As I’ve been asked about this several times, I thought I should post something about it as this doesn’t seem to be common knowledge: VMware Tools can be installed on Windows 2008 (R2) Server Core. A common misconception is that since Server Core doesn’t have a GUI (Graphical User Interface), it can’t run the VMware Tools installer. That’s a misconception as Server Core does contain all the files necessary for a GUI – it just doesn’t run one by default! You can prove that by running “OCsetup” (to install server roles/features) or even taskmgr.exe, which will promptly bring up the trusty Task Manager. This should put the myth to bed that Server Core doesn’t have a GUI.
Anyway, back to the issue. One can indeed install VMware Tools on Server Core. All that needs to be done is to invoke the install in the normal fashion i.e. by running “Install VMware Tools…”. The usual install message comes up. After that, it seems that nothing is happening but that’s because Autorun is disabled on Server Core. For that reason, one has to go to the CD-ROM drive to invoke the installer. Just browse to the location and run “setup.exe”. Setup will now continue and run the correct version of the VMware Tools installer. Go through the installation in the normal fashion and once complete, give the machine a reboot. Next time it comes up, it will be a lot faster and with better graphics. Enjoy!