Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2

Please note that this question is about Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2 and not Windows Server 2012R2.
My main goal is to ensure that this small business get as much of the benefits that Essentials Experience has to offer.

Situation is a very small network of 1 sever (currently 2008) and 5 workstations

So would I be better off with creating a new domain or joining the new server to the existing one and then remove the old server once the roles are transferred.

Considering the size of this network, very small (so easy to join PCs to new domain if need be), what are the pros and cons of each approach. I am a bit concerned that if I join the new server to the existing domain that the "Essentials Experience" will not work as designed. Additionally, if we keep the current domain, would using the connector on the PCs result in having to recreate/rebuild their profiles (desktop, setting up email, etc. etc.). Pros? Cons? Suggestion? Thanks!
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Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantAsked:
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Lionel MMConnect With a Mentor Small Business IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
This question asked whether it would be better to start Essentials Server 2012 with a new domain or join it to an existing -- if you are experienced in IT and server management then the "Essentials Experience" actually does so much stuff that you don't need that it is MUCH BETTER to join it to an existing domain and leverage all the per-existing work you have already done there. The Essential Server w/Essentials Experience is more marketing hot air than actual value. Actually I can say candidly say from goign through this experience it would have been much better to buy the Standard version of Server because I wasted a huge amount of time (HUGE AMOUNT) trying to get Hyper-V ONLY installed using this retail DVD. So unless your existing domain is a real disaster join your existing domain rather than creating a new -- not worth the time and trouble.
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Sajid Shaik MSr. System AdminCommented:
as you have only 5 clients better go with complete new installation which will be easy for you .... all the best
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Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
@Shaik M. Sajid -- OK but why -- asking for reasons (pros and cons) and not just opinions please -- thank you. Benefits, advantages, etc.
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David AtkinConnect With a Mentor Technical DirectorCommented:
Hello,

Personally because its such a small network I would go down the new installation route as well for the following reasons:

- With a new installation you're not pulling any bad configurations over.  You have complete control over how the new server is setup and what settings are defined.

- With only 5 PCs, the process of creating new profiles opposed to migrating them is fairly minimal (depending on how much data is on each profile of course).

This being said, if you've got any third party software or SQL Databases etc that rely on the current domain and need to be moved it maybe worth migrating.  This is something that you will need to check.

When we have done a few migrations in the past we have had 'niggles' with the Essentials Dashboard. For example, the computers don't auto appear and you'll have to install the connector on them again anyway.  Because they will be on the domain you'll need to use a reg hack in order to skip the domain join portion of the Connector setup.

I only tend to do a migration if it's going to save me time (over 10 PCs generally).
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Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
OK David thanks that makes sense. I should be doing this next week and will let you know what I think. Using VMs I actually have done both options already and once I get the new hardware I can transfer the VM to it and then take it from there. Once I am done I will get back to this question -- thanks
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David AtkinTechnical DirectorCommented:
No problem. Let us know if you have any more questions during
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Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
OK I am trying the option to install Hyper-V and then create a VM for a new domain but I cannot get only a Hyper-V install working; keeps on wants to install the Windows Essentials Experience as well (have to keep cancelling it & can't figure out how to stop it--it seems a powershell script is being initiated to start the install wizard each time I reboot).
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David AtkinTechnical DirectorCommented:
Hello,

Officially the hyper-v role isn't supported on the Essentials Server.  If you want to install Essentials as a VM then you need to download and install Hyper-V Server first and then Essentials as the VM.
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Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
That is not correct on R2 is is now official that you can do both.  https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn281793%28v=ws.11%29.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396#BKMK_VirtualWSE

"Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials allows you to set up the Hyper-V role and virtualize your environment. The license allows you to set up another guest operating system that is running Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials."
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David AtkinTechnical DirectorCommented:
Ohh thanks for that.  I didn't know it had changed
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Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
So David do you know how to stop Essentials from trying to start the "add-feature" Essentials Experience from running each time I reboot. Or where can I download a non-trial version of Hyper-V 2012r2?
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David AtkinTechnical DirectorCommented:
You can download Hyper-V from here:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/evaluate-hyper-v-server-2012-r2

Its an unlimited evaluation version

Note though, it is Hyper-V core so there is no GUI.

Not entirely sure about stopping the essentials configuration wizard.  May be worth waiting to see if anyone else comments.
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Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
I will open a different question on that since this is more about joining an existing versus creating a new domain.
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Lionel MMSmall Business IT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
My solution gives my first hand experience as so I am providing that as a help to future questioners.
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