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BIOS-based Type 1 Client Hypervisors On The Horizon?

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Phoenix Technologies is offering a Linux-based virtualization platform called HyperSpace enabled by the HyperCore hypervisor embedded within the BIOS. HyperCore is most likely Xen-based and runs specialized core services side-by-side with Windows on Intel VT CPU’s.

Primary value

Its primary value proposition is that it is a fast boot environment. The concept is to boot the user into a VM running Linux and show him a Mozilla-based browser within the first 10 seconds, while Windows is booting up in parallel in another VM within the first minute or so. While the Windows boot in in progress, the user can connect (through Linux) with an available wireless network, browse the Internet, and switch between the two virtual machines using the F4 function key.

What do users think?

Here are some interesting reviews,

Some other fast boot environments are:

However, currently …

Phoenix was selling HyperSpace Dual (Linux only, no HyperCore) and Hybrid (Linux + HyperCore) in 2009 but they seem to have discontinued the Hybrid product line. Was the adoption poor due to limited hardware support? Or, shudder, was the product not fulfilling a customer need?

Perhaps we may see it once again in the near future, the HyperSpace front page hints that “HyperSpace 2.0 is coming soon”.

The technology is cool, but …

Fast boot alone is not a compelling need. There aren’t many times in life when users can’t wait an additional 30 or so seconds to have full access to Windows.

If you look at why Mac users have adopted VMware Fusion for running Windows, you’ll realize that there must be a compelling need for users to change their behavior and adopt something new and different. Users in corporate environments switched to Macs because they did not want a Common Operating Environment Windows desktop, which was locked down by IT. Using Fusion, they can continue to use Office, particularly, Outlook, and especially the Outlook calendar, to continue to meet the demands at work without missing a beat. Conversely, people who have always used Macs did not want to change their lifestyle when they joined a new company and using Fusion, they were able to assimilate into the corporate routine very quickly.

So the question at hand is, what is the compelling use case for a BIOS-based client hypervisor to gain adoption and market penetration?

What is the killer use case?

Perhaps the killer use case is the one that both HyperSpace and Splashtop are already fulfilling today for NetBooks and Nettops, using non-virtualized Linux to provide a Mozilla or Chrome browser as the primary interface for email, Facebook, Zynga, IM, browsing the Internet and using Microsoft Office compatible apps.

This begs the question, is there a compelling need for a Type 1 BIOS-based client hypervisor?

Gabe Knuth has an interesting twist to offer in his post

So what if Citrix, who’s already going to give XenClient away for free, were to partner with Phoenix and other BIOS manufacturers to find a way to include XenClient in the BIOS?

Dear Reader, What do you think?