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Win10 Virtual Disk Image Galleries

There’s an absolutely fascinating story making the rounds online right now, courtesy of Rafael Rivera at Thurrott.com. Entitled “Online Gallery Support Coming to Hyper-V Quick Create,” it explains a point-and-click method for firing off VMs. For those not already in the know, this feature is called Online Gallery. It’s popping up in current Insider Preview build and supports a “You select an image, click Create Virtual Machine, and you’re done” approach to creating VMs. Now THAT’s what I’m talkin’ about! It also explains why Win10 virtual disk image galleries could prove to be something more than simply a “That’s nice” feature.

Virtual Disk Image Galleries

Here’s a cropped version of the Online Gallery image from Rivera’s story at Thurrott.com.

When Will We See Win10 Virtual Disk Image Galleries?

This feature could makes it into the next major update for Windows 10. Now labeled 1709, that release should go public in two months. Thus, Online Gallery could appear as early as September 2017, two months from now.

Rivera’s investigations into the workings of Online Galleries show some simple and straightforward supporting infrastructure. He’s discovered that this feature uses a JSON file that “contains one or more images and any associated metadata like name, publisher, version, virtual disk location…” and so forth. He also discovered that one can host one’s own Online Gallery using a specific registry hack. One needs to define a REG_MULTI_SZ key named GalleryLocations in:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Virtualization

The value of this key must include at least one URL for the aforementioned JSON file. Properly tweaked, the Hyper-V Quick Create app automatically looks for VMs at the locations provided. They appear in a selection menu for selection and instantiation. Rivera even provides a sample gallery at GitHub so interested experimenters can leverage his efforts. This lets them create their own custom Online Galleries. He also provides a patched copy of VMcreate.exe that provides this feature. My colleague and occasional collaborator Kari the Finn is already working on creating a gallery with recent Insider Preview images. Great stuff!

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