Glass on Glass – Coding in the Virtualized World with a ThinkPad W700

Today I trekked down to the Microsoft Developers Conference (MDC) being held in the Dallas Westin Galleria.  For this particular event I decided to bring along some Lenovo ThinkPad W700 bling.  I wanted to see if a 17” laptop running the latest and greatest operating systems on the planet would attract some attention.  If you want bears, use honey.  If you want fish, use good bait.  What do you use for developers?  Don’t answer that.  :?)

The Honey Pot

I decided a flashy desktop might catch the eye of a passer by.  It worked well enough.  I probably should have opted for an ice chest full of “refreshments” or some of the tactics you see at a lot of the conferences in Las Vegas. But I decided to keep it totally conservative and within professional guidelines.  Here’s the desktop.


If you click the pic above you can see the full 1920x1200 screen capture.  It isn’t apparent from this picture, but the Lenovo ThinkPad W700 screen is super bright and really handles booth duty like this very well.  The 17” screen is just large enough to make things interesting.  That was really the main intention for taking the machine to the show.  I wanted to know how many developers are using 17” laptops as their dev platform.  As it turns out, most of the people I talked to are using desktops and multimon.

Physical versus Virtual

The other scenario I wanted to depict is the ability to code in a virtualized setting.  Virtualization of the various layers we all use is improving at break neck speed.  In the picture above you can see Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta all tricked out running Aero Glass.  In fact, since it’s R2, you also see the new superbar everyone is talking about with Windows 7.  In the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) session you see an instance of Windows 7 Ultimate x64.  You’ll also notice because I have full desktop composition turned on in the RDP session, I get the entire Aero experience.

Most of the time I had the Windows 7 RDP windows full screen so you could not actually tell, unless you looked really close, that the session was a virtual machine being executed by Hyper-V.  That’s really the whole point.  How many of you are building virtualization environments for your developers where the environment, application or website, and the dev tools are sandboxed on the data center across the wire inside a VM?

Options Options

You can’t really tell in the Windows 7 virtual machine above, but Visual Studio 2008 Professional is installed.  It’s obvious on the R2 host because I dropped the icon on the desktop and taskbar.  But these days you have the ability to architect applications in new ways with presentation, data, application and operating system virtualization.  This also invites strange and new ways to virtualize the dev, test, model office and production systems you have.

I didn’t install the full compliment of Microsoft Virtualization offerings.  I didn’t really need to.  I just needed some eye candy to lure some developers over and show off Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta and Windows 7.  Mission accomplished.  I also wanted to know how many of them were using some form of virtualization in day-to-day duties.  Nearly everyone.

We had a fun time this morning talking with the people that came to the event.  It looked like they were well taken care of, well fed, and lots of good information on Azure and the other developer focused sessions.  One thing is for sure, the line between developer and IT Pro is blurred, especially when it comes to Partners or Small and Medium sized businesses.  The good news is that I’m doing some planning to bring more IT Pro focused content to events like this and give you more variety.  Stay tuned for that.

ws2008 r2 background wide.jpg

Comments (11)

  1. pgardy says:


    What kind of graphics device do you have on w700?

    Did you use SVGA driver or WDDM-enabled driver?

    Does Hyper-V works well with this driver on your laptop?

  2. Keith Combs says:

    The W700 has the NVIDIA® Quadro® FX3700M, PCI Express x16, 1GB memory GPU.  I downloaded the WDDM 1.1 driver for it from the servers and installed it.

    Hyper-V works great.  It’s running the VM in the screenshot.

  3. Tyler says:

    could I please get that server 2008 wallpaper?

  4. Keith Combs says:

    The background I created and used is now attached to the blog post.

  5. xaml says:

    Hey Keith,

    where’s that waterfall wallpaper from? It does not appear anywhere else related to Windows 7..

  6. Keith Combs says:


    Look harder.  It’s in the Vista Beta that is open to the public.  I like the pic so I use it often.  

    Bonus points for whoever guesses the correct location.

  7. bill says:


    After viewing your post I went back and double checked my WS 2008 RTM(aka SP1)with hyper-v. I cannot get Aero in either a Vista Business or Win 7 Ultimate Beta. Using RDP with full experience, everything checked, and I still get Vista Basic.

    I have a VisionTek ATI 4650 with 512MB and the latest driver, from ATI’s site. Any pointers or am I missing out since I am not yet running the 2008 R2 Beta?

    I really enjoy your posts. Keep it up!



  8. xaml says:

    I actually thrawled page after page dedicated to Windows 7 – I assume you meant Windows beta as opposed to Vista beta – but could not find that particular picture.

    It seems to not even be somewhere within the many regional themes’ wallpapers. A hint *filename* would be grreat ;-D

  9. Keith Combs says:

    Filename = waterfall.jpg

    Path = C:UsersPublicPicturesSample Pictures

    Yep, I meant Windows 7.  Vista is soo burned in my brain.  Sorry.

  10. Keith Combs says:


    Not all configurations work.  I’ll see if I can find the official matrix.  This question comes up frequently.

  11. bill says:


    I used the same hardware, new HD, and installed the WS2008 R2 beta. Same video driver package and guess what?

    Yeah I got Aero in Win 7. I haven’t had time to install a Vista SP1 Business but I am ‘almost’ willing to bet it works there also.

    The defining move will be for me to install a fresh copy of WS 2008 RTM, add the Hyper-V role and then see what I get. This install has been my development machine for almost 9 months and who knows what is lurking 😉

    As a note the VM I used was the same that didn’t get Aero on the WS 2008 install. Same VHD and all. Go figure, I think it must be some improvement in the R2 Hyper-V, but…

    Thank you for your reply, I’ll make an effort to updtae you, and the readers, on my findings.


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