Suggestion for Windows Client -> Hardware Profiles = Great feature in virtualization scenarios RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • Hi, as suggested by Brjann Brekkan here, I am making a request to reinstate the hardware profiles feature in Windows Vista or a future version of Windows.

    As Brjann explained in the thread mentioned above, hardware profiles were a feature provided to help alleviate problems related to shaky plug & play support back in the NT4 days.  Obviously, these problems do not exist anymore and it seems reasonable to stop supporting this feature.  However, hardware profiles can become a precious tool for a new purpose which I will explain.

    For many years, I have been experimenting with different ways to maintain a Windows installation alongside other OSes.  Obviously a dual-boot setup works well, but it is inconvenient to reboot just to launch windows applications.  An alternative is to run Windows in a virtual machine. But what if the user sometimes needs to boot Windows natively, for example to play a game, or to run an application which is too slow in a VM ?  He would need to maintain two installations, one on a physical partition (native boot), and one on a virtual disk for booting in a VM (ie. for office work).  That too is inconvenient because of the space it takes, and the fact that some applications must be installed twice. 

    Most virtualization software now supports booting an OS straight from a physical partition instead of from a virtual disk. That is the case of the popular Parallels for Mac, VMware, Virtualbox and others.

    The problem resides with the fact that after boot Windows expects a certain set of hardware to be present, and the virtual hardware which the virtualization software makes available to the OS is very different from the physical hardware.  This causes Windows to autodetect and try to install hardware it sees as newly available every time you boot Windows a different way (native after VM or VM after native). It can also cause it to hang, for exemple in my case I use a raid controller, so if I boot Windows as a VM, it doesn't need the raid driver because the physical disk is accessed through the block device on my linux installation. However if I try to boot it natively, it won't be able to use the HD because the raid driver is absent.

    One feature present in Windows XP (and I think NT4 and 2000), but that has been taken out of Vista is the ability to select a hardware profile at boot.  This way one can simply have a profile for booting the installation in a VM, and another for booting natively. This solves the problem of perceived hardware changes to Windows.

    This kind of scenario might seem like a rare occurence at first, but recently, Intel Mac users have been combining  the Parallels and Boot Camp (dual-boot) features of their OS to do exactly that.  Obviously, there is a lot of demand for Vista support on the parallels forums. Some examples:

    For these reasons, I believe putting hardware profiles back into Vista might be worth the effort.

    Thank you.
    Monday, April 14, 2008 11:48 PM

All replies

  • After reading through the thread, I found some unique reasons for wanting hardware profiles to be restored.


    My case in point is much more simple, I want it. I use it as many do to easily create custom startup enviroment.


    After hunting around for a way, I found alot of people need it for the same or simular reason.


    My biggest question is to microsoft, Why remove it? Given the massive bloat of vista, would this really even register size wise? Would not any means to improve the sluggish performance of vista be welcomed?


    As a computer service technician, and having gotten to know the last five windows operating systems very well (still have my 3.1 diskettes), my assumption is the access to this feature has been removed to keep vista in line with microsoft's goal of creating The Most User Hostile OS Ever.


    You need not worry, restoring the hardware profile feature, would have not put vista at risk of losing this title.


    We can only look forward to the next OS from microsoft, and how in time, we may look back and wish they had just stuck with vista. The way we now wish they would have just stuck with XP.


    As a windows fanboy for for about 16 years, I'm ever amazed by the direction MS has taken in ignoring common sense opinions of is non-novice, non-insider users. The people who are the technically knowledgable people the "computer illiterate" people go to, the grass roots gurus are the people you are both condemed and praised by. The average mom & pop user will never see or know of the hardware profile feature, so it's presence has no effect on them. The people you could & should be trying to win over to vista, are the people your hurting by removing such a feature, the ones whom with such features can "tweak a PC" and tell others "vista is'nt so bad, I can help you tame it", are the one you don't seem to care about.


    Goodness, even I'm looking at mac os & linux now, with both being sold in retail channels now, and vista being so very very popular Sad you might want to offer just a little something to us grass root gurus. Come your next OS given the direction you've gone to date, and the time to market, might find your market share to "deprecated" to matter later.


    Nuff said ?

    Wednesday, August 6, 2008 11:19 PM
  • Just posting another reason why Microsoft should add the hardware profile feature on vista. After spending about 20-45 minutes on google trying to find a way to create a hardware profile, it soon dawned on me that I can't create a hardware profile because the feature isn't built into Windows Vista!

    BTW I just signed up for a Windows Live account just to post a reply.

    I'm using a laptop with alot of hardware features (Toshiba Satellite X205-S9359), and it would be great to conveniently disable these non-essential extra devices to save battery life without doing it manually.

    I want to disable my secondary hard-drive, dvd-rom drive, sound card/speakers, fingerprint reader, ethernet and modem ports, sd card reader as well as SSD card for ready boost. Basically I just want to be able to surf the internet with the minimum amount of hardware running.

    It really sucks having to manually disable and re-enable these hardware devices, and on top of that restart my laptop for the changes to take affect.

    Microsoft please do something about this issue.

    Tuesday, September 9, 2008 3:53 AM

    What in the world would possess anyone in the Microsoft organization to remove hardware profile functionality from the newest version of Windows, and then suggest that users work around the omission using a *batch file* to start and stop services?  We used batch files in Windows 3.1. Is the goal here to align Vista with the standard of the (Windows) industry in 1992?


    Return to 2008 and put the functionality back, please.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008 7:17 PM