Why Should I Use Windows 8 Client Hyper-V?

What is Client Hyper-V?

After a lot of requests, Microsoft decided to create a client version of their hypervisor. Client Hyper-V is the same Hyper-V with the same architecture that you find on Windows Server 2012, minus a few server features such as:

  • clustering
  • live migration
  • virtual fiber channel adapters
  • RemoteFX for graphics acceleration

Client Hyper-V has a few tricks of its own that are not found in the Server version:

  • Power state support: Close the lid of a laptop to put it to sleep
  • Seamless Wi-Fi support: You can “connect” a virtual switch to a Wi-Fi NIC without doing black magic; the “black magic” is done for you.

The virtual machines are the exact same format as those on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V. You can power down the virtual machines, move the files, and Import/Register the virtual machines to get them running on your PC or on a server.

Why Would Microsoft Give Us Free Client Virtualization?

With Hyper-V being just a couple of mouse clicks and a reboot away, this is Microsoft’s way of introducing their hypervisor to a whole new audience. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt can be dealt with in a hands-on fashion, instead of from a stage or a webcast.

What Are the Uses of Windows 8 Client Hyper-V?

There a number of possible uses, including:

  • Split-user administration: Log into your Windows 8 PC using non-administrator credentials to surf the net and use email, and log into a virtual machine using administrator credentials to do server administration.
  • Demonstrations: Consultants who work for Microsoft partners want a way to demonstrate solutions on their laptops without using Windows Server Hyper-V or competitors’ desktop virtualization products.
  • Test and development: Software testers and developers love to have nearby, portable lab environments.
  • Training classes: A training class can run virtual machines on the built-in hypervisor. Use snapshots or differential virtual hard disks to reset the virtual machines every day.
  • Get a certification: You need lots of machines to get certified. You can create lots of virtual machines on your PC and laptop, pending licensing, disk space, processor, and memory.
  • Test upgrades: Restore a production virtual machine to your PC, and test OS/software upgrades without interrupting or allowing consultants access production systems.
  • Security isolation: Give security officers an isolated virtual machine to test threats. Get infected, power down the virtual machine, mount the virtual hard disk, and scan the results. Damage can be undone by deleting the virtual machine or resetting a snapshot.

Software Requirements

Client Hyper-V is included in Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise (a benefit of desktop Software Assurance).
Any operating system that is installed in a virtual machine requires licensing. Remember that a volume license is assigned to a physical machine and may only move after 90 days have passed since the last assignment. One of the benefits of Windows 8 Enterprise is virtualization rights; that means you get four free installs of Windows 8 Enterprise as virtual machines on a computer that is licensed for Windows 8 Enterprise. Windows 8 Pro does not have this benefit.

Hardware Requirements

Three of the four hardware requirements are the same as for Windows Server Hyper-V:

  • 64-bit processor: This should not be an issue for most laptops or PCs, and it rules out many Windows 8 tablets.
  • Data Execution Protection (DEP) is enabled in the BIOS: The No Execute bit is usually okay on business-class machines.
  • CPU-assisted virtualization is enabled in the BIOS: Intel VT-x and AMD-V have been common in business machines for several years.

Client Hyper-V has one additional requirement, one that is only a beneficial feature in Window Server Hyper-V. Second Level Address Translation (SLAT, known as Intel EPT or AMD RVI/NPT) has only been common in processors for the last few years, e.g the Intel Duo Core CPU does not have support.

Enabling Client Hyper-V

The process of enabling Hyper-V is simple:

  1. Open Control Panel > Programs And Features.
  2. Click Turn Windows Features On or Off.AddHyper VWindows8
  3. Check the box for Hyper-V.
  4. Allow the computer to reboot.

After two automated reboots, Hyper-V slips itself under your Windows 8 installation and turns it into a Management OS.
Note: Other client virtualization products that leverage the hardware virtualization features will not work because those features are not virtualized in Hyper-V.