Windows Server 2016 Now Available On TechNet Evaluation Center

Following the official launch of Windows Server 2016 at Ignite, Windows Server 2016 is now available at the TechNet Evaluation Center. There you have multiple download options, ISO and a Nano Server VHD, as well as the ability to evaluate in a virtual machine instead.

There are also a couple of free ebooks you should grab here - the first being Ultimate Guide to Windows Server 2016 and the second is the updated version of Introducing Windows Server 2016.

Here are some of the important pieces of info from the TechNet Evaluation Center.

Windows Server 2016 is the cloud-ready operating system that delivers new layers of security and Azure-inspired innovation for the applications and infrastructure that power your business.

Built-in Security
Windows Server 2016 gives you the power to prevent attacks and detect suspicious activity with new features to control privileged access, protect virtual machines and harden the platform against emerging threats.

Software-defined Infrastructure
Windows Server 2016 delivers a more flexible and cost-efficient operating system for your datacenter, using software-defined compute, storage and network virtualization features inspired by Azure.

Cloud-ready Application Platform
Windows Server 2016 delivers new ways to deploy and run both existing and cloud-native applications – whether on-premises or in Microsoft Azure – using new capabilities such as Windows containers and the lightweight Nano Server installation option.

For more details, check out our Ultimate Guide to Windows Server 2016.

Choose an edition and an installation option: 

Customers who download the full ISO will need to choose an edition and an installation option. This ISO evaluation is for the Datacenter and Standard editions. The Datacenter edition is the most complete edition and includes the new datacenter-specific features (Shielded Virtual Machines, Storage Spaces Direct, Storage Replica, and Software-Defined Networking) in addition to unlimited server virtualization.

Installation Options:

  • Server Core: This is the recommended installation option. It’s a smaller installation that includes the core components of Windows Server and supports all server roles but does not include a local GUI. It is used for “headless” deployments which are managed remotely via PowerShell or other server management tools.
  • Server with Desktop Experience: This is the complete installation and includes a full graphical user interface (GUI) for customers who prefer this option.
  • Nano Server: New in Windows Server 2016, this is a remotely managed option similar to Server Core but significantly smaller. It begins with a bare minimum package to which you add only the roles or features you need to customize the image. The servicing model for Nano Server is an active Current Branch for Business, and Software Assurance is required for customers to deploy this option in production. To evaluate this option, you can either download the ISO and build an initial Nano Server image, or you can download the Nano Server VHD, which includes an image that will speed your installation process. See  Getting Started with Nano Server for full details.

Before you begin your evaluation, be sure to check out What’s new in Windows Server 2016.

When you complete your evaluation, you can convert your evaluation versions to retail. Also, check out our TechNet documentation to learn how to upgrade or migrate your other existing servers to Windows Server 2016.

Preinstall Information

  1. Review Windows Server 2016 release notes and system requirements.
  2. Register, then download and install the preview. Windows Server 2016 Evaluation editions expire in 180 days.
  3. Receive email with resources to guide you through your preview.

Installation Guidelines

After installation make sure to install the latest servicing package.


The license terms of the Microsoft Windows Server Nano Eval software (“License Terms”) apply to your use of the Microsoft Windows VHD usage.  By downloading and using this VHD software, you agree to the License Terms, and you may not use it if you have not accepted the License Terms. Windows Server Nano VHD software is licensed by Microsoft Corporation.

So far the corresponding downloads haven't appeared in MSDN, but I'll keep an eye out for them.



Comments (10)
  1. James Saunders says:

    This is great news. I’ve been greatly looking forward to the release of Server 2016, and the availability of the Technet Eval means that we’re that much closer!

    Thanks for sharing, Mark O’Shea MVP

  2. Frank says:

    If the the evaluation version can be converted to a full version, then why isn’t it possible to do an inplace upgrade of a production Windows 2012 R2 server with this eval version? I’m only given the option to clean install

    1. Hi Frank

      I haven’t seen any official reason behind that decision documented anywhere. I’m only speculating, but one reason I can think of is that it might be to avoid situations where someone does the upgrade, forgets that they need keys, and get themselves into a mess further down the track.

      The different upgrade paths are covered at , but that doesn’t address your scenario.

  3. Muh Fugen says:

    The evaluation ISO doesn’t allow you to upgrade Core evaluation editions to licensed editions. You can only upgrade the Desktop Experience evaluation to a licensed edition. In addition you are unable to remove the server-shell package with dism.exe from the Desktop Experience edition.

  4. Jason Coleman says:

    Is there a timeframe for MSDN versions to become available?

    1. Hi Jason

      Another purely speculative answer, but my guess is mid-October which is when Volume Licensing customers get access to the ISOs. It will be good if we can get it earlier so that we can build our lab environments with our MSDN keys instead of the 180 day eval.

      Of course I had to check MSDN again before I posted this, just to make sure it wasn’t there yet.

  5. Sasi says:

    Great news! Any idea on when the azure VM image for Windows Server 2016 Eval copy will be available?

    1. Not sure, but I’m pretty certain that the Windows Server blog will let us know when it’s there.

  6. Jakob says:

    so, is it possible to install and prepare our new hyperv server cluster with the evaluation key, and activate it later with our volume license?

    1. Hi Jakob

      At this point I don’t think it’s safe assume so based on the following wording from which does seem to differentiate between Retail, Volume License and OEM keys.

      “You can convert the evaluation version of Windows Server 2016 Standard to either Windows Server 2016 Standard (retail) or Datacenter (retail). Similarly, you can convert the evaluation version of Windows Server 2016 Datacenter to the retail version.”

      “For Windows Server 2016 Essentials: You can convert to the full retail version by entering a retail, volume license, or OEM key in the command slmgr.vbs.”

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