I'm looking for a list of pros / cons to compare MS HyperV against VMWare ESX for Virtual Server hosting.

9 Answers 9


This is probably one of the best articles I've read so far comparing Hyper-V and VMWare ESX:

How to Correctly Explain the Architectural Differences Between Hyper-V and ESX


The link above no longer works so here's WayBackMachine's last known snapshot:


Wayne (see comments below) also suggested a couple of alternatives.

The first is a response to the original and now defunct article:

Updated: Reaction to: “How to Correctly Explain the Architectural Differences Between Hyper-V and ESX”

The second article has unfortunately had the video removed from YouTube.


As one who has used both (and continues to), I would recommend Hyper-V, especially if you are primarily a Microsoft shop. We have migrated over 25 virtual machines from VMware to Hyper-V using SCVMM, and the migrations have been flawless. We needed more memory, as currently Hyper-V does not support memory compression/overcommit yet, but memory is cheap right now and Hyper-V has this feature comming soon.

VMWare also has live migration, but we have not seen a need for this. This feature is coming in the next release for Hyper-V

Hyper-V manager is fine if you have just have a couple of VM hosts, but SCVMM adds a number of useful functions, including libraries and combined view of VMware and Hyper-V hosts.

We will continue to use VMware as one of our servers is old and supports 32bit only, and we get some VMs from our clients. But all our new VMs are created using Hyper-V.

We have also been using SCVMM, and have created libraries of our common configurations. Provisioning a new VM, including naming and joining to the domain is all automated. We are looking to further automate using Powershell, see: http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/WebCastEventDetails.aspx?EventID=1032409528&EventCategory=4&culture=en-US&CountryCode=US

Overall, features, ease of use, and cost lead us to move to Hyper-V from VMware.

  • Why was I voted down? I appear to be the only person that's actually used both and not just referred to articles on the web.
    – user3047
    Commented May 21, 2009 at 17:11
  • perhaps because you say how good Hyper-V is, and then follow it up with "VMware has feature x which Hyper-V doesn't, but its coming soon for Hyper-V".
    – gbjbaanb
    Commented Feb 5, 2010 at 19:46

The most direct comparison is VMware ESXi vs Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008:

VMware ESXi

Microsoft Hyper-V

  • Free download
  • Native support for Volume Snapshot Service (Shadow Copy)
  • Supports 64-bit and 32-bit versions of Windows Server, 32-bit and 64-bit Windows Vista and Windows XP Professional, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 (32-bit and 64-bit) [source]
  • Uses the same management interfaces (command line, PowerShell, remote console) as other Server Core instances
  • Uses standard NTFS partitions, which can be a plus if you're in a Windows environment
  • Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 (currently available as a Release Candidate) will feature Host Clustering and Live Migration (similar to VMware's vMotion technology) - Features not available with the standalone VMware ESXi product.

Ultimately, I think the decision comes down to your use case for virtualization:

  • If you're in a Windows environment and primarily interested in server consolidation, Hyper-V seems like a good fit
  • If you're in a Linux or mixed-OS environment, VMware ESXi will likely offer better support for your guest operating system
  • If you're interested in consolidation plus mature high availability, disaster recovery, etc., ESXi combined with VMware vSphere are currently your best options (with additional costs, of course)

VMWare - pros=maturity, functionality & speed, cons=cost

HyperV is the opposite.

  • 1
    Why downvote my post - this is FACT, hyperv is less mature, less functional but also less expensive that VMware. tsk MS fanboys
    – Chopper3
    Commented May 21, 2009 at 16:53
  • 3
    I didn't downvote, but I want to because of the highly flamebait nature of your comment without any cites. Tell me how it's less functional, slower, less mature, etc.
    – boflynn
    Commented May 22, 2009 at 14:03
  • 1
    Functionality - linux support? live VM migration? live storage migration? distributed vswitches? higher number of vcpus? memory overcommit/dedupe? Slower - virtualizationreview.com/articles/2009/03/02/… or any other independent benchmarks. Mature - how could you possibly perceive hyperv as being anything close to as mature as vmware? look at the user base, number of releases, additional functionality added, years of bug fixes, large (non-MS) organisations using it in large production environments. It's a slow, basic, version 1 product - it will get better.
    – Chopper3
    Commented May 22, 2009 at 14:18
  • Thank you, genuinely. That gives me, and maybe the other users, at least some features and references to research further.
    – boflynn
    Commented May 22, 2009 at 17:23
  • 1
    Sorry, it's my fault, I forget sometimes that not everyone has the same experience and environment as myself. I design and build very large (2,000+ server) data centres and big chunks of that are VMWare, we have whole test teams that look at Xen and Hyper-V every time there's a major upgrade and we're not even CLOSE to considering using either for even our dev environment. I'm sure they will mature and be great news for all but right now VMWare IS a better product in every way but price. Sorry to have been so...twattish ;)
    – Chopper3
    Commented May 22, 2009 at 17:54

People run a microsoft stack because the products integrate well with each other. Microsoft's virtualization isn't there yet, but there's no doubt they will be soon. Today, VMWare is better, but Microsoft is still good. If you have a mixed environment, I'd say to go with VMWare. If you're a Microsoft shop, then go with Microsoft.


Today, if you're a medium/large business with cash and a need for the bells & whistles, VMWare is the way to go. Bells & whistles = VMotion, Site Recovery Manager, power management, etc. If you're not a Windows shop, VMWare is the way to go.

If you're an SMB, HyperV is a no brainer -- just run your Linux in Xen or some other virtualization and your Windows in HyperV.

In 3-4 years when we get past the 1.0 release, Microsoft and VMWare are going to be neck and neck, with the usual Microsoft caveats.

  • Hyper-V 2 is actually in public beta now.
    – mrdenny
    Commented May 20, 2009 at 14:55

The only mature one is VMware so far.


I like the article from Massimo Re Ferre' A brief architecture overview of VMware ESX, XEN and MS Viridian at it20.ifo (It's a bit older, so refers to Hyper-V by its codename, Viridian, but it's still current as far as architecture goes.)

Regarding Kev's answer above ) on "How to Correctly Explain the Architectural Differences between Hyper-V and ESX: Greg Shields is a knowledgeable guy but describing the details of hypervisor architecture in a simple way can get tricky. Ken Cline lays out a few corrections in his blog post, Reaction to: “How to Correctly Explain the Architectural Differences Between Hyper-V and ESX” at kensvirtualreality.wordpress.com (Full disclaimer: I work for VMware and Ken recently joined VMware.)

Fortunately, the precise details of the architecture don't matter much in day-to-day sysadmin life.

(I'm new, so I can't post links, so feel free to add them to this answer.)


Great points here! I'm not going to give my opinion since I work with Microsoft and it would be biased, but I'd definitely like you guys to talk to us on Twitter if you're there!

We're @MSSpringboard, the official Windows 7 IT Pro feed and @CIOsConnect, where we talk more about the enterprise site and lots of virtualization conversation.

I'm always looking to hear opinions and especially from people with experience so I'd be glad to hear from you guys there.

Oh, and I really like Hyper-V :)


Alex Microsoft Windows Client Team

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