Upgrade your VMware Workstation and ESXi VMs to Windows 10 or Windows 2016, despite warnings about VMware SVGA incompatibility

Posted by Paul Braren on Oct 14 2015 (updated on Oct 15 2016) in
  • Virtualization
  • ESXi
  • Windows
  • The Problem.

    You download the Windows 10 upgrade app, or you click on that little Windows 10 upgrade icon lurking in your system tray. Then you wait for the verdict. Suspenseful lull. Only to have your heart broken when this nasty warning comes up:

    Unfortunately, this PC is unable to run Windows 10.

    We're sorry to let you know that this PC can't upgrade to Windows 10 because one or more things are incompatible. See right for details.

    Compatiblity issue:

    VMware SVGA 3D
    The display manufacturer hasn't made your display compatible with Windows 10. Check with the manufacturer for support.

    View report.
    Check out new PCs
    No thanks, maybe later

    Unfortunately, this PC is unable to run Windows 10

    Yeah right, sure you're sorry. A subtle ploy to help us keep Hyper-V in mind, eh? ;-)

    C'mon Microsoft, we don't give up so easily. And we can run Hyper-V under ESXi!

    Of course this upgrade will work. TinkerTry readers, don't let this dumb message stop you. At first, you might think temporarily removing VMware Tools just for the upgrade would help, so you'd then have a generic Microsoft VGA driver. Nope, doesn't help, not without further tweaks anyway, explained here. But that's OK, there's an even easier way, especially if you already have the windows.iso installer media. Just use the following fix that I tested out when upgrading an ESXi 6.0 Update 1 VM from Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit to Windows 10 Pro 64 bit today, thought you might like it.

    Please drop your comments below this article, to let us know if this workaround gets your upgrade started.

    The Fix (VMware Workstation/Player/Fusion/ESXi).

    1. create a snapshot of this VM, so you can quickly roll back in case things go wrong
    2. download the media creation tool from Microsoft
    3. launch the tool, select "Create installation media for another PC"
    4. [vSphere 6.0 / ESXi 6.0 users only] use Datastore Browser to upload this ISO to a datastore
    5. VMware Workstation/ESXi users can now connect this ISO to your VM
    6. run setup.exe from this new driver letter that appears in your VM
    7. the rest is just a regular Windows 10 / Windows 2016 upgrade from here forward
    8. when the install is done, don't forget to dismount the ISO from your VM, it's no longer needed
    9. once you are convinced the upgrade went well, you can delete the snapshot, and/or run Windows 10 Disk Cleanup, Clean up system files to reclaim about 10GB of storage (the Windows un-install/rollback directory)

    The Fix (Step-by-Step Video).

    Step-by-step video, that starts with ESXi 6.0 Update 1 and the windows.iso file already on a datastore.


    See also

    This article and video was produced entirely on a TinkerTry SuperServer Workstation.