Deploying Windows Server 2012 without Running Installer

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Microsoft Windows Server 2012 is a one of Windows Server’s family brand. It is the sixth release of Windows Server and using the same controversial Metro-based user interface in Windows 8. In fact, Windows Server 2012 has codename “Windows Server 8” before it was release the final product as “Windows Server 2012”.

Installation of Windows Server 2012 is (theoretically) simple. However things going complicated in my case so I have to do it in other way. In this article, we will discuss about how to install Windows Server 2012 without even running the installer. That means we don’t need Installer DVD and boot the machine from it.

In this article, I use:

  1. Lenovo Ideapad Z480, as machine
  2. Windows Server 2012 R2 ISO file
  3. Microsoft Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK)

What we say about installing Windows Server 2012 without running installer doesn’t mean we will copy the data in hard way. We will do it using smart way.

Background Story

With a training of SharePoint 2013, I was “forced” to install Windows Server 2012 as stand alone operating system (not in virtual machine). In other word: multi-boot with my current installed Windows 8 and Slackware64 14.0. This is simply because of the hardware requirement of a SharePoint farm.

My machine, Lenovo Ideapad 480, has been configured as UEFI machine with GPT disk. However, the same problem as installing Windows 8, the Windows Server 2012 installer I have cannot be installed to GPT disk. Another problem arise when I convert my GPT to MBR disk layout: I can’t boot! This is because the entry in UEFI firmware isn’t match with those modified layout. So I change back to GPT and repair the UEFI bootloader for Windows 8, while the Slackware remain untouched yet.

So I try other way around without messing with GPT and UEFI. That is deploying the server manually.

In this article, I assume the machine has been installed with Windows 8.

The Partition

My system is based on my guide for dual boot Windows 8 and Slackware64.

At least we need three partitions: EFI boot partition, Microsoft Reserved (MSR) Partition, and partition for Windows Server 2012. This is the layout partition I have, displayed using diskpart program:

sel disk 0
list vol


The red square is the EFI partition. The blue one is the Microsoft Reserved partition. Last, the green one is our (would be) Windows Server 2012 root partition, as seen from Windows 8.

So, I assume we already have or prepared those partitions.

Grab Materials

For the next stage, we will need the ISO for Windows Server 2012 and the deployment tools for Windows 8 from the Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK). I won’t provide the ISO, so you should find it by yourself. The latter (ADK), contains “dism.exe” in an updated version which allows Windows Server 2012, as well as Windows 8, to be deployed.

The one I use is Windows Server 2012 R2.

Deploying Windows Server 2012

Mount the ISO, using any image mount program. In my case, I use PowerISO. Assuming the ISO file is mounted as drive E: and we will install Windows Server 2012 to drive G:, we can deploy the WIM file by:

dism /Apply-Image /ImageFile:E:\sources\install.wim /Index:1 /ApplyDir:G:\

The index specifies which edition is deployed from the WIM file. The meaning of the index and other valid choices are revealed by the following command:

dism /Get-ImageInfo /ImageFile:E:\sources\install.wim

Here is the screenshot:


Creating Bootstrap

This section is similar to article repair Windows 8 EFI bootloader.

We will create the bootstrap for EFI on EFI partition. Remember that I need to make it dual with my existing Windows 8, so we should create a separate folder. However, the EFI partition is not yet assigned with drive letter, so we better assign it first.

Open terminal with administrator privilege. Invoke diskpart to run disk partition program, in terminal. I have only 1 disk, so it should be recognized as disk 0, so we will select disk 0.

sel disk 0

Now, based on previous picture, my EFI partition is recognized as volume 1, so we will assign it to a drive letter, let say B.

sel vol 1
assign letter B:

Now, exit the diskpart. Still on administrator privileged terminal, go to B:\ and create new directory for EFI boot.

cd EFI
mkdir WinServer2012
cd WinServer2012
mkdir Boot
cd Boot

And copy all the file required for boot from mounted ISO (assuming it is mounted as E:\):

copy E:\efi\microsoft\boot\* .

And then use a tool called bcdboot to make bootstrap.

bcdboot G:\Windows /l en-us /f ALL /s B:

Now restart.

About Author

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A man who is obsessed to low level technology.

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