Alongside the Windows 8 Developer Preview of the Windows client, Microsoft released the Windows Server bits of the same build as well. Where the Windows client is released to the general public and has probably seen over a million downloads this first day, the Windows Server bits can only be downloaded when you have a MSDN subscription.
This blogpost shows you how to install the Windows Server 8 Developer Preview, with build number 8102.
Download Windows Server 8 from MSDN
The first step is to download the bits. This step requires you to log in with a Windows Live account with an active MSDN subscription on msdn.microsoft.com. Signing in can be done in the top right corner of the website.
When logged in, use the Downloads and Product Keys link in the Subscriptions side panel. Now, you can click on New Downloads or Operating Systems in the panel on the right. In the list you find the Windows Server Developer Preview. Click it and find the following downloads:
Clicking one of the Download links will trigger the built-in Transfer Manager. Your download will safely come down from the download server and all you have to do is wait a little while. (or a little longer, when you have limited network bandwidth)
Create installation media
After you’ve completed the download, you end up with an *.iso file. This is the standard file format for CD and DVD media.
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. If the box you’ve downloaded the Developer Preview on, is running Windows XP or Windows Vista, you’ll need a tool to burn. 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
bootsect /nt60 Y:
xcopy X:\*.* /s/e/fY:\
where X:\ is your mounted image or physical DVD and Y:\ is your USB
Start 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 first screen you’ll notice, features some Regional Settings. You can change the Time and currency format and the Keyboard or input method settings. Press Next when done.
If you feel like testing your RAM you could choose to Repair your computer in this screen. If you trust the hardware and feel like you have nothing to lose, click on the Install now button.
Now, Setup is starting… apparently.
In the Select the operating system you want to install screen, you can select how you want to install Windows Server 8. This is a pivotal choice. The three options present in the Developer Preview are:
- Windows Server Developer Preview (Full Installation)
- Windows Server Developer Preview (Server Core Installation)
- Windows Server Developer Preview (Features On Demand)
Of course, all three options result in an x64 operating system, since Windows Server 2008 was the last Server Operating System to offer x86 installation media.
When done, press Next.
To continu installing, you need to accept the license terms. Nothing too fancy, when you’re fluent in Legalese. When you’re not (like most people) you can just check the I accept the license terms option and press Next.
Now you get the opportunity to choose your type of installation. Since this is a vanilla box, I’m sticking with Custom (advanced).
Now a screen appears that offers a second pivotal choice. 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, but more than appropriate for testing purposes.
When you select to create a new partition to install Windows Server 8 Developer Preview onto it will automatically create a 350MB partition and a partition with the rest of the size you specified. The 350Mb partition will be set as the active partition and used as the System drive by Windows Server.
Now the Setup routines quietly churns on your choices and install Windows Server on your disk subsystems.
When it’s done it will automatically reboot the machine.
At the First boots, Windows Server Setup will update registry settings, get devices ready, and preparing the user interface. When it’s done, you will be presented with the Windows server Developer Preview Logon Screen:
Here you need to set a password, by typing it twice. Of course, the password needs to comply with the password policy. This policy by default dictates you set a password with a minimum length of 8 characters and you use a combination of upper and lower case characters, numbers and the more ethereal characters under your Shift key. The password also can’t include a significant portion of the username. (More info)
You need to enter the password twice. When done press Enter.
Then, the lock screen appears, featuring the Press CTRL + ALT + DELETE to log on text, typical for Windows 8 Server and domain-joined Windows 8 client installations.
Using the Ctrl+Alt+Del keystroke combination, results in the actual logon screen, where you can log on to the box with the password provided earlier.
After logging on, you’ll notice the Server Manager launching by default, to present you with one of the most significant improvements in Windows Server 8:
The new Server Manager offers significant improvements over previous versions. The new Server Groups allow admins to group servers together and perform management tasks on all these servers at once, like running the Best Practices Analyzer.