How to Install Windows Server 8
This page is designed simply to get you started with Windows Server 8. My message is this install is straightforward, and very like the setup for Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
Windows Server 8 Beta Topics
- Obtaining the Windows Server 8 Media
- The Windows 8 Server Install Process
- Comparisons with a Windows 8 Client Install
- Windows Server 8 Beta – Do’s and Don’ts
I downloaded my64-bit iso version of Windows Server 8 from Microsoft’s TechNet site. 8250.0.WINMAIN_WIN8BETA.120217-1520_X64FRE_SERVER_EN-US-HB1_SSS_X64FRE_EN-US_DV5 (Why such a long filename!) I burned the .iso file to a DVD, thus creating a bootable disk.
TechNet also supply VXD versions, as well as English there are Chinese, French, German and Japanese language variations. Before downloading I had to fill in a simple registration form requiring an email address; the stated reason was to advise me of future releases. Incidentally, they also ask people to blog their experiences of the Windows Server 8 install!
The key point is that for this beta is that you don’t need a product key. I wasted 10 minutes scouring the TechNet site for a non-existent 25 digit code.
The machine specifications for this Windows 8 Server were undemanding, only 512 MB of RAM, 40 GB of disk space and a 1.4 GHz 64-bit processor.
It was no surprise, but the whole setup process was very like that of Windows 8 Consumer Preview and took about the same time, 40 minutes. The install began with an invitation to go online and search for any updates – I accepted.
Setup kept me informed of completed stages, rebooted as necessary, and showed me the current task’s progress. My only gripe was I missed the screen where I could have named my new Windows 8 server, instead I received a default gobbledegook name.
Because I was using one of my test machines, which already had Windows Server 2008 R2 installed, I was given the choice of ‘Upgrade or custom’ install. I selected ‘Custom’, whereupon it asked me which partition to install Windows Server 8.
About the only other time the setup procedure halted was near the beginning when a menu asked if I wanted Core or GUI. I nearly said ‘Core’, but just in time I realized that this meant a ‘headless’ edition, so I selected the normal ‘GUI’ edition.
Summary of Install Decisions
- Go online for updates.
- Upgrade, or Custom if you want a new install?
- Core or GUI?
SolarWinds have produced three Active Directory add-ons. These free utilities have been approved by Microsoft, and will help to manage your domain by:
- Seeking and zapping unwanted user accounts.
- Finding inactive computers.
- Bulk-importing new users. Give this AD utility a try, it’s free!
Troubleshooting Windows Server 8 Beta Install
Windows Server 8 Beta Product Key
Let me say that: a) I did not need this key, b) I have not tested it.
If you attempt to join a Windows Server 8 computer to a domain you may get a ‘Duplicate SID’ error message. One workaround is to run this command:
Cscript C:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -ato
Finding the Windows 8 Beta Desktop
- Launch Server Manager
- Seek the Features menu
- User Interfaces and Infrastructure – Desktop Experience
When Will Windows Server 8 Expire?
I believe that Windows Server 8 will start rebooting automatically every hour in January 2013. On simple way to mimic what will happen is to fast-forward the clock and see what happens. A better way is to:-
As far as setup is concerned, the two main difference with Windows 8 Server compared with Windows 8 (client) were that the server logon did not ask for a Windows Live ID logon, and that there was no Metro UI when it booted.
I would like to make a general point that this is called Windows Server 8 Beta rather than Customer Preview, furthermore, it seemed to be at an earlier stage of development than the Windows 8 client editions that I have tested. For instance, I crashed the server manager twice in the first half hour, whereas I could not crash the clients in 6 months of playing around. To be fair the Server, it did not actually blue-screen, more that menus produced all sorts of red errors and then closed.
- When you’re Googling for a download, do remember that this beta is called Server 8 and not Server 2012.
- Don’t try it on an old 32-bit laptop. Windows Server 8 requires 64-bit hardware.
- During the install do watch out for the choice of Core v GUI setup.
- Don’t search for a product key, because it’s built-in for this beta.
- Don’t expect it to boot into the Metro UI.
Upgrade Paths to Windows Server 8
You can upgrade from Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Naturally, you can only upgrades your edition on a like-for-like basis.
Warning: You will not be able to upgrade to the RTM version of Windows 8 Server, which is to be called Windows Server 2012.
While this is called Windows 8 Server Beta, Microsoft has decided that the final product will be called Windows Server 2012. This labelling scheme will save confusion, because the clients alone will be have the Windows 8 name, while Domain Controllers and application machines will run Windows Server 2012.
The latest build I have is 8250; let us keep our ear to the ground for more pre-release editions of this Microsoft server.
Summary of Windows Server 8 Install
The process required minimal input from me because it used maximum intelligence to gather the information Windows 8 Server needed to setup. Get your copy here64-bit iso version of Windows Server 8 download
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