Before you start
Objectives: Overview of the installation process of Windows Server 2012, and which things we should plan before we decide to move to Server 2012.
Prerequisites: no prerequisites.
Key terms: server, installation, install, Windows, GUI, core, system, choose, 2012, upgrade
Plan Your Installation
It is great to first try the installation on the virtual machine itself. Once installed, we can test our software inside of the virtual machine. We can also try and do the upgrade from the previous operating system to the Windows Server 2012 on the virtual machine.
We should also check that our hardware meets the requirements for the Server 2012. For that we can use the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit. This tool will help us to asses our current infrastructure, to see if our computers are upgradeable to newer versions of Windows.
The system requirements for Server 2012 are pretty small. This is because we can install the core version of the system, and we can also remove features that we don’t use. We can run Server 2012 on the single 1.4 GHz CPU, but it has to be 64 bit. As you probably know, Since Server 2008 R2, Windows Server only comes in 64-bit version. This is important, because if we have a 32 bit Server 2008 (not Server 2008 R2), then we can’t do an upgrade to Server 2012 (there is no upgrade from 32 bit to 64 bit). We can only upgrade Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2 to Server 2012.
The minimum amount of RAM is 512 MB, and the minimum disk space is 32 GB.
Kernel mode drivers have to be digitally signed by default, but this can be disabled.
During the installation we should disable our antivirus software. We should also be familiar with some basic commands in Power Shell. All machines which will be upgraded should be backed up, and we should test the restore process.
Types of Installations
Server 2012 can be installed in different ways. We can have install it with the full GUI support or without it. In fact, the default type of Server 2012 installation is without the GUI, and this type is called the Core installation. The core type of installation is available since Windows Server 2008. The core installation minimizes the attack surface of the server, it has smaller footprint (less disk space needed), and it is easily managed remotely (we use tools on our desktop machine and remotely administer core installations). The tools which can be used to remotely manage core installations are WINRS; WINRM, Power Shell, and Server Manager with RSAT (Remote Server Administration Tools), etc.
There is also a “minimal server interface” type of installation which is actually a combination of full GUI installation and core installation. The main difference is that in minimal server interface installation we don’t have some GUI applications and tools which are available in full GUI installation.
In our example we will do a fresh install of Windows Server 2012. We have inserted a Server 2012 installation DVD and turned on our computer. Our computer will boot from the DVD and start to load necessary files. After a few moments, we will see a Windows Setup screen. Here we can choose the language to install, time and currency format, and keyboard.
We will always see this screen, whether we install the GUI version or the core version of the system. When we click next, we will see the “Install now” button.
Note that here we also have the “Repair your computer” option, but we won’t deal with that now. When we click the “Install now” button, we will have to provide the product key.
On the next screen we will be able to choose the operating system that we want to install. Notice that in both cases it’s the Server 2012 Datacenter 64 bit edition, but we can choose between the core installation (without GUI) or the installation with the GUI. In our case we will select the installation with the GUI.
Operating System Selection
On the next screen we have to accept the licence terms in order to continue. On the next screen we can choose to upgrade our current system or to perform the custom installation.
In our case we don’t have anything to upgrade from, so we will choose the Custom install option. On the next screen we have to choose where do we want to install our Server 2012. Here we can load drivers for the mass storage device if we use one. Also, we have available tools to create, format, and delete partitions on our drives. In our case we have a clean 40 GB disk, so we will choose it and click Next.
The installation starts at this point, and it takes a while. The computer will restart several times during the installation. After the installation we will have to set the password for the built-in administrator account. We have to make sure to choose the strong password for Administrator, since it has full control of the system.
The system will finalize our settings, and the next screen we will see is this.
To sign in we need to press the CTRL+ALT+Delete, and then enter our credentials. The first thing we will see when we sign in is the Server Manager window. Note that the whole GUI environment is similar to the one in Windows 8. This means that it will take some time to get used to it, since it is quite different from the previous versions of Windows.
We will talk about the GUI in Windows Server 2012 in another article.