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Hyper-V Integration Services and VMware Tools improve OSes

Hyper-V Integration Services and VMware Tools are similar utilities with a few small differences. One is that Hyper-V Integration Services supports fewer guests than VMware Tools.

VMware Tools and Hyper-V Integration Services are both designed to improve guest OS performance. The main tasks that both utilities perform are acting to collect drivers and as an agent.

Most OSes include native support for common hardware components; you can install Windows 10 on a new PC without downloading drivers from the hardware manufacturer because the Windows OS already has so many drivers built-in. But OSes might not include drivers for virtual hardware. To that end, both utilities act as drivers for virtual hardware.

It's possible to run a guest OS on VMware or Hyper-V without installing the respective utility, but it's not the best approach. If you install an OS on a Hyper-V VM without Hyper-V tools, the hypervisor will use hardware emulation to support the guest OS, and emulated hardware performs poorly. VMware Tools and Hyper-V Integration Services enable the guest OS to achieve performance parity with guests running on dedicated hardware.

Agent actions

Hyper-V Integration Services and VMware Tools also act as agents, which are small applications that enable software to communicate with a remote machine's OS. For instance, backup applications often need agents on computers to facilitate communication that is part of the backup process.

Although these two utilities are similar, they aren't interchangeable.

Like an agent, these utilities enable interaction between their respective hypervisors and the guest OSes that run inside the VMs. Both provide clock synchronization services that set the guest OS's clock to match that of the host server. Both tools can also prepare the VM for backup, shut down the guest OS and generate the VM heartbeat.

These utilities also simplify communication between hosts and guests. For instance, Hyper-V Integration Services includes a service called Guest Services that enables files to be copied directly from the host to a VM's file system without using the guest's networking stack.

VMware tools vs. Hyper-V integration services

Although these two utilities are similar, they aren't interchangeable. There would be no benefit to installing VMware Tools on a Hyper-V VM unless your organization uses multiple hypervisors and you want to equip Hyper-V guests with VMware Tools in case you migrate the VMs to a VMware host in the future.

One of the biggest differences between the two products is that VMware Tools supports a wider variety of guests; Hyper-V Integration Services was originally designed for Windows OSes, but in recent years, support has been extended to Linux. In contrast, VMware Tools supports Windows, Linux and macOS.

This was last published in December 2018

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Which do you think is the better utility, VMware Tools or Hyper-V Integration, and why?
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