A few weeks back I wrote an article on how to run Windows 8 Developer Preview on ESXi 5, which required a small trick to get working. Today, it looks like Microsoft just released the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Windows 8 Server. For those looking to give these a try, you can do so by using vSphere 5.

Disclaimer: VMware still does not officially support Windows 8 on vSphere, this is mainly for educational and testing purposes. Do not use this in a production environment

UPDATE (06/02/12): The steps below are the same for the recent release of Windows 8 Release Preview and Windows Server 2008 (Windows 8 Server) RC.

Here are the three easy steps to run Windows 8 on ESXi 5

  1. Download and install ESXi500-201112001 (patch02) from VMware patch repository.
  2. Create either a Windows 7 or Windows 2008 R2 regular VM (You will need to use e1000 network driver, VMXNET3 does not work)
  3. Install Windows 8 Consume Preview or Server using the ISO (tested with 64bit) 

Note: Unlike the Developer Preview, no additional tweaks are needed to install Windows 8 Consumer Preview other than the ESXi 5.0 patch. 

    When you first boot up Windows 8, you should see this fish logo. Be patient and give it a few minutes to load:

     Shortly after, you will be prompted to start the installation:

    Here is a screenshot of Windows 8 Consumer Preview running on ESXi 5.0:

    Here is a screenshot of Windows 8 Server running on ESXi 5.0:

    Here is a screenshot of Windows 8 Server w/Hyper-V role enabled running on ESXi 5.0:

    To enable Hyper-V role, you will need to perform the following changes:

    • Update the guestOS to Windows 8 64bit using the vSphere Client
    • Add the following CPUID bits using the vSphere Client
    • Add the advanced setting using the vSphere Client hypervisor.cpuid.v0 = FALSE as described by this article as well as mce.enabled = TRUE (this is a new parameter introduced in ESXi 5) which is needed to run Hyper-V3 in Windows 8
    • Install Hyper-V role
    • Shutdown host
    • Remove advanced setting using the vSphere Client
    • Host should now boot and you should see the Hyper-V manager interface

    Note: You can install VMware Tools on either Windows 8 releases by right clicking on the VM->Guest->Install VMware Tools. If you install VMware Tools on Windows 8 Server, you may need to enable 3D support if you get a black screen after installation as noted in this article.

    So if you are itching to try out the new Windows 8 Consumer Preview or Server, you can install it and run it on vSphere 5!

    15 thoughts on “How to Run Windows 8 Consumer Preview & Windows 8 Server on vSphere 5

    1. No, no tools specifically for Windows 8. But you can install VMware tools by manually getting ESXi 5.0 Patch 02’s version of tools called windows.iso into the VM (network share or cut and paste via remote desktop). Next, right-click mount the ISO, then run setup64.exe and the tools install fine, except for the video driver, which doesn’t really matter for RDP control anyway.

      I outlined the method, and made video of the process, over at:
      http://tinkertry.com/windows-8-consumer-preview-on-esxi-5/

      If you prefer, you can jump right to the proper spot in the video where I install tools here:
      http://youtu.be/z4Py5y32iUI?hd=1&t=43m42s

    Thanks for the comment!