Windows 8 as Client Hypervisor

In the past, I’ve been using Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 with Hyper-V activated on my laptop. For more details, read my two blog articles Building a Hyper-V Client Hypervisor – An Experiment and Building a Hyper-V Client Hypervisor – Part 2. But now Windows 8 is available, and it comes with a built-in client hypervisor called Hyper-V for Windows 8. As you can imagine, I’ve done some tests with this new Windows workstation role right from the beginning. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

After installing Windows 8 Enterprise Edition on my Asus Eee Slate EP121, the first thing I was struggling with was activating Windows. Typing “Slui 3” in the Run dialog box when logged in as an administrator did the job. This command opens the Windows Activation dialog box allowing you to enter a valid license key and hit the Activate button. Weird way of doing this, but it works.

The good thing was that Windows 8 RTM included all necessary drivers for the Asus Slate EP121 out-of-the-box. No need to download additional drivers. Even the G-Sensor and the Home button worked right away. This is an ideal situation prior to installing Hyper-V.

The next step was to open Control Panel – Programs and Features – Turn Windows features on or off. Select Hyper-V and reboot the PC. When logging on next time, you’ll find the Hyper-V Manager which allows you to configure your client hypervisor. It’s really so simple.

The Virtual Switch Manager in Hyper-V Manager allows you to define a new virtual switch assigned to the wireless adapter of your physical machine. When you take a look into the Network Connections dialog box, you’ll find a network bridge connecting the virtual adapter to the wireless adapter – a solution that looks pretty familiar if you were reading my previous articles on laptop Hyper-V. It looks like Microsoft also thought that this was the best solution.

There is one thing that is different when moving from Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V to Windows 8 Hyper-V. When using dynamic memory for your VMs, make sure you are limiting the maximum RAM size to a reasonable value, like 2048MB for a Windows 7 VM. This is benefitial for your system in terms of stability.

There is one thing I don’t like about Windows 8. If you don’t have a PC or tablet with a UEFI BIOS, you cannot get into the BIOS, change boot order, and such things. Bummer! This all is due to the new fast boot and security features built into Windows 8. Not even hammering on the delete key of a physical keyboard attached to my Asus tablet’s USB port will bring me into the BIOS. I will let you know when I found a solution for this nasty issue.

UPDATE: I’ve fixed the BIOS issue. I was able to successfully update the BIOS on my Asus Eee Slate EP121. Requirement was to update the ATK WMIACPI driver first before I was able to install the Asus WinFlash utility under Windows 8. Then WinFlash allowed me to flash the BIOS with the latest EP121SA.704 version. Now I have access to the BIOS settings when pressing F2 on a USB keyboard when starting the tablet.

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