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Volume 21, Number 7 -- February 20, 2012

YouTube Follies: Windows On Power Systems-IBM i

Published: February 20, 2012

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

I don't get out much, and I certainly don't claim to know everything that everyone is doing out there on the Wild Wild West and Intertubes. And unlike my children, and probably your children or grandchildren, I don't have a lot of free time to browse YouTube for interesting videos. But I ran across a couple of IBM i-related videos showing Windows and Excel running on an IBM i box and thought you would also be amused.

The videos--which show Microsoft's Windows XP and then the Excel spreadsheet program running on an i5/OS V5R4 (sometimes called IBM i 5.4) platform--confirm exactly what many of us have been saying for years: You can run these X86 programs in emulation mode on Power processors. And with the kind of engineering that Big Blue could bring to bear, I think IBM could probably get the software to run reasonably well, too.

Rather than wait for IBM and Microsoft to get around to porting Windows to the Power architecture, it looks like Ralf Tossenberger, an IBM mainframe and AS/400 expert in Schorndorf, Germany, who has experience with SAP's ERP applications decided to do it himself. Here's Windows XP running on an unspecified Power Systems machine running V5R4:




From the demo, it looks to me like Tossenberger took the open source Bochs 32-bit X86 emulator, compiled the source code to run on the PowerPC architecture, sucked it into the V5R4 PASE AIX runtime environment, and then loaded up Windows XP to run atop this tower of emulation.

Here's another demo showing Excel running on top of this stack and being called from an RPG program to do some math:




What a hoot! Thanks for the fun, Ralf. (These videos were made more than two years ago, so next time you do something crazy like this, send me an email.)

Now IBM, take that QuickTransit emulation software you have been sitting on for years and do something useful with it, and better still, useful for your loyal IBM i customers. Figure out how to run Windows Server 2008 better on Power iron, or at least the Windows applications themselves. And then do the same for AIX shops, I guess. Compete, and have some fun. I would start by putting QuickTransit on the Power8 chip. . . .


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