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Now that you have your home lab set up, you will need software to run on it. On this page, we will show you how to save a lot of money on operating systems and other needed software.

For starters, you are going to need at least one operating system. There is no need to pay full price for these. There are plenty of small discounts that you can get on the retail version, but the big savings lie in purchasing an OEM version of Windows. The sites listed below offer various Windows operating systems at discounted prices:
  • DealTime - Comparison shop prices from many different online retailers. You should be able to find very good deals on operating systems here.
  • ProductQuest - Very good deals.
What if you need multiple operating systems or other software such as Microsoft Office or Exchange Server? Buying all of this software can get very expensive, especially when you need server software. This problem is easily solved by using evaluation/trial software. This option is usually free, although you will have to pay any shipping and handling costs if the software will be shipped to you.

To get your evaluation software, check out Microsoft's Trial Software Center. Here you will find what is currently available for free. The trials last anywhere from 30 to 180 days depending on what it is. The nice thing is that after the trial runs out, you can format your drive and install it again.

There are a couple of other ways to get evaluation software. A lot of Microsoft Press' certification preparation books come bundled with evaluation copies of software. Read the official book description to find out what is included with it.

If your company is a TechNet Plus subscriber, ask your boss if you can go through the CDs that should be on file somewhere in your company. The TechNet folder includes a comprehensive selection of evaluation software. If your company is a Microsoft Partner, they should also have the TechNet CD collection. Microsoft has recently changed their policies so that the evaluation software included in Technet Plus no longer has time limits. You can purchase a subscription for $559.

If you are preparing for Linux related certifications, software expense is not really an issue due to the open source nature of the Linux world.

For additional computer security, we recommend installing 3rd party security software, such as VPNs. Here you can find reviews on VPNs.

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