Importing XML files into Hyper-V on Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012

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This week I am in Amsterdam, talking about Live Migration and Storage Migration in Windows Server 2012.  I will also be talking about a more basic form of virtual machine mobility – import and export.

In the past we have had a lot of problems around using import and export to move a virtual machine between two Hyper-V servers.  It should be the simplest method available – but it wasn’t.  It was quite complicated and fragile.

In Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012 we have done a lot of work on import and export to address all of the complaints that we heard in this area.  One of the biggest complaints that we heard from users was the simple fact that we required you to export a virtual machine from one computer before you could import it on another computer.

Often people would find themselves with a collection of virtual machine files (.XML, .VHD and .AVHD files) but without a running system that could be used to export them. They just needed to connect these files to a new instance of Hyper-V.  And while this was technically possible to do with Windows Server 2008 R2; it was very tricky / problematic and was definitely not supported.

In Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012 we do allow you to just connect raw virtual machine files to Hyper-V without the need to export them first (we still have an “Export” button in the UI – but all it does now is to create a copy of the files that you need).  More than that – we will take a bunch of meaningless XML files like this:


And figure out the virtual machine names and details for you, so you can quickly and easily import the right virtual machine when you need it:


What is really cool here is that we also allow you to use raw virtual machine XML files from Windows Server 2008 R2.  So the next time someone asks me “How do I get these XML files connected to Hyper-V?” my answer is going to be “Install Windows 8!”


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  • Excellent feature!!  I've always got 2 physical servers here which every 6-12 months leapfrog each other in capability (we're on servers 3/4 now - 1/2 have been retired).  I found the export/import issue the hard way the first time.  Now I can just move the files around and attach them - much like how I'd treat the files making up a SQL database.

    Loving the improvements.  If I knew that I could take Server 2012 RC and put RTM on it when that's out I'd update both of our physical boxes to 2012 now

  • Brilliant! This was a major pain for us.

  • The Server 2008 R2 "Export" dialog says we need to turn off dynamic memory before exporting.  Does 2012 care anymore?

  • Thank goodness...  I had a hyper-v 2008r2 server die with a raid array problem and it was a mess fixing it, ended up reactivating all my windows instances, renaming my linux network card names... disaster.  And when I'd realized after booting a couple the mess I'd created I tried to figure out how to copy the relevant xml sections but I think the damage was done.

    I had a similar problem due to another hardware failure, and stopped using hyper-v after that.  I've been using virtualbox for lightweight/dev stuff and vmware at work.

    I'm not happy with virtualbox at all, so I was considering trying windows 8 with client hyper-v or hyper-v server 2012, and this makes me much more comfortable.  I much preferred hyper-v when my server was working :-)

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Importing XML files into Hyper-V on Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012