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Windows Server 2012 R2 introduces Generation 2 Virtual Machines

Windows Server 2012 R2 fully supports the existing types of virtual machines, and names them collectively generation 1 virtual machines. Most operating systems and programs that run in virtual machines are not aware that they are virtualized. Using emulated hardware enables operating systems that are not virtualization-aware to run in virtual machines.
Windows Server 2012 R2 provides support for the new type of virtual machines, named generation 2 virtual machines. Generation 2 virtual machines function as if the operating systems installed on them are virtualization-aware. Because of this, generation 2 virtual machines do not have the legacy and emulated virtual-hardware devices found on generation 1 virtual machines, and use only synthetic devices. BIOS-based firmware is replaced by advanced Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware, which supports Secure Boot. Generation 2 virtual machines start from a SCSI controller or by using the Pre-boot Execution Environment (PXE) on a network adapter. All remaining virtual devices use virtual machine bus (VMBus) to communicate with parent partitions.

Generation 1 Virtual Machines include:

  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1
  • Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 2 (SP2)
  • Windows Server 2003 R2 with SP2
  • Windows Home Server 2011
  • MultiPoint® Server 2012
  • Windows Small Business Server 2011
  • Windows Server 2003 with SP2
  • CentOS 6.0-6.2
  • CentOS 5.5-5.7
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0-6.2
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5-5.7
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 with SP1 or SP2
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 with Service Pack 4 (SP4)
  • Windows 7 with SP1
  • Windows Vista® with SP2
  • Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (SP3)

Generation 2 Virtual Machines include:

  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2019
  • Windows Server 2022
  • Windows 8 (64-bit)
  • Windows 8.1 (64 bit)
  • Windows 10 (64 bit)
  • Windows 11 (64 bit)
  • newer 64-bit Windows operating systems
  • For information about Linux distributions that support Generation 2 virtual machines, see Linux and FreeBSD Virtual Machines on Hyper-V.

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