VMRC issues with Workstation Installed

Take back VMRC from Workstation!VMware Workstation vs VMRC

For anyone who has upgraded to vSphere 6.5 you know that the Flash or HTML5 clients are your only option moving forward. With the introduction of the web client came the web console. An in-browser remote access tool which kind of worked but wasn’t anywhere near the console provided by the C# client. In steps the VMware Remote Console Plugin (VMRC for short).

With this plugin came the features that the web console was sorely missing (Edit settings, ISO mount, independent windows, etc.). However, if you happen to manage a vSphere instance and run a VMware Workstation installation from the same PC you may have noticed that instead of opening console windows in VMRC they default to open in the Workstation application as a new tab. I found this incredibly annoying. I do not always want to run Workstation just to remote console into my vSphere VMs. Unfortunately there seemed there was no way to adjust where the vmrc protocol was being opened. There were no VMware KBs covering this issue and my Google searches brought up nothing so I went to VMware support for an answer. Luckily they were able to provide several Powershell scripts which fixed the issue without needing a PC restart or even a browser restart!

How to fix Workstation vs VMRC remote access:

  1. On the affected machine, open Powershell as Admin
  2. Enter the following commands
    Set-Item HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Classes\vmrc\DefaultIcon -Value '"C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Remote Console\vmrc.exe",0'
    Set-Item HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Classes\vmrc\shell\open\command -Value '"C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Remote Console\vmrc.exe" "%1"'
  3. Refresh the vSphere web client page
  4. Select Launch Remote Console on the VM you would like to remote to

Once you have completed these steps the VM will open correctly within the VMRC plugin rather than in Workstation. Providing you the option to leave Workstation closed until it is needed.

Special thanks for Vivek Thacker at VMware support and this VMware Communities thread for helping me find a much needed answer to this issue.