With Hyper-V RC0 now available, [Update: 26th June 2008. Hyper-V RTM is now available. RC0 is pre-release software] the ideal solution for controlling VMs remotely is to use the Hyper-V management tools from another Windows Server 2008 machine, or from Vista SP1 – the Vista tools being available shortly. However, many people like to use a Remote Desktop (mstsc) session to the Hyper-V parent partition, and use Virtual Machine Connection in that session. In Hyper-V beta, mouse control in this scenario is erratic and effectively unusable (Ben has more information here). For that reason, we now explicitly block mouse capturing in Hyper-V RC0 when using Virtual Machine Connection over a TS session and display a message that the Mouse is not captured in the Remote Desktop session.
Maybe I’ve been using computers for way too long, but clearly from email’s I been receiving, many people struggle to use Windows without a mouse. Once you get the hang of it, I promise, it really isn’t that hard. The secret sauce is knowing a few key presses or how to get to a command prompt. Many times, a command prompt is sufficient, so let’s start with one way. (Obviously this also assumes you are not using a Server Core installation). Take a look at the toolbar and menu in Virtual Machine Connection. You can either click the icon on the far left, or select Ctrl-Alt-Delete from the Action menu.
From here, you can hit Tab 4 times to select "Start Task Manager" and hit Enter.
By default, Windows Task Manager is always on top of other windows. While that sometimes isn’t a bad thing, once you start a command prompt, it can get in the way. So, you can use Options/Always On Top to change that behaviour. You do that by Alt+O to select Options, then just hit Enter as Always On Top is the first action on the menu.
Getting to a command prompt AND being able to see it’s contents is now pretty simple. From Task Manager, select File (Alt+F) and New Task (Enter), type cmd and hit Enter.
But what if you aren’t logged on as local administrator, and want a command prompt run as administrator? Now you need a few more of those "secret sauce" keys. The first step is being able to get to the start menu. For that, Alt-Home is your friend. The command prompt is by default pinned to the start menu.
So you can press the arrow up key a few times. But that still doesn’t get round the case where you want to run it as an administrator. This is where the next key sequence, Shift-F10, comes in. Move up to the Command Prompt item using up-arrow and press Shift-F10. This displays the context menu, the equivalent of right-clicking on something. You then have the option of "Run as administrator"
What if I wanted to get to the drop-down menu in a command prompt (the one at the top-left) to maximize it or use Edit/Mark and Edit/Paste? Well for that, you need Alt-Delete.
What if I had a few applications running, and I want to switch between them. The answer is the keys Alt+PageUp and Alt+PageDown. These are the equivalent to Alt-Tab and Alt-ShiftTab in a regular machine.
With that set of keyboard knowledge, plus remembering Tab and Shift-Tab to change focus from one control to another in a window, you can pretty much navigate Windows in a VM in it’s entirety.Of course, Hyper-V has another trick up it’s sleeve which also helps. Under Hyper-V settings on Hyper-V Manager, you can choose where to redirect Windows key combinations. The default setting though is for they keys to be used on the physical computer.
Usually with the above knowledge, you can get far enough to install service packs where needed, and the integration services for Hyper-V so that you get mouse control back again. Happy keyboarding. Time to throw that mouse away? I challenge you 😉