An in-depth video demo and conversation about Virtual Computer's client hypervisor

Our feature segment from yesterday's Brian Madden TV show was a demo of Virtual Computer's forthcoming client hypervisor. Unfortunately the time limits of the show only let us show about ten minutes of the demo, so this video here is the full half-hour recording.

There are several vendors promising client hypervisors. VMware announced something called "CVP" (Client Virtualization Platform) back in September 2008, and Citrix announced "Project Independence" this past January. There are also two smaller startups, Neocleus and Virtual Computer, who've both announced similar offerings.

Apart from a short demo Citrix's Joel Stocker did for Brian Madden TV from VMware Cannes this past February, we haven't really seen too much of these things in action. (None of the four vendors are shipping anything yet.) So you can imagine how excited I was when Virtual Computer let me record a demo of their product. (For the record, Citrix also agreed to let me film a similar demo which we'll do at Synergy, and both Neocleus and VMware said 'no' because they don't have anything to show publicly yet.)

[UPDATE: I want to clarify the VMware and Neocleus statement. They both asked me to make it clear that it's not that they don't have any products, it's just that they're not showing anything publicly at this time. In Neocleus' case, they will publicly reveal their product at Synergy in a few weeks, and they've agreed to let us record an in-depth video of them there too. So post Synergy, we'll have in-depth videos of Virtual Computer, Citrix Project Independence, and Neocleus. Okay VMware... when can we see CVP?)]

I visited Virtual Computer's office outside of Boston a few weeks ago and got a demo from Doug Lane. It was obvious that Doug has given this demo before, because he launched into a 15-minute demo that was flawless and polished. Afterwards I asked him all sorts of technical quesetions (about drivers, changes to the open source Xen hypervisor, how the disk imaging works, etc.) He answered all my questions and showed me how everything worked. I tried to do my best to slice-and-dice this video together, interweaving his answers to the questions I asked into his standard demo spiel. The result is a fairly deep technical video that really shows what Virtual Computer is and how it all works.

Specific topics covered in this video include:

  • Overview of Virtual Computer's NxTop product
  • Switching VMs on the client device
  • How Virtual Computer modified the open source Xen hypervisor to be more appropriate for a laptop
  • Challenges for running a bare-metal hypervisor on a laptop
  • How the disk images are cloned and created on the management server
  • How the disk images are sent down to the user
  • Security policy enforcement
  • How Virtual Computer competes / cooperates with Citrix
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For the user data stored stored in a seperate VHD.

Is this achieved via redirecting the user profile only?

Os is it via having the user VHD as a diff disk and capturing all OS changes, then merging data on a master image update?


Rahvintzu, I too am curious about the user profile. Does NxTop backup the user's profile (example documents and settings\USER) or is this accomplished by redirecting data or using roaming profiles?

This seems like a very clean and functional client hypervisor. Kudos.

James Szivos


Agreed, Kudos for the the sleek demo... It looks like alot of work has gone into this product at the hypervisor and also at the management level.

Regarding the hypervisor how is driver support for the bare metal hw handled. If HW vendor Y releases a new model does Virtual Computer create a hypervisor for this and pass this to the customer. Or is the basic hypervisor extensible by the end client, with tools?


The hypervisor and the management domain are independent.  A IT admin is able to push out a new version of the NxTop Management stack with drivers remotely from the NxTop center.  More info available at