We are trying to move a currently running GUI tests setup on Windows machines to a cloud based setup*. Unfortunately the tools we use require a graphics adapter to be present on the computer in order to execute, but there is none on the cloud instances.

Our hope now is to install some sort of virtual graphics adapter, just like xvfb on linux, that can make the computer behave just as if a graphics adapter was present.

Does any such a piece of software exist? Searching on Google has not yet provided any good results.

There is also this question: Does there exist a software-based virtual graphics driver? - but the accepted answer here suggests using RDP. RDP is not usable in our case as the machine needs to be available without user intervention.

We did enable auto-login on a Windows 2k8 R2 server but this didn't work. The test tool takes a screen shot of failing tests, and those screen shots were 1024x768 pixel all-black images. We did try to run the test tool under RDP, and here we get a screen shot, but the tests fails because colors are slightly off (we don't know exactly why).

*Currently trying on google-compute because AWS's pricing model does not fit our needs. We haven't tried Azure yet.

  • Why does your program need a graphics adapter? What does it expect to be able to do with it? – Michael Hampton Nov 30 '16 at 16:48
  • It needs to have a frame buffer or a desktop where applications visually appear, and we can take screen shots - and this needs to happen without an RDP connection. And as I wrote, the application does take a screen shot, but it's all black. – Pete Dec 1 '16 at 7:44
  • GPU systems will soon be available in GCP. More information can be found here. – Carlos Dec 1 '16 at 17:39

This is something I wished existed as well. The most promising project I found was VirtualMonitor, but it only claims compatibility with Windows 7 and the source hasn't been updated in a few years. If someone is feeling adventurous and willing to pick up the torch, it could be a solution.

As Carlos mentioned, you'll soon be able to use GPU instances, however if these will include an emulated display adapter is uncertain. In practice even on a machine with a real GPU you end up with a max resolution of 1024x768 without a hardware dongle, but this may be enough for testing purposes.


HyperV is a technology Microsoft made which allows virtualisation. One of its recent features is to allow the attachment of a physical graphics card to a VM.

This might not be exactly what you are looking for, but gives you an idea at least of another way you could achieve it.

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