With Win 8 Pro, Hyper-V can be your sandbox

aNewDomain.net — Users of the Pro edition of Windows 8 can turn on Client Hyper-V, Microsoft’s virtualization solution for its Windows Server 2012 technology.  Hyper-V is a powerful virtual machine manager that can run multiple virtual machines simultaneously.  It works with both 32- and 64-bit operating systems, and comes with an easy-to-use interface that will walk you through the steps to get your first virtual machine (VM) up and running.

Getting started

To run Hyper-V you need a 64-bit PC that is running the 64-bit version of Windows 8 Pro or Enterprise.  Other system requirements are an Intel or AMD CPU that supports virtualization and at least 4 GB of RAM.  To install Client Hyper-V, search for “turn windows features on” from the start screen, select Settings, and then click on the result.  This will bring up the Windows Features dialog box.

Hyper-V

Expand the choices under Hyper-V and select it and the two sub-entries.  If “Hyper-V Platform” is grayed out, you may need to turn on virtualization features in your PC’s firmware or BIOS.  If that does not work, your PC does not meet the minimum requirements to run Hyper-V (see above).  Click OK and two programs will be installed on your Start screen, Hyper-V Manager and Hyper-V Virtual Machine Connection.

Uses for Hyper-V

With Hyper-V installed there are a number of features you can use.  For example, use Hyper-V to run a VM with another operating system.  Want to return to the joys of Windows XP?  Just dust off your old XP install disk and license key and you are good to go.  Or download a version of Linux and install that in a VM on your Windows 8 desktop.  Need a protected area to install an unknown or potentially flaky program?  No problem, fire up a VM running another instance of Windows 8, and test to your heart’s content.

Naturally, you’ll want your VM to include a virtual hard disk, or vhd.  You can use Hyper-V to create a vhd, or download a preconfigured vhd from the web and Hyper-V will install it in your VM.  You can also use Hyper-V to virtualize an existing physical machine in order to move the environment to a virtual environment.  How’s that for meta!

Create a Virtual Machine Running Ubuntu

If all this seems confusing, it becomes much clearer as you try a specific application of Hyper-V.  Let’s set up a VM to run Ubuntu, a popular version of Linux.  Download Ubuntu as an “ISO” file.  Fire up the Hyper-V manager and from the right hand “Action” column, select New-Virtual Manage.  This will bring up a dialog box that walks you through the steps necessary to provision your virtual machine and install Ubuntu.

Hyper-V

Click Finish and a moment later you have a new VM listed in Hyper-V Manager.  Right click the new VM, and select “connect” to bring up the Virtual Machine Connection.  On that window’s controls, click the green “start” button, the equivalent of powering on that VM.  You should then see the VM install the ISO file you’ve pointed to in the configuration for Ubuntu, and once you reboot the VM, your Ubuntu desktop should appear on the connection windows running on your Windows 8 desktop.  How cool is that?

Hyper-VNow that you know how, you’ll find lots of uses for Client Hyper-V, one of the most powerful features of Windows 8 Pro and Enterprise.

Image credits: Mike Rothman for aNewDomain.net

Mike Rothman
Based in San Francisco, Mike Rothman is a tech evangelist and senior writer at anewdomain.net. Email him at [email protected]
Mike Rothman
Mike Rothman
Tags: Technology,Virtualization
  • Richard

    OK, crazy question of the day…..is it possible to run an old Windows 98 OS on Hyper-V? I still have the original OS CDs complete with factory product codes in storage somewhere, along with a pile of software (mostly, but not all, games) designed to run on it that doesn’t run well on anything after XP. Just curious…..

    • Mike Rothman

      That is one crazy question, Richard. While I have not tried Windows 98 on Hyper-V myself, there is no reason it would not run. Give it a try and let us know your experience.