The hardware:
Dell Optiplex GX240

The software:
Microsoft Windows Longhorn Server Beta 2 (Build 5270)

Total Time:
Roughly 70 minutes


Currently, the 32-bit beta versions of Vista and Longhorn server come on one DVD image file (.iso) that is 2.07GB. (Such a bundling makes sense, for a beta, perhaps, although it means that some users have to wait longer for the large .iso to download. My first instinct was that the combining of the two products revealed how much of the source code is shared between the two products, but then I checked a Windows XP cd and found that it was only 539MB. Thus, without further research, I only can assume that the installer is shared.)

I am installing Longhorn Beta 2 server on top of an existing version of Windows XP. The process of installing Longhorn Server Beta 2 involves far fewer steps in order to get the machine up and running, but it takes longer than previous Microsoft operating system installs. I appreciate leaving all of the configuration out of the installation process as it saves time for an administrator. The admin can simply get up and walk away and come back and assume the installation has completed.

Inserting the DVD into the DVD drive, starts the process with the “Install Windows” screen. (see above)

1. Click on the Install Windows. The Install Windows screen will disappear before the whole screen is taken over by one of those tie-dyed backgrounds that Microsoft likes so much appears to inform you that Windows is being installed.
2. The next window tells you “the installation process consists of a few easy steps.” Click Next.
3. Now you need your product key. In the current build, 5270, if you put in a key for Windows Vista the installer will install Vista and if you put in a key for Longhorn Server, the server will install Longhorn. There is nothing other than this to determine which operating system is installed. (If you don’t have a key for one of the operating systems, you’ll have to request it on the download page of connect.microsoft.com.) Click Next.
4. Accept the user agreement that covers both Longhorn Server and Vista.
5. Choose whether you want a clean install or an upgrade. A clean install is better, of course. I installed on a 20GB partition.
6. Name the computer. Click Next. At this point Windows will finish installing automatically, with a reboot in the process. The first automatic reboot on the GX280 happened in just under 9 minutes. The second came at 1 hour, exactly. At some point in between reboot, the message informing that the Windows installation was taking place, changed to the installation process was taking longer than expected. Upon reboot, the machine started again with “Please wait” on the tie-dyed background, but after about one minute, Windows flashed that it was installing personal settings—a message which lasted a few seconds.
7. Congratulations! Longhorn Server is installed.

At this point, the Initial Configuration Task window appears (see photo) and the Administrator Password, Networking, Updates and Customizations (roles) can be configured.

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