Using OEM supplied Windows 2012 /2012 R2 for ESXi VM creation

I haven’t written about ESXi in quote some time as I’ve been concentrating on Hyper-V but ESXi still creeps in to my builds every now and then (and there still is nothing like vConvert that is easily available in the Hyper-V world outside of System Center).  I hit a small problem this weekend while trying to reload a small Lenovo server with ESXi 5.1 on top of which I wanted to build a Server 2012 VM using the Lenovo supplied Server 2012 OS media.  When I started the build of the VM I got a message stating there must be a problem with the hardware configuration and to check to make sure the machine was a proper Lenovo machine (or words to similar effect).   Hmmmm …

The problem is 2012 and 2012 R2 both do some serious checking against some hidden BIOS settings when installing from OEM media.  As I was installing against an ESXi VM “BIOS” the settings weren’t there and the installation was failing.  What to do???

Thankfully, the problem can be worked around by adding this line to the VMX file that is created when you make the initial settings for the new VM:

smbios.addHostVendor = “TRUE”


With that line added to the VMX your installation will go all the way through without issue.  Then, once you have the VM built and are happy with it and want to activate the license you’ll then need to run the following two commands from inside the VM:

c:windowssystem32slmgr.vbs /ipk “your product Key”   <—without quotes (but enter in CAPS with dashes)

c:windowssystem32slmgr.vbs /ato


After executing each command you should get a pop-up window displaying confirmation of success.  Two confirmations means you are good to go!

Hope this helps if you have hit a similar situation.

4 responses to “Using OEM supplied Windows 2012 /2012 R2 for ESXi VM creation

  1. Have you ever considered about including a little bit more
    than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and all.
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    1. Being an old fart I am very text oriented and I don’t “think” about videos and photos and such. Illustrations where they make sense, yes, but not the rest. Many times I am writing these posts at 6AM on the couch, wearing my furry slippers with a sleeping Beagle beside me, and all I want to do is get the information out of my head and on to the screen. But you raise a good point and I will consider it in future.

    2. LEARN TO READ (and yes, I did mean to yell that).

      If you need video to get “more pop” — you honestly probably don’t belong in the tech field. Video just wastes time by forcing people to consume the information at the speed the video produces…preventing ability to scan over and quickly zero in on most relevant pieces to a given situation.

      Great article! Don’t change a thing!!!


      1. Hi, James:

        I debated about approving this comment but I do get what you are saying. Reading is critical.


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