Last week, I spent a fascinating hour on the phone with some engineers from Prowess, a Seattle-based software and services firm that offers a free software product called SmartMigrate (at least, it’s “free for individual, at-home use” according to the language on the product page at the Prowess Web site). Basically, what SmartMigrate does is to virtualize a system that’s already installed on a PC — and my title for this blog assumes that such a system is very likely to be running Windows XP, even though the Prowess engineers tell me it will work for just about any modern Windows OS, including Vista and even Windows 7, as the source for creating a VM to run inside Windows 7 (or some other operating system).
What makes SmartMigrate cool and interesting is that it’s free for at-home use and thus also for one-off experimental “let’s see how this works” test implementations. Right now, the target virtual hard disk that SmartMigrate creates works with Microsoft’s Virtual PC and Virtual Server products (and probably also with the new Windows Server 2008 R2 HyperVisor as well), and Prowess is working hard to extend its reach to include VMWare Workstation, Parallels Workstation, Oracle VM Virtualbox, and other virtual runtime environments as well.
I’m still waiting for the chance to try this out and see how it works, and just found a working link to the SmartMigrate download (use the Download button at the bottom of the page). In the meantime, I’m wondering how a free product for home use will affect the bottom lines of companies like LapLink (PC Mover) or Zinstall (Zinstall and ZPod) who make a paying business out of selling to customers what Prowess is currently trying to give away. Could be interesting, eh?