Before I go further let me point out that running beta software in your production environment is a risky exercise, and I am certainly not recommending you install Windows Server 8 in production or run your Exchange 2010 server on it.
So that being said, if you want to try this go ahead and download Windows Server 8 and install it on some spare hardware or your virtualization environment.
Give it a server name, static IP address, and add it to your Active Directory domain as a member server before you proceed.
Installing Exchange Server 2010 SP2 Pre-Requisites on Windows Server 8
The next step is to install the Exchange 2010 pre-requisites. In this example I’m installing a “typical” Exchange 2010 server running the Client Access, Hub Transport, and Mailbox server roles.
PS C:\> Import-Module ServerManager
PS C:\> Add-WindowsFeature RSAT-ADDS,NET-Framework-Core,NET-HTTP-Activation,Web-Server,Web-Basic-Auth,Web-Windows-Auth,Web-Metabase,Web-Net-Ext,Web-Lgcy-Mgmt-Console,WAS-Process-Model,Web-ISAPI-Ext,Web-Digest-Auth,Web-Dyn-Compression,RPC-Over-HTTP-Proxy,Web-Asp-Net,Web-WMI,Web-ISAPI-Filter -Restart
There is usually a restart required. After restarting run the following additional command from a command prompt.
C:\>sc config NetTcpPortSharing start= auto
Installing Exchange Server 2010
For my test I used the Exchange Server 2010 SP2 setup files. If you try to install Exchange 2010 on your Windows 8 server you will likely encounter this error message.
Microsoft Exchange is not supported on Windows 8
After a little digging around in the Exchange setup logs I found that this error was occuring during the ExBPA scan that runs to determine if the Exchange 2010 pre-requisites are met.
Within the exbpa.prereqs.xml file there is the following line:
Rule Name=”fComputerWindows8″ Query=”$szWindowsVersion=’6.2′” Error=”Error” Text=”Microsoft Exchange is not supported on Windows 8″ GUID=”2a0c9d23-7eab-49ef-8b42-0f5209a8f802″ AlwaysEvaluate=”True”
At first I experimented with removing this line, but the result of that was Exchange setup throwing an error because the file has been digitally signed and so any tampering is detected.
After some further testing the solution turned out to be quite simple. Open regedit.exe and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion and look for the CurrentVersion string value, which will be set to 6.2.
Modify that value to 6.1 instead. When you next run Exchange 2010 setup you should now pass the pre-requisites checks (assuming all of your other requirements are also met).
Note: do not tick the box during the setup wizard to “Automatically install Windows Server roles and features required for Exchange”, as this will result in an error during the pre-requisites check.
You can now proceed with the installation.
Exchange Server 2010 SP2 Bugs on Windows Server 8 Beta
So far I’ve performed some testing by creating a mailbox database on the Windows 8 server, pointing my CAS array DNS alias at it, and a few other things. Here are the bugs I’ve uncovered so far.
Mailbox Server Role did not Install
Even though the Exchange setup completed successfully the Mailbox server role didn’t actually install. I ran setup again to install this role, this time from the command line.
Setup /m:install /r:m
This installation hung at 89%. Again by looking in the Exchange setup logs I found that the MSExchangeIS service (Information Store) would not start, with the following error.
Log Name: Application
Date: 3/2/2012 6:00:32 PM
Event ID: 5000
Task Category: General
Unable to initialize the Microsoft Exchange Information Store service. Failed to find the working directory parameter from the registry – Error 0×80004005.
This turned out to be a missing registry entry. In the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSExchangeIS\ParametersSystem I created a new string value of “Working Directory” and the service started after that.
Exchange Management Console not Working
Although the console opens it never finishes connecting or is usable. However the Exchange Management Shell works fine on the Windows 8 server, and managing the server remotely from the Exchange Management Console on other servers is working fine.
Outlook Web Access in Light Version
I haven’t investigated this one in depth but when I connect to OWA via the Windows 8 server it forces the light version for me.