Run VMware Player as a Windows Service with AlwaysUp

How to Run your VMware Player VM as a Windows Service with AlwaysUp

Automatically launch your virtual machine when your PC boots & keep it running 24x7. No need to log in!

VMware Player is an free virtualization platform hosting virtual machines and appliances.

AlwaysUp includes advanced tools to make VMware Player start at boot and run 24/7.

The Application Advisor will help you install VMware Player as a Windows Service with all our recommended settings — in just a few clicks. Simply select Advisor from the Application menu and follow the straightforward prompts.

To setup your VMware Player VM as a Windows Service with AlwaysUp:

  1. Download and install AlwaysUp, if necessary.

  2. Download and install VMware Player, if necessary.

    Please make a note of the VMware Player installation directory (by default, C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Player) as this will be used in subsequent steps.

  3. Start VMware Player and ensure that your virtual machine starts and runs properly. Be sure to download and install any additional components you need. Stop your VM once you are satisfied that everything is working well.

  4. Prepare your VM to run unattended. Since you won't be there to babysit the software, you want to avoid those annoying dialog boxes that occasionally come up to interrupt the action.

    1. Start VMware Player and select File > Player Preferences... to open the Preferences window. We recommend that you:

      • Uncheck Confirm before closing a virtual machine
      • Uncheck both boxes in the Software updates section

      VMware Player Preferences

      Click the OK button to record your changes.

    2. Next, highlight your virtual machine and select Virtual Machine > Virtual Machine Settings... from the menu. In the window that comes up, move to the Options tab, highlight the VMware Tools entry on the left and choose Update manually (do nothing) on the right.

      VMware Player Virtual Machine Settings

    3. Close VMware Player when you are done.

  5. Start AlwaysUp.

  6. Select Application > Add to open the Add Application window:

    Add Application

  7. On the General tab:

    • In the Application field, enter the full path to the VMware Player executable, vmplayer.exe. If you installed VMware Player in the default location, this is:

      C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Player\vmplayer.exe

    • In the Arguments field, enter the full path to your virtual machine's .VMX file. Be sure to enclose the value in quotes if it contains spaces!

    • In the Name field, enter the name that you will call the application in AlwaysUp. We have entered VM Appliance but you can specify virtually anything you like.

    VMware Player Windows Service: General Tab

  8. Click over to the Logon tab:

    • Enter the user name and password of the account in which you installed, configured and run VMware Player. The software should run in this account so that it can find its settings (including the ones you set in step 4).

    VMware Player Windows Service: Logon Tab

  9. Click over to the Startup tab and check the Ensure that the Windows Networking components have started box. This informs AlwaysUp that VMware Player needs the TCP/IP networking stack to operate.

    VMware Player Windows Service: Startup Tab

  10. Move to the Extras tab. Since it typically takes a few seconds for a virtual machine to properly shut down, check the Wait for up to box and set the value to 30 seconds (or more). Without this, AlwaysUp may get impatient with the slow shutdown and terminate the VMware Player process while it is still working.

    VMware Player Windows Service: Extras Tab

  11. Click the Save button. In a couple of seconds, an application called VM Appliance will show up in the AlwaysUp window. It is not yet running though.

    VMware Player Windows Service: Created

  12. To start the VMware Player VM, choose Application > Start "VM Appliance" (your application name will be different!).

    VMware Player Windows Service: Running

    On Windows 8/7/Vista and Server 2012/2008, your VM will be running in the isolated Session 0. To see the VM window, select Tools > Switch to Session 0...

    VMware Player Windows Service: Running in Session 0

    Note: While our test VM was accessible on the network and functioned normally, we were unable to interact it from the VMware Player console. The console was entirely black, and we're not sure why this happens in Session 0...

    You can interact with the VMware Player console by selecting Application > Restart "VM Appliance" in this session, which will quickly stop it and start it again on your desktop.

    VMware Player Windows Service: Running on the Desktop

  13. That's it! Next time your computer boots, your VMware Player VM will start up immediately, before anyone logs on. We encourage you to edit your application in AlwaysUp and check out the many other settings that may be appropriate for your environment (such as boosting priority, sending email notifications, etc.).

VMware Player not working properly as a Windows Service?

  • Occasionally a VM will get stuck displaying a message box/alert in the unattended Session 0. If you are on Windows Vista and later, select Tools > Switch to Session 0...; on Windows XP and 2003, start a remote session to the console. Dismissing the alert should allow your VM to boot up normally.
  • From AlwaysUp, select Application > Report Activity > Today... to bring up a HTML report detailing the interaction between AlwaysUp and your application. The AlwaysUp Event Log Messages page explains the more obscure messages.
  • Consult the AlwaysUp FAQ for answers to commonly asked questions and troubleshooting tips.
  • Contact us and we will be happy to help!

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