With the release of VMware Workstation/Player 15.5.5, we are very excited and proud to announce support for Windows hosts with Hyper-V mode enabled! As you may know, this is a joint project from both Microsoft and VMware. You can also check out Microsoft’s blog here.
It has been a long journey
- Since the introduction of Hyper-V, including Credential Guard and Device Guard, enabling any of these features prevented VMware Workstation from launching virtual machines. In order to satisfy our customers, VMware and Microsoft started a collaboration with the goal of fixing this problem.
- At VMworld 2019 San Francisco, VMware and Microsoft together made an announcement that we have jointly developed a project that adopts Microsoft Windows Hypervisor Platform (WHP) APIs.
- In January 2020, Workstation Tech Preview 20H1 was released, with support for hosts with VBS enabled being the target feature for testing.
How does VMware Workstation work before version 15.5.5?
VMware Workstation traditionally has used a Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM) which operates in privileged mode requiring direct access to the CPU as well as access to the CPU’s built in virtualization support (Intel’s VT-x and AMD’s AMD-V). When a Windows host enables Virtualization Based Security (“VBS“) features, Windows adds a hypervisor layer based on Hyper-V between the hardware and Windows. Any attempt to run VMware’s traditional VMM fails because being inside Hyper-V the VMM no longer has access to the hardware’s virtualization support.
Introducing User Level Monitor
To fix this Hyper-V/Host VBS compatibility issue, VMware’s platform team re-architected VMware’s Hypervisor to use Microsoft’s WHP APIs. This means changing our VMM to run at user level instead of in privileged mode, as well modifying it to use the WHP APIs to manage the execution of a guest instead of using the underlying hardware directly.
What does this mean to you?
VMware Workstation/Player can now run when Hyper-V is enabled. You no longer have to choose between running VMware Workstation and Windows features like WSL, Device Guard and Credential Guard. When Hyper-V is enabled, ULM mode will automatically be used so you can run VMware Workstation normally. If you don’t use Hyper-V at all, VMware Workstation is smart enough to detect this and the VMM will be used.
To run Workstation/Player using the Windows Hypervisor APIs, the minimum required Windows 10 version is Windows 10 20H1 build 19041.264. VMware Workstation/Player minimum version is 15.5.5.
A big congratulation to the engineering teams from both Microsoft and VMware. This is a big milestone for both sides. We will still be working together on bugs reported by our customers, improving performance, and adding features to WHP based on customers’ requests.
A big thank you to our customers, to our passionate users! Thank you for being patient! Thank you for your valuable feedback! You are the only reason we have such a big joint project!
Enjoy running VMware Workstation on the latest Windows 10 20H1 with or without Hyper-V!
— The VMware Workstation Team