By 2007/08, we expect nearly all new PCs to ship enabled with.
irtualization technology. Nearly everyone sees this as the wave of the future, with Intel and MSFT both on the bandwagon, and VMWare, the current premiere vendor of virtualization SW gaining recognition. However, the notion of being able to run two or more instances of Windows on the same machine, or Windows and Linux (or MacOS, as per the previous article) are much too limiting.
I believe the real benefit of virtual machine technology will come when we get beyond the simple model of multiple OSes, and start thinking out of the box about how it will change the way we compute.
One such example immediately comes to mind. A new company called U3, jointly funded by M-Systems and Sandisk, the 2 premiere flash drive manufacturers in the industry, is floating a new idea. Building upon the notion that flash drives are growing in storage capacity exponentially while the prices continue to decline, they believe the next logical step is just that – building logic into the drive itself. The U3 spec provides a way for applications to interface with the flash drive to protect the data, install viewers, or even deploy complete applications. The APIs that U3 proposes are fairly open and allow many unique ways to empower the currently dumb device with smarts, and they are building a growing list of HW manufacturers to deploy the technology.
Technology aside for the moment, what does all this mean? Well, imagine walking around with a 5-10GB flash drive (which will not be unusual in 2-3years), with more than just raw data. Imagine having an API that tells a machine you plug into what to do next. Then imagine it can hold not only your entire document file, but a personal version of Office or Outlook or some other productivity app. Then imagine walking up to a PC, virtually (and this is the key word) any PC, and plugging in the flash drive. Once plugged into the USB port, a new virtual machine instance pops up (almost instantly) that is completely personalized for you and your needs-all from the contents of a little flash drive device in your pocket or bag, or built into a phone or other personal device (say, an iPod or Palm).