Download Windows Server 2012 R2 VHD and Run It on VirtualBox or VMware Workstation

Do you want to try Windows server 2012 R2 VHD on VirtualBox or VMware?, this guide is for you. Using pre installed virtual hard disks always ease our job by avoiding ISO download, installation and configuration. You can find out more information about download link of Windows 2012 R2 server VHD and how to attach it to VirtualBox or VMware in this guide.

R2 version has come up with several major changes. Hyper-V hypervisor has been improved well with few great features. They called that ‘Start Button is back’, but believe me, it’s not. The start menu/button icon is useless in this version.

Each aspect of server functions have been improved significantly in 2012 R2. You can find out them all in Microsoft Site here.

If you want to know the included changes in Windows 2012 R2 Hyper-V hypervisor, refer this nice presentation here.

Download Windows 2012 R2 VHD

1) You can download either server core or with GUI here at official evaluation center (Microsoft account it required).

Download page

2) Extract the exe file you have downloaded. Since this is made for Hyper-v server to import directly, you will find more files and folders inside it.

We need the VHD file only which resides inside ‘Virtual Hard Disks’ folder.

How to Run Windows Server 2012 R2 VHD on VirtualBox.

3) You must have latest version of VirtualBox. VirtualBox supports Windows 8.1 (2012 R2) from 4.2.16 version only. Better upgrade to latest version, otherwise you might get an error message says ‘Your PC needs to restart’ in black screen.

4) Create a new virtual machine. Select Windows 2012(64bit) as client OS.

Instead of creating new hard disk, select existing virtual hard drive option. Browse the extracted VHD file which is located inside ‘Virtual Hard Disks’ folder.

2012 R2 VM in Virtualbox

5) There should not be any issue once you have started virtual machine.

Administrator password is R2Preview! , as of now. You could find more information here from Microsoft site.

Here is the working virtual machine on VirtualBox.

working 2012 R2 on VirtualBox

How to Use Windows Server 2012 R2 VHD in VMware Workstation.

6) VMware workstation or VM Player do not support VHD disk files for direct import. Therefore, VHD file needs to converted to VMDK format. There are few free tools available for this purpose in Windows OS platform.

WinImage is a tool (free for 30 days) can be used to convert VHD to VMDK in Windows 8 or 7. Also, StarWind’s V2V converter is available for free after registration.

Download WinImage here. It’s a small application.

From Disk menu select ‘Convert Virtual Hard Disk image’. Browse the VHD file you need to convert and select default option in next screen to make fixed size volume.

WinImage converter

In the saving dialogue box, select VMDK file format from drop down and press save. This will start the conversion process of VHD to VMDK.

save as vmdk

If you want to know more about how to use WinImage for this process, refer this guide.

7) Once the disk has been converted successfully, create a new virtual machine in VMware workstation.

Select ‘I will install OS later’ option because we are not going to install OS.

Os later

8.)  Select Windows Server 2012 as guest OS.

Windows 2012 server guest os in vmware

9) Once the new VM is created successfully, follow below step to delete default vmdk file.

removed vmdk file

After deleting, let’s attach our Windows server 2012 R2 VMDK file which was converted from original VHD.

Press Add and select hard drive. Make sure to select existing disk option as shown below.

existing disk option

Browse and attach the converted 2012 R2 VMDK file.

attached vmdk

10) You can modify other hardware settings ( such as RAM and processor cores) if you wish. Then power on the virtual machine.

I’m sure it will start smoothly. VMware tools for Windows 2012 R2 also works fine in VMware workstation 10. I could able to install and use few extra features such as full screen, unity mode and improved display performance.

windows server 2012 R2 VHD on Vmware

By using this method, you can use same VMDK (which converted from original Windows server 2012 R2 VHD) on VMware ESXi or vSphere hypervisor hosts.

Share your experience about these steps to install and run Windows server 2012 R2 VHD on VirtualBox or VMware workstation.

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