Can You Install Hyper-V in a VM?

The answer is sort of.  Strictly speaking it is possible.  You can indeed enable the Hyper-V role in a Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2.  I’ve done it on both OS’s on both VMware Workstation 6.5 and on Hyper-V.  Logically this means you can deploy Hyper-V Server 2008 and Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 in a VM.

You can even create VM’s on the hosts.  However, the hardware requirements are not passed through to the VM’s and therefore the hypervisor never starts up.  That means you cannot start up those VM’s.

Why would you care?  You certainly cannot do it in a production scenario.  But you might find it handy when doing some demos, lab work or testing of clustering or VMM.


I have been told (but I have not tried this so I cannot say it will work) that you can get Hyper-V to install and run in an ESXi 3.X virtual machine.  The performance is said to be awful, but might be useful for a lab with limited hardware.

6 thoughts on “Can You Install Hyper-V in a VM?”

  1. Thankfully you can do this under VMware for your testing of the environment 🙂

    havnt tested on ESXi but vSphere4 is ok and esx3.5u3+ worked

    1. As you’ll see in the post, you cannot start VM’s running in a virtualised Hyper-V server. You cannot pass DEP and CPU assisted virtualisation through to a VM to make it a fully functional host.

      You can create VM’s and manage their configuration. You can build a cluster and move VM’s around. Because you cannot start them you can’t really do QSM, quick migration or live migration.

  2. @Ivailo I have successfully installed VMWare ESXi 4.0 within VMWare Workstation 7.0 (running on Windows 7 Ultimate) and then started an Windows XP VM inside ESXi 4.0 using the vSphere client.

    This is only possible by editing the VMWare Workstation configuration directly to allow ESXi to create VMs;

    This goes one step further than the Hyper-V scenario and I’m hoping with the next release of Hyper-V it might be possible to create full test rigs similar to VMWare. My aim with this set-up is to test the Powershell library for VMWare ESXi (including starting/stopping VMs) on a HP laptop which might well not have full hardware support for ESXi.

  3. I tested with vmware workstation 7 and created a ESXi cluster with two nodes and virtual center. I used openfiler for iSCSI. (I have my VCP3.x and I like to upgrade my VCP to 4).
    Inside this cluster I run a debian linux guest. After testing I was curious about Xenserver 5.5
    I installed a Xen cluster on my vmware workstation. This time I did not use iSCSI but use NFS shared storage from my openfiler (iSCSI gives some problems with Xenserver running on Openfiler). And YES! it worked, I even manage to run a guest inside Xenserver (I used LAMP virtual appliance to run inside Xen). All free options work (like live migration)
    Now I want to test Hyperv, to get knowledge of all popular VM products…..but I cannot start any guest :-(……
    If someone find a workaround to run Hyperv with working guest on VM workstation…please let me know…If anyone wants to have information about configure ESXi or Xenserver on VMworkstation…mail me.

    1. The hypervisor in Hyper-V will only work when it is installed directly onto compliant hardware, e.g. CPU assisted virtualisation and DEP both enabled. You cannot get a functioning Hyper-V hypervisor in a VM.

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