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VMware on Vista and 2008

I recently switched to Vista on one of my desktop computers that I use for development and after installing VMware Workstation 6.5, my networking became erratic. I would experience the inability to receive traffic on my VM as well as several networking features turned off in Vista. Bridged Networking became unusable. I did some research and found that the problem was the way that Vista and Windows 2008 treat the Network. There is a brand new network stack in these Operating Systems as you may have heard.

When Vista and Windows 2008 boot up, they see the VMware virtual NICs and place them into an “Unknown Network”. This causes the OS to switch to “Public” mode on these networks. Even if your primary NIC is in a “Private” or “Work” network, the “Public” mode of the virtual NICs will cause the Windows Firewall to turn on and Network features to be turned off.

Temporary Solution

Move the VMware virtual NICs to the Private network

This procedure is simple to perform and has the least impact on both the Vista or Windows 2008 operating system. However, after any reboot of the operating system the NICs are moved back to the Public network.

To move the VMware virtual NICs to a Private network:

  1. Click Start > Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center.
  2. Click Customize.
  3. Click Private.
  4. Click Next.
  5. Click Close.
Disable the VMware virtual NICs

This procedure prevents both NAT and Host Only networking from functioning in any virtual machine. Only Bridged networking will be available.

To disable the VMware virtual NICs:

  1. Click Start > Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center.
  2. Click Manage network connections.
  3. Click VMware Network Adapter / VMnet1 / Unidentified network.
  4. Click Disable this network device.
  5. Click VMware Network Adapter / VMnet8 / Unidentified network.
  6. Click Disable this network device.

Permant Solution

The problem can be fixed permanetly by redefining the VMware virutal NICs as endpoint devices. This procedure allows for the continued use of Bridged, NAT, and Host Only networking but causes the VMware virtual NICs to disappear from the Network and Sharing Center, even though they will remain visible under Network Connections. This will also cause the VMware virtual NICs to be exempt from all Windows Firewall access rules. This bypasses the default security model of Vista and Windows 2008. This procedure involves editing the registry and the standard warning applies: BACK UP THE REGISTRY KEY BEFORE MAKING THESES CHANGES!

To redefine the VMware virtual NICs as endpoint devices:

  1. Click Start > Run.
  2. Type regedit and click OK.
  3. Open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, System, CurrentControlSet, Control, Class, {4D36E972-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}.
  4. Click 0000.
  5. Look at the content of the Data field associated with the DriverDisc entry.
  6. If you see VMware Virtual Ethernet Adapter for VMnetx, where x is replaced by a number, then:
    1. Right-click an empty space in the right content pane.
    2. Click New > DWORD. On 64-Bit Operating Systems, choose DWORD(32-Bit).
    3. Type *NdisDeviceType and press Enter. Make sure to include the asterisk (*) at the beginning of the entry.
    4. Double-click *NdisDeviceType.
    5. Type 1 and press Enter.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6, replacing 0000 in step 4 with the next entry in numerical order, until you have reached the end of all numerical entries.
  8. Reboot the computer
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