One of the great additions to Windows 8 is Hyper-V 3.0, also known as Client Hyper-V, allowing full 64-bit testing from your desktop. In this post I’ll talk a little bit about it and tell you how to enable it in Windows 8.

Remember that first time you tried to fire up a virtual test machine in Windows 7 Virtual PC only to discover that 64-bit operating systems were not supported? How disappointing!

Enable Hyper-V Windows 8

Enable Hyper-V in Windows 8

Fret no more. Windows 8 desktop includes Hyper-V 3.0. I’ve spent some time checking it out and I’m quite impressed. The reason I’m so impressed is that the new feature looks and feels just like the Hyper-V Manager we all grew accustomed to in Windows Server 2008 R1 and R2. It is in fact the exact same tool available in Windows Server 2012.

Please note that you will need Windows 8 Professional to run Client Hyper-V (see edition features). Windows 8 (standard edition) and Windows 8 RT (for ARM processors) won’t support Client Hyper-V. You can try Client Hyper-V by downloading the current Consumer Preview.

Client Hyper-V hardware requirements and Limitations

The added capability also includes new hardware requirements. The good thing is that your typical modern desktop system should support them.

Although the Hyper-V Manager tool looks identical to what you see in Windows Server 2012, there are a handful of features that cannot be used in Client Hyper-V.

  • Remote FX
  • Live VM Migration
  • Hyper-V Replica
  • SR-IOV networking
  • Synthetic Fibre Channel

For additional information please see Microsoft Technet Client Hyper-V Survival Guide.

Enable Hyper-V in Windows 8

Enabling Hyper-V is extremely easy in Windows 8.

  1. If you are at the Start screen, begin by clicking Desktop.
  2. Now move your mouse to the bottom left corner of the screen and right-click when you see the start icon pop up.
    Hyper-V Windows 8 - Start icon
  3. Click Programs and Features and then click Turn Windows features on or off.Hyper-V Windows 8 - Program and Features
  4. From here you can just enable Hyper-V and all other Hyper-V components will be installed.
    Included are the GUI Management Tools, Module for Windows Powershell, and the Hyper-V Platform.
  5. After clicking OK, you’ll have to restart. Once you get to the logon screen, the machine will restart again.

After logging back in, you may have to scroll in the Metro interface all the way to the right to see a new tile labeled Hyper-V Manager. Click the tile and Hyper-V Manager is opened at the Desktop.

Hyper-V Windows 8 - Metro

Hyper-V in Windows 8 Metro

If you’ve been using Hyper-V Manager in Windows Server 2008, the GUI in Windows 8 will feel very familiar. What really impresses me is that it doesn’t appear that any features have been stripped out that would make the desktop version a “dumbed-down” version with limited usefulness. For example, an important difference is that Windows 8 Client Hyper-V is a bare metal hypervisor (type 1) as opposed to the Windows 7 Virtual PC hypervisor that is hosted (type 2). Thus you can expect better performance and more reliability with Hyper-V in Windows 8.

Two features that stood out to me were the expanded list of processor and virtual NIC options.

Processor settings

  • NUMA – NUMA customizations can now be made for each virtual machine. Previously this could be done in the host settings but not per VM.

Hyper-V Windows 8 - Processor settings

Hyper-V Windows 8 – Processor settings

Network adapter

  • Bandwidth – Enable Bandwidth Management and control the minimum and maximum bandwidth for a virtual network adapter. The settings are in MBps.

Hyper-V Windows 8 - Network adapter

Hyper-V Windows 8 – Network settings

Windows 8 Client Hyper-V is definitely a great improvement over Windows 7 Virtual PC.


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