According to the following VMware link;
http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2059053 this is a known issue related to using the E1000/E1000E Virtual Network adapter. Although in a production deployment I alwasy use VMNET3 (VMware Tools req'd) for Windows Server 2012 R2 Servers as this was only a lab server I never paid much attention to the network adapter when I created my first template.
VMXNET 3: The VMXNET 3 adapter is the next generation of a paravirtualized NIC designed for performance, and is not related to VMXNET or VMXNET 2. It offers all the features available in VMXNET 2, and adds several new features like multiqueue support (also known as Receive Side Scaling in Windows), IPv6 offloads, and MSI/MSI-X interrupt delivery. For information about the performance of VMXNET 3, see Performance Evaluation of VMXNET3 Virtual Network Device. Because operating system vendors do not provide built-in drivers for this card, you must install VMware Tools to have a driver for the VMXNET 3 network adapter available.
VMXNET 3 is supported only for virtual machines version 7 and later, with a limited set of guest operating systems:
· 32- and 64-bit versions of Microsoft Windows 7, 8, XP, 2003, 2003 R2, 2008, 2008 R2, Server 2012 and Server 2012 R2
· 32- and 64-bit versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.0 and later
· 32- and 64-bit versions of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 and later
· 32- and 64-bit versions of Asianux 3 and later
· 32- and 64-bit versions of Debian 4
· 32- and 64-bit versions of Debian 5
· 32- and 64-bit versions of Debian 6
· 32- and 64-bit versions of Ubuntu 7.04 and later
· 32- and 64-bit versions of Sun Solaris 10 and later
· 32- and 64-bit versions of Oracle Linux 4.9 and later
I change all of the Windows Server 2012 R2 vmnic's to use VMET3, and so far so good there has been no purple screens. Obviously in a production environment you would maybe go to the effort of patching the server.
The other thing that was clear to check was the build of ESXi 5.5 that was installed on the server, the physical hardware is a HP ProLiant. Therefore it should have a HP opptomized build of ESXi, with all the integrated driver for that hardware. http://www8.hp.com/us/en/products/servers/solutions.html?compURI=1499005#tab=TAB4 it turns out in this case it was a base ESXi 5.5 install, therefore I also reinstalled ESXi to ensure the HP build supplied all the correct drivers.