There are currently two Microsoft HyperVisor products:

Hyper-V Server 2008 R2


Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Role


Question - Is there a functional difference between the two, regarding hypervisor performance or features?

If not, what possible reason is there to use the Hyper-V Role instead of the standalone hypervisor? There are clear advantages in having a smaller footprint and attack surface from the standalone hypervisor.

It seems like Hyper-V role gets much more media spotlight and documentation as opposed to the standalone hypervisor.

If you're using Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Role, can you share why you chose to do this rather than Hyper-V Server?


With Hypervisor perfomance and features, there isn't a difference, they will both do exactly the same thing without limitation. When you install the full Server product, you incur the overhead that the OS requires. You are able to use all other roles available in the edition you've installed, each one adding impact to each other as they are added.

I have one in each scenario. The Hyper-V Server was a lower spec'd machine, and I wanted to squeeze everything out of it for VMs.

The Server 2008 R2 w/ Hyper-V is a development server with a ton of memory and disk space, and I wanted full GUI control direct from the console.

  • Core installs can also be one with both Server and Enterprise editions so there is no advantage of Hyper-V Server/Standalone other than cost. – Doug Luxem Nov 18 '10 at 15:39
  • Not exactly - it scales better (more memory) than standard. – TomTom Nov 18 '10 at 15:42
  • Is this still true? – SpacemanSpiff Jul 26 '12 at 3:54
  • @SpacemanSpiff Yes, it is still true. Hyper-V server (not role) is more akin to Datacenter edition in some small cahractersitics that YOU COULD READ YOURSELF - it is not that hard to compare product specs on a website, isn't it?. Note that this is 2008 R2 - 2012 Server + Hyper-V server are NOT YET released ;) – TomTom Jul 26 '12 at 4:41
  • 2
    I prefer to ask experienced subject matter experts on a topic I have only a passing interest in. – SpacemanSpiff Jul 26 '12 at 4:53

There are clear advantages in having a smaller footprint and attack surface from the standalone hypervisor.

Yes, this is why you will instally Heyper-V ROLE on top of a.... Server CORE, not a full server. Same attack surface. Hyper-V server is basically jsut packed up for different licensing.

it cmoes with mor RAM support than Standard. Plus, when running Linux hosts you ahve zero licensing costs. Hyper-V server thus is in R2 the "better" hypervisor due to flexibility, but the pracitcal enefit is close to zero normally. Mainteannce is NOT a difference.

  • Hyper-V Server is based on Windows Server Enterprise Edition, so it has those RAM/CPU limits, but the different licensing as you noted. – Chris S Jul 26 '12 at 13:42

besides the theoretical performance benefits of hyper-v server, there is an important licensing consideration.

with server 2008 r2 datacenter plus the hyper-v role, you can host an unlimited number of server 2008 r2 standard guests without needing licenses for the guests. in other words, the licenses for the standard guests is included in the license for the datacenter host.

with hyper-v server, there are no guest licenses included.

  • Yeah but it costs the same to buy Datacentre for the guest licences and actually install HyperV server as it does to buy datacentre for the guest licences and think "I'll install this and add the hyperv role rather than mess around with hyperV server". – Rob Moir Jul 26 '12 at 13:38
  • the datacenter license doesn't give you unlimited standard licenses, it gives you the right to run unlimited standard servers ON a datacenter host. if you "buy datacenter for the guest licenses" but install hyper-v server instead, you are in violation of your license. – longneck Jul 26 '12 at 13:48
  • 1
    This is getting into licence discussions, which are off topic here, but that's not what I've been advised by Microsoft. I've been told that buying one Datacentre licence per virtual host processor will cover you to run virtual guests. – Rob Moir Jul 26 '12 at 14:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.