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How to Install Windows Server 2016

Accomplished systems and network administrator with 10+ years of experience managing server infrastructures and data-center operations.

This article will break down the process of installing Windows Server 2016. But first, let's take a look at the system requirements.

System Requirements for Windows Server 2016


1.4 Ghz 64-bit processor


512 MB (2 GB for Server with Desktop Experience install option)

ECC (Error Correcting Code) type or similar

Disk Space:

32 GB

Note that the above is only the minimum recommended specifications from Microsoft.

For me, I would definitely make sure the disk space for the C Drive is 80 GB or more. The reason being that the patch updates will fill it up very quickly. If you set up your C drive as 32 GB, you will find that you will run out of space very quickly, even without installing any applications on it.

As for the processor and RAM size, it will depend on the purpose of the server.

With virtual machines, you may try allocating the minimum cores and RAM that you can get away with to get the server up and running. You can always easily add those resources later on.

Booting Up From the Installation DVD

Insert the DVD and start up the server. If you are using a virtual machine and not a bare metal server, attach the ISO of the Windows Server 2016 installation DVD to the virtual machine and power on the virtual machine.

After the virtual machine or server boots up from the DVD, it will display a screen to configure the language and keyboard settings.

Language Selection

Select the appropriate information from the drop down selection lists and click Next.

Scroll to Continue

Start the Installation

Click Install now.


Enter the product key for your copy of Windows Server 2016 and click Next .


Windows Server 2016 Standard or Windows Server 2016 Standard (Desktop Experience)

With Windows Server 2016, the standard installation is actually what we have known to be the core installation in the past. The core installation is a server without the GUI installed.

The Windows Server 2016 Standard (Desktop Experience) installation is the server with the Windows 10 GUI and Server Manager installed.

The release version of Windows Server 2016 DOES NOT ALLOW you to change between the two modes of installation AFTER the choice is made. The only way to change is a complete reinstallation (at least for now anyway).

I would suggest that the Windows Server 2016 Standard installation is picked so that we can start to learn how to manage Windows Server via PowerShell. This is the direction Microsoft is going. You should pick Windows Server 2016 Standard (Desktop Experience) if you have supporting applications that must be running on a server as an application and not able to be run as a service.

Is it possible to fully manage Windows Server 2016 from a PowerShell command line? Definitely, but it will take getting used to. With the GUI, we can simply go through the menu options to find the utilities we need to be able to configure the settings we want. With PowerShell, you are going to have to be Googling a lot to find out which cmdlets are required to do what in the beginning. But with time, a few of the common cmdlets will become second nature.


Accept the license terms, and click Next.


Select Custom installation, since this will be a new installation.


Select the drive partition where you want Windows installed and click Next. It is possible to re-partition the drive at this point by clicking on New, since Drive 0 has unallocated space. If we merely highlight it and hit Next, which is what we are going to do here, it will utilize the whole drive for the partition and format it automatically. If you have existing partitions, you can delete them, or even extend them before selecting the destination to install Windows. Or you can highlight one of the existing partitions and click Next.


On completion, Windows will ask you to change the Administrator password. This is the screen that is presented if the Windows Server 2016 Standard installation was chosen. Highlight Cancel and hit Enter for now. We want to experiment a little bit and have some fun.


Windows will now ask you to Select a user. Close this window by clicking the X button.


The next screen is a bit scary. It’s just a black screen.


Press Ctrl Alt Delete and you will be presented with a Window asking to change the Administrator password.


Type in the new password. Use the arrow key to move down to the Confirm Password field. Re-enter the same password and hit Enter.


That’s our Windows Server 2016 Standard installation completed!

Windows Server 2016 Standard (Desktop Experience)

If we had chosen the Windows Server 2016 Standard (Desktop Experience) installation, the installation steps would be:

Select the Windows Server 2016 Standard (Desktop Experience) option, then click Next.


The installation process will commence by copying the files and will finish the installation by asking for a new password for the Administrator account.


The installation has now completed. The Desktop Experience is the Windows 10 user interface.


Enter the Administrator password to log in.


Server Manager will launch after you have logged in.


Here's a glance at the Windows 10 look and feel.


That’s our Windows Server 2016 Standard (Desktop Experience) installation completed!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Chris on July 01, 2019:

Thanks alot for this information. Tgis was a big help.

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