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Thanks. I use Windows mostly for development and testing, so gaming isn't a big concern for me. As I said in my OP, my major reason to get away from Windows as the primary O/S on my machine is Microsoft's abysmal quality and QA record.
Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.
-- 6079 Smith W.
I suppose it could be used that way in specific scenarios; but since it's an extension to QEMU, and QEMU is a basic Linux kernel module, the lion's share of use cases are as an application-based hypervisor.
"Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity."
- Hanlon's Razor
2. Pedestrian view (IANAL): You have a license to run the OS on that machine. You are still running it on that same hardware. You very well may have to re-activate. I have never actually read the eula before clicking yes.
3. Production stuff (servers), Bare metal. We run our servers on ESXi. Tried MS's hyperV in the early days but ESXi ran faster. No religion here, just made that decision years ago and haven't revisited. The hosting system has very little direct access to VM's, you connect remotely. Manage from another system. That is the Vmware approach anyway.
I do (stuff like you see on QA) development work on VM's (Linux and Windows) running on a Linux host with Vmware's workstation. Started with version 4 (from ebay) many years ago. VirtualBox, OTOH, is free. Vmware Player is free. Nobody in their right mind would test my stuff on hardware.
Unless you are familiar with Linux, or want to learn it, you may want to stay with Windows and just keep an off line image that you refresh weekly or so. After all, Windows gets updated in VM's same as hardware.
Hard drives are cheap. Install Linux on one, install a VM host (Virtualbox or Vmware, provides 30 day free "try it you'll like it plan"). Give it a try. Your hardware will determine how well a VM will perform. Need plenty of memory and should run VM's from separate hard drive (SSD).
If you can keep your head while those about you are losing theirs, perhaps you don't understand the situation.
I have not done this with Linux, but I did choose to migrate my life to macOS some years back (OS X at that time). I have used Parallels to host two Windows VMs: Windows XP for some older games and Windows 10 for SQL Server and most other uses I have these days. Licenses from older scrapped hardware sufficed to cover these installations; they did need to be re-authenticated, but that was pretty painless.
For what I do in my home environment, the solution has worked quite well. Rollbacks when Windows screws something up have been great! Restore an older version of the VM files, and it's right back where it was.
I have considered moving to VMWare, only because Parallels seems to expect a user to upgrade every year without providing any real upgrades to their product and no support ever. $50/year seems a little steep to remain status quo.
I've done this (but on top of Windows rather than a Linux VM) with an old server (Windows Server 2003!) whose hardware was getting too long in the tooth to be trusted.
I used SysInternals Disk2VHD to clone the disks, then created a VM in HyperV for it. It worked well while I migrated the services it offered (internal web server, Mercurial, Subversion, MediaWiki, email) to individual Docker containers (one per service) running in an Ubuntu VM running under HyperV on the same underlying Windows Server.
I'm not sure about licensing (I think we were OK because we decommissioned the old server) or what the best VM solution is in Linux - I've used QEMU, but only as a testbed for an embedded ARM system - yes, QEMU will let you run ARM software on an x86 PC, through JIT instruction translation. It was quick enough that I could happily run a virtualised embedded ARM Linux (like Raspbian on a Pi) within my Linux box(which itself happened to be a VM, running under VirtualBox running in Windows 10!).
Java, Basic, who cares - it's all a bunch of tree-hugging hippy cr*p