2. September 2009 19:13
Ever since I heard that Windows 7 would include a boot loader which supported booting directly from a VHD file I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Windows 7. For quite some time I have been doing development on virtual machines instead of non-virtual machines in order to be able to isolate the development environment for the different projects, so the boot from VHD option suits me perfectly since it removes the great performance loss of running a virtualisation software on top of an operating system.
I am also a big user of the Hibernate option, both in my private development projects and during work projects. Any time that I need to shut down when in the middle of something (read: not completely finished with something), I always use the Hibernate option in order to save a lot of time when starting again (I won’t have to start up the programs and I don’t have to try and remember when I stopped working last time, it’s right there).
Therefore, after running Windows 7 for a short time, I felt the need to be able to hibernate again, but I couldn’t find the option to turn it on. Thinking that they had just moved it for Windows 7 (it’s their right, after all), I tried <insert favourite search engine here>ing it. Unfortunately, what I found on the Windows Virtualization Team Blog was the following message:
Native VHD boot in this release does not support BitLocker, or hibernation (which includes resuming from hibernate).
The lack of the hibernation option is actually so big for me that I will probably remove my VHD-boot and go back to either running without virtualisation (in which case I will run into problems later on) or just use some desktop virtualisation software (in which case I will have a loss of performance). They do leave some hope for me there, though, when writing that “in this release”-part. Next step for me is to evaluate the option of installing Windows Server 2008 R2 on my laptop and running HyperV. I just need to check on the performance and the ability to hibernate first.
At the TechEd 2009 keynote today, Bill Veghte, VP for the Windows Business, announced that Windows 7 will be released before holidays (Christmas) this year (subscribers will probably get it before that). The same goes for Windows Server 2008 R2, which means that we will see both these systems making great Christmas presents for geeks everywhere.
When Mark Russinovich took over, he presented two things I found very interesting regarding Windows 7; the Problem Steps Recorder and the possibility to boot directly from VHD.
The Problem Steps Recorder will make life easier for geeks everywhere when users (be it customers or friends or family) can record when errors happen instead of having a less-than-computer-savvy (not always the case, of course, but at least most often) person try to explain the steps to reproduce the error.
Giving the BootManager support for booting directly from a VHD really seems like a great thing. I often suggest doing all development within virtual machines since this will isolate environments and keep new projects from messing with the environment of old projects. Being able to boot directly from the different VHDs would mean that the performance loss of running the development environment as a guest OS in Virtual PC or VMWare which in turn is running on a host OS would be gone. The isolated development environment should also be able to benefit from all the real hardware of the computer, instead of relying on the virtualised hardware. There are of course drawbacks to this (e.g. installing drivers to specific hardware makes the VHD more damaged by a move between computers), but I think that eliminating the need to run two OSes (running HyperV or ESX or <insert own favourite here> could of course also be a viable solution, but it would take a whole lot more setting up and managing, I would guess) makes it all worth it.
When it came to the server side, Iain McDonald mentioned (among a lot of other things, of course) a small but still nice feature of Windows Server 2008 R2, the File Classification Infrastructure. Also a nice addition to this is the addition of OCR-technology into Windows Server 2008 R2 which allows it to search even in text within images.