Switching to Session 0 Causes Desktop Failure on VMware Virtual Machines


When running virtual machines under recent versions of VMware ESXi 7, VMware Workstation 16 or VMware Player 16 with VMware Tools 11 installed, you may experience erratic screen handling and operating system behaviour after switching to Session 0 using the built-in Microsoft Windows Interactive Services Detection Service (UI0Detect) or FireDaemon Zero. This issue has been observed in various recent Microsoft Windows operating systems including Server 2012 R2, Server 2016, and Server 2019.


After switching back from Session 0 you will not be able to press specific key combinations in the VM (e.g. Ctrl+Alt+Del), nor be able to log off or be able to restart the VM. Further, several hundred instances of the wm3dservice.exe process will be started. The VM will appear very sluggish and screen redraws will be very slow. You can confirm these symptoms by starting the Task Manager and reviewing running processes per the screenshot below:

Many vm3dservice.exe processes running after switching to Session 0


This appears to be a bug in the SVGA Display Driver version and the corresponding VMware SVGA Helper Service (vm3dservice).

To resolve the issue:

  • Reboot the VM - you might have to forcibly power off the VM
  • Start the Windows Services Applet (Start -> Run -> services.msc)
  • Locate the "VMware SVGA Helper Service"
  • Stop and Disable the service per the screenshot below
  • Reboot one more time and confirm that the "VMware SVGA Helper Service" is no longer running
  • Confirm that you should now be able to switch back and forth between your logged-in desktop session and Session 0 as expected.

Disable the VMware SVGA Helper Service