Cloud computing seems to be the way that we are headed these days, and with that it’s not surprising to see Microsoft patent what they are calling “Fast Machine Booting Through Streaming Storage”, which essentially means booting the OS from the cloud.
The concept of “layers” is actually a series of local and networked storage systems that would prioritize sources as needed. According to Microsoft, this would result in faster loading time since the layers containing parts of the OS would be available immediately, as opposed to downloading it and having it saved as a local image before execution.
Microsoft also has plans to extend this beyond the personal computer, possibly for use in tablets, smartphones, consumer electronics, set top boxes and etc. Incidentally this would be great for companies which will allow system administrators more flexibility when configuring only the necessary parts of the OS for use.
Since this is only a concept for now, we have no way of knowing exactly how much faster it would boot compared to regular computers, or even computers like the MacBook Air which has been known for its quick start up time. Not to mention users without fast and stable internet connections may actually find this slower to boot. Either way it’s an interesting notion and perhaps we might actually see it become reality one day.