Major Nelson mentioned in a blogcast a few months ago about Altaris Software Virtualisation Technology. I have been playing with this for a while, and it’s VERY cool. In simple terms, it creates a virtual layer on which you can install any piece of software you wish. The SVS (Software Virtualisation Solution) keeps all changes made to the OS, Registry and File system on this layer. While the layer is active, the program acts and runs as if it’s installed on the host machine. You can de-activate the layer at amy time, which completely removes ALL traces of the software from your system, which is excellent if you do a lot of testing of new pieces of software like I do. You can re-activate the layer any time you wish, which will return the software to full working condition (including any shell integration etc) within a second.
Another amazing feature of this software is that you can export and import the layer to another machine, which means the application you installed in this layer can run on another PC even though you didn’t actually install it there. Very cool idea.
Citrix are working on a similar application streaming solution which works in much the same way as I have described above, but it keeps these layers on a central file server, and they can then be deployed to various workstations on your netwrk in seconds. Citrix’s solution however, will cost a small fortune.