Today my employer hosted an internal conference and Microsoft just happened to be there which I wasn’t expecting. Specifically, they were there showing off Windows 8 running on a Samsung Series 7 11.6” tablet. I had ran the Developer Preview of Windows 8 on my older HP tablet which was an OK experience but the hardware was not optimized for Windows 8.
The Series 7 is designed for Windows 7 but I have to say that the early experience was impressive. The hardware is not as portable as my iPad but I consider this tablet to be a different use case than the iPad. MS had a wireless keyboard and the very stylish and sleek docking port for the tablet. I quickly imagined this being my portable solution. I’m actually tempted to get the existing setup running Windows 7. My current laptop is more of a desktop replacement machine and every time I travel I wish I had something along the lines of an ultrabook but the flexibility of a tablet.
My early experience with Windows 8 running on this tablet was pretty nice. The MS rep pulled out his phone and compared the Metro interface on the Windows 8 Phone to the Metro Interface running on the tablet. He spoke to a couple of use cases with factory workers and integration with ERP applications. It is a compelling story from an enterprise support and application development perspective.
I’m looking forward to getting a couple of these in the lab and really stretching it out a bit. I’m really interested in the Intel platform and seeing how end users actually take to these devices and what type of real world battery life they get.
Zdnet has an interesting debate about Hyper-V 3 on Windows Server 8 vs. vSphere 5.0. Hyper-V to this point has been a great value play for organizations that didn’t have huge management requirements for their virtualized environment. It’s support for Linux has actually improved a lot as well.
But I think it’s unreasonable to think the Windows 8 will have an sizable impact on VMware’s market share in the short term (next 1 or so). I don’t see the argument for a OS that’s not scheduled to be released this year. Microsoft has a poor track record of delivering all the features shipped in beta as part of the production release. I just can’t see myself making a decision based on the promises of a not yet shipped product.
With that said, I look forward to the release of Windows 8 (client and server) and the push it will give VMware on both innovation and price. It’s time someone shook up the market and brought real competition to this space.
Windows 8 on HP TouchSmart
I’ve been toying with the idea of installing Windows 8 Developers Preview on my HP TouchSmart 1025dx Laptop. In theory this should be a decent preview of Windows 8 Tablets to come. The TouchSmart laptop is a Multitouch and Pen based Windows 7 ready laptop and should make for an interesting experience.
The target system has an AMD Turion X2 64-bit CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 320GB HD. It previously ran a 64-bit copy of Windows 7 Professional. I wanted to install the 64 bit version of Windows 8. I’ve installed Windows 8 in a VM and it took about 45 minutes to install. I wanted to see if there was an upgrade option so, I launched the install from within Windows 7.
There was no option to upgrade from my current OS to the developer preview. I had to perform a clean install and as a result lost all my data. It took approximately 75 minutes from the launch of the setup to the completion of the install.
The experience was overall pretty lacking. Windows 8 is currently only in a developers preview. Windows 8 itself is an exciting new approach to desktop computing but a little raw. The larger problem is that the hardware and software weren’t strongly integrated at this case. None of the hardware shortcut buttons worked. Also the automatic screen re-orientation when rotating didn’t work. All of the native Window 8 applications launched. I did have some issues with IE. Once I launched it no key stroke/touch combination would allow me to exit. I had to place the machine in sleep and wake it up to switch between IE and the new Windows 8 start screen. I had other experiences similar to this such as artifacts within IE 8 when scrolling the webpage.
These are all OEM software and driver related issues. The 1025 is a couple of years old so as expected all the basic system drivers were there for things like wireless and video. Multitouch did work and I was able to switch from Touch and Pen based input at will. I was also able to swipe the screen which gave me a preview of what the full experience would be on hardware designed for Windows 8. I look forward to the full experience.
With all the exciting news about vSphere 5.0 and the Windows 8 beta being released over the past couple of week’s one product announcement may have gone unnoticed. VMware Workstation 8 was released. For us virtualization geeks this is a big deal.
Related post – Physical vs. Virtual lab
One of the nice surprises with the release of Workstation 8.0 is the addition of Virtualization of Intel VT-x and AMD-V/RVI. What does this mean? Well now you can run a 64-bit nested VM within a virtual instance of vSphere and you can run other bare metal hypervisors such as Hyper-V
I upgraded the hardware of an existing Windows 2008 Server R2 VM I had from Workstation 7 to hardware version 8 and enabled Virtualize Intel VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI and was able to successfully add the Hyper-V role to this server. To change the hardware version you can right click on the VM and select “Manage” and then “Change Hardware Compatibility”
The big test was to try and run a nested VM within the Hyper-V host. I was disappointed that it just didn’t work. Two virtual drivers needed to run Hyper-V services would not start. Virtual Machine Bus and Virtual Infrastructure Driver both indicated a problem in the device manager of the Hyper-V host. This made me look to “The Google” where I found an extremely helpful blog post here
Of all the advice on the page the one thing that made the two drivers work were adding the following line to the configuration file for the Hyper-V VM.
hypervisor.cpuid.v0 = “FALSE”
Once I added this switch the error code for the two drivers disappeared. I was then able to boot my nested virtual machine. I actually got extremely ambitious and decided to install 64-bit Windows 8 as the nested VM.
I had given the Hyper-V host a lot of resources – 4GB RAM and 2 CPU’s. The nested Windows 8 machine had 1 GB of RAM and 1 CPU. It took about 1 hour to install the Windows 8 VM and it was one of the slowest nested machines I’ve ran to date but it worked. This is an incredible leap in desktop virtualization technology and will make future labs extremely flexible. To get an idea of what typical nested performance is like take a look at my post on vSphere performance inside of Workstation 7. Time to buy more RAM 🙂
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