HP office PCs to have "Virtual Firefox"
In the next two weeks, Hewlett-Packard plans to start shipping the next generation of office computers with Intel processors. The dc7900 series will probably be equipped with Intel's upcoming Q45 (vPro) chipset and Core 2 processors.
But HP emphasizes another special function - a "virtual Firefox browser", which the company says it developed in cooperation with the Mozilla Foundation and Symantec. HP has not revealed many details about this browser up to now, but merely said that it will run in a virtualised environment – a sort of sandbox – and be easy to reset to its original settings if any security problems are feared. It is still unclear how users will detect potential security risks on their own, and which software will be used.
Since taking over Altiris, Symantec's portfolio has included the Software Virtualization Solution (SVS), which can create such sandboxes for Windows applications.
The Altiris virtualisation technique is distinctly different from virtual-machine environments such as VMware or Microsoft's VirtualPC, which turn a whole separate operating system (OS) – such as Linux or another complete copy of Windows, complete with all their programs - into a single program running on another, "host" OS.
In contrast, applications in Altiris-type "sandboxes" are native Windows programs, running directly on the host OS, but all file and registry activity is locked inside a limited environment, allowing complete installations to be completely removed, snapshots taken so they can be reverted to an earlier state, or even transferred to another installation of Windows. SVS allowed this to be done to individual programs and Altiris Protect to complete user sessions, allowing all of a users' installed programs to follow them from one machine to another on the network.
Other functions of the dc7900 range include HP ProtectTools, which makes use of vPro hardware functions, especially the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) integrated into the Q45 chipset's ICH10D Southbridge. There is also a hardware cryptography engine, using Intel's Danbury Technology. HP says that the upcoming dc7900 desktop computers will be relatively efficient, and its power supplies will fulfil the requirements for 80 Plus Gold, with efficiencies up to 87 per cent.