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Windows Server 2016

Jaime Ondrusek|Last Updated: 3/17/2017
3 Contributors

alt text  Read what's new in Windows Server 2016

Storage Spaces Direct Overview Video

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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:

Core functionality of Windows Serveryesyes
OSEs / Hyper-V containersunlimited2
Windows Server containersunlimitedunlimited
Host Guardian Serviceyesyes
Nano Server installation optionyesyes
Storage features including Storage Spaces Direct and Storage Replicayesno
Shielded Virtual Machinesyesno
Software Defined Networking Infrastructure (Network Controller, Software Load Balancer, and Multi-tenant Gateway)yesno

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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