Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials is the successor of Windows Server SBS 2011 and of course Windows Server 2012 Essentials. For a nice review, check out this blog from John Joyner: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-cool-new-features-in-windows-server-2012-r2-essentials/
The most exciting part of the new release is that you are allowed to run this OS in a virtual machine! Yes, that means that you can install the server and enable the hyper-v role and then install the server in a virtual machine with just one license. You can of course just use the free Hyper-V 2012 R2 from Microsoft but for many users this will not be an option since they have to mess with some command lines etc…. I did a search on the net how to install the hyper-v role but I couldn’t find any post about it. Just a few articles tech net addressed to OEM-makers for how to prepare the image for deploying just the hyper-v role for the host OS. Again, not something that a regular user or SMB would do..
So.. how can we do this?
HP Microserver Gen 8 with Intelligent Provisioning 1.60 (released 20.february 2014) is a perfect match for Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials. You can of course use this with any server that is compatible with Hyper-V.
After the installation of the OS you are asked by a wizard to deploy the AD etc. Skip this. Go to Server Manager and remove the essentials experience role. yes, that´s correct. It is a role in Windows Server 2012 R2. Reboot if necessary. If you get an error message when logging in this means you also have to remove another packaged. Go to powershell and type in the follow.
Dism /online /Disable-Feature /FeatureName:Microsoft-Windows-ServerEssentials-ServerSetup /Remove
When this is done you can install the hyper-v role from the server manager. You can also remove other roles/features to keep the host clean but it shouldn’t matter much in such a small environment. The 2012 R2 is rock solid and won’t give you much trouble with these features enabled in a small environment.
Then you are ready to install the virtual machine as you normally would from the hyper-v manager. Enjoy!