Scott Lowe identifies an important point about virtualization on the desktop — it’s much more about host-guest interactions than server virtualization. Very true. Scott also makes the point that the Mac, by virtue of its architecture, is the best suited to take advantage of that kind of componentized interaction. Maybe, although if the integration happens at the UI level, it probably doesn’t matter what’s going on underneath.
Virtualization: Virtualization is a key enabling technology
for application agnosticism. As vendors such as VMware, Parallels, and
Microsoft move to provide greater integration between the host and
guest environments, this role becomes more evident. Excellent examples
of this type of host-guest interaction are the drag-and-drop file
sharing of VMware’s Fusion beta, the Coherence feature in Parallels
Desktop for Mac, and the ability of the now-defunct Microsoft Virtual
PC for Mac to launch the PC guest environment when a user
double-clicked on a PC file type in the host environment.
In the datacenter, these kinds of host-guest interactions
are not only unnecessary, but actually undesired—very few would
actually want the ability to drag and drop files between a
host server (assuming there’s actually a host OS present) and a guest
server, especially if that guest server is running in a “headless”-type
scenario in the background. On the desktop side, however, these kinds
of interactions are quite useful, and help extend the desire and
ability of users to actually make use of these kinds of technologies.
It’s these kind of forces that I believe will drive virtualization on
the desktop in a different direction than virtualization on the server,
and what will bring about application agnosticism.
Scott is also still thinking about virtualization as necessarily being on top of a host OS, but that’s a discussion for another day.