I recently installed Windows Server 2008 on a virtual machine. It went pretty well.
The first snafu was the RAM. I always use 256MB for my server installs but I got an error as soon as I hit “Install Now,” because 2008 requires 512MB. I made the adjustment and continued. I was pleased that the Product Key was the first item that needed to be entered. In previous versions, you could go most of the way through the install and find that your product key didn’t work, what a waste!
There were 3 versions to choose from Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter and each one had either a Full or Server Core Installation. I chose Enterprise Full. Server Core is great if you know exactly what you want to use the server for and it won’t really serve multiple purposes. When you reboot, all you’ll get is a command prompt and you go from there. The Full install will give me access the way I’m used to, with a nice GUI, MMC, Start button and the server manager.
It was nice to see a “Load Driver” button when we’re ready to select where Windows should be installed. On many servers, the RAID controller drivers need to be installed. Often, I’d miss the prompt “Press F6 to install additional drivers.” This is really useful for many reasons, especially where you have a SAN or external RAID controllers.
The install went by effortlessly; once the partition was selected it didn’t stop to ask me to set the time, enter a product key or any other irrelevant interruption. It rebooted itself, it took a while to boot back up but I guess that’s normal. Now, I could log in, it asked me to change the Administrator password and then loaded the desktop.
I was greeted with an “Initial Configuration Tasks” window that has all the options laid out right there, rather than going through several wizards. From here I could set the computer name, timezone & time, domain, add roles and other tasks that are usually associated with a newly installed server.
In previous jobs, I’d make custom installation based on my needs that had all the updates and options set so that I could just rename the server, reboot and be done. Windows Server 2008 makes that obsolete because the installation is so streamlined, its a huge time saver. So far impressed, I’ll write about the initial post-installation experience once I play with it some more.