Run virtual machines on Windows 8.1 with Client Hyper‑V: A quick how-to

Run virtual machines on Windows 8.1 with Client Hyper‑V: A quick how-to

Summary: Did you know that Windows 8.1 Professional and Enterprise has built-in virtualization capabilities? Here's how to run multiple operating systems on a single PC.


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  • Hyper-V Overview

    Many Windows users aren't aware of it, but a powerful virtualization tool is built into every copy of Microsoft Windows 8.x Pro and Windows 8.x  Enterprise, Client Hyper-V.

    This is the very same Type-1 hypervisor that runs virtualized enterprise workloads and comes with Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2. The virtual machines you create on your desktop with Client Hyper-V are fully compatible with those server systems as well.

    If you're a software developer and need to do testing, or simply want additional operating system(s) running on your computer, such as Linux, Hyper-V can be a great feature to have enabled on your PC.

    Client Hyper-V has remarkably few limitations compared to its Server sibling. They are:

    • Does not have Remote FX capability to virtualize GPUs 
    • Cannot do Live migration of virtual machines from one host to another
    • Cannot use Hyper-V Replica
    • Does not include Virtual Fibre Channel 
    • Cannot do 32-bit SR-IOV networking
    • Cannot do Shared .vhdx


    If you need to be able to do these, you might want to consider the free Hyper-V Server product, or Windows Server 2012 R2.

    For additional information on the full feature set of Hyper-V, click here.

    Client Hyper-V is only available in the following versions of Windows:

    • Windows 8 Pro 64-bit Edition
    • Windows 8 Enterprise 64-bit Edition
    • Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit Edition
    • Windows 8.1 Enterprise 64-bit Edition

    For this demonstration though, we'll concentrate on the Windows 8.1 versions, as it is a free upgrade from Windows 8, and that's the version most users will likely be using.

  • Enable 64-bit Virtualization Extensions in your PC BIOS

    To install the Hyper-V feature on your PC, you'll need a computer with 4GB of RAM with a 64-bit processor that has Second Level Address Translation (SLAT). 

    Many PCs on the market have this feature, but some budget processors and older 64-bit systems do not. Additonally, while many PC BIOSes have virtualization features turned on by default, your PC might not.

    As BIOS menu layouts are not universal, you'll want to consult your PC BIOS documentation as to where the feature is located in your firmware setup and what it is called. 

    In the example above on this Dell consumer Core i7 laptop, it is simply referred to as "Virtualization" under the "Advanced" menu.

Topics: Virtualization, Microsoft, PCs, Windows

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  • Make sure to make a restore point

    A good thing to do is before you turn on the hypervisor for the first time is create a restore point. If for some reason your hardware won't work with it, you can roll back to that restore point. I had this happen on an older laptop where there was some incompatibility with the CPU virtualization features.
    Buster Friendly
    • Never create a restore point for a virtual domain controller

      You've been warned. If you revert back to an earlier point on a virtual DC - whatever happens next is on you. MS gives clear guidance on this, an only tepidly even mentions the supposed ability for Server 2012 to be able to handle this. Don't do it.
  • Very nice article

    Here's the GNU/Linux distro list from Microsoft's site (linked in the article):

    o RHEL
    o CentOS
    o Oracle Enterprise Linux
    o SUSE
    o Debian
    o Ubuntu

    Clearly, Microsoft is placing its emphasis on enterprise GNU/Linux distros (and, very likely, on servers rather than the desktop).

    It's also nice to see FreeBSD VMs getting support from Microsoft.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Meant to go against vmware

      It's designed to compete with VMware. Most installs have a mix of *nix and Windows. Windows has the best desktop along with user management tools while the *nix is good for running Java, Apache, and database servers.
      Buster Friendly
  • Surface Pro 3 users beware...

    Installing Hyper-V Client will cause you to lose your sleep mode. This is a consequence of the 'always on' changes to APM power management.
    • Workaround

      This is inconvenient, but there is a workaround that makes it possible to choose between Hyper-V and connected standby. It is not necessary to uninstall or reinstall Hyper-V but a reboot is required.
  • Run virtual machines on Windows 8.1 with Client Hyper‑V: A quick how-to

    Great article. I've been meaning to do some testing of vm's so I will give this a shot.
    • Mr. Davidson, here is a link for your guest VM:

      See? I can be helpful sometimes. :)

      P.S. Dear ZDNet editors, the article refers to Ubuntu server 14.01.1 LTS. It should be 14.04.1 LTS.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Testing of vm's....

      Why not just use VirtualBox.
      • Could also ask

        You could also ask why use VirtualBox when you have a built-in and supported hypervisor? Unless you buy a support contract from Oracle, Virtualbox is at your own risk.
        Buster Friendly
        • Nearly every linux distribution supports VMs.

          And some even support containers...

          No restrictions on usage either.
          • True but you have to settle for Linux :(

            Just kidding, Linux is a great OS. I still prefer Windows.

            And of course you have lots of options for running VMs under any version of Windows. But not a Type 1 VM.
        • Re: VirtualBox Risk ?

          There is no specific risk using VirtualBox. Remember any virtualisation software is as secure as the settings the user applies to a machine running in a virtual environment.

          As for the Oracle support contract ? VirtualBox is updated when needed free of charge.

          VirtualBox is free software and perfect for running Linux, Windows and with some hacking OS X.
          • Yes, risk

            Yes, risk, as in no support unless you pay extra for it. I'm talking business use and not hobbyist use where running into work halting issue doesn't cost money. If you buy Windows 8, hyper-V is a supported component.
            Buster Friendly
        • For one thing

          Virtual Box allows me to run Windows 8.1 in a VM under Windows 7. Can't do that with Hypervisor.
          • Should be able to.

            No technical reason unless such things are blocked.

            I'll one-up you. I used to run Win7 64 and 32 in VMs under WinXP 64 bit :). I finally upgraded by 64 bit XP so that isn't necessary anymore.
      • Depends

        I use VirtualBox on my Mac to run Windows but if you have W8 Pro/Ent then Hyper-V will run more efficiently than VB.

        Remember that H-V is a server product that MS fully supports, is running thin layer Hyper-V servers with, can also run on thumb drives with a mobile hypervisor, etc. They have sessions at their tech cons, its supported in Azure, etc. And it will be supported here on out with later Windows.

        If you just need a quick VM now and then, VirtualBox is fine. If you will be working with virtual tech for a while and not invested in VMWare or have not implemented a XenServer, Hyper-V is a good choice.
        Rann Xeroxx
      • Why not VirtualBox?

        Because VirtualBox is a type 2 hypervisor, Hyper-V is a full-on type 1 hypervisor.

        Type 2 hypervisors like VirtualBox runs on top of another OS and goes through that OS device drivers when accessing hardware.

        Type 1 hypervisors run the hypervisor directly on the hardware. In the case of Windows, the Windows OS is then just another "client" OS that happens to be the administering OS. Don't be fooled to think that Hyper-V goes through Windows.

        The upshot is that type 1 hypervisors have more direct access to the hardware and consequently less overhead and latency.
        • Correct.

          I like Virtual Box and VMWare but they would not be as efficient as HyperV.

          However, I don't have to have Pro or Enterprise for Type 2 and while you do lose some performance, as long as you have pretty decent hardware Type 2s work pretty well.

          For desktops, I want a quad i7. I have a separate HDD for VMs and more memory so that the host and client aren't contending for too many resources.
      • See Honeymonster. Type1 vs Type2 VM.

        HyperV will be more efficient almost no overhead at all. And if you only run one client then you have fewer resource contentions.

        I do like Virtual Box and VmWare (I prefer the latter though) because you don't need W8.1 pro or enterprise, but HyperV definitely has a performance advantage.