Windows Server 2016 and VMware vSphere ESXi 5.5

Do you want to install a new application server or do you want to migrate a server to a newer version of Windows? Your fleet was until now mainly composed of Windows Server 2008 / R2 and Windows Server 2012 / R2 but the more recent version Windows Server 2016 is now proven and stable. On the other hand, your virtualization environment runs on VMware vSphere 5.5, an installation made in 2014 or 2015, and an upgrade is not planned to 6.5 or 6.7? Rest assured, the Microsoft operating system Windows Server 2016 is compatible with vSphere 5.5, even VMware says so. Although VMware 5.5 (vSphere and ESXi) vendor support is completed since September 2018it is not impossible that your company cannot yet migrate to a newer version of the market’s leading hypervisor.

This guide is for VMware vSphere / ESXi 5.5, ESXi 5.5 Update 1 (5.5u1), or ESXi 5.5 Update 2 (5.5u2) releases.

The problem

When creating a new virtual machine in a VMware ESXi 5.5 environment, there is no option to choose Windows Server 2016 from the proposed list of guest operating systems (Guest OS).

vmware esxi vsphere 5.5 guest os tutorial

Make Windows Server 2016 compatible with VMware vSphere 5.5

To be able to correctly use Windows Server 2016 on VMware ESXi 5.5, two things must be observed.

Guest OS

In his KB2132789VMware recommends configuring the virtual machine with the operating system Windows Server 2012 in the Guest OS displayed: “Select Windows Server 2012 as the guest operating system for the virtual machine, if Windows Server 2016 is unavailable. »

vmware esxi vsphere 5.5 guest os tutorial

hardware version

If when you create a new VM, only Hardware versions 4, 7 and 8 are offered, you will have to choose a “Virtual machine version: 8” to generate this VM. The hw8 implies compatibility from ESXi 5.0, which means that the VM cannot be exported to an ESX / ESXi 4.x.

Then, once the VM has been configured, it must be switched to Hardware version 10 : “Windows Server 2016 is compatible with ESXi 5.5 and later, hardware version 10 or later is recommended. »

1. Open the ” VM » and choose « Update Virtual Hardware » :

vmware esxi vsphere 5.5 hardware version tutorial

2. Confirm virtual machine hardware upgrade with “ Yes » :

vmware esxi vsphere 5.5 hardware version tutorial

3. The VM is now in HW10. This cannot be managed 100% by the vSphere Client for Windows software, but it will still be possible to modify the most common parameters (add disk, increase RAM, etc.). For complete management, you will need to use the vSphere Web Client (VMware ESXi 5.5 web interface).

vmware esxi vsphere 5.5 hardware version tutorial

4. In the properties of the VM, we can see the Virtual machine version ” vmx-10 which corresponds to Hardware version 10.

tutorial vmware esxi vsphere 5.5 hardware version 10 hw10