vSphere Web Client 5.1 on Windows Server 2012 not starting up – Adobe Flash Player unavailable

I’ve been doing some work the past week around setting up a new vSphere based Datacenter for a customer and I’ve found out that working with the latest and greatest versions of Windows and vCenter isn’t always working without a hitch, as it should. For example if you try to run the vSphere client on Windows Server 2012, you will have to jump trough quite a number of hoops to get it to run…but wait…vSphere Client is deprecated as of version 5.0 and although I still think it is better than the web client in this day, June 2013, the way forward is the web client, and we will not be able to access 5.x features from the vSphere client from now on….so we better get with the program and work on using the vSphere Web Client only.

First step when you try to run the client, is first connect directly to the web page of vcenter, let’s say https://vcenter.contoso.com. If you are on the default Windows Server 2012 install, with IE Enhanced Security Configuration enabled, you will get a broken web page like the one below:

vCenter-Broken-Page

There’s an easy fix to this:

  • First disable IE Enhanced Security Configuration from the Server Manager GUI. Do not disable IE ESC if this is a server running production workloads unless you understand and accept the risks involved.
  • Then simply go to Internet Options > Security > Local Intranet > Sites > add your vCenter URL, click OK to close all Windows and then reload your page.

After that the web page opens up correctly, you click the “Log in to vSphere Web Client” link…And surprise, you get this message:

vSphere-webClient-broken

Isn’t this great…you now need Adobe Flash Player installed on the system. I should have known better, VMWare’s web client is built using Adobe Flex technology, so you do need Flash Player to run it.

So, happily you click on the “Get Adobe Flash Player” link, and you are redirected to Adobe’s page that says…”Hey you are running Windows 8, you should have Flash Player installed”…well Actually I’m running Windows 2012, so things might be a little more locked down than that. I followed the troubleshooting FAQ from Adobe’s website only to find out I didn’t have the plugin installed, as I said, this is Windows Server 2012, not all the bells must be turned on.

I did a little digging and as it turns out, on Windows 2012, there is such a thing called “Desktop Experience”, a Windows Feature. Among the things this Windows feature will bring, this webpage, lists “Adobe Flash Player”  in the miscellaneous section.  That webpage is also going to guide you through the GUI based installation of the Desktop Experience, it’s basically click click, next next until you get the damn thing installed.

If you want to do it via Powershell, here’s the one liner that will help you out. Either way you choose to install it, you will need a reboot once it is completed:

import-module ServerManager
Add-WindowsFeature -name Desktop-Experience,qWave `
-IncludeAllSubFeature -IncludeManagementTools

The qWave feature is Quality Windows Audio-Video Experience – this just in case you were wondering what that is doing there…someone on MSDN suggested to add this to Desktop Experience…so I did, you can leave it out.

After rebooting the box go to the Web Client page, and yo and behold the webpage will load  correctly. If this is your first time loading up the Web Client, after successful authentication you will get one error and a message from Adobe Flash.

The error is something like “Web client has encountered an error #Some Number“. On top of it comes Adobe Flash with the message that asks for permission that the webpage store more than 1MB of flash data on your hard drive. Click Accept, then on the error message choose to reload the client, and all will be well with the VMware world again, you can manage your infrastructure without other annoyances.

Hope this helps others out there, let me know if this worked for you or not


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One Response to vSphere Web Client 5.1 on Windows Server 2012 not starting up – Adobe Flash Player unavailable

  1. sandeep says:

    Anyone can share the process to install the Vsphere Client 5.5.0 on win 2012