Updated: May 31, 2016
Applies To: Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012
This topic describes the Hyper-V role in Windows Server, practical uses for the role, the most significant new or updated functionality in this version compared to previous versions of Hyper-V, hardware requirements, and a list of operating systems (known as guest operating systems) supported for use in a Hyper-V virtual machine.
If you're looking for details on newer versions of Hyper-V, see:
Hyper-V in Windows and Windows Server can replace older hardware virtualization products from Microsoft, including Microsoft Virtual Server, Microsoft Virtual PC, and Windows Virtual PC.
The Hyper-V role enables you to create and manage a virtualized computing environment by using virtualization technology that is built in to Windows Server. Installing the Hyper-V role installs the required components and optionally installs management tools. The required components include Windows hypervisor, Hyper-V Virtual Machine Management Service, the virtualization WMI provider, and other virtualization components such as the virtual machine bus (VMbus), virtualization service provider (VSP) and virtual infrastructure driver (VID).
The management tools for the Hyper-V role consist of:
GUI-based management tools: Hyper-V Manager, a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in, and Virtual Machine Connection, which provides access to the video output of a virtual machine so you can interact with the virtual machine.
Hyper-V-specific cmdlets for Windows PowerShell. Windows Server 2012 includes a Hyper-V module, which provides command-line access to all the functionality available in the GUI, as well functionality not available through the GUI. For more information about the Hyper-V module, see Hyper-V Module for Windows PowerShell.
If you use Server Manager to install the Hyper-V role, the management tools are included unless you specifically exclude them. If you use Windows PowerShell to install the Hyper-V role, the management tools are not included by default. To install the tools, use the parameter –IncludeManagementTools. For instructions about installing the Hyper-V role, see Install Hyper-V and create a virtual machine.
Hyper-V management tools in Windows Server 2012 are designed to only manage the Windows Server 2012 version of Hyper-V. The tools cannot be used to manage earlier versions of Hyper-V.
The Hyper-V management tools in Windows Server 2012 R2 can be used to manage Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012.
The Hyper-V technology virtualizes hardware to provide an environment in which you can run multiple operating systems at the same time on one physical computer. Hyper-V enables you to create and manage virtual machines and their resources. Each virtual machine is an isolated, virtualized computer system that can run its own operating system. The operating system that runs within a virtual machine is called a guest operating system.
For more information about the architecture of Hyper-V, see the Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Component Architecture Poster.
Hyper-V provides infrastructure so you can virtualize applications and workloads to support a variety of business goals aimed at improving efficiency and reducing costs, such as:
Establish or expand a private cloud environment. Hyper-V can help you move to or expand use of shared resources and adjust utilization as demand changes, to provide more flexible, on-demand IT services.
Increase hardware utilization. By consolidating servers and workloads onto fewer, more powerful physical computers, you can reduce consumption of resources such as power and physical space.
Improve business continuity. Hyper-V can help you minimize the impact of both scheduled and unscheduled downtime of your workloads.
Establish or expand a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). A centralized desktop strategy with VDI can help you increase business agility and data security, as well as simplify regulatory compliance and management of the desktop operating system and applications. Deploy Hyper-V and Remote Desktop Virtualization Host (RD Virtualization Host) on the same physical computer to make personal virtual desktops or virtual desktop pools available to your users.
Increase efficiency in development and test activities. You can use virtual machines to reproduce different computing environments without the need for acquiring or maintaining all the hardware you would otherwise need.
Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 includes improvements in many areas.
For information about changes in Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012, see What's New in Hyper-V for Windows Server 2012.
For information about changes in Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2, see What’s New in Hyper-V for Windows Server 2012 R2.
Hyper-V requires a 64-bit processor that includes the following:
Hardware-assisted virtualization. This is available in processors that include a virtualization option—specifically processors with Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) or AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) technology.
Hardware-enforced Data Execution Prevention (DEP) must be available and enabled. Specifically, you must enable Intel XD bit (execute disable bit) or AMD NX bit (no execute bit).
The Hyper-V role is not supported on a Microsoft Azure virtual machine. For a list of supported server roles, see Microsoft server software support for Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines.
Hyper-V includes a software package for supported guest operating systems that improves integration between the physical computer and the virtual machine. This package is referred to as integration services. In general, you install this package in the guest operating system as a separate procedure after you set up the operating system in the virtual machine. However, some operating systems have the integration systems built-in and do not require a separate installation. For instruction on installing integration services, see Install Hyper-V and create a virtual machine. For more information about the functionality included with integration services, see Integration Services.
The following topics list the operating systems supported in Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 for use as guest operating systems in Hyper-V virtual machines, as well as provide information about integration services:
For supported Linux distributions as a guest operating systems on Hyper-V, see Linux and FreeBSD Virtual Machines on Hyper-V.