What the Hyper-V client hypervisor means for Microsoft virtualization

The Hyper-V client hypervisor is one of the most talked-about new features in Windows 8, which Microsoft unveiled this month.

With the Hyper-V client hypervisor, users will be able to run legacy operating systems and applications -- including older Internet Explorer versions -- on Windows 8 machines. Application incompatibility is one of the major problems facing customers when they upgrade to new versions of Windows, so the Hyper-V client hypervisor is expected to be a big help in that area.

But other questions surround the Hyper-V client hypervisor. Licensing complexity and costs, hardware requirements and performance issues could all put a damper on its use in IT shops.

Members of our Server Virtualization Advisory Board weigh in on the pros, cons and potential use cases of the Hyper-V client hypervisor as they answer this question:

How useful will the Hyper-V client hypervisor be to virtualization admins, and how will it affect Microsoft’s overall standing in the virtualization market?

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Rob McShinsky, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

It’s all about exposure. There will be industry experts performing painstaking feature and performance comparisons, which are important to know, but like Hyper-V on the server side, the client hypervisor’s most important feature will simply be that it is included in the operating system. Why do most users use Internet Explorer? Because it’s there. (Let’s hope Microsoft avoids possible anti-competition issues by bundling Hyper-V.)

Windows desktops are everywhere. As Windows 8 proliferates, the ability for admins to freely activate the client hypervisor without having to download or pay for it will drive its growing success. This in turn will spur greater adoption of the Hyper-V server hypervisor, as VM formats and exportability will be compatible (at least that is Microsoft’s hope). Like many personal relationships, proximity and familiarity often drive who we associate with. If Hyper-V on the client side has a good personality and is at least moderately friendly, there is a good chance Microsoft will make some new friends on the server side as well.

CJ Metz

Client-based hypervisors will once again change the way we look at computing. Just like your current server-based virtual environment, client hypervisors will greatly simplify your desktop computing experience. Snapshotting and the ability to move your virtual desktop between physical hardware are just a couple of the major benefits we will see. They will provide the ability to transport your desktop back and forth between work and home, and allow you to roll back changes quickly when developing.

However, client virtualization will have its limitations. There will be increased licensing considerations, for example, as we begin to place multiple operating systems on the same piece of hardware.  But in my opinion, the benefits -- especially for the IT administrator -- greatly outweigh the costs.

Shannon Snowden, New Age Technologies

The Hyper-V client hypervisor in Windows 8 is going after a very niche market, where the combination of application streaming, Web-based applications, terminal server and VDI doesn’t fit. I see client hypervisors as a subset of an overall, centralized desktop or application virtualization strategy. However, a machine capable of hosting a client hypervisor, with both a corporate desktop and a personal desktop, requires significant processing power and local storage. That’s just about the exact opposite of the ideal virtual desktop device.

I think client hypervisors may find they are competing more with existing desktop imaging solutions like Ghost or Altiris than with streaming or VDI technologies.

Dave Sobel, Evolve Technologies

The client hypervisor shows Microsoft's commitment to the Hyper-V platform. This now standardizes the VM format and management systems from end to end, allowing for the use of Windows desktops as staging and test platforms, and allowing customers to move back and forth between VMs more easily. Admins will also have more Hyper-V management capabilities built right into their desktop operating system, easing management and accelerating training.

This was first published in September 2011

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