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Install and Configure Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials or Windows Server Essentials Experience

Published: June 24, 2013

Updated: January 22, 2014

Applies To: Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials is an ideal first server for small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices. For organizations with up to 100 users and 200 devices, you can now use Windows Server 2012 R2 with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role installed. This topic addresses both scenarios.

Windows Server Essentials Experience, the new server role in Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard and Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter, enables you to take advantage of all the features (such as Remote Web Access and PC backup) that are available to you in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials without the locks and limits that are enforced in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials. This server role is also available in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and is enabled by default. For more information about this server role, see the Windows Server Essentials Experience Overview.

The Windows Server Essentials Experience role in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials or Windows Server 2012 R2 has the following limitations.

 

Windows Server Essentials Experience in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Windows Server Essentials Experience in Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard or Datacenter
  • Must be the domain controller at the root of the forest and domain, and must hold all the FSMO roles.

  • Cannot be installed in an environment with a pre-existing Active Directory domain (however, there is a grace period of 21 days for performing migrations).

  • Does not have to be a domain controller if it is installed in an environment with a pre-existing Active Directory domain.

  • If an Active Directory domain does not exist, installing the role will create an Active Directory domain, and the server will become the domain controller at the root of the forest and domain, holding all the FSMO roles.

Can only be deployed into a single domain.

Can only be deployed into a single domain.

A read-only domain controller cannot exist in your domain.

A read-only domain controller cannot exist in your domain.

noteNote
To download evaluation versions of the operating systems, visit the TechNet Evaluation Center:

Download Windows Server 2012 R2

Download Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

This document provides step-by-step instructions for installing and configuring Windows Server Essentials. Depending on your network environment, you have the following installation options available to you:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials (with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role enabled by default)

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role installed

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role installed

 

Deployment environment Description Related section

New Active Directory environment

You can install Windows Server Essentials to create a new Active Directory environment.

Deploy Windows Server Essentials to set up a new Active Directory environment

Existing Active Directory environment

You can install Windows Server Essentials in an existing Active Directory environment.

Deploy Windows Server Essentials in an existing Active Directory environment

Virtual environment

You can deploy Windows Server Essentials as a virtual machine.

Virtualize your environment

Automated deployment

You can automate deployment of Windows Server Essentials by using Windows PowerShell.

Install and configure Windows Server Essentials by using Windows PowerShell

 

Windows Server Essentials provides a way for you to quickly set up an Active Directory environment and related server features.

If you are using Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, Windows Server Essentials Experience is already enabled. However, you must complete some steps to configure your server.

  1. After the Windows Welcome page, the Configure Windows Server Essentials Wizard is visible on your desktop.

  2. Follow the instructions to complete the wizard as follows:

    1. On the Configure Windows Server Essentials page, click Next.

    2. In Time settings, make sure your date, time, and time zone are correct, and then click Next.

    3. In Company Information, type your company name, such as Contoso,Ltd., and then click Next. Optionally, you can change the internal domain name and server name.

    4. In Create network admin, type a new administrator account name and password.

      noteNote
      Do not use the default Administrator account name and password.

    5. Click Configure.

  3. The server will restart multiple times during the configuration process, and your logons will be automatic until the configuration is finished. This process takes about 20 minutes.

  4. On the desktop, click the Dashboard icon to start the server Dashboard. On the Home page, complete the Getting Started tasks listed on the Setup tab.

After you have completed the server configuration, the server that is running Windows Server Essentials will be set up as a domain controller.

You can use Server Manager to enable and configure the Windows Server Essentials Experience role in Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard or Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter by using the following procedure.

  1. Log on to your server as a local administrator.

  2. Open Server Manager, and then click Add Roles and Features.

  3. In Select server roles, select the Windows Server Essentials Experience role. In the dialog box, click Add Features, and then click Next.

  4. In Features, click Next.

  5. Review the Windows Server Essentials Experience role description, and then click Next.

  6. In the pages that follow, click Next, and then on the confirmation page, click Install.

  7. After the installation is complete, Windows Server Essentials Experience should be listed as a server role in Server Manager.

  8. In the flag notification area in Server Manager, click the flag, and then click Configure Windows Server Essentials.

  9. (Optional) Change the server name if needed.

    ImportantImportant
    You cannot change the server name after you have configured Windows Server Essentials.

  10. Follow the wizard to configure Windows Server Essentials as described earlier in the Deploying Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials section.

You can also deploy Windows Server Essentials if your organization already has an existing Active Directory environment. In addition, you can choose if you want to deploy Windows Server Essentials as a domain controller.

ImportantImportant
This option is only available if you deploy the Windows Server Essentials Experience role in Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard or Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter.

  1. (Optional) Change the server name if needed.

    ImportantImportant
    You cannot change the server name after you have configured Windows Server Essentials.

  2. Join your server running Windows Server Essentials to an existing domain as follows:

    1. If you want this server to be a domain controller, set up the server as a replica domain controller.

    2. If you do not want this server to be a domain controller, join this server to your domain by using the Windows native tools.

  3. Restart your server and log on to the server as a domain administrator.

  4. Open Server Manager, and then click Add Roles and Features.

  5. On the pages that follow, click Next.

  6. In Select Server Roles, select Windows Server Essentials Experience. In the dialog box, click Add Features, and then click Next.

  7. In Features, click Next.

  8. Review the Windows Server Essentials Experience description, and then click Next.

  9. In the pages that follow, click Next, and then on the confirmation page, click Install.

  10. After the installation is complete, Windows Server Essentials Experience will be listed as a server role in Server Manager.

  11. In the flag notification area in Server Manager, click the flag, and then click Configure Windows Server Essentials.

  12. Follow the wizard to configure Windows Server Essentials. Depending on your Active Directory configuration, you will be informed whether you are configuring Windows Server Essentials on a domain controller or as a domain member. Click Configure to begin the configuration. The configuration process takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard, and Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter can be run as virtual machines. You run virtual machines by using the Hyper-V management tools on a server running Hyper-V. From a licensing perspective, Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials allows you to set up the Hyper-V role and virtualize your environment. The license allows you to set up another guest operating system that is running Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials. Depending on your system provider’s configuration, Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials enables you to set up a virtualized environment seamlessly.

  1. After the Windows Welcome page (depending on your system provider’s configuration), the Before you begin page provides an option to set up Windows Server Essentials as a virtual instance or on physical hardware. The availability of these options is predefined by your system provider and both options may not always be available. To install Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials as a virtual machine, in Install Windows Server Essentials, select Install as virtual instance, and then click Configure.

  2. The wizard will provision a virtual machine which takes about five minutes.

  3. Next, configure Windows Server Essentials as described earlier in the Deploying Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials section.

You can automate the installation of Windows Server Essentials by using Windows PowerShell cmdlets.

  1. Open the Windows PowerShell console from an elevated command prompt.

  2. Install the Windows Server Essentials Experience role by using the following command:

    Add-WindowsFeature ServerEssentialsRole
    
  3. Run Get-Help Start-WssConfigurationService.

    1. Run the following command to start the configuration to set up Windows Server Essentials as a domain controller:

      Start-WssConfigurationService -CompanyName "ContosoTest" -DNSName "ContosoTest.com" -NetBiosName "ContosoTest" -ComputerName "YourServerName” –NewAdminCredential $cred
      
    2. Run the following command to start the configuration to set up Windows Server Essentials as an existing domain member. You must be a member of the Enterprise Admin group and Domain Admin group in Active Directory to perform this task:

      Start-WssConfigurationService –Credential <Your Credential>
      
      
  4. Monitor the progress of the installation by using the following commands:

    • To have installation status displayed on the progress bar, run Get-WssConfigurationStatus –ShowProgress.

    • To get the immediate progress without the progress bar, run Get-WssConfigurationStatus.

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