Hyper-V 2016 Editions and System Requirements

Microsoft’s Hyper-V has made huge strides in closing the gap with other major players and setting themselves apart from other offerings. The latest version, Hyper-V 2016, is the most fully featured and capable product offering in the virtualization arena from Microsoft. New configuration maximums, as well as cloud DNA built into the platform, make it a strong contender for any enterprise virtualization platform. Let’s take a look at Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V in general as well as the process to get the Hyper-V role installed and initially configured.

Hyper-V is a Type 1 hypervisor which means that it runs on the “bare metal” of the physical hardware. Even though it can be installed as a role in Windows Server 2016, it instantiates itself first in the boot order. So, it is loaded before the Windows Server operating system, which is essentially running on the Hyper-V platform from the server role installation forward.

Hyper-V Editions

You might ask about the different editions of Hyper-V. When do you use the Hyper-V 2016 download as opposed to enabling the Hyper-V role service in Windows Server? What are the limitations? Also, what are the differences between Windows Server 2016 Standard, Datacenter, and Essentials?

Hyper-V 2016 download is aimed at VDI and Linux workloads that don’t need the Windows Server guest licenses. So, in other words, you don’t get Windows guest licenses “included” as you do with Standard and Datacenter editions of Windows Server.

Windows Server 2016 Standard includes only two VMs running Windows Server that cannot be moved between hosts. So, most virtual environments will not want to go with the Standard edition aside from testing, or only have a couple of workloads that need to be virtualized.

Windows Server 2016 Datacenter edition includes an unlimited number of licenses for Windows Server virtual machines and has features that are missing in Hyper-V 2016 and Windows Server 2016 Standard edition – storage replicas, storage spaces direct, network virtualization stack (HNVv2), and support for shielded VMs.

Windows Server 2016 Essentials edition supports small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices. Hyper-V can be installed as a server role in Windows Server 2016 Essentials. With Essentials, you can have a physical instance of the Windows Server 2016 Essentials installed with the same copy of Windows Server 2016 Essentials running as a VM. This is really only done for the manageability of a VM rather than a physical host, but for those serious about Hyper-V, you would use either the free Hyper-V 2016 or at least Standard edition.

System Requirements

To run Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V role or Hyper-V 2016 your hardware must meet the following requirements:

  • 64-bit processor that is capable of SLAT (second level address translation). This is a requirement to install in 2016. In previous versions, this was recommended but you could still install without it. So, make sure your processor supports this feature.
  • VM Monitor Mode Extensions
  • Virtualization Enabled in Firmware
  • Processor virtualization support – Intel VT or AMD-V technology

To check for proper Hyper-V 2016 hardware requirements and CPU technology, you can run the systeminfo.exe utility from the command line to check compatibility. At the end of the check, the Hyper-V test is run. You want to make sure you don’t see a fail (No) on the intended host like below when running the systeminfo.exe utility which would indicate incompatibility.


Next, we will take a look at Hyper-V licensing – changes to the license model starting with 2016, and how this actually works.