On earlier versions of Windows client and server you could install Microsoft Security Essentials, free antivirus from Microsoft. In Windows 8 client, it is integrated into Windows Defender. However, I see no such option in Windows Server 2012 and attempts to install MSE fail.

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    I don't think the server editions have ever allowed Security Essentials. Microsoft has a separate server product that they charge for. Dec 22 '12 at 20:04
  • 1
    @JoelCoehoorn untrue, MSE works on my 2008r2 I’m using as workstation.
    – kinokijuf
    Dec 22 '12 at 20:51
  • Just because it is installable, doesnt mean it is working properly. I would never do this on a production machine. In addition to that, it might negate any support you might have from MS. Its just not worth it
    – Keltari
    May 9 '13 at 4:54
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    @Keltari I am using this machine at home as a workstation. The only reason I’m doing it is that I get Windows Server for free via Dreamspark
    – kinokijuf
    May 9 '13 at 10:50

I set the compatibility mode for the installer to Windows 7 and then started it with the /disableoslimit command line parameter.

  • MSE can be downloaded here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security-essentials-all-versions and there is a guide for this solution with screenshots here: http://www.puryear-it.com/blog/2014/06/16/install-microsoft-security-essentials-windows-server-2012-2012-r2/
    – GraehamF
    Oct 5 '15 at 16:17
  • Another link with instructions: http://www.pwrusr.com/system-administration/microsoft/2-free-microsoft-windows-server-2012-antivirus-solutions
    – nu everest
    Nov 8 '15 at 13:52
  • @GraehamF The link seems to have been updated and 404s. The new one is puryear-it.com/…. Apr 28 '17 at 18:44

Currently the answer is "It's not supported on Server operating systems", as Microsoft doesn't list Server (2012) as a supported OS.

From MS' MSE requirements page:

Microsoft Security Essentials is free* and easy to download and use. Here's what you need to run it:

Operating System: Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3); Windows Vista (Service Pack 1, or Service Pack 2); Windows 7*

As with previous versions you may be able to unofficially install them at some point, but for now, it's not compatible.


Security Essentials lists only the client operating systems XP, Vista, Win 7 as supported. Windows 8 is very specifically noted as not supported. Since Server 2012 has the same core, it would be normal to assume that it isn't supported.

Windows 8 currently isn't supported. Please see the system requirements page for a complete list of operating systems that Microsoft Security Essentials supports.

from http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/i-cant-install-microsoft-security-essentials

  • 1
    MSE is part of Windows 8 - already installed, that is.
    – troels
    May 9 '13 at 8:13

Security is important and if you're still having issues making it install or run, you have alternatives such as MS End Point Protection 2012 that downloads as a 1 1/2 GB trial but includes an unlimited and official (scepinstall) Server version of MSE.

When you don't have the bandwidth for a such a heavy download, you might be tempted to download a 3rd party hosted scep that can be as authentic as the official version after you verify the hash with something like fciv or your preferred method: (Microsoft's official checksummer / ref and dl as of today:) http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=11533 http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/confirmation.aspx?id=11533 (long line wrapping)

fciv -both scepinstall.exe

// File Checksum Integrity Verifier version 2.05. //


9aeb45d54695d3d5bbe43620e70c31fe 17c90933a06c8bb15958579d068ad0b7852264e5 scepinstall.exe

Feed any or both hashes into a Microsoft site specific search: https://www.google.com/search?q=9aeb45d54695d3d5bbe43620e70c31fe+17c90933a06c8bb15958579d068ad0b7852264e5&site=microsoft.com 

And it results listed and valid.

  • MSE and the client of MSEP are more or less the same program.
    – troels
    May 9 '13 at 8:15
  • 1
    Well, every hawk and duck is a bird but all hawks aren't as dumb and slow as ducks. In this case, they are of different sizes, have different requirements and barely half of the extracted files are identical on a hash level. Please elaborate on your assertion they're the same and try doing so without a Wiki article and with more than they both just filter real time malware and I'd be interested in reading it. May 9 '13 at 8:16

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