I’ve got a confession to make: I’ve been using Windows 10 on a Vaio.
My MacBook Pro Retina is a few years old now, and it’s been suffering a few broken parts from a rough life on tour. I’d buy another one, but it’s not a great time to buy a new Apple – the current laptop range is a little long in the tooth.
When the Microsoft store ran a fire sale on the Vaio Canvas Z, a powerful Windows 10 tablet, I had to give it a shot. Allan Hirt had given me a demo of it at the MVP Summit, and I was really impressed. The hardware is perfect for me: 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD space makes for a demo-friendly presenter laptop, and the tablet screen with detachable keyboard is a great movie platform for airplane time.
I’ll blog about the general hardware and Windows 10 experience later, but today I’m focusing on something I use a lot: virtualization. Setting up a few new VMs was an eye-opener.
Hyper-V can’t always share WiFi networks with guests. Microsoft says “wireless networking is quite tricky for virtualization” – errr, it’s just worked on Macs as long as I’ve been using them, and I’m pretty sure this used to work fine for Microsoft’s own Virtual PC. WiFi isn’t going away – this needs to just work out of the box without 11-step workarounds.
You can only drag & drop files into certain guest OS versions. During VM setup, it almost seemed random – some of my VMs could, some couldn’t. Eventually I figured out that “enhanced session mode” – which enables stuff like drag & drop and copy/paste files – only works on Windows 8.1 and Win2012 R2 VMs. (I tend to use older Windows versions with my older SQL Server versions because it lines up with what clients typically use – they don’t usually run SQL Server 2008 on Win2012R2.)
Plugging new USB devices into guests is a pain. On a Win2012 R2 host, you have to open Hyper-V Manager, right-click on the guest, click Connect, click Show Options, click Local Resources, click More, expand the Drives list, check the box for the USB drive. Here’s a screenshot tour of the process. On Macs with VMware – just plug in any USB drive or device, and you get a popup asking if you want it to be connected to the Mac, or to which running VM. Done.
Hyper-V HighDPI screens are a mess. Years ago, Apple laid a ton of groundwork to prepare for Retina displays, and as a result, guests don’t need to know anything about the resolution they’re running on. OS X can seamlessly scale any app up or down. Windows, not so much – on the high-resolution Vaio, Hyper-V guests start up with microscopically small text, and up-scaling server OS’s ends up looking like hell.
The verdict: you get what you pay for.
I get it, it’s an unfair competition: Hyper-V is included free with Windows, and I’m comparing it to a paid product (VMware Fusion). I also understand that I’m focusing on things that don’t matter for data center virtualization projects, where WiFi, drag & drop, USB, and HighDPI screens don’t matter.
But on laptops at least, Hyper-V’s experience leaves a lot to be desired.