Running Windows 7 on VM ESXi 3.5

Since VM ESXi 3.5 is officially not capable of hosting virtual Windows 7 machines, its not surprising that there are some problems if you try it anyway.

We found a way – thanks to several posts of the VMware Community – which we want to preserve here:

  1. Set up a new virtual machine using the Windows Vista (32 or 64 bit) template (some believe only the XP template works).
  2. After complete installation, Windows 7 hangs up while booting
  3. Power down the VM and turn off the network adapter
  4. Boot again and do an advanced install of the VMware Tools excluding SVGA drivers as well as drivers for performance measurement.
  5. Turn off the VM.
  6. Change network adapter option in the .VMX file from ‘ethernet0.virtualDev = “e1000”’ to ‘ethernet0.virtualDev = “vmxnet”’.
  7. Enable the network adapter at ‘power on’.
  8. Now it should boot without problems!

Additional Remarks

  • Migrating an existing or even fresh VM with Windows 7 onto a VM ESXi 3.5 did not work at all. VM ESXi tags the machine as ‘invalid’.
  • Detailed Information about VM network adapters can be found in the references.
  • We have not tested it for the 64bit version, though, the problem should be the same.
  • Another solution, of course, is upgrading your VM ESX to ESXi 5.

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