Enhanced Session Mode in HYPER-V 2012

HYPER-V in Server 2012 R2 promise more surprises on top of what we already got in server 2012. One of the new enhancement we can expect is “Enhanced Session Mode”. With this new enhancement HYPER-V and the Virtual Machine Connection tool now support redirection of the local resources to a virtual machine session, just like the device redirection you get in Remote Desktop session. Remember our long standing request for USB supports for Virtual machines? well this address that 🙂

So with this method we no loner have to stick with making Remote Desktop connection to the virtual machine’s and carry out limited task of copying the data from desktop to virtual machine (I remember how painful is that situation)

With Enhanced Session we can redirected below mention local resources,

  • Audio
  • Clipboard
  • Display configuration
  • Drives
  • Printers
  • Smart cards
  • Supported Plug and Play devices
  • USB devices

The secret behind this capability is enhanced session mode use Remote Desktop Connection session via the virtual machines bus (VMBus) thus not needing network connection to the virtual machine.

Good news is this feature already enabled by default in Client HYPER-V (windows 8.1) but not in the Windows Server 2012 R2. But no big worries you can enable that feature very quickly by going to to the HYPER-V settings in the MMC console.

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Once you “tick” that option it will effect to all the virtual machine’s hosted in that HYPER-V server. Once enhanced session mode setting has been enabled it will determine to allow or not allow enhanced session mode connections to virtual machines running on the server running Hyper-V based on the following conditions are met:

  • An enhanced session mode connection has been requested by the Virtual Machine Connection tool.
  • The VM is running an operating system which supports enhanced session mode.
  • The Remote Desktop Service is running in the virtual machine.

Now comes the interesting news 🙂 Not all the operating system are supported with this little “nifty” feature. Only two VIP “OS” are currently supported and they are…… (drums rolling),

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows 8.1

Client side

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So when can this Enhanced Session can be useful?

Enhanced session mode allows you to redirect local resources to the a virtual machine in the same way as you can with Remote Desktop Connection, but you do not need network connection to the virtual machine. You only need to be able to connect to the server running Hyper-V where the virtual machine is running.

  • Troubleshooting a virtual machine without the need for a network connection to the virtual machine.
  • Login to the virtual machine via smart card
  • Printing from a virtual machine to a local printer
  • Developers can now fully test and troubleshoot applications running in a virtual machine that require USB and sound redirection without the need to use Remote Desktop Connection.