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The new free VMware Player could be a great tool for ISVs to help prospective customers evaluate their software easier and faster (just as I noted in my last posting). ISVs could offer fully preconfigured virtual machines with their trial software and interested users could get the software up and running in just a minute. This is especially useful for software where you need to fulfill some major requirements.

One example for this scenario could be the help desk software HelpSpot from UserScape. Ian Landsman, the founder of UserScape, just released HelpSport and he is offering a trial download for potential customers to test his software. As HelpSpot is web based, it has some major dependencies like a web server, database engine and script language attached to it. Now to evaluate HelpSpot, it could take hours and hours to install and configure a web server, a database and a scripting language. To get a competitive advantage, Ian could configure a Linux virtual machine with Apache, MySQL, PHP and the HelpSpot trial and offer it as a free download (additionally to the normal trial download). This would make the whole evaluation process much easier for his users and could lead to more paying customers in the end.

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