About Virtual Machine Templates

A Virtual Machine Manager template provides a standardized group of hardware and software settings that can be used repeatedly to create new virtual machines configured with those settings. In Library view in the Administrator Console, you can use the New template action to open the New Template Wizard used to create a virtual machine template.

Although you can use a number of methods to create a template, you cannot create a template that does not include an operating system. Virtual Machine Manager supports the use of either Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 Server. If you want to create a virtual machine with a blank virtual hard disk on which you install an operating system later, you must use the New Virtual Machine Wizard rather than the New Template Wizard that is described in this topic. For more information about using the New Virtual Machine Wizard, see Creating Virtual Machines.

Template Components

Any template includes the following primary components, whose settings define the characteristics of all virtual machines created by using a specific template:

  • Virtual hard disk. Requires a Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 Server operating system; requires Microsoft Virtual Server Virtual Machine Additions; requires that the System Preparation Tool (Sysprep.exe) is run on the virtual hard disk; and requires a blank local Administrator password.
  • Hardware profile components. Includes fields to specify CPU, memory, IDE devices, and SCSI adapters, network adapters, and so on.
  • Guest operating system components. Includes fields to specify computer identity information, local Administrator password, product key, workgroup or domain, and so on.

You can configure hardware and guest operating system components on a template in any of the following ways:

  • By configuring (and, in some cases, adding) individual hardware or operating system components while running the New Template Wizard.
  • By importing an existing stand-alone hardware profile and/or importing an existing guest operating system profile into the template while running the wizard.
  • By using an existing template as the source for the new template and then modifying any hardware or software settings you want to change.
  • By using an existing deployed virtual machine as the source for the new template and then modifying any hardware or software settings you want to change.

Virtual Machine Manager stores a template in the library catalog in the Virtual Machine Manager database. A template is a database object represented in the Administrator Console in Library view in the Library Servers tree in the results pane when you click the top Library Server node and also in the VMs and Templates node. The template might appear in the VMs and Templates node under a single server or—if its related physical files (such as .vhd files, .iso files or script files) are stored on more than one server—the template might appear in the VMs and Templates node on two or more servers. A template is not represented in Windows Explorer by a physical configuration file.

Before You Start

You can create a template based on an existing virtual hard disk, based on an existing template, or based on an existing virtual machine currently deployed on a host server. You can use templates to create sets of virtual machines that share the same hardware and software configuration. In addition, you can, optionally, create templates specifically for use by self-service users.

The following table describes what you need to know before you begin creating templates.

Description of Each Type of Template

Template Type Description

Templates created from an existing virtual hard disk

When you create a virtual machine from a virtual hard disk, the virtual hard disk must meet the following requirements:

  • The source virtual hard disk file (.vhd file) must be stored on a Virtual Machine Manager library server and thus visible in Library view in a share on a specific library server listed under Library Servers in the Administrator Console.
  • Either Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 Server must be installed on the source virtual hard disk.
  • Virtual Server 2005 Virtual Machine Additions must be installed on the virtual hard disk.
    Alternatively, you can install Virtual Machine Additions as you run the New Template Wizard by adding a virtual DVD drive on the Configure Hardware wizard page, selecting Known image file to browse to and select VMAdditions to add to the virtual DVD drive. Later, when you connect to a virtual machine created by using this template, you can run the Setup utility for VMAdditions from the virtual DVD drive.
    If the Known image file list does not currently include VMAdditions, you can copy the VMAdditions.iso file from Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 (which is installed by default with Virtual Machine Manager). You can find the VMAdditions.iso file in Windows Explorer at <C>:\Program Files\Microsoft Virtual Server\Virtual Machine Additions
  • The System Preparation (Sysprep.exe) tool must be run on the virtual hard disk to ensure that each copy of the operating system is unique when you distribute it to multiple virtual machines.
    You can find Sysprep.exe on any Microsoft Windows Server 2003 (or Microsoft Windows XP Professional) operating system CD. Navigate to the Support\Tools folder, and then open Deploy.cab. The local Administrator password on the sysprepped virtual hard disk must be blank.

Templates created from an existing template

When you use an existing template to create a new template, you can do one of the following:

  • Accept the defaults if you want to create an identical template.
  • Modify hardware or software settings as you run the wizard if you want a new template with one or more settings that vary from the original template.

Templates created from an existing deployed virtual machine

When you create a template from an existing virtual machine, consider the following:

  • The virtual machine that you use as a source to create a template must be a virtual machine that is deployed on a host (not stored in the library).
  • The source virtual machine becomes the new template and is therefore no longer available as a virtual machine after the New Template Wizard completes.


You cannot avoid destroying the virtual machine if you use the virtual machine to create a template. However, before you run the New Template Wizard, you can first create an identical copy of the source virtual machine by using the Clone virtual machine action in the Administrator Console in the Actions pane in Virtual Machines view.

Templates created for use by self-service users

When you create a self-service policy (to enable a user or group of users to create or manage their own virtual machines), you can optionally include a template in the self-service policy to enable users to perform the following tasks:

  • All self-service users can modify the computer name on the guest operating system profile on a template.
  • Users to whom you grant appropriate privileges can also modify the Administrator password and Product Key number on the guest operating system profile on a template.


    Self-service users cannot modify any settings on the hardware profile on a template.

For more information about self-service policies, including optionally setting virtual machine quotas and enabling shared or individual ownership of virtual machines by self-service users, see About Virtual Machine Self-Service.

See Also


About Guest Operating System Profiles
About Hardware Profiles
About Virtual Machine Self-Service
Configuring Profiles and Templates
How to Create a Virtual Machine Template