About Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008

Microsoft announced the much anticipated Hyper-V Server Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) last week and they intend to launch the product in the coming thirty days.

This Microsoft virtualization product is targeted at customers who want to benefit from Hyper-V, but want to keep their server environment a strict Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000 Server or SuSe Linux environment. Why Hyper-V is specifically targeted at this specific situation is also clear. When you’re already deploying Windows Server 2008 in your environment, why not install a fully fledged Windows Server 2008 Parent Partition? The license is already there.



Hyper-V Server is free of charge and can be downloaded from the Microsoft Downloads website within the next 30 days. Microsoft decided to drop the former $28 price tag.

Hyper-V server is not open source or free software. It’s downloadable at no cost.
Microsoft is dedicated to providing an open and interoperable platform strategy as an alternative to VMWare’s closed strategy. I guess making Hyper-V open source is a bridge too far…


Server Core

Since the hypervisor in Hyper-V utilizes a Parent Partition to communicate with the hardware through the VMBus Microsoft bundles the hypervisor part of Hyper-V with a special Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008 x64 Standard Edition. The part that makes this version of Server Core so special is Microsoft removed all Server Role and a lot of Feature installation components, except the Hyper-V role, which is installed by default.

If you want to remove excess bagage from your Server Core installation as well, Andrew Mason explained removing Server Core Server roles and features here.

Available Server Features are Bitlocker Drive Encryption (BDE) and Windows Backup.

One huge difference between a Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V Server struck me after I first witnessed the product: After you log on to a Hyper-V Server, you’re presented with a command prompt window, with a nice menu, showing initial configuration options:

  • Change Workgroup / Domain membership
  • Change the Computer name
  • Change Network settings
  • Add a local administrator
  • Change Windows Update Settings
  • Download and install updates
  • Change remote setttings
  • Log off / restart / shutdown the server
  • Exit to command line

You can see the menu in action here.

As you can see activating your Windows installation is one of the big options that is missing from this list when you compare it to the Initial Configuration Tasks wizard in a Full installation of Windows Server 2008… Microsoft removed Windows Activation from Hyper-V Server, which eliminates much of the hassle people reportedly have had with slmgr.vbs.

Setting up your Parent Partition was never this easy!


Standard Edition

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 can largely be compared to an x64 Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008. It follows its system hardware constraints:

  • Support for up to 4 processor sockets.
  • Support for up to 32GB of RAM (31GB max available to Virtual Machines)

There are two main differences with Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition though, both in the field of Windows licensing:

  • Hyper-V Server 2008 does not include a license for installation of a Child Partition.
    A Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition with Hyper-V license includes a license for installation of a Parent Partition and installation of one Child Partition.
  • Hyper-V Server 2008 allows up to 128 Child Partitions.
    There is no limit on the maximum number of Child Partitions in a Standard Edition of Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V.



Using the 2008 version of Microsoft’s Virtual Machine Manager product from the System Center range of products you can manage Hyper-V servers, no matter whether they are Full Installations of Windows Server 2008, Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 or Hyper-V server installations. Using the Hyper-V Management Tools from a Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 or Windows Server 2008-based host is possible too in all three Hyper-V products.



Hyper-V Server is an easy Hyper-V platform for situations where you don’t need to utilize more than four processors, 32MB Ram, have no High Availability (HA) needs, are not planning more than 128 virtual guests, have licenses in place to virtualize your current Windows servers (no OEM licenses) and/or don’t have the budget to purchase a Windows Server 2008 license. Typical scenario would be a Windows Server 2003 SP2 -only back-end environment.

Can someone please make the special Hyper-V menu available in normal Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 as well? Thanks!

Related Posts

Handling Server Core Roles and Features
The importance of Server Core
Server Core, the ideal Root Partition

Further reading

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 will be released within 30 days and be available at no cost 
Reducing the Server Core disk footprint
Overview of Windows Hyper-V Server 2008
Microsoft: Get Virtual Now
Microsoft Announces Free “Bare Metal” Hypervisor: Hyper-V Server 2008
Compare Windows Server 2008 Technical Features and Specifications
Microsoft offers free Hyper-V stand-alone version
Stand-alone Hyper-V is FREE!!!!
Breaking News: Want Hyper-V for free?
TechNet Edge – Virtualization Launch
Microsoft Finally Details Standalone Hyper-V
Free Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008
First Look: Hyper-V Server
Demo – Hyper-V Server and Live Migration
Hyper-V Management Tools available for Vista SP1

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