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Windows 8.1 on VMware ESXi 5.1: Minimize/Maximize/Close buttons are invisible but functional

Posted by jpluimers on 2014/04/25

(Another one in the missed schedule list: this post was scheduled for this morning 06:00)

When you run a Windows 8.1 guest on VMware ESXi 5.1 with the VMware tools that belong to ESXi 5.1, the Minimize/Maximize/Close buttons are invisible but functional.

It doesn’t matter how you access that VM:

  • Through an RDP session (from either the MS RDP client on Mac OS X or MSTSC on a Windows machine).
  • Through a Console Window from vSphere Client connected to the ESXi host (if that client does not run on Windows XP).
  • Through a Console Window from VMware Workstation connected to the ESXi host.

It is good to know that this is just a visual artefact, the Minimize/Maximixe/Close buttons still work:

I was having the same exact problem with my Windows 8.1 VM.  If you click the location where the buttons should be, it still works like they are there.

But he uses a solution that is not really the kind I like:

I opened Device Manager on the VM and then uninstalled the VMware Display Adaptor, including the software for the driver.  After doing that, I scanned for hardware changes and it reinstalled the display adaptor using a windows driver.

The youngest VMware Tools version it fails with on my system is this one: 9.6.1.1378637.

Uninstalling the driver from the device manager indeed solves the issue, but:  

  • also makes fit-client in VMware Workstation and vSphere Client to stop working.
  • gets undone at reboot, as Windows still finds the original driver.

Upgrading the VMware Tools version to the one that ships with VMware ESXi 5.5 is a problem: during the upgrade it tells that the currently installed version is newer and refuses to install. Which is right: my version was from VMware Workstation 10.x, which is younger than ESXi 5.5 Update 1.

But maybe the drivers are different, so I tried this failure as well:

  1. Uninstall VMware tools.
  2. Download VMware-VMvisor-Installer-5.5.0.update01-1623387.x86_64.iso through the vSphere evaluation center or from https://download2.vmware.com/software/vi/55/VMware-VMvisor-Installer-5.5.0.update01-1623387.x86_64.iso
  3. Unpack (through TOOLS.TOO which is a .tgz file that contains the windows.iso version of the VMware tools and install it)
  4. This will install VMware Tools version 9.4.5.1598834 on my system, which isn’t the most recent, and does not fix the issue.

Finally I found out what did work:

  1. Start AppWiz.cpl to run the Add/Remove Programs control panel wizard.
  2. Select the VMware Tools from it.
  3. Choose Modify.
  4. Remove the SVGA Driver.
  5. That actually uninstalls the VMware SVGA Driver from your system, so it will not reinstalled by accident.
  6. Now sometimes the Mouse Cursor is invisible, but the solution choose the “Windows Black (system scheme)” for mouse cursor mentioned in RDP to VMware host running an XP guest: Invisible Mouse Cursor on Text Editors works fine.

Manually download VMware Tools

Later I found out that it is possible to manually download the VMware Tools (ISO images and/or installers) without the tedious login process from https://packages.vmware.com/tools/esx/index.html (it has all the VMware Tools for all the supported clients, starting at ESX 3.5 until the most current one at http://packages.vmware.com/tools/esx/latest/index.html, which is the most current ESX/ESXi based one, not the latest VMware Fusion/Workstation/Player one).

Thanks Manually Download VMware Tools ISO Image | VMware Arena for mentioning that link.

–jeroen

via: Upgraded client OS to WIndows 8.1 – Minimize, Maximize and Close Buttons Missing | VMware Communities.

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