Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate runs fine on ESXi 5.0 Update 1

Posted by Paul Braren on Jun 1 2012 (updated on May 2 2014) in
  • ESXi
  • Virtualization
  • Windows
  • windows-server-2012-release-candidate-charmed-desktop
    Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate "Charmed" Desktop!?

    It's now fairly easy to run Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate on patched ESXi 5, but I'm not finding it well documented anywhere, not yet anyway.

    Here's the short version:

    • if you're already at ESXi 5.0 Update 02, create a new VM, setting the OS type to "Windows Server 2008 R2 (64 bit)" for the install
      (the Windows Server 8 (64 bit) setting won't work: it hangs on startup)
    • when the install is complete, install VMware Tools (Typical), and reboot when prompted
    • install took about 4 minutes total, from start to finish, using vZilla's spectacularly fast RAID5 (using Vertex 4 SSD for cache)

    Here's the longer, much more detailed version:

    1. If your version of ESXi doesn't already show as build 623860 (Update 1) or later, update first by following the instructions at:

    2. Download of the 64-bit (x64) 3.3GB Windows Server 8 Beta ISO named
      at TechNet site:

    3. Upload the ISO to the ESXi datastore, using free Veeam FastSCP (6x faster) or vSphere Client Datastore Browser (slow)

    4. Next, follow along with the YouTube video I posted below, where basically, you're just telling the VM it's Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 you're installing, then installing VMware Tools.

    I'll add some more screenshots soon, and more detail, but first I wanted to get these instructions out there, come back and refresh this page for more details and screenshots. Admittedly, additional testing is needed, (the info that follows is pasted from a similar article about the earlier beta), and I'll need to retest the sound and video tips, and come back and tweak this article, if needed.

    June 3 2012 Update:

    relevant info from earlier beta:

    You should also consider the warning in the article 2006859: you won't get the VMware WDDM video driver, but for a server, this really doesn't matter. You can always right-click and uninstall the failed-to-load VMware WDDM driver, so it'll revert to the original driver, but none of that matters for the typical Remote Desktop Connections you'll likely be using instead.

    If you watch the last half of the video, you'll see me kicking the tires quite a bit, trying to turn on sound over RDP, learning the new UI along the way. This is my very first look at Windows Server 8, recorded for you. I never bothered to check out the September 2011 beta. So it's a bit embarrassing to watch me struggle to find the good old stuff.

    But it's all still there, the desktop, cmd.exe, compmgmt.msc, etc. And it you want sound support and the whole desktop experience, I located this command after recording the video:

    dism /online /enable-feature /all /featurename:DesktopExperience

    Then be sure to start the Windows Audio Service, and set the service to Autostart, and you're all set, no reboot, you'll now have sound for your RDP sessions, much as I described for Windows 2008 R2 here:

    From prior beta, but still relevant: