Windows 8 (RTM) runs fine on ESXi 5.0 Update 1 Build 623860, and Build 768111

Posted by Paul Braren on Aug 15 2012 in
  • ESXi
  • Virtualization
  • Windows
  • This post will be updated throughout the next few days, come back and hit refresh for the latest screenshots and most accurate information, possibly including a quick test of the 32 bit version as well...

    (Update 11:56pm ET Aug 15 2012, Windows 8 Pro x86 install is nearly identical to the screenshots below, instead choosing Microsoft Windows 8 (32-bit), and leaving the BIOS alone (no UEFI needed)

    Nice Seattle photo apparently for the final RTM version of the login screen, purple Metro UI, and flowery desktop apparently chosen, for this final build 9200. Note also that "Build 9200" always shows on the desktop, no registry tweaking required. Well, at least until you activate your license key.



    Ok, now that we're done looking at the scenery, let me point out that I've already had the chance to try out Windows 8 RTM (Release To Manufacture) code in several VMs, thanks to the power of vZilla. This release is the same exact bits as the actual GA (Generally Available) code release on October 26,2012.

    While the MSDN site was swamped starting at the 1pm ET release of the code, finally, by 1:30pm eastern, I was able to finally locate the file I wanted by searching MSDN for "Windows 8 Pro", since it wasn't showing in any other views.

    I then kicked off the download, and after about 30 tries, the Akamai based Download Manager (using IE ActiveX) came up, and within 15 minutes, I had the file named en_windows_8_pro_vl_x64_dvd_917699.iso completely downloaded.

    And now that I've taken Windows 8 Pro x64 out for a sping, (videos below), I'm relieved to say Windows 8 x64 runs fine under ESXi 5.0 Update 1. Even smoother with ESXi patched to Build 768111 and it's recent VMware Tools drivers. The only trickery All you have to do is either:

    a) pretend it's Windows 7 x64, since telling ESXi it's Windows 8 x64 gives you the usual hang after the first reboot

    b) set the VM to Windows 8 x64, with a UEFI BIOS

    That's pretty easy, either way. You'll also see a little Windows UI Tutorial video that runs during the second reboot, to get you used to the new UI. Same video comes up when I deploy from the template (cloned, but with new virtual hardware).

    I had Windows 8 working and configured within about 15 minutes of completing the download from Microsoft. The install itself took under 5 minutes. Even the VMware Tools Full Install was simple.


    1080p step-by-step (yeah, that took Camtasia Studio 8 a while to render and upload to YouTube, but I think you'll agree the wait was worthwhile)

    You can witness my very first install attempt, from beginning to end, right over here:

    • using the pretend it's Windows 7 x64 technique:

    And here's take 2, much cleaner, but also a much more time consuming approach
    (I suspect no patches will be needed, once ESXi 5.1 comes out)

    • ESXi 5.0 Update 1 patched to build 768111 first
    • create a Windows 8 x64 VM set to UEFI BIOS type
    • install newest VMware Tools (that the latest patched ESXi provided)
    • some best practices tips including handy auto-login, and extremely rapid deployment from template:


    For reference, here's the actual MSDN download details that I used
    (I cannot get to the Retail versions, just the VL versions, but all function and screenshots and videos should be very similar, and VL version does not require license keys to install):

    Windows 8 Pro VL (x64) - DVD (English)
    ISO|English|Release Date: 8/15/2012|Details
    3327 MB
    File Name: en_windows_8_pro_vl_x64_dvd_917699.iso
    Languages: English
    SHA1: 6DDEDEBE40AB59CB11823F62F475C43C4053FE60

    Note that the Windows Experience Index wasn't exactly spectacular as far as graphical performance (2.0) in vSphere Client Console, even with the VM's Video Adapter type set to 3D:


    Also note that Microsoft has disabled Aero both on the local console (and on physical hardware), and disabled Aero via Remote Desktop Connection as well, which used to work, seen here:

    I'll be doing some more work to test installing the better VMware video driver, if that's even possible, doesn't look too promising, based on my poking around the drivers folders, and the comments over here.

    See also how much easier the installation has gotten since Windows 8 Consumer Preview:

    and the good old "Windows 8 operating system does not boot or install on ESXi or ESX" article on VMware's site since May:

    You'll still have the best experience, using the Windows 8 Style UI (formerly Metro) and Sound, over Remote Desktop Connection in full screen mode (making moving the mouse to the corners easier).

    RECIPE (new screenshots in progress)

    How to install Windows 8 Pro x64 in an ESXi 5.0 Build 768111 Virtual Machine

    1) Update
    if your version of ESXi doesn't already show as Build 623860 (Update 1) or later, with the latest being 76881 which you can read all about here, which will also get you the most recent VMware Tools version for Windows 8 guests. The general update technique is seen here:

    Here's the actual steps for obtaining and installing Build 768111, along with nice :

    a) download the zip bundle here:

    b) use WinSCP to put the file into the root of a datastore on the ESXi host you wish to patch, make note of the VMFS datastore name

    c) stop all workload on the ESXi host (shutdown all VMs), and if you'd like, right-click on the ESXi host and put it into maintenance mode

    d) issue the following exact command from a PuTTY session to the VMFS datastore where you put the zip file, substituing your VMFS datastore name for SSDRAID0:
    esxcli software vib update --depot=/vmfs/volumes/_SSDRAID0_/

    e) reboot ESXi

    f) install latest vSphere client
    you can do this by pointing your browser to the ESXi host and clicking on the download link there, which points here:

    This entire procedure is seen very near the beginning of the second video above (here), if you need more detail.

    2) Download the Windows 8 64-bit (x64) 3.3GB ISO
    from this search for "Windows 8 Pro" at MSDN here
    License key is not needed for the initial installation
    depending upon the type of MSDN or Technet, you have, you may be downloading a Retail version instead, and don't forget to grab license keys, only for activation of VMs that you intend to keep

    3) Upload the ISO you just downloaded to the ESXi datastore, using free Veeam FastSCP (6x faster) or vSphere Client Datastore Browser (slow)

    4) Create Windows 8 Pro x64 Virtual Machine
    follow along carefully, verifying you have each checkbox set correctly:

    (Update 11:56pm ET Aug 15th, Windows 8 Pro x86 install is nearly identical to the screenshots below, instead choosing Microsoft Windows 8 (32-bit), and leaving the BIOS alone (no UEFI needed)

    If you thin provision (pretend you have more storage available than you physically do
    , be sure to watch your VMFS filesystem available disk space very very carefully!)
    Get ready to click with your mouse to give the console focus, then press any key to get the virtual UEFI BIOS to boot from the virtual DVD!
    **5) Install VMware Tools** Once installed and booted, you can finally install VMware Tools the usual way in vSphere Client, "Typical Install" seen being kicked off below:
    --- ## ICING ON THE CAKE: **RDP connection for lag free mousing around, don't forget to try multiple monitors over RDP for a real treat!** - Enable Remote Desktop Connection in the virtual machine. Configure a Remote Desktop Connection session from your workstation, ideally using Display tab for Fullscreen setting, which will make moving the mouse to the corners a lot easier (for Charms, etc.) - Keep in mind that at least 768  minimum vertical resolution is required by Metro, and leave bring sound, and turn on sound and all the high bandwidth options. - Finally, be sure to turn on the remote keyboard option (see screenshot below), to allow you to use the crucial Win+Q (find) and Win+C (charms) menus, even in windowed (non-fullscreen) remote sessions:
    Under Keyboard, be sure your Windows key combos are sent to the Remote Desktop Connection by choosing “On the remote computer”