WinHEC 2008 agenda confirms native VHD support

A couple of months ago in May I wrote about an interesting Microsoft job posting that hinted at the idea of native Virtual Hard Disks (VHD) support in Windows 7 that would allow users to create, mount, unmount and even boot from these disk images without additional software allowing for interesting use-scenarios for not just enterprise users and home users as well.

Well the good news is that the rumor is now confirmed as a recently updated WinHEC 2008 agenda touts a session dedicated to this particular functionality with one subtle difference – targeted at Windows Server 2008 R2.

Windows Boot from One Image Format – ENT-T606
Presenter(s): Paul Rambo, Peter Brundrett

Virtual hard disk (VHD) is becoming a de facto standard image format for virtual machine operating system images. This session discusses native support of VHD in Windows Server 2008 R2. This support allows users, administrators, and vendors of storage and management tools to operate on VHDs as they would other storage devices. This creates opportunities for lowering operational costs by enabling customers to use a single image creation, deployment, and maintenance process and toolset across virtual and physical environments.

Technically Windows Server 2008 R2 is not Windows 7 – the name gives it away, but like Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, they are in theory based on the same kernel and developed in parallel. However just because it’s there doesn’t mean it’ll work – whether this feature will be “switched on” in Windows 7 remains a mystery. If my opinion is worth anything, I think it’ll be a killer feature for pro-users. Is it too early to speculate about Windows 7 Ultimate Extras?

26 insightful thoughts

  1. This, if it will be in Windows 7 (it would be a component, but if it is included or not is another matter), would probably be in Business and Ultimate editions of 7, and not in the Home version as per previous conventions.

  2. This is a much needed baseline feature, not an Ultimate Extra. Btw, whatever happened to the common virtualization format all the vendors were working upon which would make the same virtual machine run in any virtual app?

  3. Ultimate Extras? Ooh, that would be delightful if the team got around to releasing things on time :P
    But yes, I’d see no reason not to get Windows 7 or Server 2008 with software such as this. It’s always a delight.

  4. “This is a much needed baseline feature”

    Depends on your baseline. I don’t see the vast majority of home users using this at all. Making it Ultimate-only sounds like a bad idea, though.

    And I hope they just drop Ultimate Extras altogether. I still love the idea, but they screwed up so badly last time that I just don’t want them to bother this time around.

    That’s right, they ruined a great idea so much that I don’t even want them to try harder next time. I hope somebody high up at Microsoft realises this.

  5. Well it’s only taken Microsoft 5 releases of Mac OS X to replicate iDisk functionality. Bit of a slow photocopier I’d say!

  6. “Well it’s only taken Microsoft 5 releases of Mac OS X to replicate iDisk functionality. Bit of a slow photocopier I’d say!”

    In what way is creating, mounting and booting virtualized disk images a replication of a network drive that maps to online storage?

  7. Actually, WIndows Server 2008 R2 *is* Windows “7″ Server… MJ and Ed Bott talked about this a while back.

    If you need further evidence of the VHD stuff going native, I had a Connect bug from Vista about native VHD support closed as “External” two weeks ago.

  8. Windows 7 Super Edition Code-named “Zeus” With Included Booster Pack Adding the Capabilities of Virtual Hard Disks Plus More 2009… Can’t wait.

  9. I think all this editions are whats messing up microsoft’s support. just make a light version and a heavy version, my god man. I hope they have a secret team working on the win3.0 directors cut.

  10. Ok, so first off I would like to see Windows 7 have only 1 edition, and ideally it should be priced the same as Vista Home Premium. If we have to have more than one edition, make it just 3 – Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate. Or just Home Premium and Ultimate. Anyhow, the native VHD support would be GREAT!!!! It should definately be in all the editions (or hopefully in the one only edition ;-). And if they don’t want to have this directly in Windows, then make it be a feature of Virtual PC 2010 (or whatever they call it) and let it be supported on all versions of Windows 7 (hey, and also let it be supported on Vista and maybe even XP … hmm). But considering that Hyper-V Server is a free download already, it seems like the logical next step would be to mold that into Windows v.Next :-D.

    And here’s one more idea … if we are going to have multiple versions of Windows 7, then they should release Windows 7 Home Premium as a Vista Ultimate extra, or let you get Windows 7 Ultimate at a discount. That might make all current Windows Vista Ultimate users real happy with their Ultimate Extras, right? Though I though Ultimate was still worth it without the Extras because it is Business + Home … Media Center + Business Networking. And the Extras we have now are pretty good. But if they do that, it would be amazing!

  11. I agree with Robert, I found it unusual you described Windows Server 2008 R2 as technically not Windows 7. Would that make Windows 2000 Server ‘technically’ not NT 5.0 regardless 2000 Server and 2000 Professional are the same version? Unless you meant, they don’t share some of the same attributes, one is meant for client/server computing, while the other is desktop operating system.

  12. Heaven forbid the return of Ultimate Extras. Give us Windows 7 Home and Windows 7 Professional and cut out the marketing schemes….

  13. @Andre Da Costa: What I meant was that Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 is not bit for bit, although are “strategically aligned”.

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