As the details of Windows 8 features began emerging early this year, one item in particular immediately caught my attention: Client Hyper-V. I’ve been a VMWare Workstation user for some eight years now and just never really felt comfortable with Virtual PC. VMWare was great for individual machines for packaging, image build and capture, etc. but trying to bring up a functional lab environment was cumbersome to say the least. I’ve always been a huge advocate of scripting and automation, so when Johan Arwidmark released his ConfigMgr 2012 Hydration Kit to create a fully functional ConfigMgr environment in Hyper-V I had to try it. I spun up Windows Server 2008 R2 on a frankensteined Dell T3500 and within a couple hours I had a fully functional ConfigMgr 2012 lab.
The problem I had, however, is that I am not big on running a full server OS on my client workstation. I know many other engineers who do this, but I like maintaining at least that superficial distinction between client and server roles. What made it more difficult was that certain environmental conditions beyond my control at that time prevented me from connecting directly to the Hyper-V Virtual Machines in that initial lab, and I had to be at least VPN’d in to connect to that lab when working remotely.
Enter Windows 8 Client Hyper-V.
The Client Hyper-V feature is not turned on by default in your Windows 8 installation, so the first thing you’ll need to do is add it through Programs and Features:
New Hyper-V feature in Windows 8 Programs and Features
Once installed, you now have access to the familiar Hyper-V Virtual Machine Connection application on your Start panel.
Hyper-V Virtual Machine Connection shortcut in the Windows 8 Start panel
From there, the process for the Hydration Kit is pretty much the same: Install the Windows ADK, .NET 3.5.1 (Programs and Features), and MDT 2012 Update 1. Run the PowerShell scripts. Update the media ISO. Create your Virtual Machines in Hyper-V. The Client Hyper-V console should look pretty familiar as it’s the same you get for the server version. In fact, it’s pretty much the same in every way:
“Because Client Hyper-V is the same technology as in Windows Server 2012, IT pros and developers do not need to learn any new tools or commands. You can move virtual machines from Client Hyper-V to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012. For example, you can build a “test lab” infrastructure hosted entirely on your laptop or desktop computer, and export the virtual machines you create and test from your laptop into production.”
MDT 2012 Hydration Task Sequence building the ConfigMgr 2012 server in Windows 8 Client Hyper-V
As a consultant, I now have the ability to stand up and work in a fully functional ConfigMgr 2012 lab in Hyper-V in just a few hours without having to sacrifice my desire to have my laptop operate in a workstation role instead of a server role. That said, there are still advantages to running Windows Server 2012 in this capacity…particularly the Data Deduplication feature (the “awesomeness” of which Johan has demonstrated in his Hyper-V labs). Still, if you’re like me and want to maintain that role distinction, the Client Hyper-V feature offers a very compelling reason to move to Windows 8.
One bit of advice: if you don’t have a Solid State Drive in your laptop, get one. Chunking along on a 5400rpm drive with mutliple VM’s running is bad for your forehead and any nearby solid surfaces.