What If Microsoft Virtualization Editions Existed?

cropcircleswirlThe fact that Microsoft has embraced virtualization is an understatement. The fact that Microsoft has been slow to embrace other virtualization vendor’s capabilities to run Windows operating systems as guests is equally an understatement, but what if this wasn’t the case? That is, what if Microsoft abandoned the licensing strategy of anchoring Windows to physical hardware? What if the folks at Redmond recognized virtual hardware and virtual machines (VMs) as equals to physical devices when assigning licenses? Taking it a step forward, what if specialized versions of the various Windows operating systems and applications were specifically developed for VMs along with special licensing? Maybe it will never happen, but there have been a few signs recently that give one hope for the possibility.

Like crop circles, the following are some posts that caused me to wonder “what if?”.

First, there was a rumor about a virtualized version of Microsoft Office.
latoga labs – Rumor: Microsoft Office Virtualization Edition

“I heard an interesting rumor this week that Microsoft is planning on updating their licensing model in the near future for Microsoft Office to introduce a virtualization version. The way it was described to me is that if you want to migrate your physical desktops to virtual desktops and run Microsoft Office on them, you will need to purchase a special Office Virtualized Edition.”

Interesting no doubt, but the more I think about this rumor it really starts to sound like a reason to justify making companies pay for another Office license – as if the first Office license can’t P2V with the OS? I have not heard anything else since about “Virtualized Office”.

Next there was the   announcement that Microsoft has identified a market opportunity for a low cost version of Server 2008 designed to run on low-end servers. To fulfill this need, Microsoft released Server 2008 Foundation, which comes pre-installed on hardware when purchased through original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Paul Thurrott’s post Windows Server 2008 Foundation Preview explains Microsoft’s vision for this version:

“Microsoft saw a glaring hole in its product line, one that was not filled by the consumer-focused Windows Home Server or the overly-functional SBS. This year, it’s possible to purchase perfectly capable low-end servers for well under $1000. So it doesn’t make sense that Microsoft’s lowest cost infrastructure server, Windows Server 2008 Standard, costs $500. Clearly what the company needed was something that offered core Server features but came in well under that price.”

Which makes me wonder if Microsoft would ever create a similar edition for virtual instances of server 2008?

Finally, the biggest news about a virtual edition of a Windows operating system was XP Mode in the upcoming Windows 7.

Again a post from Paul Thurrott along with Rafael Rivera – Secret No More: Revealing Windows XP Mode for Windows 7

“XP Mode consists of the Virtual PC-based virtual environment and a fully licensed copy of Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (SP3). It will be made available, for free, to users of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions via a download from the Microsoft web site. (That is, it will not be included in the box with Windows 7, but is considered an out-of-band update, like Windows Live Essentials.) XPM works much like today’s Virtual PC products, but with one important exception: As with the enterprise-based MED-V (Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization) product, XPM does not require you to run the virtual environment as a separate Windows desktop. Instead, as you install applications inside the virtual XP environment, they are published to the host (Windows 7) OS as well. (With shortcuts placed in the Start Menu.) That way, users can run Windows XP-based applications (like IE 6) alongside Windows 7 applications under a single desktop.”

My understanding of XP Mode is that it is a specialized VM edition of Windows XP.

What If?

Would it not be nice if a “Windows Server v12n Edition” existed? How about Windows Desktop V12N? Stripped of the extra drivers and applications. Licensed per virtual machine. Free to migrate between virtual hosts. Allow the hot add and remove of virtual RAM and CPU. Operating systems tweaked to be easily cloned for dynamic demand. Applications written so that they could be duplicated as needed with services that could self load balance. Able to leap tall buildings …

Is my head in the clouds, and, for that matter, are these crop circles just a hoax?

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Rich Brambley

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