September 30, 2011, 11:56 AM — Lately I've heard a lot of odd noise from tech-industry analysts. Not the kind you tell with one hand hiding your mouth, in the bar after the conference, to strangers you trust completely (worse luck).
The kind that involve normally well-involved, almost too-enthusiastic former engineers and tech marketing people asking why putting a hypervisor designed for a server into a desktop operating system would make any sense at all – let alone make enough sense to someone that Microsoft is pitching it as one of the big selling points for Windows 8.
You don't virtualize desktop or laptop machines, much. You could do it so you could recover your data if you somehow, against all the odds, did something innocuous that caused all your applications to crash every couple of minutes, not usually losing data, but costing you a few minutes of cursing-and-restarting time several times a day.
It turns out, from my own hands-on research, that the best reason to put a hypervisor in Windows 8 is that you could use it to create your "home" PC account a virtual machine.
Then, when, inevitably, a series of routine updates from Microsoft, a couple of patches that fix security holes or improve interoperability within the middleware give all your applications narcolepsy, so they drop off one at a time – so you can't deal with them all at once like when a mob descends in person on the help desk rather than phoning in and waiting their turn – you can beat your laptop to death, then move the "computer" to a different machine, relaunch it, and beat it to death all over again.
I've never been violent toward anyone or anything that didn't try crawl up my leg and bite me (and even those, when they were vaguely human and mostly babies I just picked off like burrs and returned to their cages), but I regularly get almost uncontrollable urges to express my opinion of Microsoft's modular, multilayered operating system and applications – with their maddeningly almost-helpful troubleshooting tools, knowledgebase advice and dismissively banal how-to-fix-an-obvious-user-error advice – with a baseball bat and the remains of hardware I paid for myself.