Tips for installing Windows 7 x32 SP1 on Workstation 16.1.2
This past weekend I needed to install Windows 7 x32 to support some older software. After installing Windows 7 x32 I noticed VMware tools is grayed out. I then tried to install VMware tools manually but it failed. There are a few tricks when installing Windows 7 x32 on to Workstation 16.1.2 and in this blog I’ll cover the the steps I took.
So what changed and why all these extra steps?
You may recall that Workstation 16.0.0 could install Windows 7SP1 x32 without any additional intervention. Starting September 2019, Microsoft added SHA-2 algorithm requirements for driver signing. As Workstation 16 released updates it too included updated VMtools that were complaint with the Microsoft SHA-2 requirements. So if you deploy the Windows 7 SP1 x32 ISO (which doesn’t have the SHA-2 patch) the vmtools install will fail because it cannot validate the drivers. For a bit more information See VMware KB 78655.
What are options to fix this?
By default Windows 7×32 SP1 doesn’t include the needed SHA-2 updates. Users have 2 options when doing new installs.
Option 1: Create an updated Windows 7SP1 ISO by slip streaming in the Convenience Rollup Patch (More details here) and then use this slipstreamed ISO to do the install on Workstation. From there you should be able to install VMTools.
Option 2: After Windows 7 SP1 installation is complete, manually install the SHA-2 update, and then install VMtools. See steps below.
Steps for Option 2:
- First I created a new Workstation VM. When creating it I made sure the ISO path pointed to the Windows 7 SP1 ISO and Workstation adjusted the VM hardware to be compatible with Windows 7 SP1. I allowed the OS installation to complete.
- After the OS was installed I applied the following MS Patch.
- VMware Tools requires Windows 7 SP1 to have KB4474419 update installed, See https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/78708
- I downloaded this patch (2019-09 Security Update for Windows 7 for x86-based Systems (KB4474419)) directly to the newly create Windows 7 VM and installed it.
- Download TIP – To download this update, I needed to right click on the *.msu link > choose save link as > pushed the up arrow next to ‘Discard’ and choose ‘Keep’ > and saved it to a folder
- After the rebooted, I went into Workstation and did the following:
- Right clicked on the VM > Settings > CD/DVD
- Made sure ‘Devices status’ was check for connected and connect at power on
- Clicked on ‘Use ISO Image’ > Browse
- Browsed to this folder ‘C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Workstation’
- Choose ‘windows.iso’
- Choose OK to closed the VM Settings
- Back in the Windows 7 VM I went into File Explorer opened up the CD and ran setup.exe
- From there I followed the default steps to install VM Tools and rebooted
- Screenshot of the final outcome