Windows Server 8 Beta runs fine on ESXi 5.0 Patch 02

It’s now fairly easy to run Windows 8 Server Beta on patched ESXi 5, but I’m not finding it well documented anywhere, not yet anyway.

For your search purposes, you may find most references state:
Windows 8 Server Beta
but the actual name that Microsoft is using is:
Windows Server 8 Beta.

You may use your MSDN or TechNet subscription login to get the beta, or just any Microsoft login to TechNet login site here, and choose the ISO.

Next, get ESXi 5.0 ready:

  1. Start the download ESXi500-201112001 (Patch 02) here:
  2. Start the download of the 64-bit (x64) 3.3GB Windows Server 8 Beta ISO named
    at Microsoft’s TechNet Evaluation Center, and if you have a current TechNet or MSDN subscription, you’ll get the download
  3. While downloading, take note of the instructions VMware gives about patching to ESXi500-201112001 (Patch 02)
  4. Read the patch description:
  5. Open ESXi SSH session.
    Temporarily allow SSH on ESXi host, use WinSCP to transfer the patch, open PuTTY to ESXi.
  6. If you don’t have Update Manager installed, fast esxcli update method is detailed below:  the only difference is the filename is now
    which is also shown in the video. Once the patch is installed, reboot ESXi as prompted.
  7. Next, follow all the basic Windows Server 8 Beta VM install steps in the video below.
    Basically, you’re telling the VM it’s Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 you’re installing, save the VM settings, then go back in to change the OS to Windows 8 Server x64.
I’ll add some more screenshots soon, and more detail for Step 7 above, but first I wanted to get these instructions out there, come back and refresh this page for more details and screenshots. Note that I also I did manually get VMware Tools installed, and unlike the Consumer Preview version, you can’t just mount ISO files in this 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:
Anybody know what Primordial Storage Spaces are (seen pictured at right)?
We all apparently need to start remembering how important moving your mouse to the top left and to the bottom right is. There are definite signs of the Metro/Consumer Preview interface here and there, but they’re not terriby annoying. Check it out for yourself!


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  • DetailsCA

    It didn’t work for me until I updated to the latest patch and set the video to automatically select.  After that the boot to .iso went very smoothly.
    Thank you!

  • tinkererguy

    Interesting/surprising observation, since somehow mine doesn’t require tweaking the video setting. Thank you for the feedback!

  • Paul

    Man, I just cannot get this to work, I get the HAL error straight after booting the ISO so don’t even get a chance to install. I’ve patched ESXi as you suggested but still no good.

    I did notice a weird error in the “Events” tab everytime I boot, saying the guest OS tried to update te CPU microcode but ESX does not allow microcode updates. Maybe it’s something to do with that.

  • tinkererguy

    I gather the patch worked fine, and you rebooted ESXi.

    So, I realize it’s a “stretch,” but have you watched the whole video carefully, to see if there’s something significant I’m doing differently than you?

    It is good you’re sharing your issue, will be interesting to see if others have the same problem you had.

    FYI, I’m still working on trying to get a VM running inside that nested Hyper-V, no luck there yet fyi (nobody else has that figured out yet either, as far as I can tell).

  • Pieter

    Thank you for the great post, it worked exactly as you stated, followed the steps which was clear and consice.

    • tinkererguy

      Wow, thank you Pieter, your favorable feedback is greatly appreciated!

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  • Dre

    Worked great after the update, cheers !