Windows Server 2012 on ESXi 4.1

My I.T infrastructure at home has 4 ESXi 4.1 servers which host a number of VMs that are used for home and work purposes.  However, my organically grown infrastructure has now reached the point where it needs re-organising.  As part of that I’m installing new A/D controllers and decided to use Server 2012.

And then found that ESXi 4.1 doesn’t support it.  Try it and you’ll get the Server 2012 sad face appearing.  I don’t have time just now to update to ESX5.X on my servers, so I hunted around the Internet to see if there was a workaround.

I found these set of instructions ( really don’t do this for a production environment )

    • Create a  new VM over the vSphere Client.
    • As “Guest Operating System” use Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 (64-bit)
    • After VM has been created but before first power on, download the following  bios file and upload it to your ESXi datastore into the folder of the VM
    • Now open the .vmx file of the new VM and add the follwing lines
bios440.filename = "bios.440.rom"
mce.enable = TRUE
cpuid.hypervisor.v0 = FALSE
vmGenCounter.enable = FALSE
    • Power on VM and Server 2012 will install and run

About Jon Giffard

Husband, father, motorcyclist , amateur runner ( on hold due to knee injury ) - now trying not to drown whilst swimming. Senior Product Manager - Cloud Platform Not available for yodelling. Please do not ask.
This entry was posted in ESXi4.1, Hypervisors and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Windows Server 2012 on ESXi 4.1

  1. jgiffard says:

    Right now I prefer Windows 2008 R2 from an admin PoV. Think Server 2012 will have to wait until R2, then I’ll come back to it.

  2. Ranjan David says:

    worked fine.. Thanks

  3. Jon says:

    Got it. Thanks

  4. BOOZy says:

    Thanks! Works perfectly, even the VMWare Tools install fine.

  5. Jordi says:

    worked fine.. Thanks!!!

  6. s3b0r says:

    Juhu, this was very helpful for me, thank you very much.

  7. XAvi says:

    Work on a esx 4.0 too. Thanks

  8. Rood says:

    Thnx! works also for Windows 2012 R2.

  9. Erich says:

    Thanks, seems to work for esx 4.1 and Windows 2012 R2 also

  10. Richard says:

    Thanks for the work around!

  11. SchlaWiener says:

    For ESX 4.1 and Server 2012 R2 Build 9600 this did not work.

    Before applying the fix, I got a blue screen almost instandly after setup started. After applying the fix I ran into a CRITICAL_STRUCTURE_CORRUPTION bluescreen after a couple of minutes (during the setup wizard or even while copying the files). In addition to the fix I had to follow the instructions in

  12. Mark R says:

    You sir, are a legend! 🙂

  13. Aaron H says:

    Many thanks. Working with ESXi 4.1.0 build 988178!

  14. Galame says:

    You save my life…May God bless you all the way forever!

  15. Paddy says:

    Thank you So much worked like magic.

  16. carlos says:

    Thanks! so useful!!!

  17. Sean Lively says:

    This also worked for me for Server 2012R2 and ESXi 4.0 build 1682696. Thanks 🙂

  18. daniel says:

    thanks its an awesome way to fix works

  19. That worked perfectly! Installed Windows Server 2012 R2 on VMWare 4.1. Thanks for the info!!

  20. Paul Moreton says:

    I’m running ESXi 4.1.0 – 348481. Has anyone got it working for this particular version. I run through the steps outlined above…
    1. Create VM
    2. Add ROM file to VM directory
    3. Edit .vmx file and add variables
    I think attach my ISO and boot. I then get an error saying the VM must reboot and it repeats this process over and over again 😦
    Any help anyone can offer would be appreciated.
    Kind regards

  21. Tom Jones says:

    Thanks a lot. This helped more than you know. Greatly appreciated.

  22. Jeferson says:

    Work for me, thank’s

  23. Marc says:

    Good job! Works perfect!

  24. Sreenu says:

    wow its awesome, even able to upgrade to win2012. Thanq..

  25. Mitja says:

    Great! Works also for 2012 R2. Thanks!

  26. JOhn Mahtew says:

    Thanks you so much Its worked charm

  27. Thank you. This saved me when I really needed. One of my coworker pointed out that a datastore migration may not move the bios file with the other files. Something to keep in mind.

  28. Omer says:

    I need to move my VM environment to 5.0 anything special I need to do to a server 2012 vm with this fix before/after the move?

  29. Rob says:

    Just noting that the comment in the instructions “but before first power on”, isn’t critical. I had powered on a few times during testing what might work and your process still rendered a fully functional server. Thank you for taking the time to post this help.

  30. Scott Clark says:

    Worked great for me – thanks for posting!

  31. Jan De Smet says:

    Hi, This works for me on esxi 4.1. Server 2012R STD installed perfect. Next year, we will migrate to new server hardware, and new vsphere 6.0. For now, our SAN (Datacore V8) is limiting us to upgrade vsphere right now. When we migrate to esxi 5.5 or 6, do I need change the vmx back to the Original setting? Or will there be no problems when upgrading VMWare tools?


  32. This worked perfectly, do it just as he wrote. No problems. THANK YOU! -Bob

  33. Jos says:

    Works fine, even wit W2K12R2. Just for a bunch of test servers, saves the hassle of upgrading ESXi for now.. Great!

  34. Gjorret says:

    Seems to work (Currently installing). Thanks alot

  35. Ed says:

    You are the MAN! that worked. Don’t forget to mention you should use notepad++ to edit the vmx file.

  36. fdsfdsf says:

    Many thanks for this trick !! Work like a charm ! 😉

  37. Omar Torres says:

    Thank you Jon & Ed!, is working perfect!

  38. Fred Bas says:

    Very good. If not enough (error code 0x0000005d), verify bios settings no-execute memory protection:

  39. dstuncer says:

    Master, thank you very much…

  40. Gav says:

    Saved me hours of messing around with ESXi upgrades. Worked exactly as described with Server 2012 R2. Also worth note that I applied this to a converted VM after trying to boot the VM a number of times on the ESXi host first. Applied the fix, worked first try. Perfect!

  41. claudio says:

    Excelente…!! funciona

  42. Prakash says:

    thanks for the information, we have installed windows server 2012 in ESX4.1, but now we are migrating windows server 2012 virtual machine form esx4.1 to esxi6.5, after migration virtual machine is not powering on.

    Please suggest.

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