How to install VMware Tools for Easy Cross-Hypervisor Migrations


This is a companion article to the Hyper-V Integration Services Installation article I did recently.

If you are looking to move a non-VMware based machine to VMware with minimal headaches then this is the article for you. These steps were meant to be used with Zerto Virtual Replication, however, they can be used independently too. With Zerto you can move VM’s from Azure, AWS, or Hyper-V to VMware quickly, and these steps will make the process even smoother.

Don’t overcomplicate this procedure

To an operating system, a virtual machine is a real computer, consisting of various hardware components like a motherboard, PCI bus, network card, USB controller, SCSI controller, etc. All of these devices require drivers in order for an operating system to use them properly. Ideally, Microsoft and VMware would have presented the same virtual hardware to the OS… but they didn’t.

If you have ever built your own PC, or are older than 30, then you know that Windows doesn’t always come with all the drivers that you need and you have probably loaded drivers via a disk or some other media in the past. That is the same process that installing VMware tools does for a VMware VM.

So at the end of the day… all we are doing is installing some drivers on a computer.

The goal

By the time you are done with the steps here, our goal is to have a Windows VM that can “wake up” on a VMware hypervisor (ESXi) with little or no intervention. To be successful we need to assign a new IP address and configure the networking. Zerto Virtual Replication (ZVR) is able to orchestrate this migration very easily assuming the VMware tools are installed while the VM is on the VMware host. Once Zerto Virtual Replication’s Cardhu release is generally available this procedure should also work for moving AWS VMs back on-premises to VMware.

The catch

VMware decided to put a “check” in the installation process of VMware tools to check to make sure the Windows machine you are installing tools on, is in fact, a VMware virtual machine. This means that out of the box you cannot install VMware tools on anything but a VMware virtual machine. Not to worry though, we can get around it.

How to make it work

The first thing that we need to do is use an existing Windows virtual machine that is on a VMware hypervisor to get the VMware tools installation packages. Once we have the packages we can then use a special tool from Microsoft to crack open the MSI package and remove the “VMware Virtual Machine” check from the installation process.

Here is a video walkthrough of the entire process. It shows the steps I used to gather the VMware tools installation packages, how to get them to a machine with ORCA (Microsofts MSI modification tool), as resulting package that is able to be installed on a Hyper-V VM, and finally, Zerto doing a migration of the VM from Hyper-V to vSphere.



As you can see, migration from a non-VMware platform to VMware couldn’t be easier than with Zerto. The only roadblock is when the guest operating system does not have the required device drivers for the platform you are migrating to. If your situation is reversed, make sure to check out my other blog post on how to install Hyper-V Integration Services on a non-Hyper-V VM. That is one of the greatest things about Zerto, we do not care what platform you have chosen… we want to give you the freedom to take your data to whatever platform you want.

Thanks for reading!

If you are not interested in removing the VM check yourself, I have a copy of VMtools with it already removed!

Use this form to register for the download link. (using this method so you are forced to click I agree on the disclaimer). Remember VMware and VMware tools are copyright VMware Inc… not me, these tools are just provided to help save you a little time if you are trying to migrate to the VMware platform.

After filling out the form you will get an email with a download link to my file share.


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