UPDATE: I could not slip the subtle beg for an MSDN subscription I surreptitiously embedded in this post past my astute readers. Many thanks to James Avery for contributing an MSDN subscription to this grateful developer. Now that I have my MSDN subscription, I say this whole VPC licensing thing is a non-issue and quit whining about it. (I joke, I joke!).

In a recent post I declared that Virtual PC is a suitable answer to the lack of backwards compatibility support for Visual Studio.NET 2003.  In the comments to that post Ryan Smith asks a great question surrounding the licensing issues involved.

Is Microsoft going to let me use my OEM license key from an ancient machine so that I can run Windows XP in a virtual machine on Vista to test and debug in VS 2003?

I think as developers, we take for granted that we are going to have MSDN subscriptions (I used to but I don’t right now) and plenty of OS licenses for development purposes.  But suppose I sell my old machine and purchase a new machine with Vista installed.  How can I apply the suggested workaround of installing Virtual PC with Windows XP if I don’t have a license to XP?

Ryan wrote Microsoft with this question and received a response that indicated that Microsoft hasn’t quite figured this out. Does this mean that developers need to shell out another $189 or so in order to develop with Visual Studio.NET 2003 in a Virtual PC running Windows XP on Vista?