Using Virtual Machines to Test VMS SystemsBy John Honovich, Published on Dec 29, 2009
If you want to try out new software, like VMS, and are concerned about creating problems with your PC, you should certainly use Virtual Machines.
A verbose rant from a security consultant demonstrates the errors and issues one may face [link no longer available] when you test new software on your own 'production' PC. The security consultant could easily have avoided this by running a Virtual Machine.
Basically, you install an executable on your production PC. This allows your computer ('the host') to run 'guest' Operating Systems without impacting the settings of your PC's application/OS.
VMWare is the most well known. They offer an edition, called VMWare Workstation, that is designed just for this - testing and trying out applications. The VMWare Workstation has $189 USD list price. Consider Sun's VirtualBox an open source, no cost alternative that also allows for running 'guest' OS.
Once the virtualization service is running, you can install a variety of Windows OS, Linux distributions, etc. The new VMS application you want to run can be run inside the guest OS, providing security and isolation from your production OS/PC.