A year ago, when I blogged about possible plans by Microsoft to include a hypervisor in its Windows 8 client -- and not just the server -- I was told a lot of things. I heard it was impossible, that I was off-base, that it was nothing but a pipe dream.
Cut to June 20, 2011 -- a few days after a new Windows 8 Milestone 3 (M3) build, No. 7989, leaked to the Web. While dissecting the latest bits, WindowsNow.com blogger Robert McLaws discovered that there is, indeed, a Hyper-V 3.0 in the Windows 8 client code base.
"Apparently it’s (Hyper-V 3.0's) been in there for quite a while, but between the focus on Consumer features, and the lack of X64 builds leaking out, it’s the first time we’ve seen it," McLaws blogged.
McLaws said the new Hyper-V includes a number of new storage, memory and networking enhancements. It includes support for a new .VHDX virtual hard-drvie format, he added, as well as support for more than four cores.
Back in 2009, a French Microsoft Security and Technical Director outlined a scenario allegedly being considered for Windows 8, via which almost all applications would run virtually, via a combination of Hyper-V V3, App-V application virtualization technology and MED-V desktop virtualization functionality. Some of these applications would run in virtual machines that would combine applications and operating systems, i.e., an application running on Windows Vista or an application running on a particular flavor of Linux. (It's worth noting that currently the App-V and MED-V technologies are available only to Microsoft Software Assurance licensees as part of a paid bundle known as the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack.)
Building Hyper-V into the Windows 8 client could give Microsoft a way to support legacy Windows applications despite changes in Windows 8's underlying architecture.
Another area where Microsoft’s next-generation virtualization technology could have an impact with Windows 8 is in the Windows update space, as Charon at Ma-Config.com explained a year ago. Managing all the virtual machines enabled on the desktop via Hyper-V 3 will become important. Updating virtual machines while they’re turned off, as well as updating third party applications, will possibly be managed via new Windows Update mechanisms.