How to install Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 Beta
Now that Microsoft has released the beta of Windows Server 2008 R2 to the public it’s time to get our hand dirty and install this test version.
Let’s look at the system requirements Microsoft recommends and how to install it!
Things to know
Before you start playing with Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta you need to understand a couple of things:
- Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta is available as a downloadable ISO file here.
(Link was available for a limited amount of time, but expired on February 10, 2009)
- Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta consists of 1 DVD disc. A CD version is not available.
- Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta is available only in 64bit versions.
- Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta is available in the following flavors:
- Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition x64
- Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition x64
- Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter Edition x64
- Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium-based systems
- The Windows Server 2008 R2 media can be used to upgrade an existing Windows Server 2008 installation in-place.
- Test versions of Microsoft products may not provide a 100% accurate picture, feeling or impression of the way the final (RTM) version of he product will look, feel, perform or otherwise meet your expectations.
This blogpost covers a fresh Server Core installation of the x64 version of Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition, using media download through a TechNet Plus subscription.
Step 1. Finding a suitable box
To install Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta you will need a box with a 64bit capable processor. In addition Microsoft has made the following statement regarding system requirements:
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Step 2. Creating installation media
You can download an ISO file for Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta from the Microsoft website.
Other locations to download the ISO file exist, but you should be aware of the reputation of the provider. Only a download from a Microsoft website guarantees the ISO file is not tempered with.
The ISO file you can download is an image file, representing the optical disc. The file contains all the files and filesystem metadata. In the case of Windows Server 2008 R2 the ISO file represents a bootable DVD.
You can use the ISO file directly to install Windows Server 2008 R2 in virtual environments and through popular remote installation environments like WDS, iLo and DRAC.
Creating a Bootable DVD
To convert the ISO file into a bootable DVD, you need to burn the ISO file to a blank DVD-R or DVD-RW. The easiest way to burn the ISO file in Windows Vista is using Alex Feinman’s ISORecorder v3, which is available in both a x86 and x64 version.
Creating a Bootable USB drive
You can use the ISO file of Windows Server 2008 R2 to create a bootable USB drive too.
For this scenario you need to create a bootable DVD first or mount the ISO file. After you have gained access to the files on the DVD or in the ISO file, simply type the following commands on a system with the image mounted or physical DVD copy in the drive and the USB device plugged in:
DISKPART> list disk
Select the USB device from the list and substitute the disk number below
DISKPART> select disk 1
DISKPART> create partition primary
DISKPART> select partition 1
DISKPART> format fs=fat32
xcopy X:\*.* /s/e/f Y:\
where X:\ is your mounted image or physical DVD and Y:\ is your USB
Step 3. Starting the installation
Now all you need to do is plug the USB drive into your target box' USB slot or your DVD disc in your DVD drive and boot the box. (The target system will need to be able to boot from DVD or USB devices to perform an installation) The system will boot into the new Windows 7 boot screen, as shown below:
After you’ve booted the box you will be presented with the Installation wizard.
The first things the Installation Wizard wants to know is the language to install, the time and currency format and the keyboard or input method. When your done making your choices, press Next.
Unless you want to repair your computer (to enable booting from VHD or make other advanced changes) press the Install now option.
The next screen requires some thought: You get to choose which version of Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta to install. The media used here offers three editions and for each of these editions offers a Server Core installation besides the choice to do a Full installation.
Acceptance of the License Agreement seems mandatory for Microsoft products. After you read this agreement you can select the I accept the license terms roughly 45 minutes later (Yeah right!) and press the Next button.
Since the hard disk in this box is not equipped with an existing Windows installation the choice here is obvious: Custom (advanced) Why the Upgrade option is available is a mystery to me…
Now a screen appears that also requires some thought. In this screen you get to choose where to install Windows. This means options are available to partition disks and load drivers for exotic storage controllers. The best practices regarding partitioning your disks and placing dynamic data off the C:\ drive apply.
The screenshot above is not representative for the storage best practices regarding Windows Server 2008 R2, but more than appropriate for testing purposes.
When you select to create a new partition to install Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta onto it will automatically create a 200MB partition and a partition with the rest of the size you specified. The 200Mb partition will be set as the active partition and used as the System drive by Windows Server 2008 R2.
The Installation Wizard will now install Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta and restart when done.
Step 4. Starting the first time
After the Installation Wizard completes the system is booted for the first time. (Notice the Windows Vista-like boot animation here?)
After booting Windows Server 2008 the first time, your fresh installation will ask you to change your password.
In Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta the Password must meet complexity requirements policy is enabled by default. Therefore passwords in a fresh Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta installation must meet the following minimum requirements:
- The password is at least six characters long.
- The password contains characters from three of the following four categories:
- English uppercase characters (from A through Z)
- English lowercase characters (from a through z)
- Base 10 digits (from 0 through 9)
- Non-alphanumeric characters (for example: !, $, #, or %)
- The password does not contain three or more characters from the user’s account name. If the account name is less than three characters long, this check is not performed because the rate at which passwords would be rejected would be too high. When checking against the user’s full name, several characters are treated as delimiters that separate the name into individual tokens: commas, periods, dashes, hyphens, underscores, spaces, number signs (#), and tab characters. Each token that is three or more characters long is searched for in the password, and if it is present, the password change is rejected. For example, the name “Erin M. Hagens” would be split into three tokens: “Erin,” “M,” and “Hagens.” Because the second token is only one character long, it would be ignored. Therefore this user could not have a password that included either “erin” or “hagens” as a substring anywhere in the password. None of these checks are case-sensitive.
After your password is accepted and changed press OK to log on.
Step 5. Enjoy your new installation
After logon you’re presented with the glorious new Windows Server 2008 R2 Interface
Don’t forget to activate your copy with one of the five available product keys when you want to enjoy it for a longer period of time.
Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta is a breeze.
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Disclaimer Beta Software
The information on this webpage applies to software from Microsoft that was in testing phase but utilizable by experienced users by the time the webpage was written. This software has not been released for sale, distribution or usage for the general public. The information on this webpage and the beta software are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.