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Using Windows Server 2008 R2 as a desktop operating system in VMware Horizon View 5.3.x (2057605)

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In VMware Horizon View 5.3.x, you can use Windows Server 2008 R2 (Data center edition) virtual machines managed by vCenter Server as virtual machines for View desktop deployment.
Note: Only the Data center edition of Windows Server 2008 R2 is supported for View desktop deployment. Other editions, including Standard edition, have not been tested by VMware.
This feature is disabled by default. To enable this feature in View 5.3.x, you must perform these steps:
  1. Manually set an attribute in View LDAP to make View Administrator treat Windows Server 2008 R2 as a supported operating system for View desktops.
  2. Explicitly install View Agent in desktop mode on the Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual machines that you plan to use as desktop sources or templates. If you do not perform this step, View Agent configures the Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual machines as terminal server sources.

Important: You do not need to perform these steps in Horizon 6.0 with View. For information about using a Windows 2008 R2 virtual machine as a desktop in Horizon 6.0 with View, see the Prepare Windows Server 2008 R2 for Desktop Use section in the Creating and Preparing Virtual Machines Guide.


To run View Administrator with Windows 2008 R2 as a supported operating system for View desktops:

  1. On your View Connection Server host, start the ADSI Edit utility. For more information, see Connecting to the View ADAM Database (2012377).
  2. Navigate to the object DC=vdi,DC=vmware,DC=int > OU=Properties > OU=Global > CN=Common.
  3. In the Attribute Editor for the DC=vdi,DC=vmware,DC=int > OU=Properties > OU=Global > CN=Common object, set the pae-EnableServerInDesktopMode attribute to 1.
Important: After this feature is enabled, infrastructure virtual machines might appear in View Administrator as potential desktop sources. Ensure that you do not use infrastructure virtual machines in desktop pools or as templates. You can disable this feature by setting the pae-EnableServerInDesktopMode attribute to 0.

To create a Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual machine and install View Agent in desktop mode:
  1. Verify that the Remote Desktop Services role is not installed.
  2. Create a Windows Server 2008 R2 (Data center edition) virtual machine and configure it as you would configure a Windows 7 virtual machine.

    Important: You must select the VMXNET 3 network adapter for the virtual machine. Selecting the default E1000 adapter can cause customization timeout errors on the virtual machine.

  3. Install Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1).

    Note: If you do not install SP1, an error occurs when you try to install View Agent in the virtual machine.

  4. Install the Windows Server 2008 R2 Desktop Experience feature.

    Note: If you do not install this feature, VMware Horizon View HTML Blast access does not work correctly. For installation instructions, see the Microsoft TechNet article Desktop Experience Overview.

    Note: The preceding link was correct as of June 10, 2015. If you find the link is broken, provide feedback and a VMware employee will update the link.

  5. Install View Agent with the VDM_FORCE_DESKTOP_AGENT flag set to 1.

    Note: You can set this flag as a system environment variable or pass it as an argument to the View Agent installer.

    For example: VMware-viewagent-x86_64-5.3.0-xxxxx.exe /v"VDM_FORCE_DESKTOP_AGENT=1"

    If you do not perform this step correctly, you cannot select components and you must explicitly register the virtual machine with View Connection Server.

  6. Select the components to install.
Enabling Windows Aero on Windows Server 2008 R2 Desktops
When you create or edit a Windows Server 2008 R2 desktop pool, you can configure 3D graphics rendering for your desktops. The 3D Renderer setting offers a Software option that allows users to run Windows Aero on the desktops in the pool.
To use Windows Aero on a Windows Server 2008 R2 desktop, you must manually enable the Desktop Experience feature and start the Themes service on the desktop after you enable 3D support for the pool.
  1. In the Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual machine, click Start > Administrative Tools > Server Manager to launch Server Manager.
  2. In Server Manager, select Features in the left pane and click Add Features in the Features Pane.
  3. On the Select Features page, select Desktop Experience.
  4. Click Install to install the Desktop Experience feature.

    Note: You might need to restart the operating system.

  5. Click Start > Administrative Tools > Services.
  6. In the Services list, click Themes.
  7. In the Startup Type list, select Automatic and click Apply.
  8. Under Status, click Start and OK.
  9. To configure an Aero theme, right-click anywhere on the desktop, click Personalize, and select the Aero theme.
Unsupported Features in Windows Server 2008 R2 Desktops
These features and capabilities are not supported for Windows 2008 R2 Server desktops in VMware Horizon View 5.3:
  • Smart card SSO on Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Virtual printing (ThinPrint)
  • Multimedia redirection (MMR)
  • Unified Communications (UC) APIs
  • Microsoft Lync 2013 SDK
  • View Persona Management
  • vRealize Operations Manager (formerly known as vCenter Operations Manager) functionality
  • Local-mode desktops
  • Sysprep is not supported for Server 2008 R2 linked clones, please use Quickprep.

Additional Information

For translated versions of this article, see:

Request a Product Feature

To request a new product feature or to provide feedback on a VMware product, please visit the Request a Product Feature page.


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