Leaving the comfort zone: From VMWare Workstation to Hyper-V

Ever since Windows 8 was on the Release Candidate (RC) phase, I have been trying to see if Hyper-V on Windows 8 could be a substitute my day-to-day operations and usage versus Windows 7 Professional with VMware Workstation. Some of the things that I need in my day-to-day would be…

  • Virtualization – I run a couple of Virtual Machine from time to time for the sake of development, testing or proof-of-concept (POC).
  • Office tools such as Microsoft Word, Excel and Access.
  • Internet browsers (I used a mixture of Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox but put more focused on the first two for a long time already)

So let’s drill down to the need for a Virtualization software, the client that power my needs, simple one though. What I always use, what I always need from VMware Workstation?

  1. Flexibility of running multiple virtual machines
  2. Resource hungry-ness.
  3. Speed
  4. Snapshots

When I first tried Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008, I always felt that the features aren’t rich enough. The only reason that I can probably cook up for the reason why VMware Workstation has such a fancy look is that since we are paying a premium for it (yes, it’s a premium for a piece of software but well, on the other hand it may not be since we now do pay a hefty amount for the OS in order to get the Hyper-V feature. After all, we are looking at OS + Feature versus Feature only).

I am not going to do a feature comparison post comparing Hyper-V and VMware Workstation as you can find tons of them online just by Binging it.

So what really stopped me in the past but now I have move on, out of the comfort zone that every single tiny winy feature that I enjoyed? Let’s drill down on some of them and see how I have overcome it…

Internet Connectivity for Virtual Machines in Hyper-V

What used to be as easy as create additional NAT adapter is missing out in the Hyper-V and making it difficult for my virtual machines running on Hyper-V to go without connection to the internet. Once I installed Windows 8, I do a search on the internet and I came across this article by Karsten Bott where he wrote “Share Internet Connection with Hyper-V Guests (NAT) on Windows 8“. The article can be found here.

If you follow the instructions in the article by Karsten Bott, you will definitely be able to setup internet connection for your guests easily.  With my above setup, my intention is as followed…

External Link – Will get an IP from the DHCP Server and get access to the internet.

Internal Link – Purely for my virtual machines that doesn’t require internet connection (Example, Active Directory, SQL Server)

Internet Link – Sharing – This is the one that I used to tap on the internet connection that are bridge via my Wireless Adapter.


Viewing of Virtual Machine within the Virtualization Client Software

One major thing that is missing in the Hyper-V is that since the whole intention is for Server usage and therefore may have neglected the user-experience that users receives. So the biggest drawback between the two is that I am losing the ability to do “Fit Screen Size” / “Full Screen Mode” and it will automatically change the screen resolution accordingly. Since I am a simple person and I wouldn’t mind losing that feature… So I know that the only way to achieve the comfortable level of viewing is to use Remote Desktop Connection via the Remote Desktop Protocol to connect to the virtual machine. This is obviously treating every single virtual machine as a physical machine.

For this, I would recommend getting Remote Desktop Manager which can be found here.

With this, the interface is almost similar to how VMware Workstation presented where the Virtual Machine library is on the left, while the session is spanning from the center to the right. Each virtual machine can be opened in full-screen mode or tabbed mode.

So how do I setup this and made my user-experience almost seamlessly integrated?

–> This shows all the available virtual machine on my workstation that I brought to work everyday. 

–> This is he left hand corner that I was referring to as the “Library”.

–> This is just one connection settings to the virtual machine loaded on the local drive. Take note of the IP that was used. This IP is used in conjunction with the adapter (Internal Link).

–> This shows all the network adapters (Physical + Virtual) that I have added.

–> This is to show that since I want to control all the virtual machine that uses all “Internal Link” connection, therefore on the host machine, that master adapter must hold a IP address and also the same gateway as those virtual machine instances.


Last Point (The most important one) – Speed

One thing that many couldn’t deny if they are the user of VMware Workstation is the speed. It’s really slow when you try to put your running virtual machine to hibernate mode where you pause the virtual machine. This would then write the current state down. The only thing is that the time it take to put the virtual machine to sleep and also resume it is super slow and super time consuming.

On the other side, virtual machine that are paused in Hyper-V resumes within seconds. (Gosh, I am serious, seconds!)

That’s about it for my sharing post, if you think you could make Hyper-V more user-friendly, please share with me by dropping an email to me at Milton@nerdytwo.com or post a comment here.


Leaving the comfort zone: From VMWare Workstation to Hyper-V

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