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Microsoft's Windows 7 Convenience Rollups Choking on Some VMware VMs

Microsoft's "convenience rollups" for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 aren't playing well with some VMware virtual machines (VMs), the two companies warned this week.

Compatibility issues can occur when the rollups are run on VMs using VMware's vSphere virtualization solution, according to a Wednesday VMware blog. However, just one configuration scenario involving VMXNet3 is being reported as problematic.

"It impacts VMs that use the VMware VMXNet3 virtual network adapter type," VMware's blog post explained.

The problem possibly can be identified by the appearance of "a new Ethernet vNIC" (virtual network interface card) with default settings. It appears and replaces the old vNIC that may have custom settings, according to Microsoft's "known issue" description, in this Knowledge Base article.

Microsoft and VMware are currently investigating a solution. The interim measure is to uninstall Microsoft's convenience rollup. The announcement was highlighted by Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Susan Bradley in the Patchmanagement.org forum.

Early on, the convenience rollups had known problems with virtualized applications using Microsoft App-V versions, but this VMware problem is a new issue.

The convenience rollups for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 were made available earlier this month to help organizations when they are newly installing those products. Microsoft packed all of its security and nonsecurity fixes into the convenience rollups since initial operating system product release. The idea behind the convenience rollups was to reduce the patch update times for new OS installs using imaged media.

The convenience rollups aren't considered to be service packs as they contain no new features. They also don't contain Internet Explorer, but IE updates are cumulative, so organizations just have to install the latest IE version, per Microsoft's explanation. Convenience rollups are a one-time release, rather than being a regular part of Microsoft's update products, the company's engineering teams recently clarified in an announcement.

IT pros haven't always reported getting quick OS installs when using the new convenience rollups. Robert Smith, a Microsoft Premier field engineer, offered some install tips to address that issue, which are listed in the comments section of the teams announcement linked above. He recommended disabling network connections after installing the convenience rollup. Power options can be set to "high performance." Choose "ask me later" when given an option for Windows updates after the install. See Smith's comments for more nuances.

Organizations will still get a list of "about 55 Important and 10 Optional updates" to install after using the convenience rollups, Smith added. He recommended a USB thumb-drive to create the convenience rollup image. The OS can install in about "20 to 30 minutes" and be fully patched if those tips are followed, Smith claimed.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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