The purpose of this guide is to provide you a quick reference for Windows Server 2012 deployment. This guide covered the Windows installation on a virtual machine and the basic preparation prior to the installation. You can use this guide to help you in preparing the Windows Server 2012 for production or build a lab server for testing purposes.

Windows Server 2012 Installation Preparation

To complete the installation,

  • You should have the Windows installation DVD or you can download the evaluation copy from TechNet Evaluation Center.
  • You have created the virtual machine either using Hyper-V or VMWare.
  • You can refer to the Microsoft Press free eBook “Introducing Windows Server 2012” which can be downloaded for free.

Windows Server 2012 Licensing

Windows Server 2012 comes with 4 editions. Both Standard and Datacenter editions provide the same set of features. The only difference between these 2 editions is the numbers of Virtual Machine instances. The Standard edition license entitles you to run up to 2 Virtual Machine instances on up to 2 processors. Whereas, the Datacenter edition license entitles you to run unlimited Virtual Machine instances up to 2 processors.

The Windows Server 2012 Essentials edition license comes with a simpler interface, pre-configured connectivity to cloud-based services, has 25-users limit, runs up to 2 processors, and no virtualization right. The Foundation edition released through OEM channels has a 15-users limit, run up to 2 processors and no virtualization right.

The table below shows the basic differences among these 4 editions. For details of the Windows Server 2012 Licensing, you can refer to Microsoft Software Licensing and Pricing FAQ.

Windows Server 2012 Datacenter


Windows Server 2012 Standard


Windows Server 2012 Essentials


Windows Server 2012 Foundation

  • All features
  • Unlimited Virtual Machines instances
  • Each license covers up to 2 physical processors
  • All features
  • Two Virtual Machine instances
  • Each license covers up to 2 physical processors
  • Limited features
  • No virtualization right
  • Each license covers up to 2 physical processors
  • Limited to 25-user accounts
  • Limited features
  • No virtualization right
  • Each license covers up to 2 physical processors
  • Limited to 15-user accounts

System Requirements

The basic minimum requirements for Windows Server 2012 are as follows.

  • Minimum 1.4GHz 64-bit processor
  • Minimum 512MB RAM
  • Minimum 32GB disk space
  • A network card
  • The graphic card supports 800×600 of resolution

Take note that the server performance depends on the hardware and application installed on the server. You may require a higher server specification to support your application.

Installing Windows Server 2012

There are three types of Windows Server 2012 installation. This section will provide the Server with a GUI (graphic user interface) installation. You can refer to my other section for Server Core Installation. You also can switch from your Server Core Installation to Server With a GUI installation after deployed the Windows without having to reinstall. The Server with a GUI installation option installs the full Windows interface inclusive of Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure and Server Graphical Shell which are not found in Server Core Installation. You can refer to the Converting Server Installation Type for steps to convert between installation types.

Server with a GUI Installation

To start the installation, power on the virtual machine created. The Windows installation will load the drivers and display the first interface screen. Change the Installation Language and Time Zone if needed. Clicks [Next] to proceed.


On the next Windows Setup screen, clicks [Install Now] to start the Windows installation.


Windows Setup will prompt you to enter the 25-characters Product Key. This is the Windows Server 2012 License Product Key. You can either get this product key from Microsoft Volume License (MVL) or from the sticker on top of the server purchased (for OEM License). If you are installing an evaluation copy, this screen will not be displayed. For Windows Server 2012 evaluation copy, you will have a 180-days-trial period to the Windows activation.


The next screen is the Windows Server 2012 installation options. For this installation, we are choosing Windows Server 2012 Standard (Server with a GUI). If you are installing an evaluation copy, you will have an additional Windows Server 2012 Datacenter edition on the list. Clicks [Next] to proceed.


You are then asked to check the License Terms box to accept the Microsoft Software License Terms. You cannot proceed with the installation without accepting License Terms. Check the box and click [Next] to proceed.


You will then give the options to upgrade or install a fresh copy of the Windows Server 2012. This screen is similar to the Windows Server 2008 R2 Setup. The upgrade option is to upgrade from the previous Windows version. Select the [Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)] for a fresh Windows installation.


Now, select the partition you want to install the Windows Server 2012. You may see multiple Disk Space from the list. It depends on how you configured allocation Disk. You can click on the Advanced option if you want further divide the Disk into multiple partitions.



After you have selected the partition and click [Next]. You are then completed the Windows installation selection. The Windows installation will begin to copy the Windows files and continue the installation. This process will take a while. You can take a break and come back after half an hour.


After the Windows installation is finished, it will restart on its own to complete the installation. The first screen display after Server restart is the Administrator account login password screen. In this screen, you are required to enter the Windows Server default Administrator login password. Enter the Administrator Login password and click [Finish].


That’s it. The Windows Server 2012 installation is completed. You are now can press Ctrl-Alt-Delete keys to log in to Windows Server 2012 Desktop Interface.