I've been reading a number of articles that are predicting that Microsoft is planning to include virtual machine software in Windows 7 as a way to accelerate adoption of the software. A fine example is fellow ZDnet blogger Jason Perlow's post Windows 7's XP Virtualization: I TOLD YOU SO! Let's consider what impact that could have.
Addressing operating system incompatibilities or preserving precious devicesDepending upon how Microsoft tunes up its terms and conditions, this could make it possible for an organization or individual to run each and every application in a separate virtual machine. Each of these machines could appear to be just about any Microsoft or non-Microsoft operating system. This would certainly reduce organization's fears that an older Windows 2000, Windows NT Workstation or Windows XP application would fail. Required, but obscure and obsolete devices could continue to serve their function. If Microsoft didn't get greedy and expect organizations to pay a separate fee for each and every operating system needed to run an individual's workloads on a single host machine, this approach could most certainly give organizations the confidence to move forward that might be missing otherwise
Attacking the dreaded version mismatchAnother common issue in Microsoft's world is application incompatibilities due to mismatched DLLs or other libraries. One application would expect a specific version of both its and Microsoft's libraries. Another application might expect both its and a different version of Microsoft's libraries. Another example would be running applications from third parties built upon different versions of another suppliers tools. In the past, this meant that, like in the Highlander Movie, "there can be only one" that works.
Many application virtualization suppliers have offered products to address this issue. While their approach is much more efficient (a separate operating system is not needed for each application), their products could be sidelined if individuals were allowed to run as many versions of Microsoft's operating system in virtual machines on a single host PC, Microsoft could effectively cut out these middlemen and solve the problem Microsoft created. Microsoft, here's an opportunity for you to get the revenue in your own pocket.
Snapshot analysisIs Microsoft likely to do this? Well, the answer is likely to be yes and no.
Microsoft has a strong desire to get organizations and individuals back on their software release track and off of the "good enough is good enough" track. Including some form of virtual machine software could do the trick.
Microsoft, however, is more than likely going to do something foolish like make some individuals pay for each and every operating system used or place some artificial limits on workloads based upon version of the operating system an individual has selected. As in the past, Microsoft would then be propelling those needing technology as a way to move forward to other host operating environments such as Linux. I'm sure that the folks at Red Hat, SUSE and Ubuntu would be thankful.
What will Microsoft do? Only the planners in Redmond can say for sure and they're not talking just yet. What would you like them to decide?