Windows Advisor

Windows Advisor: Dots Before My Eyes

Cursors turning to dots, weird keyboard behavior ... what's going on with Hyper-V?

Q. I usually use Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) to connect to Windows Server 2008 running Hyper-V. I then connect to a virtual machine (VM) from inside the Hyper-V Manager.

One day, when I started my VM session, I noticed that my mouse cursor had turned into a dot. I've tried to change the mouse cursor and even rebooted the VM, but nothing seems to bring back my arrow cursor. Could one of the patches I installed have caused this problem?

A. When you use Hyper-V Manager to connect to a VM, the connection to the VM is provided by Virtual Machine Connection. This is true whether you physically log in to the console of a server running Hyper-V and then connect to the VM from Hyper-V Manager, or use an RDC to the server running Hyper-V, which is much like you do.

You should know that Microsoft doesn't support the Virtual Machine Connection within an RDC session. That's why you may experience a lack of mouse functionality and erratic keyboard behavior. Note that I said "may" -- it doesn't happen all the time. You might use RDC for a long time and not experience any problems at all, until one day when you suddenly encounter problems with your mouse or keyboard. There's really no consistency in this behavior. I've noticed that when I use RDC like you do, one of my VMs turns the cursor into a dot while the other one works just fine.

A simple solution is to avoid using Virtual Machine Connection within an RDC session. In other words, do one of the following:

  • Don't use RDC to connect to the server running Hyper-V that's hosting the VM; instead, connect to the VM directly using RDC. I prefer this method.

  • Instead of using RDC to connect to the server running Hyper-V, log in to the physical console of the server running Hyper-V (the RDC console session isn't good enough). You can then use Virtual Machine Connection to connect to the VM like you usually do.

  • Install Virtual Machine Connection on a Windows Server 2008 or Windows Vista Service Pack 1 computer and then connect to the VM using a Virtual Machine Connection session.

About the Author

Zubair Alexander, MCSE, MCT, MCSA and Microsoft MVP is the founder of SeattlePro Enterprises, an IT training and consulting business. His experience covers a wide range of spectrum: trainer, consultant, systems administrator, security architect, network engineer, author, technical editor, college instructor and public speaker. Zubair holds more than 25 technical certifications and Bachelor of Science degrees in Aeronautics & Astronautics Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Information Systems. His Web site, www.techgalaxy.net, is dedicated to technical resources for IT professionals. Zubair may be reached at alexander@techgalaxy.net.

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