So far we've done limited tests using VMWare ESXi and Citrix Xen and they're both working well. We now want to do some serious testing with copies of our production systems but before doing so I want to evaluate Hyper-V to see if it strikes that balance between licence cost and product maturity.

Reading through the FAQ it would appear that the Hyper-V Server is free to download and use. But will it remain free forever or is that only an 'introductory offer'?

I know we can use Xen for free and that is still an option but just wanted to check out Hyper-V before we spend any amount of money on hardware and people's time.

Many thanks


7 Answers 7


We're a BIG VMWare customer and recently MS were trying very hard to sell us on moving to Hyper-V, on one of their slides they stated that the hypervisor itself would be free for at least 48 months (and this was in late-Oct/early-Nov 2009).

Then again they repeatedly stated that it was better than ESX so what do they know ;)

  • That's interesting. As others are saying in this thread it makes sense for MS to keep it free for now but then start charging for different editions of it in the future.
    – Manabenz
    Feb 18, 2010 at 11:45

Looking at the current product set and public roadmap, yes it seems it will remain free. However the tools for advanced functionality and better management (such as some in System Center suite) will be where you pay later.

  • Good point. We're hoping that we don't need the full blown System Center Suite given the potential size of our deployment.
    – Manabenz
    Feb 18, 2010 at 11:58

I think the hypervisor will remain free, based on what it actually does. It has no GUI or real interface beyond powershell and a command prompt, so you can't use it as a desktop or server. You still need a licensed machine to manage it, you need licenses for all the VMs you want to create. That's where the $ is for Microsoft.


ESXi, Xen and Hyper-V all share the same mindset in this ie the hypervisor is free - what you pay for is advanced management and that's what the real evaluation should be focusing on anyway.

  • Fair point. Our virtual infrastructure is going to be relatively small (5-6 physical servers), so although the management tools are important there isn't a huge deal of focus on that at present. When we roll out the Hyper-V proof of concept I'll make sure to test it out and compare it to what I've seen with ESXi and Xen.
    – Manabenz
    Feb 18, 2010 at 11:48

Hyper-V Server, the hypervisor-only version of the product, is totally free. Nobody can of course foresee Microsoft's plans for the future, but, at least for now, it doesn't come with any obligation to switch to Windows Server 2008 + Hyper-V.


The Hypervisor is a commodity, it would seem silly to start charging.

Also, Microsoft tends to be very accommodating when they perceive themselves to be the underdog. They certainly are the underdog in this circumstance, so even if they did charge, you'd likely get all sorts of concessions out of them if you actually use the product.


But will it remain free forever or is that only an 'introductory offer'?

If it is an introductory offer, it has been such since the first (for Server 2008) release, which is quite a while.

But MS is a commercial entity... that said if you download and install now, I don't think (NB. I am not a lawyer) they could retrospectively revert that licence unless you break it.

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