DHCP networking interface and the host os has a fixed ip to access the vm. So how do i get the 30 days trial edition from Microsoft Windows 2003 server get to run inside VMware server? After setting up the server inside Virtual PC you had to remove the Virtual Machine additions via the menu. This additions are not available as software package inside the software overview in windows 2003 server. Now shutdown the guest os and close virtual pc. With the VMWare vCenter Converter 3.0.3 (Starter Edition) you can convert the VHD to a VMX image for VMWare Server or Player. Select in the last step of the wizard to remove all checkpoints inside the guest os, to install VMWare tools and to setup the networking interface (NAT on one instead of two nic). The VHD image has 1,5 GB and needs on my laptop round about 1h to convert. After that i can start VMWare server and register this new guest os image. The converter has set the type correct to MS Windows 2003 server 32bit. A little bit annoying is that my bluetooth connected mouse works perfect inside Virtual PC but not out of the box inside the VMWare window 🙁 So i grabbed my old usb mouse to have a running mouse. With the Sysinternals ADExplorer i can examine my new active directory from my host os. Inside eclipse 3.5 is Apache Directory Studio a good choice to to access the AD via LDAP.