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Let's just focus on Hyper-V on either 2008 R2 SP1, or Hyper-V on Server 2012. The guests are all modern versions of Windows themselves, either Windows 7 or 8, or 2008 R2 or Server 2012.

Do I really need to install the Hyper-V Integration Services on my guests? Everything seems to work just fine without them. And I understand why they may be necessary on older versions of Windows or of course non-Windows OSes...

I read a bit about what the Integration Services are for, but I could not find any information that was specific enough to convince me that I need to worry about installing them on Win7,Win8,2008R2,etc., guest OSes.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

If the guest is the same version of Windows as the Hyper-V installation, the integration services are built in. If they're close to the same version, then you'll have some version built in, and they'll negotiate down to the lowest common denominator protocol, which may mean that you leave some performance on the table.

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I think this is closer to the answer I was looking for. I noticed that my Win7/Win8/2012/etc virtualized guests seemed to already have this built in. i.e., when trying to install the Integration Services it would tell you that you already have it installed. I'm thinking it must already be a part of Windows Update if the guest OS detects that it is a virtual machine... – Ryan Ries Oct 22 '12 at 3:39
No, there's no special magic around Windows Update. The integration components are either present when the OS is installed (however inactive) and then activated when the OS is virtualized within Hyper-V or they're delivered on the "Integration Services Setup" CD image. They may be updated by Windows Update once installed, though. – Jake Oshins Oct 22 '12 at 17:09

It "works fine" but the performance is going to be much poorer than if you installed Integration Services. This is because it provides paravirtualized drivers for performance-critical virtual disks, network adapter, etc.

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