Console Mouse Not Working in Windows VMs

I recently ran into some problems while deploying a Windows Server 2012 R2 VM in my vSphere 6.5 U2 lab. I’ve come to expect that the console mouse response is going to be terrible until VMware Tools is installed, but for some odd reason I had no mouse control whatsoever. Thinking it may be a quirk of the Web Console, I tried both the Remote Console and the HTML5 client to no avail.

The VM appeared to be healthy and would register keyboard input, but the motion of the mouse cursor was erratic or the cursor would not move at all. Thinking that I just needed to battle on and get Tools installed, I attempted to use the keyboard for this purpose – what a chore. You think it would have been easy, but the installer kept losing focus and falling behind other open windows. Many of the windows keyboard shortcuts I’d normally use were not functioning because they register on my laptop – not in the console. I couldn’t RDP to the VM either because the NIC needed to be configured with a valid IP address.

After doing a bit of research, it appeared that display scaling could cause all sorts of mouse issues – but this didn’t appear to be applicable in my case. That’s when I stumbled upon a communities thread that mentioned adding a USB controller to the VM. Even though my VM was ‘Hardware Version 13’, the USB 2.0 controller isn’t added by default.

I managed to get to the device manager using the keyboard, and you can see that the virtual hardware will use a PS/2 a mouse in the absence of a USB controller:


I then went ahead and added the basic USB 2.0 controller to the VM and booted it up.


I was happy to see that the usual laggy – but working – mouse functionality had returned. You can see that the presence of the USB controller triggers the addition of a USB HID-compliant mouse device. In fact, there are two there in addition to the PS/2 mouse – not sure why.

Two HID-compliant mouse devices are added along with the USB controller.

At any rate, this seemed to fix the problem. I can only assume that newer builds of Windows don’t like the PS/2 mouse support offered by vSphere. In all fairness, the PS/2 standard is ancient and akin to using a serial mouse a decade ago. We’ve already seen the need for SATA controllers due to the dropping of IDE CD support in modern guest operating systems. I suspect that PS/2 mouse and keyboard support will be going the same way at some point.

From here I was able to successfully install VMware Tools and all was well. I wrote up this short post in the hopes it may help others with this seemingly simple, but frustrating problem. Let me know if you have other tips!

16 thoughts on “Console Mouse Not Working in Windows VMs”

  1. Just an FYI. Had issue with Windows Server 2019 Essentials on a ESX 6.7 lab server, Dell PE T610, and no mouse was really working very well even after VM Tools was installed. Keyboard was a little weird too. Basically the right mouse click worked, but not the left. Anyways, the USB controller was installed with the VM, so I navigated to the Updates & Security portion of 2019 and ran updates. There were a few, but mainly a cumulative update for the newly released Server 2019. After restart, mouse was working properly again.

    So just a heads up – run the updates as soon as you can with a new Server 2019 VM on ESX 6.7.

  2. Just wanted to drop you a huge THANK YOU. THIS is exactly what has been wrong with my newest VMs. Same issues: wonky mouse and keyboard that simply stopped responding. Installed USB 2.0 hub and bingo: working!

  3. worked for me on building vm’s with SCCM. once I added the USB Controller, it started working. didn’t even lose my place on the build/task sequence.

  4. This is a long standing problem. I usually do custom install of tools and uncheck mouse… And i use RDP after its up anyhow. What a pain this has been for well over 10 years.

  5. In my case, even though USB mouse 2.0 is already present but no mouse cursor, so just changed mouse 2.0 to 3.1. After few seconds it started working fine.

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