Windows 11

This PC can’t run Windows 11 in VMware Workstation

This PC can't run Windows 11 in VMware Workstation. Learn about this error in VMware Workstation and the fix for resolution

Highlights

  • Once the encryption process completes successfully on the Windows 11 virtual machine, edit your virtual machine settings, navigate to Hardware and click Add to begin the process to add new hardware to the VM.
  • Before you can add the virtual trusted platform module (vTPM) to your virtual machine, you must first encrypt the VM before you can add the TPM module in VMware Workstation.
  • After adding the Trusted Platform Module to the Windows 11 virtual machine, I was now able to step through the install process, select the edition, and move forward with the installer.

Well, are you all excited to run Windows 11 now that it is released a day early? Your excitement may be quickly stifled by an error message that you may receive – This PC can’t run Windows 11. After I had run Windows 11 preview builds inside my VMware Workstation environment without issue, downloading the GA ISO, was a different experience. Let’s take a look at this PC can’t run Windows 11 in VMware Workstation and see the resolution.

This PC can’t run Windows 11 in VMware Workstation

Let’s first take a look at the symptom of the issue you might see in VMware Workstation. This is a screenshot from my newly created VM that I set to use UEFI and secure boot, which I assumed would be enough inside the virtual environment for Windows 11. However, notice the following error screen after I chose the edition I wanted to install.

As we have all no doubt heard rumblings of requirements from Microsoft related to security and Trusted Platform Module, I assumed this was related to the TPM device missing from the virtual machine.

This PC cant run Windows 11
This PC cant run Windows 11

For posterity, this is a look at the way the VM was configured when I received the error message related to not being able to run. Note I have UEFI enabled and Enable secure boot. As a note, these are the settings that I have been using to install Windows 11 Preview builds up until this point in the same VMware Workstation environment.

Configuration of the Windows 11 PC before attempting the install
Configuration of the Windows 11 PC before attempting the install

Resolution – Add a Virtual Trusted Platform Module (vTPM) to your VM

The resolution to this issue in my case was adding a virtual trusted platform module (vTPM) to the virtual machine running inside of VMware Workstation. Before you can add the virtual trusted platform module (vTPM) to your virtual machine, you must first encrypt the VM before you can add the TPM module in VMware Workstation.

Encrypt your VMware Workstation Windows 11 VM
Encrypt your VMware Workstation Windows 11 VM

The process to encrypt your virtual hard disk for your Windows 11 virtual machine will of course depend on the size of the hard disk. The good thing is since we haven’t been able to install anything as of yet, there is no data essentially on the hard disk.

Windows 11 VM beginning to encrypt
Windows 11 VM beginning to encrypt

Once the encryption process completes successfully on the Windows 11 virtual machine, edit your virtual machine settings, navigate to Hardware and click Add to begin the process to add new hardware to the VM.

Adding new hardware to Windows 11 virtual machine in VMware Workstation
Adding new hardware to Windows 11 virtual machine in VMware Workstation

Select the Trusted Platform Module, then, click Finish.

Adding the Trusted Platform Module to Windows 11
Adding the Trusted Platform Module to Windows 11

After adding the virtual trusted platform module (vTPM), you will see the warning to the right that Removing TPM will render all encrypted data on this VM unrecoverable. In other words, you are burning the encryption key if you remove the vTPM.

A note about your encrypted data if you remove the vTPM
A note about your encrypted data if you remove the vTPM

After adding the Trusted Platform Module to the Windows 11 virtual machine, I was now able to step through the install process, select the edition, and move forward with the installer.

Windows 11 successfully installs after adding the virtual TPM
Windows 11 successfully installs after adding the virtual TPM

Video showing the error installing Windows 11

Windows 11 GA install error in VMware Workstation

Wrapping Up

This is going to change things for many who may have lab environments and running VMware Workstation perhaps on older hardware that doesn’t have a Trusted Platform Module to make use of. The major motherboard manufacturers have add-in TPM chips available that can be used to retrofit a TPM module on boards that may not have come with one. An example is the one I found for Supermicro. I am using Supermicro servers in my lab currently that do not have TPM chips installed. However, as an example, you can find an add-in TPM 2.0 card here.

Supermicro hardware TPM chip 2.0
Supermicro hardware TPM chip 2.0

Upgrading to Windows 11 is going to be more of an investment for those without TPM 2.0 cards already installed. However, you should plan on this requirement ahead of time before getting in the middle of an upgrade or install that requires it.

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Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is the Senior Writer, Engineer and owner at Virtualizationhowto.com and has over two decades of experience in Information Technology. Having worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as in various industries, Brandon has extensive experience in various IT segments and is a strong advocate for open source technologies. Brandon holds many industry certifications, loves the outdoors and spending time with family.

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