Windows Server 2016

This library provides info for IT pros to evaluate, plan, deploy, secure, and manage Windows Server 2016.


The next version of Windows Server is changing! You can find details about what's on the horizon by visiting Windows Server Semi-annual Channel Overview.

Windows Server 2016 Overview Video

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What's New?
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Get Started
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Failover Clustering

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Identity and Access

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Remote Access

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Security and Assurance
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To experience first-hand new features and functionality available in Windows Server 2016, you can download an evaluation version by visiting Windows Server Evaluations.

Windows Server 2016 editions

Windows Server 2016 is available in Standard, Datacenter, and Essentials editions. Windows Server 2016 Datacenter includes unlimited virtualization rights plus new features to build a software-defined datacenter. Windows Server 2016 Standard offers enterprise-class features with limited virtualization rights. Windows Server Essentials is an ideal cloud-connected first server. It has its own extensive documentation—the content here focuses on Standard and Datacenter editions. The following table briefly summarizes the key differences between Standard and Datacenter editions:

Feature Datacenter Standard
Core functionality of Windows Server yes yes
OSEs / Hyper-V containers unlimited 2
Windows Server containers unlimited unlimited
Host Guardian Service yes yes
Nano Server installation option yes yes
Storage features including Storage Spaces Direct and Storage Replica yes no
Shielded Virtual Machines yes no
Software Defined Networking Infrastructure (Network Controller, Software Load Balancer, and Multi-tenant Gateway) yes no

For more information, see Pricing and licensing for Windows Server 2016 and Compare features in Windows Server versions.

Installation options

Both Standard and Datacenter editions offer three installation options:

  • Server Core: reduces the space required on disk, the potential attack surface, and especially the servicing requirements. This is the recommended option unless you have a particular need for additional user interface elements and graphical management tools.
  • Server with Desktop Experience: installs the standard user interface and all tools, including client experience features that required a separate installation in Windows Server 2012 R2. Server roles and features are installed with Server Manager or by other methods.
  • Nano Server: is a remotely administered server operating system optimized for private clouds and datacenters. It is similar to Windows Server in Server Core mode, but significantly smaller, has no local logon capability, and only supports 64-bit applications, tools, and agents. It takes up far less disk space, sets up significantly faster, and requires far fewer updates and restarts than the other options.

Unlike some previous releases of Windows Server, you cannot convert between Server Core and Server with Desktop Experience after installation. For example, if you install Server Core and later decide to user Server with Desktop Experience, you should do a fresh installation (and vice versa).

Now that you know which edition and installation option is right for you, click below to get started with Windows Server 2016.

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Nano Server -
Lightest weight
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Server Core -
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Desktop Experience -
Full interface

Windows Server Software-Defined Datacenter (SDDC)

Virtualized Storage, Networking, Security and Management technologies are the building blocks of the Windows Server Software-Defined Datacenter (SDDC).

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Windows Server Software-Defined Datacenter (SDDC)