Hyper-V first impressions – pretty good

The purpose of buying a new 64-bit CPU and motherboard, enough memory and installing Windows 2008 x64 has been to try the new VM technology.  So after installing Windows 2008 x64 I’ve had chance to try the new hypervisor scheduled to be included in Windows 2008 and it does seem pretty good.  I’ve not done benchmarks but the performance of VMs seems excellent.  Enabling Hyper-V is as simple as installing the Hyper-V role and re-booting.  I’ve read posts say that you might need to make a change to the BIOS but I didn’t need to make any changes to the BIOS of the Foxconn motherboard I’m using.

I’ve installed Hyper-V RC0 and there are some niggles that I hope Microsoft will resolve before release. 

First, make sure you install Windows 2008 using the default US locale, language and keyboard.  If you don’t the Hypervisor management server process will not start complaining about an invalid parameter.  Here’s a support forum post about the issue.  The central message is to install update KB929219.  It’s listed as an optional update but its really not optional if you have installed the Hyper-V role.  When I encountered this issue and found the post I took the decision to re-install W2008 (as it only takes 20 mins) using the default locale.  Then install the updates and finally enable the Hyper-V role.

Perhaps the biggest niggle is that there’s no web interface to control the hypervisor.  I liked the ability to use the web interface in Virtual Server 2005.  The new management tools only work on Vista SP1 or an other Windows 2008 instance.  It maybe Vista by the backdoor but more likely its because the VM manager uses the new secure channal options available in W2008 and earlier versions lack the necessary security algorithms. 

Microsoft has decided that its only going to support VM additions on Windows XP SP3, Vista SP1 Windows 2003 SP2 and Window 2008.  A pretty broad selection but here’s the problem: you’ve setup Windows 2008 as a VM server to stick in a room and, presumably, access via Remote Desktop.  You start an existing, or install a new, VM of Windows XP SP2 or Windows 2003 SP1 and connect to it using the Hyper-V manager.  But you can’t use the mouse and if you try a message pops up stating that you must install the additions.  OK, you select the manager option to install the additions but they won’t install because the the wrong version of the guest OS is installed.  Eventually, no matter how you try, you hit a wall and have to use the console because the mouse works there and at least the updates can be installed.  It’s a small point but one that will just cause unnecessary headache especially if you are migrating an existing VM as the existing Virtual PC or Virtual Server 2005 additions are no use.

By the way, if you are migrating an existing VM, make sure you have the original VMAdditions.iso available used to install the existing VM additions because the existing additions do not uninstall without the installer being present.

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