All Things In One
Microsoft gave away the old Virtual PC for free a few years back, so Vista and then Windows 7 users could run older and other OSes within their primary OS. Things like Hyper-V have long been the preserve of enterprise 2.0 types. But things will get a lot more interesting in Windows 8 when, as one Windows blogger, Robert McLaws, has found, the new OS comes with an entire hypervisor.
Basically, Hyper-V could support a whole host of operating systems all running, or sleeping, at once with each running on specific cores in your system, or using dedicated memory as needed. So, you could be running some legacy Windows XP and apps in one, testing your Windows or Android Phone app in another and keep Linux tucked away for emergencies, all at the touch of a button.
Juggling Many Balls
While Hyper-V has been free for some time, including it in all 64-bit versions of the Windows 8 OS, which may well be the first Windows to sell more copies in the 64-bit edition that Hyper-V requires, will open it up to all kinds of new users and uses, inside and outside the enterprise.
With hardware acceleration and bandwidth management, the Windows 8 PC could suddenly become a whole huddle of machines in one, doing whatever the user needs. Add that to the Skype integration, new SkyDrive feature (which has just evolved from Silverlight to HTML 5) and Windows 8 becomes an increasingly intriguing proposition.
In the move away from monolithic OSes on the desktop, to something more connected with our devices and friends or colleagues, Windows 8 will have to address a lot of areas and appeal in all of them to keep up the drive of Windows 7.