One ongoing and legitimate beef about Windows Vista is that it doesn’t support older Windows applications, particularly those written specifically for older Windows versions or that don’t follow well-established guidelines for “good behavior” in terms of referencing APIs, interacting with hardware, and so on and so forth. Now, Microsoft comes to the rescue with a product called Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization aka MED-V. It’s still in beta, and you have to register with Microsoft connect to obtain access to this otherwise free download, but you gain the ability to install Windows 2000 or XP in Vista using Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 (also free) so that the VMs can do for you and your users what Windows Vista sometimes cannot.
A commercial version of this software is expected later in 2009, and is based on technology that Microsoft acquired when it purchased desktop virtualization firm Kidaro in mid-2008. The idea, of course, is to spur upgrades and migrations to Windows Vista because previous obstacles to such motion are now mitigated by a solution that permits immovable legacy software to run in a back-rev Windows VM on top of Vista. This also lets enterprises impose centralized management and control over construction, deployment, and maintenance of system images, both virtual and real, and helps to add structure and organization to sometimes-chaotic desktop environments. Microsoft itself makes much of TCO improvements that switching to its Desktop Optimization Pack can confer. Above and beyond MED-V and application virtualization, this also includes an advanced Group Policy manager, an asset inventory service, a diagnostics and recovery toolset, and a tie-in to System Center for desktop error monitoring. It’s definitely worth checking out.
But if you’re fighting to migrate or upgrade systems to Vista, and legacy apps are getting in the way, MED-V may be just the lever you need to break that particular logjam. Give it a try!