USB devices and Hyper-V – remote client yes, host no

At TechEd in New Orleans, Microsoft has announced that the version of Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 – a typical Microsoft mouthful – will include support for generic USB devices. That is, you can remote into a Hyper-V VM, plug in your USB camera, scanner or bar-code reader, and it will be re-directed to the remote desktop.

It’s a welcome feature, and removes one of the annoyances of working on a remote desktop. However, there is another scenario that Microsoft has not addressed, which is support for USB devices on the Hyper-V host. For example, USB drives are often used for backup, but if you plug a USB drive into a Hyper-V host, it is not easy to use it for backup from within a Hyper-V guest. Well, there are ways, but you are not going to like any of them – mount the drive in the host, mark it as offline, attach it to the guest using pass-through, and so on.

So will Hyper-V ever support USB devices in the host as well as on remote clients? I asked about this, and was told that it is not a priority, because although the topic comes up regularly, it is “not in the top ten feature requests”.

That’s a shame. Even if Microsoft supported only USB storage devices, it would help significantly with tasks like backing up Small Business Server when run on a virtual machine.

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