How to enable virtualization on Windows 11

Windows 11 enable virtualization
Windows 11 enable virtualization (Image credit: Future)

On Windows 11, virtualization enables you to run multiple instances of Windows 11, older versions, and operating systems from other platforms, such as Linux. In addition, the support allows you to enable other virtualization experiences like Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA).  

Although Windows 11 has virtualization support, it's something that, in most cases, you may have to enable manually in the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware and on the operating system's settings.

This guide will walk you through the steps to enable all the features and components to support virtualization on Windows 11.

How to enable hardware virtualization on Windows 11

To enable hardware virtualization on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Recovery page on the right side.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Under the "Recovery options" section, click the Restart now button for the "Advanced startup" setting.
  2. Click the Restart now button again.
  3. Click on Troubleshoot.
  4. Click on Advanced options.
  5. Click the UEFI Firmware Settings option.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the Restart button.
  2. In the UEFI settings, open the AdvancedConfiguration, or Security page.
  • Quick note: If you need help finding the setting, you may have to check your hardware manufacturer to determine the location to enable the feature.
  1. Turn on virtualization. 
  • Quick note: The feature may have the "Virtualization Technology," "Intel Virtual Technology," or "SVM mode," but the name could be different on the motherboard.
  1. Save the settings.
  2. Restart computer.

Once you complete the steps, the computer will have support for virtualization features on Windows 11. 

How to enable software virtualization on Windows 11

After enabling the virtualization at the hardware level, you can enable the virtualization components available on Windows 11 or install other solutions, such as VMware. (VirtualBox from Oracle doesn't require hardware or software virtualization to be enabled before installation.)

To enable the software virtualization elements on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Apps.
  3. Click the Optional features page on the right side.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Under the "Related settings" section, click the "More Windows features" setting.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Check the Hyper-V option to enable the Microsoft virtualization elements and the tools to create and run virtual machines on Windows 11.
  2. Check the Virtual Machine Platform option to enable the virtualization components to set up other virtualization solutions, such as Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA), or another software that requires this technology.
  3. Check the Windows Hypervisor Platform option to add an extended user-mode API for third-party virtualization stacks and apps.

Windows 11 enable virtualization

(Image credit: Future)
  • Quick note: It's uncommon for regular users to enable this feature. Usually, you will only need to enable this feature if you have to set up a solution that requires it.
  1. Click the OK button.
  2. Click the Restart now button.

After you complete the steps, you can create virtual machines with the Hyper-V manager. Depending on your selection, you can install other solutions like WSL, WSA, and other platforms.

More resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.