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Phoenix hijacks Windows boot with instant-on

Bios king introduces Hyperspace

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If Phoenix Technologies gets its way, we may lose the precious time spent while Windows leisurely ambles from slumber at startup.

Those countless minutes, perhaps, we didn't realize we counted on to: wash the dog, mow the lawn, check tire pressure, reject the idea that the most certain and primary reality is rational consciousness — it could be a new world we're facing.

Phoenix says its new firmware product, called Hyperspace, allows PCs to quick-boot into a Linux environment for users to check their email, instant message, browse the web, or even play videos before Windows has got its boots on.

Hyperspace isn't meant to replace Windows, as it runs a limited number of programs only. Instead, it acts as a host and guest OS in a virtual environment that boots in seconds. The platform is run by a lightweight hypervisor from Phoenix called HyperCore, which is embedded in the system BIOS and runs specialized core services side-by-side with Windows.

This wouldn't be the firmware vendor's first attempt at such a product. Rapid-boot systems have come and gone before without much public fanfare. But the winds may be changing. Start-up DeviceVM has already launched its own instant-boot Linux desktop environment, called Splashtop, last month on limited Motherboards. Perhaps the time is finally right to whack Microsoft below the BIOS.

But such a product actually reaching consumer hands is up to OEMs such as Dell and HP. If they bite, Phoenix says it will offer a customized menu of applications tailored to their customer market. And the technology promises other perks such as embedded security, easy remote system maintenance and lower battery consumption.

Phoenix is already working with most major PC manufacturers and various software vendors, but is pretty tight-lipped about disclosing names.

The company expects vendors to integrate HyperSpace into laptops within the next six to nine months, with consumers getting the option of the firmware in the second half of 2008. ®

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