My Weekend with Hyper-V (And Back)

One of the perks of my job is that I get opportunities to play with lots of new stuff, sometimes before I really should. I have been running the betas of Server 2008 for quite a while, and cut over one of my servers to RC0 just as soon as I could get my hands on it.

One of the perks of my job is that I get opportunities to play with lots of new stuff, sometimes before I really should.  I have been running the betas of Server 2008 for quite a while, and cut over one of my servers to RC0 just as soon as I could get my hands on it.  But I have been cautious on Hyper-V.  Until now.    But if you are thinking about it too, read on.  Depending on what you want to do you might be better off waiting. 

Where I Am Now 

I have an x64 server which I ship around for use in my training classes.  A nice rack-mount dell with a quad processor and 8GB of ram , raid drives, and all that.  I run Windows Server 2003 R2 SP2 as the base OS image, which serves up a stand-alone AD Domain, DHCP, and DNS , and File Server functionality for the class within that OS.  On top of that I run Microsoft Virtual Server R2 and a slew of both server and desktop OS VMs.  Since we do a lot of application sequencing in these classes, we have lots of these buggers for sequencing and client test machines, plus a couple of SoftGrid servers and a database server thrown in.  This setup works well, although in a full class it is probably reaching the point of performance maximus. 

Where I Want To Go 

So being under the weather this long weekend (St. Patricks day being Monday) with a cold what a better thing to do while laying around that rebuild the thing.  Sure, the Hyper-V part is only beta for now but it is there in the product release of the server so it's got to be pretty good - no?  I want to check-out the performance of Hyper-V, plus I really want the functionality of the Terminal Services Gateway.  So Friday night I work on the plan. 

First, I make sure to skim Rubens post ( and then download the release x64 version of 2008 with Hyper-V.  Also, I back the VMs up, just in case.  Then I am going to upgrade the base OS to Windows Server 2008 x64.   Turn on Hyper-v which makes my base OS become the primary partition.  Then I will just import those VMs and test.  Sounds easy!   Umm.  Let's look at the documentation a little first.  I remember reading something about a domain controller in the primary partition and I might have to move that.  

A Long Journey Starts With One Small Step 

Saturday Morning.  OK.   There is a section in the read-me about AD.  Nothing about an issue with it being in the primary partition, but now I am thinking that the problem was if you used Windows Core as the primary.    I like the idea of Server Core as the primary, but I am basically lazy and have a perfectly good domain controller already built that I loose if I go that route.  Also, while Dell has tested this hardware with 2008 and Hyper-V, they have not provided updated unintended install software.   I should do  a clean install, but I'm not going to (besides, I can always blow everything away again and start over). 

More reading about AD.  The Windows Server 2008 must be in a domain that is prepped for 2008 with schema changes.  It gives instructions on how to do adprep on the forest and then the domain.  The first command fails because my 2003 AD was set for mixed mode to support my 2000 Sql Server VM.  Fix that, then upgrade the rest of it as documented.  Check. 

Now to install.  Select full upgrade on the same partition and the rest is really simple.  Server reboots at the end and seems OK.  However, nothing about a  hypervisor yet. Turns out that you use the Server Manager within Windows 2008  to add this in as a role.  By the way, Server Manager is like 17 times more cooler than the "Configure Your Server Wizard" ever was.  This takes two reboots to accomplish. 

A Small Stumble 

Saturday Afternoon.  But now my networking is all messed up.  First, every adapter seems to now be set for DHCP.  I have two NICs, one is supposed to be set for DHCP (this connects to the hotel LAN for internet access), while the second is supposed to serve up DHCP (to a wireless router for user laptops).  Fix that.  Oh, then I realize that I had used ICS to connect those ports and that was knocked out too.  Look for that…  Give up and google it… Find a posting where someone says that with 2008 you should use Routing and Remote Access instead of ICS.  Oh fun.  More to learn. 

Routing and Remote Access is another role you can add in.  This is two features.  A software router, and Remote Access Server.  I don't need the later.  I had problems figuring out how to configure it at first.  Eventually I "disabled" it and then all the configuration options seem to be present. A little bridge here, a little NAT there, a little RIP tossed in but then taken back out.  Manually set up the DHCP role also.  And now my routing is set back up the way I wanted it.  It was a lot less work with ICS, but it is up and running fine now.

 The Bell Lap 

Saturday Night.  I think I can see the finish line.  I start thinking about VMs and wonder what happened to that Virtual Server that had been installed.  Well it still is.  So I uninstall it before something bad happens. 

And now to import my VMs.  Import fails.  Try another.  Same result.  Hello google…  Seems you can't import from Virtual Server, only exported Hyper-V VMs.  What is up with that?  Eventually I figure out that you can create a new VM and attach the virtual disks from Virtual Server.  OK - let's go there.  

Sunday Morning.  Start with my Sql2000 server.  Boot it up and… Blue Screen.   Try a 2003 server since that one is 2000.  No blue screen there, but it consumes a complete CPU.  It also want me to re-activate the license because of hardware changes, but it gives me three days, which is good because the network isn't working in the VM.  Uninstall the "virtual server extensions" and install the "Hyper-V Integrations" (always a challenge to remotely use windows without the aid of a mouse).  Now I find that the network connection settings here are blown away.  Fix that.  Re-activate.  All is well here.  Do a second server VM. 

Try a Vista VM.  Upon login, this also wants me to re-activate the license, but won't give me three days.  Must do it now or it won't log-in.  But can't validate because I need to log-in to fix the network.  There is a phone option, but it is Sunday.   

Develop a Cramp 

Sunday Afternoon.  Move on the XP.  Most of my VMs are XP.  Same thing.  Arrgh!  Create a fresh XP image instead.  Log in, try to install the hyper-v  integration.  It's a beta, remember?  Only Windows 2003 with SP2 (with or without R2) , and Windows 2008 are supported (also some Linux, but that requires some special software).  No Vista, no XP, and surely no 2000.  I can live without 2000.  I can live without Vista.  But not XP.  And the CPU usage of a VM without the integration is way too high to use in the class.  I have no choice, but to back off of Hyper-V. 

Falling to the Pavement to the Groans of the Crowd 

Monday Morning.  Uninstall Hyper-V, and a couple of reboots later, it is gone.  Have to re-fix my network connections again.  Install virtual server and run the old VMs.  A few blue screens later, lots of diagnostics, followed by panic as I just rip stuff out until it stops.  Then add stuff back in and everything is running again, except that remote displays flake out constantly.  After a few hours of troubleshooting that (including removing the NIC drivers and reinstalling) it hasn't gone away and I'm going to have to move to plan B where I blow it all away and start over for the base OS.    

Better Luck Next Time 

Monday Night.  It may have been painful, but the adventure was till worth it for me. 

In my rebuild, I am still going to go with Windows 2008, but I'll just keep Hyper-V out of the picture until the final release.  I'm sure that Hyper-V will be OK when released and will improve my performance.  I do appreciate that they have moved to using multiple snapshots (very important when sequencing).  As it stands, Hyper-V looks good as long as you only want 2003 and 2008 server VMs.  And I'll read Ruben's posting more closely next time too.

Oh, and for those wondering why I didn't try the Xen Hypervisor, it is because the copy Citrix distributed is only good for 4 VMs.

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Is it just me that thought Hyper-V was the MS version of VM ESX?

Yeah I know I should have read the wrapper a little closer or even got round to testing (why only 24hrs in a day?) but skimming through the MS blurb seemed to be all about a 32mb shim that sits between hardware and VM.  Didnt realise that a fully blown (or maybe slightly deflated) OS install was required.  Someone please tell me I'm wrong or misinformed or stupid or any combination of the above!

You're wrong.  It requires an installation of 2008 Server.  You can run Hyper-V on Server Core, but Server Code != ESX.
The Hyper-V requires a server OS in DOM0 to route network and DISK IO to the hypervisor which is located directly on de hardware. Xenserver does the same thing, but here it is a Linux OS in DOM0.

I'm writing this post on my dual-core, 3GB Dell laptop running Windows Server 2008 64-bit edition with Hyper-V role installed. Some core apps are installed in the parent partition, my dev environment based on Windows Server 2008 32-bit edition and Visual Studio 2008 is running in a child partition. Basically the same base configuration runs on my HP quad-core server with 4 GB of memory. I used this box for a five-day training class only two weeks ago, the demo environment was running without any problems in multiple child partitions and included a Citrix Presentation Server 4.5 on Win2k3 VM, a combined domain controller, DataStore/SQL server, MS/CTX license servers and Web Interface server VM, a Win2K8 TS VM, a W2k8 Core VM, a Windows XP client VM and a Windows Vista client VM. Tim, this Hyper-V beast works -- if you decide to make fresh installs rather than trying to migrate existing VMs.

OK, it took me a while and I had some very good help from Andreas Luetchens, a consultant working for Login Consultants in Germany. We sat down the week before the training class and manually went through all the installation steps of the demo environment. Configuring Hyper-V and getting the (virtual) network up and running was not the issue, this only took us a couple of hours. Properly setting up CPS 4.5 with all bells and whistles and without using any automation tools was the bigger challenge ;-) I can say that we learned a lot, next time we will be able to automate the installation process on Hyper-V!

Yes, it's true, Hyper-V is still in beta, and we had to use the emulated drivers for Windows XP and Windows Vista. But hey, there is still Remote Desktop Connection which allows you to RDP into the virtual client boxes from the parent partition or through the external network (if your VMs use the "real" network and static IP addresses). This avoids most negative effects of the "emulated driver blues". The demos were working stable and with good performance throughout the full five days -- and I can prove this, because we recorded the complete training (in German language).

Oh, and I was even able to get Wireless LAN and Aero running in the Windows Server 2008 64-bit parent partition. This is exactly the platform I'm using in this very moment. And sure, there are still some downsides: Cloning VMs is painful and sometimes the mouse pointers don't work properly. But these are only minor issues.

Don't get me wrong. Hyper-V is not enterprise-ready yet. There is still a lot of space for improvements and VMware ESX is a lot more mature. But as a starting point Microsoft did a very good job. And yes, it's very obvious that Hyper-V and XenServer follow the same architectural concepts. Microsoft and Citrix will give VMware a hard time in the near future. But competition among vendors was always good for us partners, system integrators, market analysts and customers, wasn't it?




How did you get the desktop OSs to see a network driver?  I did fresh installs and told the configuration to attach the network adapters, but the OSs didn't see them.



just add the "Legacy Network Adapter" using the Add Hardware option in the Settings dialog for an OS other than Server 2003 SP2 or Server 2008. Remove the standard "Network Adapter" and configure the legacy adapter that it has access to your virtual network (the VMBus). Then boot the OS in the child partition and you will have access to the network through VMBus and network driver in the parent partition. That's it.

Andreas, whom I mentioned in my earlier posting, found that out after intensively searching the Internet. After we had a first working example for a "legacy" OS -- such as Windows Vista, haha -- connecting to the Internet, things went smoothly; in particular when it came to license activation. But finding out such details can be very time consuming. For example, it took me a while and some help from my workmate Jeroen van de Kamp to find out how to activate Aero theme and the Wireless adapter in the 64-bit parent partition.

But now I have a real "mobile hypervisor box" with an up-to-date UI -- which is good for demos in front of MS folks (even if I still love the XP UI). And BTW, I have the feeling that my "Windows NT 6.0 Workstation" (aka Server 2008 with Aero and standard apps) performs better than Vista, probably because a fresh installation of Server 2008 starts less default services. Memory consumption of the parent partition is in the 600MB range.



Thanks Benny.  I tried the legacy adapter route along the way, but given what happened after the uninstall of Hyper-V perhaps I had something else going on eith the dual nics, and anyway I probably didn't spend enough time on that trick.  But I am glad to .you had success!  Maybe I'll give that a shot again.

One problem you should have in your set-up is one I see on my vista laptop with VMWare Workstation - you don't want to let the laptop go to sleep and should disable that function - even on lid closing.  VMs tend to die badly, but not all of them and not all the time.

One performance difference between 2008 and Vista is that Superfetch is disabled on 2008.  While I actually like Superfetch for a normal desktop OS, I don't like it if you run VMs on it like I do on my laptop.


Good point, Tim. After activating the Hyper-V role the "Hibernate" option in the power settings is not available anymore. The only choices you have on closing the lid is either shut down or do nothing. As of today it looks like you cannot hibernate the Microsoft Hypervisor. If you select shut down in the power settings you have to make sure that you configure the VMs to automatically save the VM state when the physical computer shuts down.

As long as I was using MS Virtual PC/Virtual Server I was able to hibernate the box without killing the VMs. You say that this is not possible with VMware Workstation? I didn't know that. It's a while ago I used VMware Workstation the last time.

One thing I found very impressive with Hyper-V is how fast it saves and starts VMs if I compare it to Virtual Server and VMware. But this may only be the case on my equipment. But it helps me a lot when standing in front of customers and getting ready to demo.

Benny - did you enable the virtualization feature of the Dell motherboard?  (I'm guessing you did).   I am dual-booting (for now) Vista 32 and W2K8 Server on my Dell 1720, 4GB RAM and am considering enabling the virtualization feature on the BIOS for Hyper-V use but wondering how it might affect Vista when I boot into it.   I haven't been able to find out anything on the net about what the downside may be to enabling that feature on a non-virtualization dedicated system.

While looking for something else, what do I find but that Release Candidate 0 came out today for Hyper-V.   Microsoft has promised the final Hyper-V release within 180 days of the release of Windows Server 2008 - so this looks to be about right.

The bad news is that it isn't a simple upgrade.  Remember, Hyper-V that shipped with Windows Server 2008 is a Beta.  Basically, you need to prep your parent partition with some installs, and shut down the VMs.  Install RC0 and then recreate your VMs from the VM disks.  Ugh!

Anyway, instructions of a more official nature are here: 

It looks like the actual code will not appear in Windowsupdate until March 25th

Hi John,

you have to enable the VT-feature in the BIOS or it won't work.

And Hyper-V needs to have a 64 Bit version of W2008. So you might have installed a 32 Bit version of W2008?

I did't find any problems yet about booting without VT-technology. (On my system, Vista was installed with VT-on, and I turned it off for testing..)

And from what I understand about VT so far, it shouldn't affect Vista. (hopefully, who knows really..) :-)

Much more and detailed information is in the link posted by Tim below. 

Hope that helps a bit,





eh, apparently one hand at microsoft didn't know what the other was doing.  It is here:


Yes John, I enabled the virtualization feature in the BIOS of my Dell D830. For quite a while I had Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 64-bit installed with this BIOS configuration before migrating to Server 2008 Hyper-V. I was never able to observe negative effects with XP or W2K3. But I never had Vista on this box, so I can't really tell you if virtualization support from the hardware side creates issues with Vista. But I would give the dual-boot option a try.



I am running Vista 32-bit as the native OS on a Dell Laptop, and I did turn try turning on virtualization in the Bios.  Without having a hypervisor (I am using VmWare Workstation on that device) I could not detect any difference in operation or performance.

Looking at the early performance of using the hypervisor on my lab server, and hearing of the sucess Benny has had, moving my laptop to 2008 might make sense, except that I need some older OSs there (like 2000), and crappy printer drivers that have no 64-bit version (let alone signed).  Hmm....  Maybe not.


Hyper-V Release Candidate Features:

· Improved usability:

  • Partial localization support for Japanese and German.

    • Hyper-V Release Candidate is partially localized in Japanese & German. This means that when Hyper-V is enabled on Windows Server 2008 Japanese or German many of its text strings will appear properly translated. In other cases, text strings may still appear in English. Hyper-V will be fully localized in numerous languages at Hyper-V RTM...

  • Ability to enable Hyper-V RC on international locales.

    • The Hyper-V Release Candidate can now be enabled on international locales. (As opposed to previous versions which could only be enabled on an EN-US locale).
    • However, Hyper-V Release Candidate is only partially localized for Japanese and German. Thus, if you enable Hyper-V Release Candidate on any other language (such as Spanish, French, or Italian) it will appear in English. Hyper-V will be fully localized in numerous languages at Hyper-V RTM...

· Additional Guest OS support:

  1. Hyper-V RC now includes support for Windows Server 2003 (x86) SMP
  2. Hyper-V RC now includes support and integration components for Windows Vista SP1 (x86) and Windows XP SP3 (x86)

· Improved performance:

  1. Hyper-V RC includes performance fixes for scalability and throughput for workloads
  2. Hyper-V VMs using pass-through disks will see a substantial performance improvement over previous versions
  3. Installing Hyper-V VMs via network (RIS/PXE/WDS) is greatly improved over previous versions
  4. ...and lots more...
Arrg,  it seems that Dell didn't actually enable the 'Virtualization' feature in the BIOS.  It's there, and you can set it to 'Enabled' - but when I go to install the Hyper-V role, it tells me that Virtualization feature is not detected.    I did some googling and it appears that Dell has promised a new BIOS upgrade to fix the issue - but the one released in Feb. did not fix it.  - yes, I have installed the 64-bit version of W2K8
Greetings...  Just found a VERY nice Step by Step process for converting legacy VM's to the new Hyper-V platform!  Take a look -