HOWTO: Send “Shift + F10” to a remote #VMware / #vPro console over #RDP

We typically do a lot of our work at client locations over RDP to a server that resides on-prem in the client’s data center.  We then use that on-prem server as a jump server to manage other systems that reside on-prem and for the most part it works well except for the occasion keyboard combo press that just won’t go through to the client machine we are remoted into via the RDP jump server.  This is particularly a problem is when we are deploying Windows images to machines, which we do either via Intel’s vPro KVM controls (if it is physical) or via VMware Console (if it is virtual).  Occasionally the Windows machine will fail to boot during the specialize phase of sysprep, and we need to troubleshoot the issue.

If we were physically sitting in front of the machine, the process would be pretty simple – hit Shift + F10 and a command prompt pops open, and from there you navigate to C:\Windows\Panther and access the sysprep logs using Notepad.  But in our case, because we are utilizing a jump server via RDP to access the console (either vPro or VMware), Shift + F10 is being intercept by the jump server and not passed on to the vPro KVM session or the VMware Console, which means we can’t get to a command prompt to start troubleshooting.  When this happens, we need to disconnect from the RDP session, and use either RealVNC Plus (for the vPro console) or the VMware client directly from our local machines over VPN, which in some cases is deathly slow at best.

After getting stuck the other day having to troubleshoot a sysprep error over VPN using vPro instead of RDP using vPro, I decided there had to be a way to script a hotkey to send Shift + F10 to the console via RDP.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything readily available, so I scripted my own using AutoIt, which I then compiled into an .exe and digitally signed with my code signing certificate.

Basically the script searches for a window that has a title of “Intel(r) AMT KVM – VNC Viewer Plus” or a window that has a title that contains ” on ” (as in Windows7 on ESXiHost” and makes the first instance it finds the active window, then sends a Shift + F10 to the window.

Now when I have to send a Shift + F10 to a remote console during troubleshooting, I simply run the correct executable on our RDP jump servers and up comes the command prompt in the remote console!

Below are the two AutoIt scripts and further down are the two compiled .exe files.

As always – Use any tips, tricks, or scripts I post at your own risk.

Code for Intel(r) AMT KVM – VNC Viewer Plus:

$Title = "Intel(r) AMT KVM - VNC Viewer Plus"
WinWait ($Title)
WinActivate ($Title)
Send ("+{F10}")
Sleep (100)
Exit

Code for VMware Console:

Opt("MouseCoordMode", 0)
Opt("WinTitleMatchMode", 2)
$Title = "[REGEXPTITLE:(?i)(.* on .*)]"

WinWait ($Title)
WinActivate ($Title)

MouseClick ( "right",9,88,1 )
Send ("+{F10}")
Sleep (100)
Exit

Already compiled and digitally signed AutoIT executables:

SendShiftF10toVMware
SendShiftF10tovPro

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