Category Archives: Hyper-V and VMs

Win10 VM Login Gotcha Manifests

Boy, I’m glad I’d seen this one before. I was setting up a Windows 10 VM this morning while researching an AskWoody newsletter story. When I’d gotten to the point of logging into the desktop I found myself unable to get the PIN or Password prompt from the lock screen to complete that maneuver. “Aha” I thought “I’ve seen this before, but on Windows 11.” Turns out the same Win10 VM login gotcha manifests when “Enhanced mode” view is turned on. Let me explain…

How the Win10 VM Login Gotcha Manifests

By default, Windows 10 and 11 both set the toggle for “Require Windows Hello sign-in for Microsoft accounts” in Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options. For situations where users are logging in directly to a suitably equipped PC, that’s fine. But that doesn’t work for RDP sessions (my usual way to access other PCs here at Chez Tittel, including 3 desktops and up to 10 laptops).

The fix is to turn off Enhanced mode, sign in, visit Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options and turn that toggle off. Then you can switch to Enhanced mode and get the login prompt from the lock screen. That’s on par in importance with the ability to cut’n’paste from a VM in an RDP session — another thing I do quite frequently. That also requires enhanced mode to work.

Keep an Eye on ComputerWorld

Fortunately I just finished an upcoming story for CW on “Building Windows 11 Virtual Machines” on May 5. I went into the whole RDP razzmatazz in getting that written so I was both forewarned and forearmed for today’s RDP gotcha with Windows 10. I hadn’t confirmed this shared little zinger beforehand, but now I know for sure. That made it super-easy to fix things, too. Good-oh!

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Dev Home Environments Missing Local ISO Access

As far as I can tell the ability to create and manage Hyper-V VMs using the latest release of Dev Home (Preview) is nothing short of terrific. Whereas Hyper-V Manager makes it difficult or blocks use of RDP during VM set-up and install, Dev Home is completely friendly to this oh-so-common way to get stuff done on Windows networks. I have 8 PCs (1 desktop, 7 laptops) in  my office right now. I work on the desktop and RDP into the other machines as a matter of course. Alas, I suffer with Dev Home Environments missing local ISO. Let me explain…

Why Say: Dev Home Environments Missing Local ISO Access

I could be wrong, but I don’t see any way to access a local image source on the “Choose an image to use*” pane when setting up a Hyper-V VM inside Dev Home. If you look at the lead-in graphic you’ll see dev options for Windows 10 (top) and 11 (bottom) with three Ubuntu items inbetween. That’s it!

Given Dev Home’s focus on developers and developer environments, this may make sense. But given that Dev Home works seamlessly and properly in an RDP session, and Hyper-V does not, it makes me want more. Specifically, it makes me want the ability to use a local ISO file of my choosing as the basis for a Hyper-V VM when I click the Create Environment button in Dev Home.

Why? Because it “just works” in setting things up and getting them running. Working with Hyper-V Manager to create VMs through RDP is tricky and frustrating. Working with Dev Home to create VMs is an absolute breeze.

A Different Alternative: Fix Hyper-V Manager

If MS doesn’t want to add a local filesystem link to this aspect of Dev Home, that’s OK. But if so, they should fix Hyper-V Manager so that it works properly with Windows 11 (default to TPM support, turn off Windows hello login that doesn’t work on RDP). Is that too much to ask? Gosh, I hope not!

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Dev Home Now Creates VMs

A new release of the Dev Home (Preview) toolbox hit the streets on Tuesday, April 23 (v0.13). I updated but didn’t really pay much attention. Then, this morning I learned something noteworthy from WindowsLatest — namely, that you can now use Dev Home (DH) to set up and manage Windows VMs including Hyper-V instances. Because I’m working on a “How-to” story right now on such VMs, this definitely caught my eye. And indeed, on a test PC, I see strong evidence that Dev Home now creates VMs. Not too much effort involved, either…

If Dev Home Now Creates VMs, Then What?

It took me a while to get where I needed to go with setting the right environment toggles. Eventually, I settled on the first three (Environments Creation, Environments Management, and Environments Configuration) and turned all three on. Then, I had to close and re-open Dev Home to gain the ability to actually use the “Create environment” button.  It’s hiding in the upper right corner of the lead-in image; you can see it up there if you check.

At that point you can give your environment a name (I called it DHWin11 to indicate I was using Dev Home to build a new test Windows 11 VM in Hyper-V). Then you pick the reference image from which it gets built. I chose the Windows 11 Development Environment option that Dev Home supplied. I’m sure I could have navigated to another ISO of my choosing.

Take a While, But Gets Things Right…

It took over 15 minutes for the setup, download, and install processes to get far enough along to do something. But gosh, I was able to get into the Hyper-V window to fire things off, then get to the desktop with no hiccups or gotchas along the way inside RDP. Things don’t work that well using Hyper-V Manager.

I found myself running a 22H2 Windows 11 instance labeled “Windows 11 Enterprise Evaluation” for Build 22621.3447. I know from prior experience this is a 30-day eval or thereabouts. Indeed, Copilot tells me it expires on June 19, 2024. But gosh, this makes standing up and using a plain-vanilla Hyper-V VM as easy as it’s ever been in my personal experience.

Now, I need to do it again, and use an image of my own choosing. That should be interesting! Stay tuned, I’ll write about this soon. Meanwhile, you can see that VM running on my P16 test PC as shown in an RDP window for the whole shebang.

Wow! That was almost TOO EASY. I must say, I’m impressed. Need more time and exploration to really formulate a more useful opinion, though. First look is a doozy, though.

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Creating New Windows 11 VM Gotchas

Whoa! I hit a couple of interesting snags when setting up a new Hyper-V VM, late yesterday and this morning. Indeed I came across a couple of interesting gotchas that I want to document — if only to help me to remember what to do the next I have to do this. These creating new Windows 11 VM gotchas include getting the ISO-based install to run, and then being able to log into that VM. Pretty basic but vital stuff, in other words…

Creating New Windows 11 VM Gotchas Recited & Explained

Gotcha #1: Getting the installer to run from an ISO. Turns out you can’t do this from an RDP session. I had to do this from the physical desktop, probably because of too many levels of indirection from keyboard stuff in the input path. I also had to set up the VMs with TPM to get Windows 11 install to complete (otherwise, I would get the “doesn’t meet hardware requirements” error message). This turned out to be fairly easy, if vexing from the standpoint of “Why doesn’t Hyper-V do this by default?”

Gotcha #2:  Logging into the new VM, once installed. One must log into the VM with “Enhanced session mode” disabled, then go to Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options > Additional settings, then turn off “…allow only Windows Hello sign-in…” toggle. Turns out, this doesn’t work with RDP either, as explained at MS Answers. Boy, won’t it be nice when Copilot gets smart enough to do this with a single prompt (no luck right now).

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Another Great UUPDump.Net Use Case

Monday-Wednesday I was working on an article for the AskWoody newsletter. Among a variety of tasks, one that I found interesting hinged on working with and taking screenshots of a Windows 10 app around a certain date (late July 2022). This makes for another great UUPDump.net use case. Let me explain…

What Makes For Another Great UUPDump.Net Use Case?

It took me a while to figure out the right date before which I had to stand up Windows 10. And because a Microsoft Store app was involved, I also had make sure the VM didn’t have Internet access. Otherwise, because the Store does auto-updates it would have replaced that point in time’s version of the app with something else. Because I was interested in seeing that specific version (or something older) at work, updates were a no-no.

Another ingredient was also key to my research: An MS Support note entitled “Windows 10 update history.” This handy document lets one see all Windows 10 releases and their dates of issue. Because I knew what date I had to hit, I wanted something as close to but still prior to it to show me what I needed. Ultimately, that worked!

Getting Past a Few Little Details

Setting up the VM also posed a handful of minor challenges. Because I set up a Type 2 VM I had to use the Restart button in the Hyper-V window to forcibly get the ISO I built for my test image to boot. I also had to remember to turn off enhanced mode to login via RDP (a known issue). And finally, I had to do some creative rooting around my file system to find a usable Windows 10 key (I persevered, and succeeded). Other than that, things went off just as I’d hoped.

Using my approach, I was able to run and screencap the target app. Luckily for me the date I picked still had the right (older) version installed. Once I brought it up, it told and showed me what I was looking for.

Great fun — and like the title says — it really is a great use case for UUPDump.net, thanks to its complete historical record of Windows 10 and 11 release, including Insider Previews. Glad my heretofore unsubstantiated theory about using historical versus current Windows versions worked out.

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Recent Windows Terminal Follies

It’s always a humbling experience to work and work with Windows. This week, I’ve been relearning how Windows 10 works with Windows Terminal (and sometimes doesn’t). I had to stand up a squeaky clean Windows 10 instance in a VM for some WT testing and research. Tongue planted firmly in cheek as I went through some recent Windows Terminal follies, I realized I’d forgotten more about WT than I’d ever known. Let me explain…

History Underlies Recent Windows Terminal Follies

Today, my production Windows 10 installation has been running since 2016, when I stood up my present primary desktop PC. There have been a LOT of changes to Windows since then. And indeed, Windows Terminal (WT) is one of the things that has changed the most. But because I’d gone along with those changes — growing more experienced and wise to the ways of WT — I really didn’t remember all of the little twists and turns along the way.

Thus, installing a clean Windows 10 OS image came as a series of shocks where WT was concerned. Let me list a few of them:

1. Windows 10 made its Insider Preview debut in 2014, WT didn’t come along until May 2019. Thus, it’s not set as the default command line environment in Windows 10.

2. WinKey+X, to my consternation, kept launching an older PowerShell version (v5.1.19014.3570). And the only version of WT present was an older Preview that I didn’t want.

3. Thus, I found myself visiting the MS Store to grab the latest copy of WT, installing it, then setting it as my default terminal application (see lead-in graphic: notice further than this version needs an upgrade).

Eventually, I got things sorted and where I want them to be. But it did come as something of a shock to understand how much change I’d been introducing to my desktop runtime, step by little step. Only when I had to jump the whole stretch in a single bound did I see how far things has really come.

Some Unexpected MSA Bonuses Also Present

OneDrive picks up files from my User folder as part of what it keeps in the cloud. Apparently this includes my PowerShell Profile, because an invocation to OhMyPosh showed up as I fired off the new WT install for the first time. That made setting up OMP even faster and easier than usual.

The moral of today’s story is that one doesn’t really recognize how far one has come (or how much things have changed) until one is forced to recover the same ground and see what’s different. That’s one good reason why — for me, at least — Windows-World is always an adventure.

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Win7/8 Key Loophole Closes

On September 29, I reported that one couldn’t upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1 to 10 or 11 any more.  But, one could still activate a clean install of 22H2 using their keys. As of yesterday, I can conclusively say: “No more!” I used an older key to get through install yesterday. But this morning, the desktop said Windows 10 needed activation. Thus, I’m now convinced the Win7/8 key loophole closes at long last.

More About Win7/8 Key Loophole Closes

Interestingly, the activation servers have to grind for quite some little while. It takes 25-35 seconds before they come back to disqualify older keys. If you hand them a newer one (I tried both retail and MAK keys for Windows 10 and 11) activation comes in 3-4 seconds. There’s obviously a lot of behind-the-scenes checking going on.

That said, the Windows 11 Pro VM I stood up last week using a Windows 7 Ultimate key is still running. In fact, it still shows “Active” as its current activation state. I’m speculating freely when I say this, but that tells me the loophole has been closed later, rather than sooner. We’re unlikely to get official commentary from MS on this one way or the other, so take my supposition for what it’s worth!

It’s Been a Long Time Coming…

Ever since the door officially closed on upgrades from and activations of older keys back in 2016 (7 years ago), we’ve all known this day was coming. Now it’s here. Gosh, it was terrific while it lasted, though, because I never had to worry about running out of keys for throwaway VMs and test installs. I guess we’ll all have to be more careful going forward. I’ll also make more frequent use of the various 90-day eval VMs that MS generally makes available as well.

 

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Upgrades Are Over, Activation Still Works

I read yesterday at Thurrott.com that MS was no longer supporting free upgrades from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10 or 11. “Holy smokes,” I thought to myself, “That’s been a long time coming.” That offer supposedly expired in 2016 but had been working until recently. My next question was: “Does that mean you can’t activate a new Windows 11 install with a Windows 7 key any more?” Based on a hurry-up experiment I just finished, I’m bemused to report that if upgrades are over, activation still works. I’ll explain…

Though Windows 7 and 8.1 Upgrades Are Over, Activation Still Works

Here’s what I did. I downloaded a Windows 11 Pro ISO, I fired up Hyper-V Manager, and I created a new VM using that ISO. When the time came to provide a license key, I plugged in an entry from the list of Windows 7 Ultimate license keys I keep around for testing purposes. Guess what happened?

It worked! In fact, the screencap at the head of this blog post shows the newly stood-up VM with an Activation state of “Active” from that very Windows 7 Ultimate key (anybody else remember that edition?). Thus, though it may no longer be possible to upgrade from running Windows 7 or 8.1 instances, it seems like their keys will still suffice to crate a valid, activated instance of Windows 11 from scratch. Good to know!

Straight from the Source: MS

Mr. Thurrott cites a Microsoft Device Partner Center communication as the source of this information. That item is entitled Windows Ends Installation Path for Free Windows 7/8 Upgrade. It bears a publication date of September 20, 2023. For the moment, though the upgrade path may be closed, it looks like the keys still work for activation. I wonder if this loophole will remain open, or close sometime as well. Stay tuned: we’ll see!

Clarification Added September 30

Thanks to a more recent story from Sergey Tkachenko at WinAero, I now have a better idea of what’s going on. The 7/8 keys still work for versions of Windows 10 and 11 through 22H2. You can’t, however, use those keys to activate a new install of 23H2.  I tried only Windows 11 22H2, not a preview of 23H2 (AFAIK, it’s not out yet in any other form). NOW I get it…

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Playing Windows Sandbox Games

Yesterday, I found myself needing to visit some “geographically suspect” websites. Let’s just say they’re in a country much in the recent news. For added, protection I wanted to use the Windows Sandbox, a runtime environment that creates a temporary VM based on your current running image. Once you close it, all traces of its presence disappear. That’s a good thing, when you want no uninvited leftovers later on. Thus, I found myself playing Windows Sandbox games yesterday for the first time on Windows 11.

Steps in Playing Windows Sandbox Games

When I typed Sandbox into one of my Windows test PCs, nothing happened. Indeed, it’s been long enough since I set up Sandbox on Windows 10 I’d forgotten some specific preliminaries are needed:

1. Because Windows Sandbox is a kind of virtual machine (VM), virtualization must be enabled.
2. If you don’t seek to launch Sandbox inside  another VM, you don’t need to worry about nested virtualization. Otherwise, a PowerShell command is needed (see this How-to-Geek article for the specifics).
3. Finally, you have to open “Turn Windows features on or off” and then specifically enable “Windows Sandbox (checkbox checked).

The lead-in graphic shows the bottom portion of the scrolling list inside the “Windows Features” applet in Control Panel. You can get there many ways. I typed “Windows Features” into the Start menu search box and it came right up. The same approach in Settings search works, too.

After the Checkbox, Windows Takes Over

When you click OK after checking the Windows Sandbox checkbox, the Windows installer takes over. It grabs and installs the necessary files to add Sandbox to the target system. At the end of its labors it will tell you “Windows needs to reboot your PC to finish installing the requested changes” (see below). Click the “Restart now” button at lower right.

Playing Windows Sandbox Games.restart-to-run

Once it’s done, click Restart now to complete the install.

After the PC comes back to the desktop, Sandbox will be ready to use. It certainly did the trick for the various websites I wanted to visit both safely and securely. Here’s a snapshot of the resulting sandbox desktop.

I use PatchMyPC to install Chrome and other tools for a more familiar, usable Sandbox. [Click image for full-size view.]

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Moment 3 Dev VMs Now Available

OK, then. I read a June 25 story on Neowin with great interest. It’s entitled “Microsoft releases free Windows 11 virtual machines with the Moment 3 update .” If you visit the MS webpage that the story covers, you’ll find VMs to download for VMWare, Hyper-V (Gen2), VirtualBox and Parallels. Inside each VM is a running instance of Windows 11 Enterprise, Visual Studio 2022 Community edition, WSL for Linux 2 (Ubuntu), Windows Terminal, with developer mode turned on. Hence my title here: “Moment 3 Dev VMs Now Available.”

Moment 3 Dev VMs Now Available:
20+ GB Download

Because Hyper-V is my virtualization tool of choice, that’s the version I downloaded to try out on a test PC. That download is about 21GB in size, and took me a good 4 minutes to download over a fairly fast connection.

Once you get over that hump, you’ll find a .vhdx file inside the ZIP folder that’s  a hefty 40+GB in size. UnZip same, and you’ll be able to open that VM inside Hyper-V. I’d recommend doing so from an NVMe SSD, which for many users will mean their system drive. Thus, make sure you’ve got the room!

I’d also recommend deleting the ZIP file once you’ve extracted its contents just to save some space. If you have the expanded file, you don’t need to keep the ZIPped version around. On an 8th gen 4-core i7 CPU (8650U @ 1.9 GHz) laptop, it took just under 5 minutes to unZIP the VM (4:55).

Moment 3 Dev VMs Now Available.unzip

This hefty ZIP file takes a while to unpack…4:55 on my test PC.

Once you’ve got the .vhdx file unzipped, you simply need to create a new VM inside Hyper-V (Gen 2, 4096 MB RAM, default switch). You can then double click the VM inside Hyper-V to launch, and you’ll get a complete Windows 11 instance with all the aforementioned goodies up and running. It took about 4 minutes on my Yoga X380 ThinkPad test PC to get to the desktop shown in lead-in graphic.

Other than the time it takes to download, install and start up, the process is dead easy. Try it for yourself and you’ll see. The only downside is that this is an eval copy of Windows that ages out on September 23, 2023. Thus, it won’t last very long!

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