Installing VMWare Server on Windows 2003 R2

Ran into a couple snags trying to install VMWare Server 2.0 onto Windows Server 2003 R2 today, and figured I'd share in the workarounds:

First issue was an error when trying to launch the setup program: "The System Administrator has set policies to prevent this installation." Hm. I'm the system administrator, and I don't recall setting any such policies.

Happily, Jason Boche -- a VMWare Virtualtization Evangelist -- wrote a blog entry which explained a simple fix. Apparently this is part of Windows 2003's new "high security" mode, and I suppose I can't fault Microsoft for it... much.

Jason's solution is thus:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Run
  3. gpedit.msc <enter>
  4. Drill down to Computer configuration
    1. Windows Settings
      1. Security Settings
        1. Software Restriction Policies
  5. Right click Software Restriction Policies
  6. Choose Create New Policies
  7. On the right hand side, right click Enforcement
  8. Choose Properties
  9. Down below, choose All users except local administrators
  10. Click OK
  11. Close Group Policy
  12. Open a Command Prompt
  13. Run the command gpupdate /force <enter>
  14. When local group policy is finished updating, re-run the VMware Server 2.0 setup

Worked like a charm. Thanks, Jason!

Second up was once the install started running, I got stymied with "Error 1718: File c:windowsinstallerrandomstring.msi was rejected by digitial signature policy."

According to Shawn Bass' blog, there's an issue with the WIndows Installer engine and big MSIs. Microsoft has made a hotfix availablewhich, after a reboot, took care of things.


  1. Brian Rutherford

    We use windows 2003 server for training machines and I am ocassionally asked to re-install vmware. Thanks for posting this as it is a godsend

  2. Andy Newman

    Great, thanks you saved me hours of fumbling.

  3. My pleasure! Glad to hear it!

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