How to Install Windows Server 2012 Step by Step

Windows Server 2012 is the latest version and server class operating system by Microsoft. It accepts the request from client machines and serves them with the appropriate service and necessary information. Windows server 2012 is released in two different flavors, namely:

  1. Windows Server 2012 Standard
  2. Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

The two flavors are identically similar in feature set with only difference of – The number of supported virtual machines (VMs) and processors.

Following are the prerequisites:

Parameters Minimum Requirements
Processor 1.4 GHz 64 bit Processor
RAM 512 MB
Disk Space Requirements 32 GB (system partition will need some extra space)

If you have all the above (of course you have), then you are good to proceed with the installation. You may be doing it in the machine itself or in VMware, it doesn’t matter. The procedure is no different.

Before moving on to the installation, I would like you to know the Server 2012 is only available in 64 (x64) bit version and there is no 32 (x86) bit version available for it.

Now let’s get started with installation of Windows Server 2012 first on the VMware. Here I am using a pirated copy of VMware Workstation for experimentation and demonstration purpose.

This is the torrent link to the file from where you can download VMware Workstation 10:

Step 1: Open VMware Workstation and click on “New Virtual Machine” present on the file tab. Then a window will open, select “Typical” installation and proceed.

VM Installation


Step 2: You can either select “Installer disc”, in which you have to insert a disc into drive and proceed or “Installer disc image ISO” which we will doing here, where you have to browse and choose an ISO file of Windows Server 2012. After selecting ISO file, VMware will automatically detect the operating system. If it doesn’t detects, you can always specify the operating system manually. Click “Next”.


Step 3: In this screen the only mandatory option is to select the version of Operating system and Full name of the Computer name. Other options like Windows Product key you can insert at this time or you can also activate the Server after installation of it.

I am not activating at this time, as it won’t make any difference. When the server is installed, you can go to “System properties” and click on “View details in Windows Activation” to activate.

In the screen below password is the Administrator password, which is also not mandatory. You can set it later, as after the installation the first thing OS will demand is the Admin password.

I am selecting Server 2012 Datacenter.


Step 4: Set a name of virtual machine of your choice and provide a location where the VMware files of Windows server operating system will be stored. By default it is set to Server Core. The most important thing here, in Windows Server 2012 is that this is available as a feature, i.e. you can uninstall or even remove it whenever you want it unnecessary. So, now let’s talk about the “GUI” and “Core” mode here. We can breakdown these Standard and Data Center flavors into:

  1. GUI (Graphical User Interface) – This we can further classify into:

a. Minimal Server Interface – This is a kind of in between phase of Server with a GUI and Core mode. This kind of functionality removes Server Console Shell and you are only given Management Infrastructure Shell, Server Manager Console and some of the elements of Control panel. If the GUI is required for administrative purpose then, minimal mode must be used by administrator and to switch from core (default) to minimal server interface mode, type this in PowerShell:

# Install–WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra -Restart

b. Server with a GUI – This is the default mode, when you select (GUI) mode of Server. This will give you Management Infrastructure Shell, Windows Explorer, Control Panel and also the Server Manager GUI to manage its roles and feature with an interactive way. To switch from core to Server with a GUI mode, type this in PowerShell: # Add-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell –Restart

And to switch from Minimal Server Interface to full GUI:

# Install–WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra Server-Gui-Shell –Restart

c. GUI with Desktop Experience – This is the mode which will give all the shiny and glitter things like what you get in desktop mode. But administrator must avoid this mode as it is an open gate for threats and vulnerabilities. To switch from core mode to GUI with desktop experience:

# Install–WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra Server-Gui-Shell Desktop-Experience –Restart

2. Server Core – This is the default type when you will install Server 2012. As this is the safest way to install with minimum vulnerabilities.

So, Windows Server 2012 does give flexibility for administrators to use this feature and switch between different interfaces as per their convenience, but always keep in mind that this change needs the restart of the server. Hence always consider and plan the Server downtime.

Click on Next.


Step 5: On the next screen you will have to define the size of the Virtual machine. Please plan accordingly as what are you going to do in the server i.e. which all are the roles and feature you are going to configure and what additional software’s you are going to install in it. 60 GB would be decent enough, but if your OS include much of a work. Then you can always increase the size.

Note: Once your VM machine is up and you took a snapshot, it’s not possible to adjust the size of the VM after that point.

The two options you can see are: (These are entirely related to performance factor of your VM)

  1. Store virtual disk as a single file: If you don’t have to move your VM, then choose this.
  2. Store virtual disk into multiple files: If you need to move the file from one disk to another and also from one partition to another then this is the best option for you. But, you may experience some performance degrade.


Step 6: Now, here comes the most important and critical part which will decide the overall performance of your Virtual Machine i.e. “Configurations”. The next screen you will get is to customize the various parameters. Here I will only show the parameters which matters the most.

Device Recommended Requirements Description
Memory The more is better, but you can give 2-3 GB of your RAM to run the operating system smoothly. ·         Guest OS Minimum – This will be the minimum requirement.·         Recommended – It is advisable to set the bar to this level.·         Maximum Memory – It is the maximum threshold up to which you can allocate the RAM, after which swapping of pages will take place, i.e. a part of hard disk will be used as a RAM.
Processor Depends upon how much you have it on your hardware. Half of the resource allocation is what I recommend. The No. of Processors and No. of Cores per processor varies as per the individual machines hardware configuration.
Network Adapter NAT is Ok, if you are running a single virtual machine, and as protection point of view. They are of two types, I will speak in Layman’s terms:·         NAT – Your Server will be assigned a different subnet and hence only the machines inside your VMware workstation will be able to access the server, being on the same subnet as your server.·         Bridge – The Server will be in the same subnet as your host will be. Any computer from outside will be able to access your Server.·         Host Only – Your Server will get only one IP. Other VM will not be able to access your Server
New CD/DVD Leave it as it is. This will point to the ISO file, from where it will proceed with the installation.


Step 7: After Clicking on “Close” and “Finish”. Your VM configuration is completed and you are is all set to proceed with the installation of Windows Server 2012.

Check all the configuration, and click on “Power on this Virtual Machine”. The VM will immediately start with the setup screen.

The next screen you will be seeing is that, the main installation of Windows Server has started. That’s right, you don’t have to do anything in it. VM ware will automatically set all the parameters which you have customized and specified in all the pervious steps.


After this setup is completed… BAZINGA!!!…your server will be up and running with the Server Manager Console showing at the startup.


Now you can do a whole bunch of stuff in that.

All the Best!!!