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Run Multiple OS Inside Windows 8 Using Hyper-V

Have the need to run other versions of Microsoft Windows ? or perhaps Linux inside Microsoft Windows 8? Here’s how exactly to do it.

Some people want to run multiple versions of Microsoft Windows, including Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Windows 7, either for testing purposes, for development, or just simply because they’re enthusiasts. That used to mean buying and maintaining multiple devices.

If you have got Microsoft Windows 8 Professional Edition or Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise Edition, though, there is a much better way—Hyper-V. This applications lets you run virtual machines in Microsoft Windows 8, each running their own operating system. Hyper-V works in much the same way as other virtualized environments (see Installing and Running Microsoft Windows on a Mac). For each instance of an operating system you want to test, you create a virtual machine into which you install the OS, using either a physical disc or an .iso file.

Note: If you do not have Microsoft Windows 8 Pro or Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise, there is still a way to run other operating systems inside Microsoft Windows 8. Get the free VirtualBox applications. For details about using it, see the VirtualBox guide.

Hyper-V has some specific hardware requirements, so before starting out, get familiar with them:

  • Hyper-V works on 64-bit versions of Microsoft Windows 8
    So if you have got a 32-bit version, you are out of luck.
  • You need at least 4 GB of RAM
    Also, bear in mind that more is better. When you run a VM, it uses system RAM, and Microsoft Windows 8 is using system RAM as well. If you have more RAM, you can run more VMs at the same time.
  • Your devices must be 64-bit and support Second Level Address Translation (SLAT)
    If you have got a relatively new machine, it most likely supports this. But machines with older dual-core processors probably will not cut it.
  • You will not be able to connect to hardware connected to your PC
    So you will not, for example, be able to make use of a USB flash drive or other USB device.

If you’re not sure whether Hyper-V will work on your system, don’t fret, because when you try to install and use Hyper-V, it will tell you if it won’t work.

By default, Hyper-V isn’t enabled on Microsoft Windows 8, so you have got to switch it on. Go to the Control Panel and select Programs→“Turn Microsoft Windows features on or off.” You’ll see a screen like the one shown in following image.

Enabling-Hyper-V Run Multiple OS Inside Windows 8 Using Hyper-V

Enabling Hyper-V

Scroll to the Hyper-V section and switch on the checkbox next to it. Expand the category and make sure that all of the boxes underneath it are turned on as well. Then click OK. Note: If the box next to Hyper-V is grayed out, that means that your Microsoft Windows 8 PC can not run it. Microsoft Windows will spend a little while locating the files. You’ll be prompted to restart Microsoft Windows 8 in order to complete the installation. After you reboot, click the Hyper-V Manager tile that’s been added to the Start screen.

To create a new virtual machine, click the name of your Microsoft Windows 8 device on the left side of the screen. Then, in the Actions panel on the right, select New→Virtual Machine, as shown in image below.

Starting-to-create-a-Virtual-Machine Run Multiple OS Inside Windows 8 Using Hyper-V

Starting to create a Virtual Machine

A wizard launches. Click Next. You will be asked to give your new VM a name (see image below).

Naming-your-Virtual-Machine Run Multiple OS Inside Windows 8 Using Hyper-V

Naming your Virtual Machine


Try to be as clear and descriptive as possible, because you might create multiple VMs and want to easily recognize among them. At a minimum, it’s a good idea to include the version of the operating system, such as Microsoft Windows 7. You’re also asked whether to use the default location for saving the VM’s file, which is C:\Program Data\Microsoft\Microsoft Windows\Hyper-V. Generally, using the default is a good idea. However, if you’ve got a relatively small hard disk, you should consider storing the files on a different physical hard disk than your main one, because each VM uses a substantial amount of hard disk space, generally more than 25 GB.

Click Next after making your choice. On the next screen, you’re asked how much startup memory to use, and whether to use dynamic memory for the virtual machine. Consider the specifications of the operating system you are going to install, and use that amount. If you have got a lot of memory on your computer, turn on the box next to “Use Dynamic Memory for this virtual machine.” Accomplishing this allows Hyper-V to grow and shrink the amount of memory the VM uses. It’s an especially useful option if you’re going to run more than one VM at a time. Click Next.

Now you will come to a screen that lets you manage networking for the VM. At first it appears there’s no way to do this, because in the Connection drop-down box, there’s only one choice: Not Connected. You will need to make a virtual switch in order to connect to a network and the Internet. Back on the Hyper-V Manager main screen, mouse click Virtual Switch Manager at right. On the next screen, pick External, and then click Create Virtual Switch. On the screen that appears, provide it a name if you want (See image below).

Creating-a-virtual-switch-to-enable-networking Run Multiple OS Inside Windows 8 Using Hyper-V

Creating a virtual switch to enable networking


If you’ve got more than one network adapter, choose it from the dropdown list. Click OK when you’re done. Once you’ve done that, go back to the wizard, select the new network connection from the drop-down list, and then click Next. On the screen that appears, you’ll create a virtual hard disk in which to run your operating system. Again, check the operating system you’re installing to find out installation requirements. Normally, if you’re going to install Microsoft Windows 7, you will do fine with the default size of 127 GB. Click Next.

Footnote: You will need to have a registered version of Microsoft Windows to run it on Hyper-V. It can’t have the same registration code as the version you run on your computer, unless you have the rights to run it on multiple devices.

On the next screen, you tell the wizard where to find the installation media for the operating system, such as a disc or .iso file. Make your choice, and you are all set to run your new VM. You will go through the normal operating system installation procedure the first time you run it, but after then, you will not need to run the installation process everytime. To run a VM, launch the Hyper-V Manager and run it from there.

Running Linux on Virtual Machine Hyper-V

If you want to give Linux a whirl, install it as a VM in Hyper-V Manager. Visit ubuntu.com and download the file you find there. It will be an .iso file. Proceed through the installation process I outlined in this hack, and use that .iso file as the Linux installation medium.

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