A Late Christmas Wish: Containers for my (Windows) Desktop Workspaces

I’ve used various virtualization technologies over the years – VMWare, Hyper-V, VirtualBox, etc. I’ve also spent my fair share of time with Docker, especially since Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code (VSC) began offer the remote containers experience. It is SO easy to spin up a container for any project I’m working on.

But I’d like something more…

When I spin up a fresh Windows 10 install on a PC I’d like to access a “workspace” mode. Each workspace would be a container with a specific selection of apps and data allotted to it. For example:

  • General Usage – Provides an internet browser, email client, photos, video, etc. This is where the average computer user spends their life.
  • Gamer Usage – Has Steam and GOG installed along with some of my favorite games. Has a browser installed but most other applications have been eliminated.
  • Developer Usage – Has Visual Studio Code, Docker, Git, Node.js, etc. installed.

I can switch between these “workspaces” easily and none of these workspaces pollutes any of the other workspaces or the base OS. Sure I could do this with virtualization but that is some pretty hefty overhead to use apps that all run on the same OS version. This is where a container would be useful. Yes, yes, I understand that containers aren’t really designed for GUI apps and that I can use an X Window system to push Linux apps to the desktop – but we are talking about what could be done and we are talking about Microsoft Windows not Linux.

Ideally we are looking at something that is intuitive to use for the average user – not just developers or sys admins. Perhaps…

A user interface that allows one to create workspaces. After creating a workspace one can access it (almost as if it was a remote desktop) and install the desired applications. No command-line required. No new learning curve. It’s just Windows to the user but with their apps/data isolated by function.

I realize there is some app virtualization technology out there – and that is great – but I’m looking for something more. I don’t want to isolate apps, I want to isolate entire workspaces. I don’t want Steam to even be running on the same “system” as my developer tooling.

Right now I accomplish this (with varied success) by having multiple computers (Toshiba from 2009, Dell from 2015, and an Acer from 2018) but these systems age and it is a bit of a hassle maintaining three separate computers.

So that’s my Christmas wish. Is anyone aware of any technologies out there that offer this sort of solution presently? Or if anything similar is in the works? I’ve seen a few brief mentions of some container-esque functionality being integrated into Windows 10X but it has been quite vague.

Beyond the functionality that it provides the user it could also be a major boon for security. For example, what if folks did their internet browsing in a separate container from their financial and personal documents?

Anyone seen Santa Claus around?

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