Using my iPhone and looking at a PS3 console in Selfridges made me think about what the future could hold for games. While there are companies looking at doing server side games and a VDI solution to the end device I just don't think that matches against Moore's Law. But equally the model of downloading and installing loads of games onto a single device with multiple different anti-piracy tools doesn't seem to make sense either.
Given that "bare-metal" concepts have been around for a while now, BEA had their bare-metal version of the application server, wouldn't it make sense for games to be a full single virtual image? So you don't boot the OS then start the game, you just boot the image which just contains the game and what ever minimal drivers it needs.
Now some people will point out "what about the drivers?" and there is a slight point there. But would it be really so hard to define an image where you select your graphics cards et al and it constructs a fully-optimised image just for you? Upgrade your kit and then you just upgrade the image.
Now others will bleat "but how will I pirate it if its a custom environment?" and to be honest I don't care, your problem.
What are the advantages? Well from a piracy perspective it clearly reduces the potential if the game is running on a custom micro-kernel and is tied against a specific license that is created when you create the image. From a performance perspective it can be tuned to the 9s as there is nothing else running. From an end-user perspective it means using your PC like a console, or indeed your console like a console, and selecting the game to play at boot up.
Once you start thinking like this of course it then becomes a question as to what other applications don't really require an OS and the concept of isolation via VMs. Windows 7 is doing this with its XP mode which really opens up the question as to when you don't need Windows for certain applications.
Virtualisation is a server technology that is going to have a massive impact on the desktop.