Category Archives: Hyper-V and VMs

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 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, 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.


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.


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.



Upgrades Are Over, Activation Still Works

I read yesterday at 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…


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.]


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!


VM SSD Speed Falls Off

What did I expect, I wonder? I’ve been digging more deeply into VMs on the amazing Lenovo P16 Mobile Workstation. (It’s got an i9-12950HX, 2TB PCIe x4 SSD, 128GB RAM, Quadro RTX A5500, and Windows 11 22H2.) Most of the time, the VM runs almost indistinguishably from the physical OS. But various IO metrics tell a different story: most tellingly, VM SSD speed falls off measurably. That applies both to the Virtual C: drive inside the VM, and when accessing external USB4 storage devices from the VM.

How Much VM SSD Speed Falls Off

By most metrics, it’s 2X or more. To be more specific, CrystalDisk-Mark results for the C: drive are about half across the board versus the internal Kioxia SSD. For the all-important random read/write 4K single thread, it’s worse than that (2.5X to 3X). Worse still, large file copies to external USB drives fall off a cliff: typical rates of 250-280 MBps fall to 60-70 MBps. This is shown from File Explorer inside the VM in the lead-in graphic above. Here’s a comparison from the physical machine:

VM SSD Speed Falls Off.phys-copy

Notice: USB speed is at least 4X faster on a physical PC vs. a VM.

Let’s Get Physical…

This actually provides an interesting justification for running certain workloads on physical rather than virtual PCs — namely, that IO and completion times can be dramatically affected. But given the convenience, flexibility and open-ended nature of VMs, this is not likely to matter that much except for highly specialized workloads where time is worth more than money.

Fascinating stuff, though — and great fun to play with. Check out the Get a Windows 11 development environment page at MS.


Ready-to-Run Eval Windows 11 Development VMs

MS offers free downloads of ready-to-run Eval Windows 11 Development VMs (virtual machines). They incorporate a copy of Windows 11 Enterprise, Visual Studio 2022 edition, Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), and Windows Terminal. They’re ready to run in developer mode, right “out of the box” as ’twere.

MS makes them available, free, for the following hypervisors:

  • VMWare
  • Hyper-V
  • VirftualBox
  • Parallels

Just for grins I downloaded the Hyper-V incarnation, and spent an enjoyable hour getting it installed and running yesterday, along with some exploration and investigation. The lead-in graphic shows the head of the download page for all this stuff.

Grab Ready-to-Run Eval Windows 11 Development VMs

I was able to bring up the VM simply by opening it in Hyper-V and using the “default switch” for the networking option. It’s just that easy to get it up and going. No kidding. But…

As I explored the new runtime environment I did find some limitations. Turns out the default install in Hyper-V does not resolve TPM issues. There’s a whole raft of “Generation 2 VM Security Issues” about which I had been blissfully unaware.

I’m going to need to work through those issues so I can try again. Why? Because if I want to keep the VM around as more than a transitory eval, I have to be able to upgrade to 22H2 (the download is 22H1). And here’s what the Windows 11 Installation Assistant currently has to say about that:

Upon running the PC Health Check on that VM, I’m informed that no TPM is detected. No TPM, no upgrade. This can be fixed: I see numerous recipes to make that happen. I’ll try them soon.

More Fun Than…

In the meantime, I’m having a gas running VMs on the P16 Mobile Workstation (with 128GB RAM, a 24-core i9 12th Gen CPU, and so forth). Honestly and for the first time, ever, I can’t tell any diff between running a native OS and a VM. It’s awe-inspiring. I’ll keep digging in, and reporting more, but if you too wish to play, visit the download page. It’s a pure joy to mess around with!