Troubleshooting: Running 32-bit color app in a virtual machine

Problem: You have an application that requires 32-bit color and you want to install it in a virtual machine running on a Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V host. Unfortunately the Hyper-V guest additions limit virtual machines running on Windows Server 2008 to 16-bit color. What can you do?

Workaround: Try disabling the synthetic video adapter in the virtual machine. Doing this will cause the virtual machine to fall back to using the emulated VGA video adapter which supports 32-bit color. You can do this as follows:

  1. Log on to the virtual machine and open Device manager
  2. Expand the Display Adapters section
  3. Right-click on the Microsoft Hyper-V Video device and disable it
  4. Restart the virtual machine

Note the following concerning this workaround:

  • The graphic performance of the virtual machine may be poorer as a result.
  • You must use an RDP connection to connect to the virtual machine’s desktop to experience 32-bit color because the VMConnect console on Windows Server 2008 only supports 16-bit color.

Mitch Tulloch is an eight-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award and a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization.  For more information about him, see

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