Windows fix on Patch Tuesday 'breaks' VMware software

VMware users were unable to connect to virtual desktops after Windows security update.

VMware is telling customers that two Windows 7 security patches have left the VMware View desktop virtualization client unable to access the View Connection Server, which brokers the connection between a user's computer and a virtual desktop.

This led Gartner virtualization analyst Chris Wolf to write a blog post titled "Windows 7 Update Breaks VMware View Client" that says this week's event is "an important lesson in BYOD" deployments that let workers bring their own devices to work.

Desktop virtualization products such as VMware View store a user's desktop, complete with operating system and applications, on a server in the data center, and a user accesses the virtual desktop remotely from a client application running on a PC, potentially their own PC

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While it's not clear how widespread the problem is, Wolf fears that it could portend huge IT management headaches in the future.

"For organizations planning BYOD scenarios, this week's Windows 7 patch issue should make you consider the potential for a large-scale break created on Patch Tuesday," Wolf writes. "If we fast forward a couple of years, it's possible for an IT organization to have to deal with remediating this type of problem for thousands of users."

VMware is Microsoft's chief rival in the virtualization market, and has argued that its own software is making Windows less important over time. But this week's event shows just how much VMware relies on Microsoft software, since its core business is to run virtualized instances of Windows servers, desktops and applications.

A VMware support article says the connection problems occur for users who have installed patches released by Microsoft in the monthly Patch Tuesday, one of the IT security world's most widely watched events.

Users who have already installed the patches can either upgrade the View client or uninstall the Microsoft patches, VMware said. Those who have not yet installed the patches should delay doing so until they have installed the latest version of VMware View Client.

Users may have installed the Microsoft patches without any manual effort since, "having Windows Update automatically apply new patches is considered a best practice" for user-owned PCs, Wolf writes.

While hosted virtual desktops have numerous benefits, such as improved security, business continuity and efficiency in deploying new desktops and applications, the VMware View client problem illustrates that bring-your-own-PC scenarios result in a loss of some control for IT, Wolf notes.

"Since we're giving up some aspects of change management with BYOD, these types of problems are inevitable," Wolf writes. "Contingency planning, remediation testing, and training that may also include patch distribution through personal e-mail is an essential, but sometimes overlooked aspect of deploying BYOD solutions. Organizations that are fixing broken VMware View connectivity on user-owned Windows 7 devices are learning that lesson the hard way."

VMware end-user computing director Pat Lee said that "VMware and Microsoft have an ongoing collaboration to ensure interoperability and have been working closely for the past several months in preparation for the release of Windows 7 Service Pack 1."

However, Lee said the Patch Tuesday security updates included the "early release of updates anticipated in" the Service Pack, which is due out Feb. 22. Lee said VMware provided its own VMware View update to customers "within 24 hours of the Microsoft security patch, in an effort to minimize customer impact."

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