How to enable and Use Windows 8 Client Hyper-V

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How to enable and Use Windows 8 Client Hyper-V

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Added by January 2, 2013

Mircosoft introduced XP Mode using Microsoft Virtual PC with Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate versions. Windows XP mode provided an excellent migration option for companies and users migrating to Windows 7 while maintaining preferred Windows XP applications. Virtual PC enables multiple Windows environments from all versions of the Windows 7 client desktop, except Starter edition, if you choose not to enable full Windows XP Mode integration. There is a great dialog identifying requirements and distinguishing between versions of Virtual PC for Windows 7.

Windows Virtual PC is no longer available for use as of Windows 8.

Instead, Microsoft Windows 8 provides a client version of Hyper-V for selected operating system versions and hardware platforms. Technet compares Client Hyper-V  to Windows XP Mode for Windows 7.  The use of Hyper-V on Windows 8 is more powerful and elegant than Virtual PC, though restricted to use in the Professional and Enterprise editions of Windows 8. This means no virtualized support on Windows 8 (the label for the home edition) or Windows RT, completing the four version set of Windows 8. Steven Sinofsky wrote a detailed look at Bringing Hyper-V to Windows 8. Per Steven’s introduction and other instructions, Windows 8 Hyper-V client will only run on 64-bit versions of the operating system, with 64-bit Intel or AMD processors that support SLAT (Second Level Address Translation), and have at least 4 GB of RAM installed. This reduces the number of systems and Windows 8 platforms that can support virtualization (remember Virtual PC is no longer supported in Windows 8), and might dictate your decision to migrate if you are dependent on client based virtualized support for mission critical applications.

Not all 64-bit processors support SLAT, so you will want to check before migrating to Windows 8. Jason Helmick provides a simple Powershell solution to check for SLAT (Second Level Address Translation) for Windows 8 Hyper-V.

Hyper-V is included within Windows 8 and does not need to be downloaded. The feature is not enabled by default, and merely needs to be enabled. How-to-Geek provides an abbreviated set of instructions  with screenshots. Into Windows provides an alternate set of instructions and comments.

Apparently Client Hyper-V is visible as a selectable feature in 32-bit versions of Windows 8 Professional and Enterprise, although Hyper-V Manager will not allow creation of a VM on the 32-bit version of the OS. Some of the toolset may be available, and I have scheduled this research for a future blog.

In a previous blog, I provided a comparison of Windows 7 and Windows 8 keystroke shortcuts. The use of Hyper-V adds another layer of keystroke controls. For your convenience, Ben Armstrong , the Virtual PC Guy and a Microsoft Hyper-V Program Manager, provides an overview of Hyper-V Key Combinations.

Standard Windows Key combinationVirtual Machine Connection Key CombinationExplanation
CTRL + ALT + DELCTRL + ALT + ENDDisplays the Task Manager or Windows Security dialog box on Windows (or logs in).
ALT + TABALT + PAGE UPSwitches between programs from left to right.
ALT + SHIFT + TABALT + PAGE DOWNSwitches between programs from right to left.
ALT + ESCALT + INSERTCycles through the programs in the order they were started.
CTRL + ESCALT + HOMEDisplays the Windows Start menu.
N/ACTRL + ALT + PAUSEChanges the Virtual Machine Connection window to / from full screen mode.
N/ACTRL + ALT + LEFT ARROWReleases mouse and keyboard focus from the Virtual Machine Connection window.


Windows key stroke combinations are not sent to the virtual machine by default, though you can change some settings through the Hyper-V Manager, and probably want to do so as addressed in Ben’s blog. Ben specifically addresses integration of the new Windows 8 key combinations inside of Hyper-V  in a more recent blog entry.

There are other changes to Hyper-V and the Hyper-V Client as deployed on Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. While experimenting with Hyper-V Client, I found another of Ben’s posts to be most helpful. Dynamically expanding virtual hard disks must now be manually mounted in the management operating system before trying to compact them. The process used to be automatic, but apparently created problems when attaching and removing virtual hard disks. Glad Ben offered the related article, and although it refers to Windows Server 2012, it equally affects Windows 8 Client Hyper-V.

You now have the fundamentals for using Client Hyper-V under Windows 8. Enjoy the creation of virtual worlds.


Steven Fullmer
Interface Technical Training Staff Instructor

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