Windows Server 8 Developer Preview Running on VMware Workstation 8

I’m pretty excited that I was able to get Windows Server 8 up and running on my laptop today. I wasn’t really looking forward to having to boot from VHD just to check out some of the features. I really wanted to run multiple copies of Windows Server 8 at the same time so I could check out some of the cool new clustering features, so once again, booting my laptop from a VHD really wasn’t going to give me the experience I needed. I do have some servers running Hyper-V that would have been fine, but I really like having something quick and easy on my laptop that I can fire up anywhere at any time. VMware Workstation has been my go to virtualization platform for my Windows 7 laptop for quite some time due to the lack of a real client based hypervisor alternative from Microsoft.

When I downloaded the Windows Server 8 Developer Preview Edition from MSDN earlier this week I was assuming I was getting an installation ISO. What I discovered was that I actually downloaded a pre-installed VHD. I haven’t gone back yet to check to see if there is an ISO, but from reading the blogs it appears there is an ISO available somewhere, so I probably just grabbed the wrong file. Without a Hyper-V player available for Windows 7 (well, maybe VirtualBox?), I decided to get really crazy and try out the free Starwind V2V Converter and turn it into a bootable VMDK file so I could launch it in VMware Workstation.

I found the Starwind V2V Converter to be very straight forward and soon enough I had a VMDK file ready to launch in VMware Workstation. What I soon found out was that you cannot run Windows Server 8 Developer Preview in VMware Workstation 7; you need the newly released Workstation 8. In VMware Workstation you get a message that begins as follows…

*** VMware Workstation internal monitor error ***
vcpu-0:NOT_IMPLEMENTED vmcore/vmm/intr/apic.c:1903

So, I went ahead and upgrade to Workstation 8 and tried to turn on the converted VMDK file. At first I got a message about hardware being changed and the VM would not start, but after I adjusted the processor so that it match the processor that I have (1 CPU, 2 Core) the VM launched! One other setting you need to make sure to set right is the operating system version. Since Windows 8 is not an option yet, choose Windows 7. Windows 7 x64 doesn’t work – make sure you choose Windows 7!

I tried to install the VMware tools, but that didn’t work out so well for me as I simply got a black screen with a pointer after the tools were installed. Until they come out with VMware tools specific for Windows 8 I would avoid installing the VMware tools for the time being.

Here is my first view of Windows 8. I’ll be writing more about the HA features and Hyper-V next week once I start poking around J

Windows Server 8 Developer Preview Running on VMware Workstation 8

7 thoughts on “Windows Server 8 Developer Preview Running on VMware Workstation 8

  1. HT says:

    For me, VMWare tools installed correct on Windows 8.

    I got the same black screen on Windows 8 Server, this is what is shown on the black screen:

    “Complete activation now”. Your PC is not yet activated. Go to the Control Panel to complete activation.”

    I can’t find out a way to get to control panel…

  2. SlickBag says:

    When installing the VMware Tools on Windows Server 8 Developer Preview, choose custom install and then disable the SVGA video driver under the drivers section. This will prevent the black screen problem you describe. I have not found a way to to fix this after the fact – so in my case I had to start fresh with a new VM and trash the “black screened” version.

  3. Install VMware tools but ensure that enable 3d Graphics Acceleration is enabled within the VM configuration. I know – odd for a server….. but must be related to Metro

  4. daveberm says:

    A few other things I have run into…

    – adding additional NICs seems to be buggy. Many time’s I tried to add a NAT only or VM only NIC and it wound up being a bridged NIC. Playing around I can usually get it to behave but if you want a customer NIC try using something other than the default VMNet0 network, I finally got it to work on VMNet3.
    – I don’t always get the “Search” to appear when clicking on the start menu.
    – Easiest way to manage is to create your own MMC on your desktop and add all the tools you want.
    – I couldn’t add an iSCSI disk, I had to use IDE when adding another hard drive.

    1. daveberm says:

      Figured out the search thing. You have to put your curson on the very bottom left hand corner of the Start menu. I’m sure that is documented somewhere 🙂

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