Introduction to Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition RC2: Part 2

By Jason Zandri (Send Email)
Posted Feb 27, 2003


Jason Zandri's overview of the Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition installation process continues as he steps through the basics (and some not so basic details) of installing the soon-to-be-released operating system.

The idea behind this article (and future series) is to give an overview of the Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition installation process as currently laid out in the most recent build -- RC2 3718.main.021114-1947. This will eventually lead to the final (GOLD) release to market (RTM) copy of the operating system, which is scheduled for worldwide launch in April 2003.

The information contained within this article is based solely on personal experience with the RC2 product, and the information given, such as minimum system requirements and installation procedures, is current as of the time of writing (February 4, 2003). As with any product in development, all of the following is subject to change.

Please assume that when "Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition" is mentioned within this article, it is referring specifically to "Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition RC2 3718.main.021114-1947" unless otherwise mentioned.

One of the things you may notice is that the name used throughout the article is different from what will show up in many of the screen shots. This is because the name "Windows .NET Server 2003" has been changed recently to Windows Server 2003. You can read up a little more on this on the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Web site.

Clean Install of Windows Server 2003 (RC2)

After performing the standard BIOS configurations to allow booting from the CD-ROM, you can load the bootable disk and begin the installation.

The first screen to come up will be the black "Setup is inspecting your computers hardware configuration." (If there is an active partition on any of the installed hard drives in the system, you will see a "Press any key to boot from the CD" message before you reach this screen. If you do not hit a key before the timeout, the CD-ROM will be bypassed in favor of the local active partition.)

From here, Setup continues to the Windows Server 2003 Setup screen, where all of the drivers are loaded.

After the drivers load, the Windows Setup screen appears, and Setup copies the required temporary files to the local hard drive after the location of the setup files has been acknowledged.

After the file copy is complete, the Setup Program will append any existing boot.ini file (or write a new one) and will reboot and continue the installation from the locally copied temporary files.

After the system restarts and continues past the splash screen, you'll arrive at the Windows .NET Standard Server Setup screen where you will select ENTER to continue with the a normal installation. (This is also where you would be able to repair a failed installation using the Recovery Console.)

After that screen is the license agreement screen, where you agree to the license by hitting F8. (The 360-day license noted here is because RC2 is designed with this built-in limitation. The GOLD product will not have this limitation.)

You will then arrive at the partition selection screen. The hardware layout of the system and whether any partitions have been installed will affect what the next screen displays.

Slightly more than 1 GB of free space is needed on a hard drive to install the operating system, and about 300 MB to 400 MB more must be available afterward for the swapfile. This is why the Disk Space for Setup is pegged at 1.5 GB. After selecting the partition and hitting ENTER, the file system selection screen comes up as shown below. Here, you can choose to format the partition as FAT32 or NTFS. (NTFS is always recommended and is the default setting. If you choose FAT32 you can always perform CONVERT after the operating system is installed.)

You will need to pick a previously partitioned space of the hard drive that has enough free space, use an existing section of unpartitioned space that has enough room for the total installation, or you will need to delete existing partitions and then choose that space to create a new partition. Once you have made one of these choices you then must pick a file system to use and Setup will format it.

Setup continues from here by copying files to the default installation folder \Windows. As with Windows XP Professional, you can select only the installation path drive letter and not the name of the systemroot folder during a standard installation.

(If you use an unattended setup file you can then include a path designation other than WINDOWS. Also, if you started an upgrade from within an existing operating system and choose New Installation, you can go to the Setup options page and select the Advanced button and edit the installation path of the system files.)

Once this section of the installation is finished the system will reboot. When the system comes up again, the GUI will engage and display the current status of the final phases of setup.

During this attended installation, the Setup program will pause for needed user input, such as the Regional and Language Option page below.

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