Managing multiple copies of Windows
HyperOS 2003 from HyperOs Systems
Although our perception that the performance of our current PC is sluggish is partly attributable to heightened expectation driven by the latest and greatest models, the reality is that over time performance does indeed diminish.
The greater the number of applications, fonts and printers that are installed, the slower it gets.
Given the time taken to perform a new installation of an operating system (OS) and the barest minimum of applications, most users struggle on with reducing performance until a catastrophic failure forces the issue.
HyperOs aims to break this cycle by making it easy to dynamically manage a number of Windows installations on a single PC.
Although disk images can be generated with utilities such as Ghost and Drive Image, especially now given the affordability of large capacity hard disks, the necessity to partition the hard disk, drop out to DOS or handle DOS network drivers makes regular housekeeping by users rather than IT support distinctly unlikely.
Similarly despite being excellent tools, the use of PowerQuest’s PartitionMagic and BootMagic to be able to select at boot time between a clean mission critical installation and an experimental ‘hack around’ installation is far from user friendly.
HyperOs combines the benefits of these strategies into a single Windows based, graphical tool, with the opportunity to have up to 21 combinations of Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2K or XP on one machine! Each OS and relevant drivers, printers and applications only need to be installed once as duplicates can be created on any logical disk partitions simply by drag and drop.
Similarly a back-up image of each virtual computer can be readily created or restored.
Although the benefits of starting from a clean installation of each OS are clear, it is possible to install HyperOs into an existing OS on the C partition.
A copy of PartitionMagic 7 is supplied to subsequently create a HyperOs system drive as D and as many virtual computer partitions as required from E upwards.
In my case a 12Gb disk was cleared and two full, operational, networked installations of both Windows 98 and 2K were created in one evening.
A supplied WarpDrive utility provides a succinct view of installed applications and drivers, identifies missing device drivers and provides web site locations for possible updates.
Double clicking an icon within the top half of the HyperOs My Other Computers window then simply reboots the machine into the relevant installation.
Except where formats are unsupported such as NTFS from with 98, every partition remains visible and accessible from each other.
Ideally data is located on a dedicated partition or server.
HyperOs neatly handles drive letter mapping, even managing to share the swap and paging file space on the C boot partition between all the ‘computers’.
This helps minimise the volume of data that needs to be imaged for back-ups.
Back-up images of my clean Win2K installs were created to a local partition in 4 minutes and a network location over a 10Mbps network in 17 minutes.
As local images appear in the lower half of the HyperOs window, a double click rapidly restores them to their original location or else they can be dragged onto any other partition as a duplicate.
Each computer can be locked to avoid inadvertent changes.
The set-up may sound techie but HyperOs supply excellent step by step instructions and once installed operation is simple and intuitive.
Each computer can be named to indicate its intended purpose e.g.
as a clean working installation, for specific user requirements and network settings or for hacking around with new drivers, application updates and evaluation applications.
The icons indicate the currently active computer and are colour coded to each partition’s file format.
Although operations such as modifying partitions need to be executed in DOS, they can be launched from the My Other Computers window with HyperOs automating the process and providing helpful information and prompts in the DOS environment.
At the end of any such operations a menu of available OS’s is displayed with an indication of the last OS used.
HyperOs 2003 is available in a number of versions starting with R2 supporting 95 and 98 only, then in addition 10 (R3) or 20 (R5) ME, NT, 2K and XP systems for £149 and £199 respectively.
Other versions also offer HyperDrive functionality to run Windows 98 entirely in 768Mb of RAM for speed and security as any corruptions or web cookies are destroyed on switching systems.
NT is the most difficult OS to manage and for CAD work 2K and perhaps XP are the most likely platforms.
It is possible to think of many practical benefits of using HyperOs; phasing in new releases of a CAD modeller, experimenting with new OS releases, minimising IT support time by restoring a ‘known good’ system with minimum fuss, allowing users an installation they can ‘customise’, not to mention the opportunity to readily maintain system performance.
The bottom line however has to be that mission critical operation can be resumed within minutes of even a catastrophic failure of a Windows installation.
And yes, my machine feels distinctly faster than yesterday.