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Microsoft Reveals Virtualization Plans for Windows 8

For years, we've wondered when Microsoft would bring its Server-based Hyper-V virtualization platform to the Windows client. In Windows 7, of course, that didn't happen: Instead, Microsoft's corporate customers must make do with expensive and complex server-side solutions like App-V and MED-V, while end users can utilize the free Windows Virtual PC with XP Mode. So we've turned our attention to Windows 8, and when Rafael Rivera and I examined early pre-release versions of this upcoming product, we did indeed see proof that some Hyper-V code was in there. The question remained, however: What, exactly, are Microsoft's plans for integrating Hyper-V into Windows 8 on the PC client?

Today, those questions were answered. In yet another post on the Building Windows 8 Blog, Microsoft principal program manager Mathew John explains that Windows 8 will indeed include the Hyper-V virtualization platform. This has stunning ramifications to the future of backwards compatibility in Windows, as I've written about often in the past, since it means Microsoft can now more aggressively remove dated, legacy technologies from the core Windows product.

There's a lot of unnecessary technical information about what Hyper-V is in this post, which I'll ignore, but here's the pertinent new bits about how Microsoft intends to enable this technology for customers:

Installation. Where Hyper-V is installed via Server Manager in Server, it's installed via Windows Features on client, which makes sense.

It supports multiple, simultaneous virtual machines. "You can run 3 or 4 VMs on a machine that has 4GB of RAM but you will need more RAM for 5 or more VMs. On the other end of the spectrum, you can also create large VMs with 32 processors and 512GB RAM."

You can access virtual machines in two ways: VM Console and the Remote Desktop Connection. The latter has been in Windows forever and is how I typically access my Windows Server 2008 R2-based VMs today. The VM Console is new. "It provides a single monitor view of the VM with resolution up to 1600x1200 in 32-bit color. This console provides you with the ability to view the VM’s booting process."

VM management occurs through Hyper-V Manager. Just as it does on Server.

Sleep and wireless network card support. Unlike with Server, Hyper-V on Windows client will support Sleep power management modes and wireless network cards, so you can use it on a laptop. Nice!

From what I can tell, virtually everything else about Hyper-V on client is identical or similar to how this works on Server. That's actually pretty exciting, and I'm curious what the Group Policy controls for this will look like, and whether any kind of "application only" runtime mode will be provided.

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