Microsoft’s latest offering, Hyper-V Server, is a special edition of Windows Server 2008 in Server Core mode whose only available role is Hyper-V. While this itself is nothing to write home about, the kicker is that its free! Microsoft has decided to release Hyper-V Server as a free product, no registration or activation needed.
Being a sucker for new tech is one thing, but you throw free in the mix and I cannot pass up this offering. So I downloaded Hyper-V server and gave it a test drive, and are my first impressions.
Hyper-V server is actually pretty lax about what it needs to perform its basic role.
- An x64 is required. IA-64 and 32-bit processors need not apply.
- Hardware DEP support must be enabled.
- Your process must allow support (and have enabled) hardware assisted virtualization.
The above requirements are the most critical, without them Hyper-V will not work. The complete list of requirements lists a few others, like minimum ram, and hard drive space. But those requirements are actually flexible depending on application.
Since my laptop meets the requirements and I had an unused partition (thank you HP system recovery :-P), I decided to install it. The installation of Hyper-V Server is not much different than that of Windows Vista. The whole process took maybe 15 minutes from start to finish. Hyper-V Server even recognized my Vista installation and correctly configured my system for dual booting.
Initially my display was set to 780×640 (or something similar to that), but luckily enough the NVidia display drivers from HPs website for Vista x64 installed and worked without any difficulties, and before I knew it I was running at my normal resolution.
Installing the other drivers (at least the ones for my dv2945se) was a breeze. I am still working on getting my Wireless correctly configured, the combination of Server Core’s command line interface, Windows 2008’s disabling of WLAN by default, and Hyper-V’s lack of support for wireless has made this a little confusing to say the least. From what I read it appears to be a matter of enabling a Windows service, and creating a network bridge, but I haven’t made it that far yet.
All-in-all I am extremely impressed in Hyper-V Server. I think the price point is right, and that its feature set is amazing. With support of up to 4 processors and 32GB of RAM, this offering not only works on your laptop for demonstrations to clients, but can also be used to consolidate your data center. If you have the means to, I highly recommend that you install Hyper-V Server for yourself.