When installing Windows 7 on one of SuperMicro's X11 generation "Skylake" motherboards, you will likely run into an issue where the mouse and keyboard don't work or the Windows 7 installer is unable to read the installation media. Here is how to get it to work:
1. USB Support
Go into the BIOS by repeatedly pressing "DEL" or "DELETE" while the motherboard is first booting up. In the BIOS, go to the "Advanced" tab at the top then go down to "Boot Feature", and there you will see an option for "Install Windows 7 USB Support". Set this feature to "Enabled".
Note that it says that once Windows is installed, be sure to install the appropriate drivers then disable this feature in the BIOS.
2. Installation Image
While SuperMicro's BIOS does provide a workaround for Windows 7, it is only rudimentary and may not support USB optical drives or USB thumbdrive media. There are a couple methods to get Windows 7 installed:
- The easiest and fastest solution is to simply use a SATA connected optical drive. Even if you have to open up the lid and connect it manually, it's still easier than setting up a Deployment Server or modifying the installation image. This is our primary recommendation for getting Windows 7 installed.
- If you have a spare or existing server around with a copy of Windows Server, you can use Window's Deployment Services to install Windows over the network. Since it runs over the network rather than reading from a USB drive, it will work without any issues. This does take a bit of time to get setup and working, but it is worth it if you have to performe many installations.
- There is a set of complex steps that you can follow to get USB drivers into the Windows 7 installation image (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd759162(v=ws.11).aspx). This really is only a good idea if you have no other choice and if you have to do installations across many machines. Even still, the previous two methods are easier and more likely to succeed.
In conclusion, getting your USB mouse and keyboard to work on the X11 Skylake motherboards is pretty simple. The installation media is a bit more difficult but definitely do-able. We defintitely recommend including an optical drive with your server to ensure easy installation both now and in the future.
If you need help with installing Windows on your ABMX server, feel free to give us a call or send us an email.