Lance Ulanoff of PCMag.com posted an extremely interesting theory about where he believes Windows 8 should go architecturally. PCMag.com is more of a consumer/enthusiast site vs. a location I’d normally go for some hardcore virtualization discussion or insight. But I have to say he intrigued me with his idea of where Windows 8 should go.
He suggested something I’ve desired since being introduced to ESX; a completely hypervisor based client OS. I know that VMware has promised such a thing in the past but I’d have to guess drivers are probably being one of the main issues of delivering a shipping product. ESX has traditionally had a tight list of approved hardware configurations. I can’t begin to imagine the challenges they have in trying to deploy a distribution of a client hypervisor that could run on the millions of combinations of PC class hardware that’s available. But if any company is experienced and able to provide the type of hardware vendor support and buy in needed to pull off this new paradigm in computing it has to be Microsoft.
It’s quite overwhelming the number of possibilities that one would have if the client OS and services were built on virtualization. Every application would\could be a sandbox or VM instance. Just off the top I could think of a couple interesting uses for this feature alone. First the idea that you can take snapshots of an individual application state and roll an application back to a date and time vs. the whole system. You could take images of an application and have that same application VM loaded on whatever device you’d prefer. Just think of the implications or opportunities for cloud computing.
This could open a can of worms for MS as well. People could then become less dependent on the Windows ecosystem. In theory, applications can be built in Linux virtual machines and deployed on the Windows 8 client just as easily as any other Windows based app. From a developers perspective this would be great. You could build your applications on one platform and run it in any; kind of the promise of C++, Java, Flash and etc.
Seeing that Windows 8 is at least a few years away, I’m very interested in whether or not VMware’s client hypervisor will ever be released.