At WinHEC 2006 Microsoft presented in details its new operating systems, Windows Vista and codename Longhorn, backup capabilities.
A new feature called CompletePC Backup will be able to produce a block level image of the whole machine while it’s running, thanks to the Volume Shadow Service (VSS), and restore it from bare metal, thanks to the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE), even on different hardware.
The most interesting news for virtualization administrators is that the backup format used is .vhd, the virtual disk format used by Virtual PC and Virtual Server.
This should mean, even if Microsoft didn’t state it clearly, that anyone will be able to backup a running Vista or Longhorn and restore it inside a virtual machine. Which is a way to do physical to virtual (P2V) migration.
The idea of using backup capabilities for P2V tasks isn’t new: few months ago Acronis launched last version of its flagship product, TrueImage, with a new feature called Universal Restore, capable of modifying on the fly the HAL and other drivers needed by operating system during restore on virtual hardware.
Look at the WinHEC 2006 presentation Backup And Restore In Windows Vista And Windows Server Longhorn.