by Laurianne McLaughlin

Phoenix Hypervisor for Laptops Could Rock Your Mobile World

Nov 14, 20073 mins
Enterprise Applications

Do you detest the countless minutes you spend waiting for Windows to load up when you fire up your notebook PC? This mind-numbing wait seemed like a painful but necessary part of life to me, until a shiny new Apple MacBook entered my home and I learned the joy of simply closing a mobile machine’s lid when you’re done with it and then opening it up and getting productive again without waiting for an OS to boot. Mobile PC industry types call this “instant on” capability. This kind of mobile nirvana may be coming to your enterprise’s Windows-based notebook PCs sooner than you think, due to a new hypervisor from Phoenix Technologies, the company best known for BIOS software.

Phoenix is pushing notebook PC vendors to preload its new technology, dubbed HyperCore, in machines that would hit the market next year. The basic idea: Thanks to HyperCore, embedded in the machine’s BIOS, you’ll be able to turn on the notebook and use small applets like basic e-mail or a Web browser without firing up Windows. It’s beautifully simple, really. As Windows gets more bloated, technologists will find ways around Windows.

A hypervisor (a term which once made my boss wrinkle his eyebrow curiously and then laugh, since it sounds like a manager who’s got a Starbucks problem) is basically a piece of software that serves as an abstraction layer between the OS on a machine and the rest of its contents. In the world of virtualized servers, hypervisors are a key part of the technology puzzle that lets one physical server host multiple virtualized machines.

VMware and Xen (now part of Citrix) have led in hypervisor innovation to date, but players like Microsoft and Oracle are getting itchy about that fact now in a big way. Why? A hypervisor is a powerfully slim, secure and flexible piece of software, whether it’s for one machine or for a whole data center.

Phoenix, for example, aims to use its hypervisor to also help improve notebook PC security and decrease power consumption. Know any software developers who’d like the chance to develop lean, mean, secure little apps that can avoid all that Windows baggage? (Yes, I thought so.) Phoenix is not going to have to work hard to get the software community excited about this concept. Think about the enterprise security software vendors and what they might cook up.

No wonder that hypervisors are making the folks in Redmond a little hyper right now.

Laptop users, on the other hand, may soon look back on booting up the PC just to use a Web browser as yet another bad memory to be filed away with the awful sound of a dial-up modem.