This post over at istartedsomething.com talks about a (possible) groovy new feature in Windows 7: built-in support for virtual hard drive (VHD) files.
VHD files are the “virtual hard drives” used in Microsoft’s virtualization software, like Virtual PC and Virtual Server. Normally, one installs Virtual PC on a Windows XP or Windows Vista computer, then generates a VHD file to act as a “virtual hard drive” for a virtual computer. You then install Windows XP, Windows Server, or whatever operating system you need on that virtual hard drive. You can then boot up the virtual machine and use it exactly as you would a “real” computer.
Adding native support for VHD files means that you could boot directly into a VHD file without having to run Virtual PC on the computer. This would allow you to run VHD computers at “native speed” without first loading a host OS. Even better, you could have multiple virtual hard drives on a system: you could have a “work” virtual hard drive (with Office, QuickBooks, and whatever else you need to do your job) as well as a “play” virtual hard drive (with games and music files). And if Microsoft’s talk about Windows 7 is to be believed, you could even optimize the “play” VHD for gaming by giving Windows 7 the smallest possible footprint.
There are also huge implications for system administrators, too. With Windows 7, an administrator might be able to make an VHD image using Virtual PC, then push that image out to corporate desktops so that everyone is using the same desktop computer image. Now that would be cool!
Any thoughts about this?