One of the exciting new features of the Windows 8 Operating System is the fact that Hyper-V will be the Virtualization Platform for both the Server and the Client editions! So wave goodbye to “Virtual PC” because both the Client OS and the Server OS will run the same hypervisor solution now. This is great news, particularly for developers who like to test their code against various environments and people like me who tend to create those various environments, but we don’t necessarily want to be running a Server class OS on our laptops. Possibly even better news is that you don’t have to wait to try it out! You can install the Developer Preview build of Windows 8 and get started with Hyper-V today.
Before getting started, make sure that your computer will support hardware visualization, and that it is enabled in your computers BIOS. If you have a multi-core CPU, chances are this will work just fine, but I’ll leave the discovery of that answer as an exercise for you.
Also, you will need to install the 64-bit version of the Windows Developer Preview available at BuildWindows.com, and you will need to install this on a physical computer. Why? Because Hyper-V only runs on x64 platforms and you cannot run Hyper-V inside a virtual Machine.
If you are thinking that you want to do this but you don’t want to blow up your existing Windows installation on your computer, then you are in luck becuase you can opt to boot Windows 8 from a VHD and preserve your computer as it is. Given the option, I would recommend that you do a fresh install on the native hardware, but either way will be fine.
Once you have the Windows 8 Developer Preview up and running, the next step is to Enable the Hyper-V Role. With the introduction of the Metro UI, how you do this might feel a bit unfamiliar, but it’s really pretty straight forward. Here’s how.
Click on your Start button and then select the Control Panel.
In the Control Panel, scroll down to the bottom and select More Settings.
This will open the Windows 7 looking (some are already calling it the “classic”) Control Panel. Select Programs.
Now click Turn Windows features on or off.
Scroll down until you see Hyper-V and check the box. Click OK.
Next the Hyper-V Roll will get installed and you’ll need to Reboot.
After rebooting, you’ll want to open the Hyper-V Console. You can do this pretty easily by clicking Start and just type the word “hyper” and then press enter or click the “Hyper-V Manager” application that appears in your search results. You can also click on Start and just scroll to the right where you’ll find it listed there as well.
Now you’ll get you Hyper-V Manager Console and you are ready to begin building Virtual Machines!
I’ll leave you here to explore the features available to you. However, if you are totally unfamiliar with Virtualization or just new to Hyper-V, you should start with the Hyper-V Settings and make sure you like the location where the Virtual Machines are stored (I usually change it to C:Hyper-V) and then open the Virtual Network Manager to create any Virtual Networks that your Virtual Machines can connect to (and so that they can also connect to your wired or wireless networks too).