It can be tough to get to the VMware BIOS screen at startup, especially for modern systems with fast processors. Before the VMware worksation/player window can grab your keyboard or mouse for you to press the F2 key, the OS is already booting up!
Fortunately, there is a configuration setting that will give you more time to enter the BIOS screen at startup. If you add the line below to your vmx file:
bios.bootDelay = "10000"
the POST screen will delay for the specified number of milliseconds. The maximum value is 10000 (i.e. 10 seconds)
If you’re still having challenges with pressing the F2 key (like i sometime do when connecting to a virtual machine running on a windows host over remote desktop), you can configure the virtual machine to boot directly into BIOS. Simply add the line below to your vmx file:
bios.forceSetupOnce = "TRUE"
Note that as this setting will be reverted to “FALSE” as soon as the virtual machine boots up and enters the BIOS screen.
I found this information on the vmware knowledge base. I also saw this article on hepdeskgeek.com which gives more detailed steps, and I saw an entry in the illustrated vmx file which looks like
bios.bootOrder = "CDROM"
I should try that out sometime, it might even save me the effort of trying to enter the BIOS to change boot orders.