Cell Phones to be Virtualized?

Pearl with Windows Can you picture a BlackBerry jam-packed with Mac OS X or Windows Mobile 6.1—or both? It’s a long ways off, but yesterday we got one small step closer. AP reports that Motorola is now an investor in VirtualLogix, a company that’s working to bring the power of virtual machines to the sphere of cell phones. What does that mean? As Jerry Chen, a division director at VMware, explained to LAPTOP in an interview on this new technology, a virtualized machine is one physical computer that’s capable of doing the jobs of several other computers. Users can have a single machine that’s optimized for multiple major tasks with a single virtualized computer running multiple operating systems—switching between the two without a hitch. That means, with a virtualized cell phone, you could do the following: You love having all of your BlackBerry Messenger contacts in your BlackBerry OS, but you’re required to use a Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional phone for work? Virtualization on cell phones could potentially make it possible for you to switch between Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional and BlackBerry OS so that you can still reach out to your fellow CrackBerry addicts. From the sound of the AP article, it also seems as though one potential outcome of Motorola’s involvement with VirtualLogix is the separation of the end-user’s OS and the OS used by IT departments to control the system—a sort of Apple OS X Boot Camp for corporate cell phones. The VirtualLogix Web site supports that idea, stating that virtualized cell phones offer the following benefits:

“Isolates proprietary core functions, management and security from open source software. This provides protection from open source licensing requirements and potential malware that is based on publicly available source code. Provides device management functions such as OS monitoring and automatic restart, allowing the system to be repaired or restored independently of the rich OS. This can be used to maintain core phone services in case of a failure of the rich OS (fault tolerant software architecture).”

These points could additionally propel a work/play divide, where end users could customize the UIs of their mobile devices as they please, while the cleanup and management of the device occurs behind the virtual curtain. Earlier this year, Microsoft launched its Remote Mobile Management software, which lets IT managers troubleshoot and even terminate certain phone features (such as the camera or some messaging capabilities) while end users are abroad. It seems a trend started by Microsoft’s adoption and integration of networks with virtual capabilities is proliferating right on down the line to cell phone manufacturers. Let’s see if it continues.

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