Install Windows Server 2016 on VMware vSphere

Following the previous article about Guest OS deployment we are now ready to install Windows Server 2016 on VMware vSphere. The steps we’ll review here apply pretty much to both physical and virtual installations. The purpose of this exercise is to learn about the latest features of Windows Server 2016 operating system and also use this one as a template for the deployment of custom images based on this version of Windows Server.

There are multiple solutions that we can adopt to achieve this. Probably the easiest and the cleanest would be leveraging the setup through a SysPrep utility built into Windows and it’s unattended file. We’ll couple this technology with Customization Specification Manager utility available in vCenter. More to cover in a separate article.

With regards to the process to install Windows Server 2016 let’s make sure we meet at least the minimum requirements:

Description Minimal System Requirements
CPU architecture x64
CPU clock rate 1.4 GHz
RAM 512 MBĀ (with ECC or similar technology)
Disk space 32 GB
Network adapter 1x Ethernet (1Gb or faster)

And of course adjusting them where required.

If not done already as part of the previous step let’s download the installation file from the Microsoft website. Let’s go for the ISO option and connect it to the Virtual Machine CD/DVD device.

At this point we are ready to start.


Install Windows Server 2016 on VMware vSphere

As soon as the ISO file is mounted and after starting the VM the Windows Server 2016 will boot and start loading the drivers for the Virtual Hardware. Install Windows Server 2016 VMware vSphere

After a few seconds we are ready with the main installation option to select the input locale and language settings. Install Windows Server 2016 wizard

At this point we are ready to start the installation. As a side note we can also use this procedure to repair a computer which will follow a different wizard. Install Windows Server 2016

From this screen we can select the desired Windows Server 2016 operating system flavor. For this instance we’ll go for the Full Desktop Experience. Alternatively we can also select the installation with no GUI. Everything is available through command line. Install Windows Server 2016 operating system selection

We are now ready to accept the license agreement to proceed with the installation. Install Windows Server 2016 license agreement

In this step since this is the first installation let’s go for the custom option. Install Windows Server 2016 custom partition

In this screen we can now select the Drive where to install the operating system therefore creating the “system drive” For physical installations using scsi storage it is also possible to load the vendor specific drivers to access the intended drives. In this case with a default Virtual Hardware this step is not required. Install Windows Server 2016 drive selection

Upon confirmation the wizard installer has now all the required information to carry on with the installation process. This process is fairly quick. In my case it takes only a few minutes. Install Windows Server 2016 install progress

Let’s provide a Password for the Local Administrator user and click on Finish. Install Windows Server 2016 administrator password

The installation process will now present the Desktop form where we can carry on with the configuration setup. Install Windows Server 2016 desktop login

This concludes this quick step about the install Windows Server 2016 on VMware vSphere. On a final note there are a few things I configure generally to make the machines in my environment more responsive:

  • Disable all graphic effects but leave “Smooth Edge for Screen Fonts”
  • Use a custom Virtual Paging File Size with 1.5 rule (Set min/max to allocated RAM x1.5)
  • Enable Data Execution Prevention (DEP) only for Windows essential Programs
  • Install VMware Tools for Virtual Machines Guests

In the next article the steps to install Windows Server 2016 VMware Tools.

About the author

Michele Domanico

Passionate about Virtualization, Storage, Data Availability and Software Defined Data Center technologies. The aim of is sharing with the Community the knowledge and experience gained with customers, industry leaders and like minded peers. Always open to constructive feedback and new challenges.

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