As part of my evaluation of Windows Server 2012 I needed to install the operating system on an old Dell PowerEdge 1950. As this server is old I decided not to use the Dell System Build and Update Utility DVD and instead chose to install Windows from a USB flash drive as it’s much faster than using a DVD.
In order to install from USB, obtain an ISO file containing the Windows installation files. Next, download and install the Windows 7 USB/DVD tool http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/html/pbPage.Help_Win7_usbdvd_dwnTool . Start the tool and follow the wizard to extract the ISO files onto a USB drive of 4GB or greater and make the USB drive bootable.
When starting the server I selected the BIOS boot order and selected the USB flash drive, but received a boot error. In order to enable USB boot, enter the BIOS and change the USB Flash Drive Emulation Type to Hard Drive. Reboot and USB boot will work.