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Installing Windows Server 2012 Essentials: Part 2


[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]

In my previous post, I explained the installation process I went through to test Windows Server 2012 Beta (Release Candidate it calls itself) Essentials, as well as some of the reasoning behind the installation. In this post, I’m going to take you through the resulting server. In a later post I’ll take you through the client view.

As a warning, this is yet another very long post. So buckle up, recline your seat, and get your snack box ready.

First things first. Between that post and this one, I had shut down the server, so this was a chance to see the boot experience. Remember that the server did NOT configure itself as a DHCP server, so when it came up it picked up an IP address from the network, which in this case was a new network from last time. That’s a fairly unusual situation – in real life that’s not going to happen very often but it will occasionally. For example, when a consumer-grade router is replaced, especially with one from a different vendor, it’s likely to have a different IP configuration for the LAN, so devices are going to change around a bit. Luckily, the server seemed to handle that okay, for now.

However, since I’m talking about IP addressing, after logging in, let’s look at the IP configuration:



Notice that DNS is set to point at itself, and the primary DNS suffix is now “BLOGDEMO.local“. This is reasonable – the server became a domain controller as part of the installation, and set its DNS name to be the same as the NetBIOS name that I gave it plus “.local“. That is a common-enough configuration and is a fair default. Like most DCs it is a DNS server, and that DNS server has the normal DNS records for a DC:


So all of this is what I would expect to see. What I did not expect is what I did not see – it occurred to me at this point that Server Manager did not come up as it would normally on a Server 2012 machine. So that’s interesting – but then what should I use? Well, the Dashboard of course, conceptually carried forward from the WHS and EBS product predecessors. One interesting point to make before I continue is that Windows Home Server 2011/Essentials Business Server 2011 Dashboard add-ins are supposed to work on the new product. I have not had time to test this yet, partially because I don’t have too many add-ins on my home server (I know, weak sauce). That said, I’ll just repeat the Microsoft statement and go on.

How do I get to the Dashboard? Well, there’s a desktop shortcut right under the Recycle Bin on an otherwise clean desktop, and it’s pinned to the task bar as the first icon followed by PowerShell and Windows Explorer:


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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.
  • luca

    Hi Terry!
    What about clients’ backups ? somethins like in WHS v1 :
    – easy to setup and keep in control
    – single instance storage
    – easy restore of a single file and bare metal restore


  • phaze

    Hi Terry,

    I really appreciate the installation walk-through, but is there any way you could reduce the page count? it is a little hard to read, with 15 short pages… I find myself going back and forth continuously. Maybe at least “next page” and “previous page” buttons?

  • tocsinb

    Agree heartily with phaze – 15 pages to click through is (far) too much – as well as ‘next/ previous’ can we have ‘see all on one page’ as an option?

    • OK – hear the feedback. Let me take a look at this in our next round of design tweaks.

  • Marsha

    My MediaSmartServer certainly is due for replacement. It has (thanks to HP) a great sleep function (as Win 7 & Win 8). Does Server 2012 Essentials have a sleep function available? Some server products need a lot of kludge to get sleep to work.

  • Is there a “guest” account possible in WS2012e? I still use Media Center Extenders, and that seems like it might be a big road block if the Extenders can’t access network folders…

  • Memristor

    Is it possible now to use multiple disks for a server backup? This was not possible with WHS2011.

  • Grumpy ‘Ole Marine

    Hello This was an interesting article. I have a question. I have a Ceton InfiniTV 6, I have it setup with all tuners on my Win 7 HTPC. Problem is I don’t want to keep that on all the time. That is why I built the 2012 Essentials. Then I realized that there is no WMC on the Server. Ceton needs WMC in order to run. Essentials doesn’t have Hyper-V, it does have VM, but how good would that be?

    I appreciate your input.

    -Semper Fi

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