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 Virtualization (Last updated: 06-12- 2008)

Microsoft Windows Hyper-V VS VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3.5 


Queries the following Comparison is trying to Answer:


VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3.5 VS Microsoft Windows Hyper-V

VMware ESX Versus MS Hyper V

How does MS Windows Hyper-V  compare to VMware VI3?

Advantages & Disadvantages of Windows 2008 Hyper-V & VMware VI3 (V3.5)

What is better VMware VI3 or MS Windows Hyper-V ? How?

Independent Unbiased Comparison MS Windows Hyper-V  & VMware VI3


VMware VI3 VS MS Windows Hyper-V Introduction:


Ok, decided on riding the virtualization boat and confused on the right product for your company. You are in the correct place as here we list the comparisons of most of the virtualization solutions. On this page we will compare Microsoft Windows 2008 Hyper-V vs VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3, but other comparisons are available and you can choose them from the menu on the left panel. As Microsoft Windows 2008 is approaching with its new Hyper-V virtualization solution, & the great number of hits this comparison got when it was looking at MS Hyper-V in beta vs VMware VI3 & the many requests to to update this comparison. We had worked hard on testing the full release of MS Hyper-V & Compare it to VMware VI3 latest release 3.5 U3 & updated the comparison below accordingly. If you are coming back for our beta comparison you still can find it at: VMware ESX vs MS Windows 2008 Hyper-V Beta. If you are looking for the latest comparison then you might want to look at: Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V VS VMware ESX 4.0


Below is our unbiased comparison of MS Hyper-V vs VMware VI3. Please note this comparison look at the full fledge of both servers not the lightened editions core services for Hyper-V & VMware ESXi editions, though it will point out to them when required. Another comparison of the lightened editions can be find at VMware ESXi vs Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008.


  VMware/EMC Microsoft



ITComparison Comments VMware site is a bit easier to browse in regards of virtualization than Microsoft site due to the fact its their core business and they don't offer as much products to jam their site comparing to Microsoft.
Product Name Infrstructure v3.5  (Starter, Standard, and Enterprise) Microsoft Windows 2008 Hyper-V
ITComparison Comments It seems that VMware Infrastructure 3 is more attractive naming than Hyper-V with more companies looking at virtualization as a rebuild to their infrastructure
Pricing range paid product $1000 - $5750 (two CPU versions) Free, but you still got to buy Windows 2008 & Management Software.
ITComparison Comments










-: MS Windows Hyper-V 2005 R2 VS VMware VI3:-

This can really be misleading as for Microsoft Windows Hyper-V  you still

have to pay for the host operating system (Windows 2008), which is for some versions almost the equivalent of what you would pay for VMware 3.5. So if your virtual machines are not running windows 2008 and if you don't benefit of  the special licensing offered by Microsoft for running several Windows version in a virtualized environment then people should look at the cost of Windows 2008 as the cost of Microsoft Windows Hyper-V.  Anyway, if your guest are not Windows then the cost of windows 2008 is obviously only for the hypervisor which does not seems to us being free!!


- MS Hyper-V Server 2008 has been released as a separate media which will provided a lightened version of Hyper-V which can be obtained totally free, though this is the equivalent of VMware ESXi which VMware started to distribute for free as well. This comparison is not covering these two products for that check out VMware ESXi vs Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008..


- Another important side of the cost of Hyper-V Virtualization Solution & VMware virtualization which usually get ignored is the management application cost. VMware has Virtual Center for one fixed cost of $4000 and can manage unlimited hosts, where with MS to get the same functionality you will need to get System Center Management Suite Enterprise which cost about $1000 per host. So the management cost will depend on how many servers your virtualization infrastructure will have. It can go quite heavy with hyper-V.


In addition, in VMware VI3 you can run more virtual machines on the same specs machine as VMware offer memory over commitment and waste less resource than Microsoft Hyper-V solution in most cases. In many cases that it self will make up for the cost differences. Don't let the initial price fool you. I have seen many scenarios where the cost per VM in VMware got to be lower than Hyper-V.


- If you are getting one thing of the cost comparison then let it be to do a TCO study of the solution you are going for instead of just the initial cost. Make sure you calculate the management tools & maintenance of the solutions you are deciding on as these are going to be your real cost

Primary usage Production Environment

Moving to production, but for most companies still at testing & development environment.

ITComparison Comments

MS Hyper-V has just been out of beta for less than a year, and its main management tool SCVMM has been released for just a bit more than a month now. So it is not yet running in many production environments, though many testing and development environment have already adopted it. Though that might change in the future if it proves stability.


In the other site VMware have been mature enough for production environment for a while. It has been used by most of the fortune 100 companies in production. That prove readiness of VMware Virtual Infrastructure. It will take time for MS to prove the same.   

Required Host OS (if any) Infra v3:bare metal Windows 2008 x64 Standard/Enterprise /Datacenter Editions
ITComparison Comments



-: Microsoft Hyper-V  VS VMware VI3:-

VMware bare-metal & Small footprint installation harden the security of its product and make it independent of any operating system security risks and breaches unlike the Microsoft Hyper-V which unfortunately still

 affected by the (Domain 0) OS (Windows 2008) bugs, viruses, and

security breaches even if only windows 2008 server core is running. In addition, not using underlying OS make it more resource efficient although  Hyper-V is using hypervisor technology equivalent to Xen which make it a lot faster than its previous virtualization product Virtual Server 2005, still got lot more constrains when compared to VI3 Infrastructure specially when it come to Linux and Legacy windows systems.


Management tools Virtual Center 2.5 Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) is planned to be the centralized management support for Hyper-V & has just been releases.
ITComparison Comments

Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 has been just released around a month ago, which put it right in the testing age. Though it offered a quite good manageability and being able to manage VMware VI3 & MS Virtual server is a plus if MS can keep up with that. As with our last test VMware VI3 3.5U3 was not supported yet & plenty of the features VMware VI3 gain from Virtual Center can not be delivered by SCVMM 2008. The keep up is not going to be easy, but I have to give credit for trying.


VMware Virtual Center 2.5 has been the leading virtualization management software for a while, and implemented in many environments which prove its stability.  It enhances the VMware VI3 with advanced features that Microsoft still does not match, which are discussed further in this comparison. Though Virtual Center only can manage VMware VI3 & VMware is not trying to manage other virtualization products from their interface as they believe in their superiority & spread in the market.

Support resources High Medium
ITComparison Comments

Microsoft might have more support resources than VMware,

but not when it comes to virtualization, though they are investing into

that direction.

Supported Guest OS

- Microsoft WindowsNT4.0/2000/2003/XP/Vista      

 - Red Hat Enterprise 2.1/3/4/5                                 

- Red Hat Linux Advanced Server 2.1                                  

- Redhat Linux 7.2/7.3/8.0/9.0                                 

 - SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8/9/10

- SUSE Linux 8.2/9.0/9.1/9.2/9.3

-FreeBSD 4.9/4.10/4.11

- NetWare 6.5/6.0/5.1      

- Solaris 10 for X86          

- Vista

- Windows 2008

- Windows 2003 Standard/Enterprise SP1/SP2/R2

64-bit + Virtual SMP (Supported

in Production) 

- MS Windows 2003/2008

- MS Windows 2000 Server/Advanced Server SP4

- Windows XP SP2/SP3

- SUSE Enterprise Linux Server  

  10 SP1/SP2



ITComparison Comments

Its obvious that VMware has production support for many more OS

than Microsoft.  Actually supported guest operating systems in Microsoft Windows Hyper-V is very limited. In addition, not all supported OSs on Hyper-V will run with optimal speed on it. This is due to Hyper-V need for the virtualized OS to understand its running in a virtual environment to perform well on Hyper-V, which is not even the case with windows 2003.

Linux Support Support most Linux version available today. - Only SUSE Enterprise Linux Server 10 SP1/SP2 is  supported

- Xen supported version of Linux is planned to be supported. They should run by now, but with modification and not supported.

ITComparison Comments

Its obvious at the moment that Hyper-V still lagging on Linux support, where VMware support running most version of Linux without the need to modify it, Hyper-V still only officially support SUSE Enterprise Linux Server 10  SP1/SP2 at the moment. Other Linux versions that have Paravirtualized Xen Kernal should run at the moment, but still not officially supported. Even with the limited version of Linux being supported by MS Hyper-V it still not that easy to setup. To illustrate the required steps to setup Linux on Hyper-V read below:


Microsoft Hyper-V provides Integration Components for Linux OSes, It would been acceptable if the Integration Component for Linux OSes were straight forward to setup but it require many complicated steps and what worse you have to do the same steps over and over again for every Linux virtual machine including the following:

1- Manual installation of Xen Kernel.

2- Excute a seperate script that modifies the Linux bootloader 

    configuration to allow the use of Microsoft Hypercall adapter.

3- Run a perl script to install the Integration tools and paravirtualized 


Note: If you want to see a full step by step of how SUSE is install on Hyper-V look at SUSE Installation on Hyper V at Virtualization Team Blog


Its clear that setting up Linux on VMware is way easier and cleaner than Hyper-V at the moment, but Microsoft might change that with future releases.


Further More, Hyper-V still does not support the 2nd generation of Paravirtualization for Linux (paravirt_ops / VMI (Virtual Machine Interface)). Method used to support Paravirtualization with Linux in hyper-V increase the maintenance of Linux OS as the administrators will have to keep up with two kind of kernels for virtualized & Physical servers. In addition, they have to recompile their Linux kernel in order for it to work. In the other hand, VMware are already offering support for paravirt.



- Higher Performance

- More virtual Machines per hardware as it support memory over commitment.

- Perform well with Operating systems that understand its running in a virtualization environment currently Windows 2008 & SUSE

- Fewer Virtual Machines per  


- Domain 0 is a bulky windows 2008 & even the Server Core installation can waste a good amount of resources.



The performance advantage of VMware is related directly with its smaller foot print than Microsoft Windows 2008 Hyper-V.

64-bit Support Has full support for most of the 64-bit Operating Systems. Support Windows 64-bit Operating Systems.
ITComparison Comments This is an obvious advantage of MS Windows Hyper-v over MS Virtual server which did not support any 64-bit guest OS, but still lag behind VMware on this one as well.

Live Migration



High Availability



Dynamic Resources



Storage VMotion (SVMotion)


Cluster File System


Network Teaming



















Quick Migration (not real Live migration)


Quick Migration (Host Clustering)



NLB is all MS Offer !!











Dependant on the NIC manufacture.



Its a great features that VMware came up with and Microsoft still can't match. Although many assume some of the Hyper-V features match these of VMware, you can see the differences illustrated below:

VMotion vs Quick Migration:

VMware VMotion is real Live migration where Quick Migration is nothing more than host based clustering. It has more requirements on the host side as it have to support windows 2008 clustering requirements and not as easy as VMotion to setup. In addition, Hyper-V Quick Migration require a downtime enough to get the machine to save state then shift the LUN group owner then bring back the machine to running state. This downtime may vary depending on the speed of the SAN, size and usage of the virtual machine a good sample of this downtime can be found at Hyper V Quick Migration Downtime. In the other side, VMware VMotion requires a zero downtime which can be a major advantage for environment which does not tolerate downtime. Even Microsoft clearly know the differences and announced that they have delayed the Live migration feature to a future release.

For Quick Migration to do the job you will need to have a separate LUN per Virtual Machine which can be a burden on the storage & more work for the SAN administrators. This is not required by VMware VMotion as VMware is using a cluster file system called VMFS.


HA vs Host Clustering:

Windows host clustering is harder & had more requirements to setup than VMware HA, but it can do the job.

Windows host clustering will failover all virtual machines installed on the same LUN in case of a failover, which is not the case in VMware. Again this is an advantage of a cluster file system which Microsoft still does not offer.


Network load balancing is nothing new, and it only work on the network layer. It distribute the network load equally between the virtual machines only depending on the traffic load on them not on how they are utilized. In addition, it require you to run several virtual machines with OS which support NLB and configure NLB for each of them depending on the configuration required for that OS which can be complex for some OSes. They does not come even near what VMware offer with DRS which distribute the load of the virtual machines dynamically and can shift Live virtual machines between different hosts as required to obtain best performance based on setting and configuration controlled by the administrator. In addition, VMware support NLB for its virtual machines, but it did not limit its capability to that.

Storage VMotion:

SVMotion is a new feature of VMware VI3 where the entire disk files of a virtual machine can be moved from one storage array to another without affecting the operation of that Virtual Machine. This mean VMware VI3 users can avoid downtime for their virtual machines when they need to carry a storage maintenance. It means as well they can easily upgrade or move to a new storage without the need for a down time. This feature has no equivalent in MS Hyper-V at the moment, which mean downtime for storage maintenance can't be avoided.

Cluster File System:

VMware VMFS is a cluster file system, which give vmware ESXi a great flexibility & a key factor in most of the advance features VMware offer. In the other hand, Hyper-V Server 2008 still use the same non cluster File System Windows use NTFS which make it lag in functionality behind VMware.

NIC Teaming:

VMware offers a network card independent NIC Teaming, where Hyper-V is dependent on the network cards teaming driver & Software offered by the network card vendor.

Virtual Machine support SCSI disk Boot Yes No



MS Windows Hyper-V still does not support booting virtual Machine from Virtual SCSI disk. It only support it from Virtual IDE disk which will highly slow the performance of these virtual machines. It is not clear yet if upcoming upgrade of Hyper-V will support booting virtual machines from virtual SCSI disk as no announcement on that have been made. If MS does not come up with boot from virtual SCSI then they are risking their product of a very bad performance lag behind VMware which has that capability.

Online Backup VCB (VMware Consolidated Backup)  Live Backups with VSS



VMware VCB Is a great backup advantage as you can with it take live backup (image) of running virtual machines without affecting the performance of the host neither the virtual machines performance, where with MS Hyper-V that still seems to depend on the host capabilities using the Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) to enable you to take Live Backups of running virtual machines in terms of snapshots, but still affect the Hyper-V Host performance while the backup is running.

Max virtual Machine Specs

64GB of RAM


64GB of RAM




Although Microsoft has been good in keeping up with numbers for marketing, still VMware can offer a better specs virtual machines for most Operating systems beside windows 2008. At the moment, 4 virtual CPUs are only recommended on Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V. Its not even recommended to use more than one virtual CPUs with most other OSes at the moment, but this hopefully would be resolved in the next release. The following quote is directly from Microsoft Hyper-V Beta release note:


==============From MS Hyper-V release note Begin============

Configure the virtual machines as follows:

For the guest operating system, install one of the following:

  • Windows Server 2008 RC1 with Hyper-V Beta, with a maximum of 4 virtual processors. No other release of Windows Server 2008 is supported with this release of Hyper-V.

  • The Windows Server 2003 operating system, with a maximum of 1 virtual processor. You can install either a 32-bit version or an x64-based version."

=============From MS Hyper-V release note End===============


- Although the above quote is quoted from the beta release note, it still highly recommended to follow it to get a better stability of the virtual machines hosted on hyper-v.


Special Hardware Requirement Require supported SCSI or SATA controllers. x64 based processor computer hardware-assisted virtualization, and hardware data execution protection (Intel VT or AMD-V) is a must.



It seems Microsoft has forgotten again that many companies have some older hardware that does not run 64-bit and would like to virtualizes their environment. MS Hyper-V force companies to obtain a newer more expensive hardware to be able to virtualize. VMware still have a supported list of hardware, but most well-known vendors servers are supported even the old ones.

Other Related Comparisons:


Windows 2008 Hyper-V R2 VS VMware ESX 4

VMware ESXi vs Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008.

Xen Server Enterprise VS VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 VS Xen Server Enterprise

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 VS VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3


Virtualization Comparison Forum:


Please post your requests, comments, opinion, concern, and read other

readers comments at our Blog post MS Windows 2008 Hyper-V VS VMware ESX 3.5  or our Forum at Virtualization Comparison forum.


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