What You Need to Run a 64-Bit Guest OS in VMware

Have you seen 64-bit versions of popular operating systems any applications? Perhaps you would like to try out these 64-bit editions. VMware is the ideal test bed to do this but what is required? Let’s find out how to make it work…

Running a 64-bit VM Guest on your 32-bit CPU?

There are a ton of 64-bit operating systems and enterprise applications. Here is a short list:

As 64-bit becomes more and more adopted, chances are you will want to test these new versions on your network.

A common question with VMware is, “can I run my 64-bit test OS in my virtual machine, even though I only have a 32-bit CPU”. The unfortunate answer is, No. VMware does not provide CPU virtualization. All the CPU requests are processes from the Guest to the Host’s real CPU. Because of this, you need a 64-bit processor to run 64-bit Virtual Guest operating systems.

How do I know if I can run a 64-bit Virtual Guest?

Say that you your computer was recently bought and you think you have a 64-bit CPU but just aren’t sure what you have and if it will work to run a 64-bit VMware Guest OS. VMware has an easy way to find out. To test your computer to ensure it has the proper hardware, go to the Processor Check for 64-bit Compatibility section on this website: http://www.vmware.com/download/ws/drivers_tools.html

Next, download either the Windows or Linux application that will check your processor.

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Keep in mind that just because you have a 64 bit processor, doesn’t mean that VMware will be able to run a 64-bit Guest VM. There are many models and revisions of 64-bit processors. When you run this application, if your processor will support the VMware 64-bit guests, you should see this:

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In my case, I have a Dell Optiplex GX620 with an Intel 64bit processor. The VMware 64-bit compatibility tool told me that my computer was capable of running a 64-bit Guest, however, when I went to run it, I was told this:

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I found that I had to go into my BIOS and enable my Intel VT VMM capabilities. After I did that and rebooted my system, I was able to run my 64-bit OS using my already installed VMware Server.

Back to your installation- at this point, you can install VMware server and begin installing your 64-bit OS & 64-bit applications. Alternatively, you could download a pre-built 64-bit Virtual machine from the VMware Virtual Appliance Marketplace.

For more technical hardware requirements on what you need to run a 64-bit OS in a VMware virtual machine, see the VMware Knowledgebase article titled: Hardware and Firmware Requirements for 64-Bit Guest Operating Systems.


In summary, running a 64 bit OS and applications can give you performance increases. However, most likely, you are going to want to test out any 64-bit OS and applications you will run on a test system. Using VMware to test is ideal. It can save you a great deal of time and money. The important thing is that you make sure you have the proper CPU required to run these 64-bit operating systems and applications.

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