Microsoft made available its third technical preview of Windows Server 2016 last week. Over the weekend I got it installed and took a look around.
My hardware of choice was a Supermicro 5018A-FTN4, which is a 1U rack mount Intel Avalon-based system providing 8 cores. Mine has 32GB ECC RAM and 512GB of local SSD storage. More on my home lab setup another day!
I chose to run through setup using the Supermicro’s IPMI-based remote console, which made grabbing screenshots much easier.
Setup looked no different to Windows Server 2012 R2. Since this is a UEFI-capable system the disk layout is worthy of comment for having a 16MB reserved partition in addition to a 450MB recovery parition and a 100MB system partition.
The only other thing of note during setup (aside from my NIC not being catered for by the “in-box” drivers) is the choice of wording for the install options. Like its predecessor, the “core” installation is the default that Microsoft is steering you towards, the other option being “server with a desktop experience”. While this is a minor change in language from Server 2012 R2, the wording makes installing a GUI seem to be an odd choice. In many ways it is.
While the idea of having a GUI on a server seemed odd to me back in the late 90s (having used Novell Netware and Linux) I chose to install the GUI (or “desktop experience”). When this box gets returned to its normal role as a Hyper-V host, I am sure it’ll be installed without a GUI.
After an uneventful setup I was left with a fair few drivers to obtain. Most pressing were the network drivers for the four on-board Ethernet ports. These were easy to find from Supermicro’s site, but drivers for the other missing devices are more elusive. Windows Update couldn’t help out here.
Getting to the desktop, we can see that this is build 10514 and that the desktop looks in line with Windows 10. The start menu lacks the tiles. In fact, it lacks a lot of things, more along the lines of earlier betas of Windows 10. I expect this will change.
Installing the Hyper-V role was uneventful and, again, I didn’t see any difference in the experience from Windows Server 2012 R2.
Given that Microsoft claims that the improvements span “server virtualization, storage, software-defined networking, server management and automation, web and application platform, access and information protection, virtual desktop infrastructure, and more”, I think I need to dig deeper into Hyper-V to find the improvements.
This is, to be fair, an early preview build and so changes will become apparent as new releases arrive.
In the next few evenings I’ll be taking a focussing on the access and information protection and the server management elements.