Optimize Windows 8 for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environments

Optimize and tuning a Windows 8 desktop in a VDI environment is important to reduce for example the CPU, IOPS and the memory footprint. During the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) 2013 a breakout session about optimizing a Windows 8 desktop for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is held. The session has three main subjects: 

  • Microsoft Guidance for Windows 8 Configuration VDI desktop. What version of Windows 8 do I need, how many CPUs, memory, disk partitioning etc.
  • Detailed Review of Component Configuration. What services do I need to enable or disable, do I need to disable SuperFetch?  All the optimization settings are available in VBS script
  • Recommendations for performance testing. This section is about the (third party) tools that can be used to do performance testing.

. The Windows 8 VDI sizing and optimizations  can be used for example on the following VDI solutions:

  • VMware Horizon View
  • Citrix XenDesktop
  • Microsoft VDI

A Windows 8 VDI optimization VBS script is available. This script does all the optimization work for you. Review all the settings before executing if the fits for your environment! There will be a PowerShell version available in the future. The Windows 8 optimization VBS script can be found here.

When you want to use Windows 8 for in your VDI environment this session helps you to size, tune and optimize your Windows 8 VDI desktop. The Optimizing Windows 8 for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure session can found here.

Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 support on VMware ESXi, Workstation and Fusion

The following VMware releases are supported with Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012:

OS Supported versions
Windows 8 32/64 Bits Workstation 9
Fusion 5.0
ESXi 5.0 U1
ESXi 5.1
Windows Server 2012 64 Bits Workstation 9
Fusion 5.0
ESXi 5.0 U1
ESXi 5.1

Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 are supported on ESX 5.0 U1 and 5.1. Here are some things to watch when implementing Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 on ESXi environment.


For Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 the E1000e adapter is the default vNIC. The E1000e feature emulates a newer model of Intel Gigabit NIC (number 82574) in the virtual hardware. This is known as the "e1000e" vNIC. e1000e is available only on hardware version 8 (and newer) virtual machines in vSphere 5! 



The VMXNET 3 is optimized for performance in a virtual machine. Because operating system vendors do not provide built-in drivers for this card, you must install VMware Tools to have a driver for the VMXNET3 network adapter available. The VMXNET3 is available only on hardware version 7 and newer!

SCSI Disk controller

The default SCSI disk controller is the LSI Logic SAS.


The Paravirtual SCSI (PVSCSI) adapters are high-performance storage adapters that can result in greater throughput and lower CPU utilization.  When browsing through the FLP images there is no Windows Server  2012 driver available for the PVSCSI adapter.


The KB says nothing on Windows 8 or Server 2012 support (Link). In the computability OS guide it stated the the PVSCSI adapter is supported on Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8.


Using the 2008 PVSCSI FLP image will install the PVSCSI driver in Windows 8 and Server 2012.

Guest OS Customization support

Guest OS Customization support is only supported on Windows 8 and not on Windows Server 2012!



Enable Windows Server 8 Hyper-V in VMware Workstation

VMware Workstation Technology Preview 2012 is available as download.  The Technology Preview makes it possible for example to install and operate Windows 8 and Windows Server 8 in a VM and the possibility to nest VMs.

I tested the installation of  Windows Server 8 in VMware Workstation TP, enabled the Hyper-V role and run a Windows 7 64-bit VM in Hyper-V. Here are some screenshots (Hyper-V manager and the Windows 7 64  bit running in Hyper-V): 




To make the above configuration work, add to following options to the end of the VMX file before starting the Windows Server 8 installation:

hypervisor.cpuid.v0 = FALSE
mce.enable = "TRUE"

The VMware Workstation TP VMs are started in debug mode which impacts the performance!  



More information can be found here:

VMware Workstation Technology Preview 2012 Overview