Over the past few days I've been doing a lot of research around the issue of the VPCs issued with VS2008 / TFS 2008 Beta2 expiring on November 1, 2007.  I wanted to share my findings with everyone. 

First, because it wasn't clear to me what would happen to the VPCs after November 1st, I've emulated the timeout experience on my machine.  Turns out the behavior wasn't as bad as I had first imaged.  After the OS expiration date passed, the VPC continued to run normally for an hour.  Then a message box was displayed notifying me that the evaluation period for Windows had expired and that the VPC would continue to run for another hour before rebooting:

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During this time, the system continued to run normally, meaning that you should have plenty of time to retrieve your data and move it to another system.  After the system shut down, I was able to restart it and have another two hours to use it until it shut down again.  As far as I can tell, I could repeat that cycle as many times as I wanted.

For some, like those using the VPC for demo purposes, this may be a tolerable situation and no additional action will be required.  For those that need to use the VPC for longer than 2 hrs at a time, you can upgrade your installation of the OS as long as you have a valid license for Windows Server 2003.  Turns out we have a few of those lying around here so I took one and upgraded my copy to be sure that worked okay.  Anyone that has an MSDN subscription probably has valid licenses available to use for an upgrade.

After putting the DVD in (and using the CD menu to "Use Physical Drive D:") I got the following dialog

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After typing in my Product ID (no, I won't be showing that dialog), the upgrade proceeded and completed in a couple hours.  I verified with 'winver' that the OS was properly upgraded and that the timeout had been removed.  Afterwards, I checked to make sure the installation of Visual Studio and TFS still worked correctly.

So, based on this evaluation, I see three possible alternatives:

  • Do nothing: if you don't need to use your VPC for more than an hour or so at at time (for instance for demos), then you can probably tolerate the behavior of the timed out OS.
  • Upgrade OS to fully licensed version: if you have access to a fully licensed version of Windows Server, follow the steps above and upgrade the expired OS. 
  • Use new VPC images: if you can't upgrade the VPC OS and want to continue to use VS2008 / TFS2008 Beta2 on a regular basis, you'll probably want to use the new VPC images which we'll publish early the week of October 29.  If you have data in TFS, you'll need to follow the instructions on moving TFS servers.

So, while it's an unfortunate situation that our VPCs are expiring early, I'm relieved that there are several alternative approaches for people to follow depending on their situation.

We're nearly done with the process of publishing the new VPC images.  When that's complete, I'll post another note to let everyone know.