Test Drive Software: Vista, Linux, and Apps

The list of software programs you can try online without needing to download is getting longer all the time.


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Did the Mojave experiment not quite convince you to go out and get Windows Vista? Perhaps you’re a Windows user wanting to learn more about Linux. Or, maybe you want to evaluate an application without installing anything.

In that case, test drive software is just what you need.

When I first heard about test driving Windows and Linux, I was a bit skeptical. A browser-based rendition of a fully working operating system? C’mon. I thought it would crawl – even with my 20Mbit Internet connection.

Nevertheless, I went and tried the Test Drive for Windows Vista. Now it needs to be said that the test drive will only work with Internet Explorer, because it requires Active X controls (sorry Firefox users). However, you are testing a Microsoft product so I guess we can say fair’s fair.

Just provide an email address and choose your country. You’ll get a full working version of Windows Vista Ultimate with Service Pack 1. In fact, not just Vista Ultimate, but also the full Office 2007 suite and some other neat features, such as the Application Compatibility Toolkit, Deployment Toolkit and even a few demos to show you some of the cool new items available in Vista.

The test drive’s responsiveness was actually surprising. The applications all opened with little delay and everything worked just as it does on my desktop. The only real drawback was launching applications to check out the screen flipping option. Due to graphics limitations, I got a few hardware errors and it took a few minutes to load everything to test the functionality.

Overall, I was impressed and I thought it was cool to be able to run Vista in a browser. So I wanted to see what else I could “Test Drive” from my Web browser. The next few things I found had the advantage of being available to all browsers.

Test Driving Linux

In my search I found Linux Test Drive. This beta project allows the user to determine the best distribution of Linux and then to test it online. At this point they’re just taking registrations and will email users once it’s all ready for testing.

For a working distribution, try going to Ulteo and signing up for a free account. Then you can launch their browser-based desktop. This distribution is loaded with Linux applications, including the OpenOffice suite. Other available Linux apps include Firefox, Thunderbird, Kopete and KPDF.

Ulteo allows you to share your desktop session and to store up to 1GB of data. There is an application version, which installs onto your Windows PC and includes hundreds of Linux-based applications. So if you enjoy features from each of these two operating system platforms you can have the best of both worlds. It gets better still: you can download the Ulteo virtual desktop and run Linux applications from Windows by simply launching the applications from the Ulteo panel.

More Test Drive Options

But test driving operating systems is not all you can do – a few applications and collaboration products will also let you test drive them.

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Tags: Linux, Firefox, search, Microsoft, Internet Explorer

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