Download just Nano Server in a VHD (Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4)

It has been great talking to customers at community events over the past few months. One item of feedback I heard regarding Nano Server is a request for an evaluation image to download independently of the Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview ISO. The ISO download is just over 6 GB but the Nano Server installation option download requires only around 550 MB.

So starting now you can download a VHD of just the Nano Server installation option of Windows Server Technical Preview 4. While you may notice ‘for developers’ in the title, we are equally interested in your feedback for both developer and infrastructure scenarios.

You will find the download link at the page linked below. Note, per the text on the page, by downloading the VHD you are also accepting the Terms and Conditions.

Please provide feedback and ideas for Nano Server on the following UserVoice site:

If you have technical questions please visit the TechNet forum for Nano Server:

Note – since the administrator password is not set in the image you will need to either press F11 at the recovery console and set a password, or add an unattend.xml file to the VHD before first boot. You will not be able to log on remotely until a password is set.


What is included in the VHD?

The VHD is a virtual machine image containing the Nano Server installation option of Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4

Which packages are included in the image?

Hyper-V Guest
Reverse Forwarders
PowerShell DSC

How do I log on to a virtual machine booting from this VHD locally and remotely?

The machine will require you to set an administrator password before logging on. At the VM console, press F11 per the on screen text to set the password before first logon.

After setting the local password, you will manage Nano Server using the management tools remotely.

Can I set the administrator password in the image so that I can connect using PowerShell without ever interacting with the console?

The reason the VM prompts for a password at first logon, is because the unattend.xml file has been deleted from the image. The easiest way to inject setting a password on first boot would be to put in your own unattend file. There are examples on the Getting Started page to copy/paste.

Getting Started with Nano Server

Can I modify the image?

Some features and capabilities of Nano Server can be added/removed using PowerShell, others require adding or removing packages. It is possible to edit an existing VHD using the Edit-NanoServerImage script. The script as well as the additional packages such as Windows Defender require the full TP4 media available at the evaluation center.

Windows Server Evaluations

Tell me every detail about this image

Instead, how about I show you? Here are the scripts used to create the image from the eval media, a DSC script to configure my workstation to create and boot a VM based on the VHD, and a set of tests to verify that the VM would boot and basically respond as expected. The idea was to begin construction of a repeatable image build pipeline. Pull requests to improve the scripts are welcome.


Can this VHD be used on Azure?

There is already a Nano Server image in the Azure gallery.

Will virtual machines built from the VHD expire?

Yes, since the VHD was built using the public TP4 media, it will expire on the same date as TP4 (July 15th, 2016).


Michael Greene

Principal Program Manager