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Is there such thing as an "install environment" or "system emulator" program for software evaluation

Is there such thing as an "install environment" or "system emulator" program, which creates a safe memory area into which you can install and evaluate software?
While I am not a programmer, my experience with software installations and testing has proven that such a product would be ideal during an evaluation of software products.

These test environments in most cases translate to a dedicated workstation that serves the aforementioned purposes, allowing you to modify system files (which are sometimes critical ones) without worrying about the results it will have on the workstation's operating system, while you monitor what files and registry entries are modified, giving you an overall view on how the candidate program is behaving.

Unfortunately, I am not aware of any such software that will create the environment we are talking about, on your personal workstation you used for your everyday tasks. However, there are solutions similar to the one I previously mentioned.

While having a dedicated workstation for testing purposes, loaded with third party software that will take a snapshot of the system before and after your target program is installed, is quite frankly an ideal situation, you can move to a different – but similar approach: VmWare!

Vmware is a great piece of software that will allow you to install a virtual workstation on top of your existing operating system. The program will create the virtual system using one single file which you specify how big it will be. This allows you to create multiple 'virtual' workstations which you can work with and reuse as required without damaging your own since they are contained within one large file.

For more information and a demonstration of the product, visit their Web site and give it a try as I'm sure it's the best possible solution for you.

This was last published in February 2004

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