How to: Install Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows Server 2012 R2

With past version of Windows Server, we were provided with Microsoft’s own Security Essentials anti-virus as a free anti-virus solution. This was great for organisations where the budget or other reasons simply do not allow for a paid AV solution. Unfortunately, however, it is no longer supported in Windows Server 2012 R2 and Microsoft have not provided us with an alternative until Windows Server 2016 (Windows Defender).

Even if we download the setup package and attempt to install MS Security Essentials, we’re presented with an annoying error – “Microsoft Security Essentials cannot be installed on your operating system. Your version of the Windows operating system is not supported by this program. Error code:0x8004FF04”

Thanks Microsoft!

Well, fortunately, we can trick Windows into allowing us to install MSE.

Step one – download the installation package:

First of all, you will need to download the installation package. You may get this from:

Find your language and bit-ness in the list and download the applicable installation executable.

Step two – run in compatibility mode:

Now that you’ve gone ahead and saved the installation file, we need to tell Windows to run this executable in compatibility mode. Do this by right clicking the file and clicking “Properties. Underneath the “Compatibility” tab, and tick “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” and pick Windows 7 from the dropdown. Click OK to continue.

Step three – install the application using command prompt:

Woohoo! You’re now ready to install MSE. Not so fast, however!
We must install the application using command prompt, as we must pass it a switch telling it to disable the OS limitation. Go ahead and run command prompt as administrator, and then execute the following command:

mseinstall.exe /disableoslimit

This should now launch an installation which will succeed and allow you to proceed all the way through.

Although this is not a supported installation, it certainly functions as expected and is a viable solution for anyone not wishing to spend on third party AV products.