Installing Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008

Hyper-V is a hypervisor-based technology that is a key feature of Windows Server 2008, and provides a scalable, reliable, and highly available virtualization platform. It provides scalability and high performance by supporting features like guest multi-processing support and 64-bit guest and host support; reliability and security through its hypervisor architecture; flexibility and manageability by supporting features like quick migration of virtual machines from one physical host to another, and integration with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM).

Installing the Hyper-V role on a full installation of Windows Server 2008 installs all the components of the Hyper-V technology, including the remote management tools. The tools consist of Hyper-V Manager, which is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in, and Virtual Machine Connection, which provides you with direct access to a virtual machine through a network connection.
So, how do you get Hyper-V up and running on your server? Installation is easy, but before installing it you must make sure you meet the required prerequisites.

Hyper-V Installation Prerequisites

Hyper-V requires specific hardware. You will need the following:

  • An x64-based processor. Hyper-V is available only in the x64-based versions of Windows Server 2008—specifically, the x64-based versions of Windows Server 2008 Standard, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise, and Windows Server 2008 Datacenter.
  • Hardware-assisted virtualization must be available and be enabled in the BIOS. This is available in processors that include a virtualization option; specifically, Intel VT or AMD Virtualization.
  • Hardware Data Execution Protection (DEP) must be available and be enabled in the BIOS. You must enable Intel XD bit (execute disable bit) or AMD NX bit (no execute bit).
  • Hyper-V does NOT support Itanium (IA-64) processors.

Note – Hyper-V on Laptops

While possible with most new laptop brands, when you enable the Hyper-V role on Windows Server 2008, the support for sleep/hibernate will be disabled.  The reason for this is that supporting these features on a hypervisor based system is incredibly complicated – and Hyper-V is designed to run on servers – where sleep and hibernate are not used. Therefore, each time you will want to stop working with the laptop, you will need to completely shut it down.
An explanation for this behavior can be found here in Microsoft’s TechNet forums.
With a hosted VMM model (like Virtual Server or Virtual PC) the VMM driver gets to participate in power management decisions just like other system drivers do.  When a request to sleep gets made it is able to react accordingly.  With a hypervisor model power management is controlled by a ‘root’ operating system that is relatively unaware of the state of the hypervisor and of any virtual machines.  In order to ensure that the root operating system does nothing detrimental the hypervisor needs to change some aspects of the power management features that are reported up from the hardware.
Disabling sleep is one of the things we do while doing this.
While this is awkward for laptop users, this is a server virtualization solution and supporting sleep would add a lot of complexity for a situation that 99% of our customers are not going to be interested in.


Hyper-V is a virtualization platform from Microsoft, originally available as Beta 3 on the RTM installation DVD of Windows Server 2008, but the RTM update for Hyper-V is now available for download or from Windows Update (after July 8, 2008).  In order to get the Hyper-V role on Windows Server 2008 you need to install this update. The update package consists of the Hyper-V role, including the x64 version of the remote management tools, and integration services for the supported versions of the Windows operating system. With this update, you can now use Hyper-V in a production environment for supported configurations.
Description of the update for the release version of the Hyper-V technology for Windows Server 2008 – 950050
Note: The Hyper-V role update package is a permanent package. Once you install the update package, you cannot remove it.
Note: Looking at the above link, it might appear like there’s a 32-bit version of Hyper-V. That is NOT correct. The 32-bit download is just for the Hyper-V management tool and connection tool.
The download itself, around 30 MB, can be found here.
Note: You can manage Hyper-V servers from other Windows Server 2008 machines, or from Windows Vista machines. See the following link for the download paths.

Description of the Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Management Tools update for the release version of Hyper-V – 952627
The update that allows the Hyper-V role is for Windows Server 2008 x64 editions, and after installing it you will be able to enable the virtualization role through Server Manager. After the Hyper-V role is enabled, Hyper-V Manager will become available as a part of Administrative Tools. From the Hyper-V Manager you can easily create and configure virtual machines.

BIOS Settings

You must enter the BIOS setup of the server and make sure that “Virtualization Technology” and “Execute Disable” are both set to Enabled. Otherwise, even after installing the Hyper-V role, you will not be able to start using it and might get one of the following errors:
Hyper-V launch failed; Either VMX not present or not enabled in BIOS.
Hyper-V launch failed; at least one of the processors in the system does not appear to provide a virtualization platform supported by Hyper-V.
In most cases, the required BIOS settings can be found in these BIOS sections (actual names may differ, based upon your server’s BIOS settings):

  • Security > Execute Disable (set to On)
  • Performance > Virtualization (set to On)
  • Performance > VT for Direct I/O Access (set to On)
  • Performance > Trusted Execution (set to Off)

Installation procedure

Below is the step-by-step on installing Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008.
Note: Hyper-V can also be installed on Windows Server 2008 Server Core. Please read my Installing Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 Server Core article.

    1. Make sure Windows Server 2008 is fully patched and properly configured, including with the BIOS settings mentioned above. Configuration settings to the server include:
      • Setting the administrative password.
      • Configuring the server’s computer name.
      • Setting a static IP address on all relevant NICs.
      • Activating the server.
      • Joining the server to a domain (if required).
      • Configure the firewall for remote administration.
      • Enable Remote Desktop for Administration if you want to manage the server running a Server Core installation remotely.

All the above tasks can be accomplished by using either the Initial Configuration Tasks wizard, the Server Manager, Command Prompt tools and script.

    1. Open Server Manager, click Add Roles.
    2. Choose Hyper-V role. Click Next.


    1. On the Create Virtual Networks page, click one or more network adapters if you want to make their connection to a physical network available to virtual machines.

Important note: It is very important that you understand the logic behind using virtual networks. I strongly recommend that you have at least 2 network adapters on the server, use ONE for the virtual networks, and use the SECOND for the server’s management tasks.

  1. On the Confirm Installation Selections page, click Install.
  2. The computer must be restarted to complete the installation. Click Close to finish the wizard, and then click Yes to restart the computer.
  3. After you restart the computer, log on with the same account you used to install the role. After the Resume Configuration Wizard completes the installation, click Close to finish the wizard.

Now can manage Hyper-V role either from Server Manager or from the Hyper-V management console found in the Administrative tools folder. The next logical steps would be to define virtual networks, and to create and launch virtual machines. More on that, in a future article.