How to install Windows Server 2008 R2 on Macbook Pro 2011


I recently took on the challenge of teaching a Windows Server 2008 administration course at Seneca College and I spent the weekend working on installing server on a laptop so I can demo it in class.

Windows Server 2008 R2 on Macbook Pro 2011

Sounds simple enough right? The thing is my only laptop is from 2007 and has no video driver for 64bit server so I cant attach it to a projector. Otherwise I could use my old dell laptop. So what I am working on is installing Windows Server 2008 on a core i7 Macbook Pro with 8gb of ram 🙂

I started off thinking I could just use boot camp assistant to install Windows 7 and then put Server 2008 inside a VM on Windows 7 with Virtual Box but the problem with that is I have to cover a lecture in one of the weeks on Hyper-V. Hyper-V is Windows Server’s virtualization hypervisor technology. You cannot install Hyper-V inside a VM environment and have a scenario where you have a VM inside a VM inside a host.

So my only option is to install Windows Server 2008 R2 as the main host and dual boot OSX Lion with it.

So to begin you’ll need to have a few things up front.

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 DVD
  • A USB with about 2GB of free space formatted as FAT32 not NTFS for storing boot camp support files
  • At least 60GB or more of free space on the HDD, I set aside 200GB (of 500GB total) because I may install Win 7 VM’s that can take 30GB+ each.

Steps involved:

  1. I started out by running the boot camp assistant in OSX. The boot camp assistant lets you download the Windows drivers for the Mac and stick them on a USB for later. It also helps you partition the HDD for Win7.
  2. Once you have a partition ready you’ll reboot and do a normal install of server by booting from the DVD. you’ll have to format the BOOTCAMP partition as NTFS for server. Make sure you dont format the wrong partition or you’ll could wipe out your OSX partition.
  3. Once the install finishes you’ll notice that there is a lot of devices that wont work. You can start by installing all the boot camp drivers on that USB from earlier that boot camp assistant created for you. WARNING: if you do not install boot camp drivers before rebooting you will not be able to press ctrl+alt+del to login to server because the option key is not remapped to alt until you install the bootcamp drivers. You can get around this problem by plugging in a USB keyboard to be able to press ctrl+alt+del.
  4. This will leave you with about 3-4 things still not working. Wireless, Video, Bluetooth, and sound will all not be working.
  5. Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 were developed in parallel and most windows 7 drivers will work ok in server 2008 R2 just fine. This is mostly the case for everything but video and bluetooth.
  6. The Macbook Pro I have has an Intel HD Graphics 3000 video adapter, and an AMD Radeon HD 6490M graphics card, bootcamp tried to install Nvidia drivers for my video from the USB.
  7. Windows Server 2008 R2 installs as a bare-bones OS with almost everything turned off. This includes wireless and sound. You will need to add the ‘Wireless LAN Service’ feature in Server Manager to enable wireless networking.

    Enable 'Wireless LAN Service'

  8. Sound can be enabled by trying to go into sound properties in control panel. You will get a popup saying the windows audio service is not enabled, do you want to enable it? click yes and your sound should start working and be adjustable by the mac volume keys.

    Enable Windows Audio Service

  9. I started searching the web for discussions about getting the audio working and came across a good post about catalyst not detecting the hardware but the drivers still being able to be installed manually.
  10. I was able to find two different versions of drivers one from and one from I installed the one from Guru3D as it was 11.10 instead of 11.9 and it worked but once i enabled Hyper-V I started getting tons of blue screen errors revolving around atikmpag.sys.  When I did some searching I found out that when installing Hyper-V before SP1 on 2008 with Sandy Bridge chipset it can cause BSOD on video errors. And more specifically the AVX feature on Sandy Bridge chips was the cause. A hotfix is available here but I just installed SP1 instead. I ended up uninstalling the video drivers temporarily. If you find yourself getting blue screens boot into safe mode menu with f5 then press f8 for more options and choose last known good configuration and you should be able to boot up and uninstall the video drivers.
  11. If the video drivers are not installed you can probably safely installed the Hyper-V role now.
  12. Do all the Windows Updates now there will be probably about 120 of them in waves because some require others to be installed first. SP1 will show up in Windows Update after about 4 sets of updates. If Hyper-V throws an error saying can’t initialize a VM when trying to start it and the event log shows error 3040 its related to the SP1 fix and Sandy Bridge chipset most likely.



4 thoughts on “How to install Windows Server 2008 R2 on Macbook Pro 2011

  1. vamsi

    I have seen your post about 2008 R2 , in MBP, it was extreemely help full, i have goggled many blogs no correct info, thank q very much,
    i need some suggestion, i need same setup as well my MBP is i7 2.6, new 15″ Non Retina mid 2012 model with GT 650M, 8GB Ram, 1TB HDD,
    so i would like to install 2008 R2 sp1, as Bear Metal not in bootcamp, so will it support? are u able to install Hyper-v Role, i tried in windows 7 with vmware work station not possible as it say H/W Virtualization need,

    and also is it possible Tri boot ? as well like

    OSX, Win 7/8, win2008-R2sp1/2012

    can i do Tri boot? ( i have seen some post but no idea weather it work?) (

    And have u tried 2012 Server …?

    Please suggest, it will be very helpful

  2. George

    i have been trying to install windows server 2008 on the macbook pro 15″ 2011, with no luck, aand i would always receive this message after the second boot during the installation: “Windows is not be able to configure the settings with this machine”, any ideas?
    i was never able to finish the installation.


  3. Humpty

    I’m trying to do the same thing too, but it is not recognizing my Windows 2008 Server DVD. Did you partition the drive using the Windows 7 DVD, and then install Windows 2008 Server after the partition had been made?

  4. Even Flow


    I installed Windows 2008 R2 SP1 on Mac mini late 2012 by using boot camp assistant in Utilities folder on Mountain Lion. Here are the steps.

    Go Apple Support Boot Camp,

    Choose “Windows 7”, look up the table and download the appropriate version for Boot Camp Support Software (it’s actually Windows 7 drivers for your Mac).

    Now run the boot camp assistant from your Utilities folder. There are three tasks. Select only the first task, and leave the second and third blank. When it’s finished, quit the app.

    Unzip Boot Camp Support Software.

    Copy all the contents to the root level of the memory stick.

    Run the boot camp assistant again, and select task #3. (we skip task #2 because that’s what the Boot Camp Support Software was for)

    Now hope for the best.

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