A Noobs Guide To Installing Windows Server 2016

One of the more important tasks you would be doing as a systems administrator is setting up or installing operating systems on servers. Although most of the steps specified in this guide can now be automated by using an image-based installation or by orchestration, it is still expected that you would know how to install the operating system manually. If you are working in a Microsoft shop, you would most probably be using the Microsoft Windows Server operating system.

To install Windows Server, you would first need to have the installation media either in ISO format or in a physical media like a DVD or in a flash drive. In this noobs guide, we will be using the file we have previously downloaded in the previous post.

Note: Windows 2016 comes in 2 editions, Standard and Datacenter. In a production environment, make sure to select the right edition by making sure it has the features and server roles that you require. If you would like to know the differences between the two editions, you can refer to this Microsoft Docs.

Lets get started.

Mount the ISO or plug in the installation media to the server. Make sure to configure the system to boot up from the ISO or from the install media (DVD, flash drive). Press any key once you see the prompt.

Boot Up

In the first screen, select your Language, Time and currency format and the keyboard or input method preferences. Since all of these are my default, I just selected Next.

Initial Window

Click Install now to begin the installation process.

Install Now

Remember what I mentioned earlier about the different editions of Windows Server 2016? In this window, select the edition that fits your requirements. If you want a GUI (a graphical user interface) on your server, you have to select the edition with Desktop Experience. If not, you would only get a command line based server installation. Once you have selected the edition you want, click Next.

Select your edition

In the next page, click on the I accept the license terms to put a check mark. You could read through the applicable notices and license terms if you are interested but this is most boring lawyer stuff. Click Next when you are done.

Accept the license

In the next window, I usually would select the Custom: Install Windows only. You could, of course, upgrade a previous version of Windows Server to 2016 but that’s a demo for another time. Click Custom: Install Windows only to proceed with the installation.

Select your install type

At the juncture, you would select the drive where you want to install the Windows server operating system. In production environments, you probably would have multiple drives in this window. I normally would select the first drive as my system drive (or OS drive). For this demo, we only have one drive and wanted to use the whole drive as one partition so I just clicked on Next to proceed

Select your system drive

At this point the installation gets real and start installing files and features. Go grab a drink (alcohol or non-alcoholic, caffeinated or not). This is mostly boring stuff at this time and you don’t really need to stare at it. Your server might also reboot multiple times to apply changes.


Once all the boring stuff is complete, you will get into the customization settings. Put in a complex password (do I really need explain why?) twice on the password boxes and make sure they’re the same. Click the Finish button when you are done.

Put in your password

Your system then reboots and brings you to these login screen. Follow the instructions on the screen, press Ctrl+Alt+Del to unlock the system.

Login screen

Type in the complex password you have inputted earlier and press Enter (->) to login to your server.

Logging in

Tadaaa! You have completed the Windows Server 2016 installation.

Windows Server desktop

At this point, we have a working Windows server. Give yourself a pat on the back, noob! However, depending on your needs and requirements, you might need to further customize the system. We’ll try to discuss that on the next post. For now, browse around your server.

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