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When is it OK to run Hyper-V on the desktop in Windows 8?

Running Hyper-V on the desktop is generally not a good idea, but it can be appropriate at times, such as when users must do their Web browsing within a Hyper-V virtual machine for security purposes.

Some editions of Windows 8 include a version of Hyper-V similar to the Hyper-V role included with Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2. My recommendation would be to avoid enabling Hyper-V on the desktop unless you have a compelling reason to use it.

Every organization has different needs, and in some cases, enabling Hyper-V on the desktop level is appropriate. For example, some organizations require users to perform all their Web browsing from within a Hyper-V virtual machine (VM) because the Internet is full of malicious websites. If a user accidentally mistypes the URL for the site they intended to visit, he could end up at a malicious site.

Visiting such a site could lead to the installation of malware that could corrupt the OS, steal data or do all kinds of other damage. Running Internet Explorer in a VM keeps the browser safely sandboxed away from the primary OS. This prevents sensitive data from being exposed to the browser.

Other organizations allow their development staff to use VMs running on their desktops. This gives the staff an isolated dev/test environment, separate from their primary desktop OS.

Still, other organizations use Hyper-V to run alternate operating systems. This is generally done when an organization has a mission-critical application that only runs in Windows XP. Rather than continuing to run Windows XP on all the desktops, the users who need the application simply run Windows XP within a VM.

Next Steps

Run Internet Explorer in a virtual machine

Key features in Windows 8

This was last published in April 2015

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