Jul 17, 2015

How to hack VMWare ESXi 4.1 to run Windows 2012 R2

Before we get too far, you are probably asking, "Why not just upgrade to VMWare 5.5" or something right? Well, there could be a number of reasons why someone wouldn't want to upgrade from VMWare 4.1 to 5.5. Maybe they have a budget issue. Who knows? Maybe stop judging!

Anyway, we have the need for Windows 2012 R2 virtual servers in my environment, and we're currently running VMWare 4.1 still, and can't upgrade to the latest and greatest until next year. The problem is that Windows 2012 R2 isn't currently supported in VMWare 4.1. If you are in a similar situation, don't dispare. There is a hack that works to make Windows 2012 R2 run in VMWare 4.1.

  • Create a new VM using the Windows 2008 R2 template but don't power it on
  • Download this bios.440.rom file, then upload it to the same directory where your new VM files are located on the ESXi server.
  • Now edit the vmx file for your new VM using your favorite text editor, and add the following lines to the bottom of the file:
bios440.filename = "bios.440.rom"
mce.enable = TRUE
cpuid.hypervisor.v0 = FALSE
vmGenCounter.enable = FALSE
  • Now power on your VM and you should be able to install like normal!
Here is a screenshot from a test VM I made:

Officially this is unsupported by VMWare, but if you need Windows 2012 now, it will work and it's a lot easier than upgrading your entire environment.

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