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Installing Windows Server 2012 Essentials: Part 1

[box type=”note” style=”rounded”]Over the next few weeks, in a series of guest posts, Michael C. Bazarewsky will be walking us through the installation and setup of  Microsoft’s all-new Windows Server 2012 Essentials. Over to Mike![/box]

I have been a fan of Windows Home Server since the 1.0 beta days, using it at home in a production fashion. I stuck with the platform into the Vail days (Windows Home Server 2011), even with the removal of Drive Extender, because the media components and remote access capabilities are very nice to have, although not ideal.

Here Lies Windows Home Server (courtesy Ars Technica)Last week, however, as part of a major alignment of server SKUs, Microsoft announced that Windows Home Server is now dead-end, as are both Small Business Server SKUs.

The replacement, such as it is, is Windows Server 2012 Beta Essentials. I say it that way because there’s a lot of stuff not there, especially if you are an SBS person. However, for BA’s customers, this is not an issue – the move to Office 365 is happening so rapidly that this won’t be an issue.

In any event, because I am a happy WHS user, I wanted to see what the replacement would be like. There’s an excellent series by Terry Walsh here at at wegotserved that makes a good case that you can use the Windows 8 client to fill the need, and ArsTechnica made a similar point in their “death of WHS” post (where I got the tombstone picture above). But I want to see what the “official” replacement looks like, so I decided to spin up Hyper-V on my Windows 8 Release Preview machine and play a little.

To start, you’re going to want a VM with at least 2 GB of memory and 160 GB of hard drive space. You also need to have a NIC, either legacy or Hyper-V synthetic, that has a working network connection. The official specs are on the download page and at least at some level, they aren’t lying. I didn’t do that, so let’s see what goes wrong before showing it work correctly so you can learn from my mistake.

I initially configured a VM with dynamic memory from 512 MB to 2 GB, an 80 GB hard drive, and no network connection. Let’s see what happened.

I started by booting off the DVD, which works automatically because I don’t have another OS so the standard DVD boot sector that Microsoft uses doesn’t ask if I want to boot of the DVD; it assumes I do, and it’s right.

Before the next screen there is a very quick loading screen, which is fast enough on my VM that I couldn’t get a screenshot – but it is a little different than the Windows 7 version of the same thing, so someone spent a little time on that at least. There are I’m sure other changes that are not as visible.

Moving on:


I included the Hyper-V chrome in the screenshot just to show that was really what I was using. You won’t really see it much from now on.

I next got the standard first Windows Server 2012 installation screen. I left the defaults as they are right for me.



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Terry Walsh is the founder of We Got Served. He started the community in February 2007 with a mission to help families, tech enthusiasts everywhere figure out the technology needed to run the modern home and small business. He's the author of a number of guides to Windows, Windows Server and OS X Server and runs his own successful publishing business. Born and raised in Liverpool, England, Terry has been awarded Microsoft's prestigious Most Valuable Professional Award each year since 2008 for his work on We Got Served.
  • LarryL

    I’m looking forward to installing Essentials so I can use Direct Access in my laptop wherever I go.

  • Memristor

    I saw you ran into the storage limit for the system drive. Can you still use a config file on a USB stick to force the installtion on a hdd with less than 160GB?

  • Mason

    I hope to hear your comparisons with your Win8 Home Server efforts.

  • Jimbob

    I’m interested to see how the remote web access features work. I’m asuming there is not Video/Music streaming? This, for me has always been a bit of a “killer feature” so I’d be lost without an option.

    • mike

      Media streaming is available I just installed the RC to verify this myself.

  • Hans_Gott

    Main Issue I have with this site is the number of SIDES in the articles, could you please DIVIDE your article side numbers with 2?

  • I am interested to see what happens when migrating from a SBS server.

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