How to get Windows 11 Insider Preview running as a VMware ESXi 7 VM

Posted by Paul Braren on Aug 1 2021 (updated on Aug 3 2021) in
  • ESXi
  • HowTo
  • Virtualization
  • VMUGAdvantage
  • vSphere7
  • Windows
  • Step-by-step upgrade instructions and video below! If you already have a Windows 11 ISO you trust, then a cleaner fresh-install approach is already well documented by Al Rasheed at Creating a Windows 11 Virtual Machine with vSphere7.

    Windows 11 has had quite a bit of attention since it's release as a Windows Insider Preview, and much of the controversy has surrounded the ability to run it under systems without TPM 2.0 or with CPUs as little as 3 years old. All that aside, what about running it as a VM? Specifically, does it work fine under VMware vSphere, using the latest ESXi 7.0 Update 2a? Let's find out!

    Prerequisites

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    During this beta test phase, it seems Microsoft is pretty liberal about what is required when installing this in a VM. Thankfully, unlike when you try to install this on physical hardware like my Xeon D-1541 system, you don't even need to have TPM 2.0 and/or Secure Boot enabled for it to work in a VM. This may change once Windows 11 goes GA (Generally Avaialable).

    This procedure has only been TinkerTry'd with VMware vSphere 7 VM, using this configuration:

    • VMware ESXi 7.0 Update 2 hypervisor
    • VM Hardware Version 19
    • VM Windows 10 20H2 Build 19042.1083
    • VMXNET 3 network type
    • VMware Tools version:11333

    Step-by-step Upgrade

    Until a legitimate way to download the Windows 11 Insider Preview ISO comes along, this is the way I got my home lab to have a Windows 11 VM to kick the tires on.

    To register for the Windows Insider Program, visit:

    In your Windows 10 VM:

    1. click Start, type "Insider" then the Windows Insider Program Settings page comes up
    2. click "Go to Diagnostics & Feedback settings to turn on optional diagnostic data."
      Diagnostic
    3. select "Optional diagnostic data", close the window
      Optional-diagnostic-data
    4. click Start, type "Insider", then the Windows Insider Program Settings page comes up
    5. click the "Get-started" button
      Get-started
    6. click "Link an account" to add your Microsoft account
      Link-an-account
    7. select Dev Channel then close Window
      Dev-Channel-chosen
    8. click Start, type "Windows Update" and hit enter
    9. click "Check for updates" button, you should see "Windows 11 Inside Preview" start to download and install automatically, with several reboots before it's ready
      windows-update
    10. you're done with the installation, enjoy Windows 11!

    Video


    Aug 02 2021 Update

    Al Rasheed let me know about his great article, so I pre-pended my article above with the link to his fantastic work.

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    See also at TinkerTry

    easy-update-to-latest-esxi

    task-manager-resource-monitor-deep-dive-windows-server-2012-and-windows-8

    See also

    creating-a-windows-11-virtual-machine-with-vsphere7

    GUID-A43B6914-E5F9-4CB1-9277-448AC9C467FB
    • Securing Virtual Machines with Virtual Trusted Platform Module
      Updated Dec 15 2020 at VMware Docs

      With the Virtual Trusted Platform Module (vTPM) feature, you can add a TPM 2.0 virtual cryptoprocessor to a virtual machine.

      A vTPM is a software-based representation of a physical Trusted Platform Module 2.0 chip. A vTPM acts as any other virtual device. You can add a vTPM to a virtual machine in the same way you add virtual CPUs, memory, disk controllers, or network controllers. A vTPM does not require a hardware Trusted Platform Module chip.


    Social

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    It sure does, thank you @al_rasheed!

    I've prepended a link to Al's clean-install-from-ISO method https://TinkerTry.com/windows-11-as-ws-11-as-a-vmware-esxi-vm

    It'll be interesting to see if UEFI, Secure Boot, and maybe even vTPM
    https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/7.0/com.vmware.vsphere.vm_admin.doc/GUID-A43B6914-E5F9-4CB1-9277-448AC9C467FB.html
    will all be required once Windows 11 goes GA late 2021