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Microsoft Confirms Windows 8 Will Have Hyper-V

Microsoft announced today that its Hyper-V hypervisor will be part of Windows 8, its still-under-wraps client operating system.

The announcement, in a "building Windows 8" blog post, confirms early sleuth work by veteran Microsoft watcher Mary-Jo Foley. She tracked the idea back to a 2009 mention by a Microsoft executive. Microsoft already provides Hyper-V for its Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 products, but client OS integration was just at the rumor level previously.

Bringing Hyper-V to Windows 8 took some engineering savvy to pull off, according to Matthew John, a program manager on the Microsoft Hyper-V team, in the blog post. He describes the architectural thinking behind a Microsoft "bridge" solution that enables Wi-Fi packets to move from the external world into a virtual machine running on Windows 8. Microsoft worked out a solution that enables an external network switch to work with a physical network interface controller, for instance.

The Hyper-V integration into the client OS will allow users to run 32-bit and 64-bit virtual machines on top of Windows 8 running on x86 metal. It will allow software developers to work with multiple environments, while IT pros will be able to leverage desktop virtualization for different test configurations, John noted. However, Hyper-V on Windows 8 will still have some limitations, which John described:

  • Apps dependent on hardware (for example, BitLocker and Measured Boot) will not work well in a virtual machine;
  • Apps with low latencies (below 10 milliseconds), such as music-mixing apps, could have issues in a virtual machine; and
  • Games requiring graphics processing units might not work well.

One potential roadblock for organizations running virtual machines on top of Window 8 might be found in the licensing aspects. John noted that "as a reminder, you will still need to license any operating systems you use in the VMs." It will also require having a 64-bit x86-based PC with 4 GB of RAM to run three or four virtual machines on Windows 8.

A few features were noted by John. Windows 8 Hyper-V will have the following capabilities:

  • Dynamic memory for on-the-fly memory allocation (already a feature of Hyper-V running on Windows Server 2008 R2);
  • VM Console or Remote Desktop Connection for monitoring virtual machines;
  • A "live storage move" capability that enables virtual machines to be moved, even while running;
  • A snapshot capability;
  • Automatic patching via Windows Update ("Hyper-V virtual machines have all of the manageability benefits of Windows," John explained).

Microsoft currently offers desktop virtualization support on Windows 7 through its Virtual PC technology running Windows XP Mode. This solution allows Windows XP to run in a virtual machine on top of Windows 7, but it lacks the sort of robust management support that IT shops may require. Microsoft also offers desktop virtualization for Windows 7 clients that has such management capabilities via its Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) solution.

MED-V is benefit for organizations that can afford to pay for Microsoft's Software Assurance licensing option. It's also available for $1 per user per month more as part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack suite for Windows Intune subscribers. MED-V access rights also can be obtained through the Virtual Desktop Access license that Microsoft established in July 2010.

Microsoft's blog did not explain what happens to Virtual PC and MED-V desktop virtualization technologies when Windows 8 is released having Hyper-V capabilities.

In general, Microsoft plans to talk in greater detail about Windows 8 and Windows Server 8 at its sold-out Build conference. Build is scheduled to start on Sept. 13 next week in Anaheim, Calif.

Here's a scorecard of features expected in Windows 8, as revealed by Microsoft so far:

Windows 8 Feature

Source/Chronology

System-on-chip integration on ARM platform designs, as well as x86 platforms from AMD and Intel, enabling new form factors for devices

Steve Ballmer at the Computer Electronics Show, January (link)

Touch-enabled user interface similar to Windows Phone 7, along with traditional menu access via mouse and keyboard

Steven Sinofsky at All Things Digital's D9 event and Mike Angiulo at Computex Taipei, June (link)

Backward compatibility with hardware that can run Windows 7

Steven Sinofsky, building Windows 8 blog, August (link)

An App Store link built into the OS

Steven Sinofsky, building Windows 8 blog, August (link)

USB 3.0 support

Dennis Flanagan, building Windows 8 blog, August (link)

Management of multiple copy jobs via a single dialog box

Alex Simons, building Windows 8 blog, August (link)

Ribbon user interface for Windows Explorer for file management

Alex Simons, building Windows 8 blog, August (link)

Quick access to the contents of ISO files and VHD files

Rajeev Nagar, building Windows 8 blog, August (link)

Windows Media Center include Steven Sinofsky, building Windows 8 blog, September (link)
Hyper-V for Windows 8 client Matthew John, building Windows 8 blog, September

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Jan 26, 2012 sarah california

Hyper-V virtualization tool has been made accessible with windows latest version i.e. windows 8. It is a fascinating operating system for developers, IT pros, and other users who want to run, test, or support virtual environments. In order to run this latest version of operating system i.e. windows 8 Hyper-V, the users of the same would require 64-bit processor but it should be the bit version of windows 8 and in addition to that it must have RAM of at least 4 GB. It demands a bit system which must have SLAT i.e. Second Level Address Translation which helps you in managing memory. In the current generation of 64-bit processor, SLAT is a feature which is available on almost every computer. Much more on this topic and other topics can be found on this site http://www.vpswebserver.com/news/the-windows-8-hyper-v/

Fri, Sep 9, 2011 NJ

Where do I start? Pretty dissapointing article really!! MS has owned Virtual PC for how long? VMWare Workstation is how old? Bridging NICs in VMS (wired or wireless) isn't new. Running 4 VMs on a 4gig box is challenging enough considering Win7 boots using over a gig by itself. I use VMWS daily and closely watch the performance specs. If I'm testing an app/OS, each guest needs enough RAM to cut down on some page swapping or it's useless. Using VMWS on Win7x64, I'm getting XPx86 with 1.5g & a W2k03 with 1g on a 4g box and that's it. Anything more and simple things like typing & switchng windows is significantly slower because of the host is swapping nonstop (the W7x64 host ONLY runs VMs so there is a minimal OS overhead). Which is it? A remote console or RDP to a VM? RDP to a VM isn't newsworthy because that's a 2003 OS feature out of the box (or 2000 with TS installed). I followed to the full article because "If you run your browsing and e-mail sessions in a VM, they are isolated from your core apps and data. This is the theory behind VMware Player. Theoretically you can say goodbye to most malware" was in the email....Goodbye? Come on, did you really think it through? There's 2 OSs that need AV, patching, spyware apps etc, & OS CALs, etc. Malware will target the host (still Windows) AND the VM guests (Windows too). Move amail to a VM, and all you are doing is moving email centric malware to the guest instead of the host-- but BOTH need to be protected.

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