This weekend I planned to install Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials on my HP ProLiant MicroServer N40L to replace my WHS 2011 installation.
There was one problem, the installation never passed the “Getting Devices Ready – 84%” point.
Searching the internet I came across this TechNet post. The thread suggests it is a problem with the onboard NIC. Disabling the NIC in the BIOS was indeed the solution to get R2 installing correctly, but a server without network connection is useless.
HP is aware of the issue and published a BIOS update on November 15 that “Addressed an issue where Microsoft Windows 2012 R2 may stop responding while booting the operating system”, according to the release notes. After updating the BIOS I enabled the NIC again and everything works fine.