Benny Tritsch wonders if Hyper-V is Microsoft's bare metal client hypervisor?

Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 on a laptop with Hyper-V enabled: Would this be a workable / usable experience for the end user while providing an admin with "true" bare metal client hypervisor functionality?

From the "whoa, that's a really good point" department, 8-time BriForum speaker & friend of the show, CTP, MVP, PhD Benny Tritsch (@drtritsch) blogged about an experiment he recently did where he installed Windows Server 2008 R2 on his laptop with Hyper-V enabled. Would this, he wondered, be a workable / usable experience for the end user while providing an admin with "true" bare metal client hypervisor functionality?

It's interesting that Benny actually got the idea at the Microsoft MVP summit earlier this month, where he "learned that Hyper-V is a core component of the Windows operating system. In other words, Hyper-V is conceptually not limited to the server operating system even though the hypervisor functionality is not available for Windows 7."

In his post, Benny explained the tweaks he had to do along the way, including manually installing the WLAN driver and getting the Aero experience and client-looking themes up and running. (Reminds me of the early days of Windows Server 2003 when we used to run that on our laptops instead of XP due to better performance from Server. There were pages of tweak lists to make Server look & feel like XP.)

Running Hyper-V on a laptop is not a new idea, and in fact TIm Mangan tried in 2008 and again last year.

I'm thinking of a word... it rhymes with "insane" and ends with "why"

Why would anyone of sound mind do this? First, it is technically a bare-metal Type 1 hypervisor running on a laptop. And the device support is huge, since it's running Windows. You could conceivably even configure RemoteApp for Hyper-V to have seamless access to apps from one VM to another.

Second, if you believe that Microsoft is going to go down the client hypervisor path, then this is probably the way they're going to do it (but with Windows 7 of course), so why not get a jump on it? :)

Third, it's an interesting concept, and if you're just going to use this on your own personal laptop, it's probably going to create a better experience for an IT Pro than Virtual Computer or XenClient.

So what's the downside? Well, apart from a lot of manual processes and the fact that you're not using the product in a way that's even close to what it was designed to do, the main drawback is licensing. Running Hyper-V on a laptop means that you need a Windows Server license for it!

Whether you do it or not though, it's a fun idea. Thanks Benny!

Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.


Maybe Microsoft is "Motel back room operations"?  If you've ever seen the computer operations behind the registration desk of a motel or even second class hotel, you would understand.  Bits a pieces of technology tossed around here and there, but nobody to put them together.  Maybe they don't want to step on Citrix?  HA!


I I think it would be fantastic if Microsoft took Hyper-V the last mile to be a true client hypervisor. And I actually think it would be more of a positive than a negative for alternative client hypervisor approaches like NxTop and XenClient.

It would immediately propel the idea of bare-metal hypervisors on a PC into the mainstream, and all client hypervisor boats rise with that tide. There is still plenty of room for the other vendors to innovate and differentiate. Citrix could make themselves the best at blending local VMs with server-side delivery methods like XenApp and XenDesktop. NxTop could become “the people’s client hypervisor” where small and mid-sized shops can download and go with a full end-to-end solution that is easy to set up and run. And Microsoft obviously has unmatched sway with the OEMs and the greater ability than anyone to optimize how Windows runs on a client hypervisor.

Performance in particular is area where more competition in the client hypervisor space would be great. Imagine if the same performance and capabilities arms race we are seeing between Parallels and VMware in the Mac type-2 hypervisor space was replicated with three strong horses in the bare-metal client hypervisor space. That would be fun times for all of us.

(Disclosure: While I work for AppSense these days, I am a former Virtual Computer employee and have a financial interest in their success.)


With the introduction of SCCM 2012, the message that MS is saying is that it doesn't care if your Windows workload is physical or virtual. If it's virtual it doesn't matter which hypervisor it runs on just as long as it is managed by SCCM.

The client hypervisor market isn't flooded by vendors who wish to eliminate MS so there is no need for MS to introduce a client hypervisor, they should just leverage the existing market and add value. However, if VMware were to enter the scene I am sure we would see a Hyper-V Client come out.

Just my opinion.


I worked like that with a desktop class machine when testing the earlier builds of RemoteFX. Loaded Windows Server 2008 R2 and made it look like exactly like a Windows 7 box. And then of course ran the VMs of it.

The potential issue with this approach if compared to running NxTop or XenClient is the hardware support at the VM level. The running VMs will probably perform better with pass through access to the underlying hardware than going through RemoteFX for example. Doug Lane can probably comment on that.

For what Benny needs this is indeed the perfect setup as you do have the look and feel of a desktop OS and the ability to run all the required VMs right on it. Perfect little carry-me-around server.

For the future, sure, Microsoft has all the required pieces to make this a better and the defacto standard (good or bad, I have no clue) but I still think Intel could play a huge role here if they one day acquire someone like Citrix. This could change the virtualization landscape forever.


Am I missing something? There's a website dedicated to helping folks run WS2008R2 on a laptop/desktop with a full Aero/Win7 experience (with or without Hyper-V). They stared on WS2008 and created a 2nd site when WS2008R2 came out.

I've been running WS2008R2 SP1 with Hyper-V on my Dell Precision M4400 mobile workstation (laptop). Works like a champ! Tried running my corporate Win7 Enterprise image inside a VM, but the Hyper-V connection manager only supports fixed resolutions. The integrations tools don't quite get it all the way to full functionality, otherwise this would be my go to configuration.

Since WS2008R2 uses the same code base as Win7, I used all the 64-bit Win7 drivers posted at and I get full hardware functionality, including WiFi and mobile broadband.  Just bridge the Hyper-V virtual NICs to the WiFi NIC and the VM's can connect via wireless, too.

Would be great if Microsoft did a XenClient like product using Hyper-V core, but included the "connector" to get access to your VM GUI!


So I guess the only concern I have with this approach is that it's really going to take HUGE h/w vendor buy in.  The problem as I see it today is that you don't really get to utilize a physical device's true potential through a hyper-visor.  This could be a sorta of carrot stick approach to driving standards into a h/w vendor device development cycle and forcing them to open up access to their devices through a more generic driver interface - but then it becomes easier for them [h/w vendors] to just write the hyper-visor component/interface themselves to assure completeness and not rely on a hyperv vendor to deliver sub-par performance.  Of course, I'm thinking about the percentage of users that really care about high performing devices and the software that controls them.

In any event, so we can already boot into a 'virtual disk' directly using, for example, Native VHD boot - - and just imagine if hardware manufactures made it easy ( eg INDUSTRY STANDARDS ) for someone like Microsoft to write drivers that 'actually worked' ( don't ever use a MS driver ;) ) really well for a solid OOBE, what would prevent me from plopping that VHD on a USB and moving from system to system?  No hyperv needed really....