Brandon Hutchinson has an interesting article on this.
You can basically extract the windows .iso image containing the tools (you can extract the others, linux, freebsde, as well) and mount them as the virtual cd-rom in your appliance instance.
Brad goes the long way using tar and pax, but Window user can try Winrar or other similar tools. Just extract the vmware-distrib/lib/isoimages/directory somewhere and mount the windows.iso image from the player. It will automagically run, and eventually install. An host reboot may be required.
As Brandon reports, it may be legal as well (see this thread). It helped me overcoming the litations of the standard SVGA driver the VHD image that Windows 2003 R2 (provides as default, see Microsoft for a 30 day evaluation, in vhd/.vhc format. VMplayer is able to “play” them flawlessy as well) providing me the accellerated driver and the “base system device” driver who were missing.
I’m using this image to evaluate a WSUS server for my job needs, and AFAIK, it rocks. Not W2k3 itself, but the VM environment.//
Update: (18/10/08) downloading the given version of wmware tools will not help to fix the base system device device issue. To solve that one you need the VMCI driver (see http://pubs.vmware.com/vmci-sdk/VMCI_intro.html) and as far as I can tell It’s not included in the 5.5 relase, even with a custom installation. I’m now trying with VMware-Workstation-6.5.0-118166.x86_64.bundle, but registration is required, and your mileage may vary. More on this later.
A better option would be VMware-Workstation 6.0.5, build 109488, which comes with a tar.gz, as the bundle version, uncompressed during installation in /tmp, has apparently no iso in it.
VMware-workstation-6.0.5-109488.i386.tar.gz has vmci in it, in the custom installation you must specify to install it. Also don’t forget to add
vmci0.present = "TRUE"
in the vmx configuration file, or you will get an exclamation point in the device list, along with a “Device cannot start(code 10)”.
Update(22/07/2009): a step by step description can be found at latadeatum
DISCLAIMER: I’m not a VMware employee and I’m not linked with them in any way. Nor I have stock options.