Windows 7 Beta on Vi4 with VMware View3

I’m working on my new “Operations Guide” to VMware Virtual Infrastructure 4. I’ve been on the beta program for some months.

I’m moving off into documenting the brand new features, such as Distributed vSwitches and Host Profiles, but before I started on those I turned my attention to adding a VDI chapter to the operations guide. It’s not intended to be used as as an all-you-need-to-know chapter, but as a “jumpstart” or “getting started” guide to VMware’s most current VDI offering – VMware View 3. It just so happened that this time it coincided with the release of Microsoft Windows 7 Beta. 

So this is what I’ve done. I got Windows 7 Beta 64-bit installed and running on ESX4. Then I got VMware Viewer installed and working with VirtualCenter4. That was a big relief. I was worried that perhaps VirtualCenter had changed so much that View3 wouldn’t work. But it worked like a charm right out of the box. I think that’s a sign that VirtualCenter is stabilizing enough that it can change, while older systems that might not have been tested or "QA’d" against a new release still function.

It wasn’t all plain sailing. Firstly, Windows 7 doesn’t like the USB Redirection Service which comes as part of the VMware Agent. So I had to opt not to install it. Secondly, the “pass-through” feature didn’t work with Windows 7. Pass-through allows the user to log into the View Client, and have these credentials passed on to the Windows Virtual Desktop. I suspect that the GINA

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(the graphical log in DLLs that make up the ctrl+alt-del process) have changed in Windows 7 from Windows Vista and, as a consequence, VMware will have to issue an update to the client when they decide to support Windows 7. Thirdly, I decided to install the Window 7 64-bit version. I used Windows Vista 64-bit as the guest operating system during the Windows 7 install.  Then I installed the 64-bit edition of VMware Tools. That worked like a charm. Also, the VMware Agent installed to Windows 7 64-bit without a problem. Finally, to get this Windows 7 virtual desktop recognized by VMware View I toggled the guest operating system pull-down list to be the Windows Vista 32-bit Edition. It was only half-way thru this build when I remembered that VMware, VDM, and View don’t currently support the 64-bit editions of Windows. Still, I was able to “blag and bluff” my way round that lack of support/QA…

I’m hoping that Windows 7 might make virtual desktops more popular. As time goes by, it's going to become increasingly difficult to hang on to Windows XP. But, generally the corporate market has given Vista the thumbs down with its disk and memory footprint. I’m hoping with thinly-provisioned disks being available in Vi4, that business will jump-over Vista and go straight from XP to Windows 7. That said, I’m still finding that 2GB RAM is needed to make Windows 7 workable….

Anyway, if you're interested, there are some screen grabs of my installation of Windows 7 and my VMware Viewer configuration…

The Install of Windows 7 to Vi4 Virtual Machine:

The Connection of the View Client to a Windows 7 64-bit Virtual Desktop

This was first published in January 2009

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