There are 2 hurdles I needed to jump over.
First of all, I need to find an easy and reliable way to access VM’s BIOS to change the boot sequence.
I can press F2 during the normal VM boot process but I have to be quick and I have to be inside the VM window to be able to do that. And I found that adding the following line into the .VMX file works way better.
bios.bootDelay = "10000"
What it does is to delay the boot process for 10 seconds before the actual operating system kicks in, which gives me plenty of time to go into the VM and press F2 key to launch BIOS window.
Secondly, I need to find a way that allows the VM to boot off the bootable USB device, since neither VMware Player nor Workstation offers an option to boot from USB bootable device.
And that’s when I find this Plop’s BootManager awesome. Download the problem and unzip the content plpbt.iso to a place that’s convenient. Then, set this iso file as the content of CD/DVD drive, change the boot sequence to boot from CD-Rom. Then, fire up. Here is what you will see.
Plug in the bootable USB device, and select USB from the list, bingo.
From the times I’ve used this option, it’s been great.