(Sorry, this is somewhat offtopic, but it was the first thing I thought of when I saw the comparison between Windows XP and Windows 7.)
I once saw someone here on Slashdot mention that Microsoft should not have shipped a 32-bit version of Vista, opting instead to push only the 64-bit version. While it seemed like an odd statement at the time (despite the fact that my home XP machine was an AMD64 processor), I find myself agreeing with it on Windows 7.
As it stands today, 32-bit Windows is quickly becoming too small for many business and industrial uses, and it's very affordable to build a high-performance home machine with more than 4GB of RAM. (Case in Point.) In fact, with intensive web applications and sophisticated desktop tools (yeah, some of them are bloated) chewing more memory than ever before, it just doesn't make sense to get anything less than 4GB (nay, 3GB if you're running Windows 32-bit!) except for a few edge cases.
Unfortunately, Windows has been kind of lagging on the 64-bit front. By treating it as sort of a bastard child (like they treated all their non-i386 NT versions), Microsoft managed to ensure that hardware manufacturers wouldn't make an effort to support 64-bit windows in a non-server environment. Which is frustrating as I've started bumping up against that once-awesome 4GB barrier.
In an attempt to turn this into a slightly more useful conversation rather than a one-sided rant, I was wondering if I could get some opinions on using virtualization as a solution? With Windows' poor track record as a 64-bit OS, I have been thinking about running a 64-Bit Unix and virtualizing 32-bit windows for backward compatibility. I've already had some success with virtualizing Windows 7 on a MacBook, and have even been able to get desktop integration working. (Quite spiffy that. Though the two interfaces occasionally confuse my wife. She's the primary user of Windows, needing support for some specialized programs with no real alternatives available.)
Does anyone here have experience with setting up a system like this? Do you use Xen, VMWare, Sun VirtualBox/OpenxVM, or some other solution? What do you use as your primary OS? Linux has come a long way, but the upgrade treadmill is still frustrating. Especially with the seemingly regular ABI upgrades. Does anyone use [Open]Solaris x86_64 as a host? Do you have 3D Graphics completely disabled, or have you found a good way to allow all OSes solid and reliable access to the underlying graphics card? Do you bother with mounting virtual shared drives to move data between the OSes, or do you have a home NAS for storing data? (I'm leaning toward a NAS myself.)
Just a few thoughts, anyway. Thanks in advance for experiences & suggestions! :-)