Windows Server 2016 Nano is a stripped down version of Windows server 2016. It has no GUI and you have to install it off the Server 2016 media using PowerShell. It is not possible to configure a Nano server in another other way. Nano is extremely popular on cloud services such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure due to the limited resources required to run it. Out of the box, PowerShell is needed to write the Nano image in a VDHX files which is compatible with Hyper V. To use in VMware you have to take additional steps to convert the Image to a VMware compatible image. All steps are demostrated below in details.

Software Required:

  • VMware Workstation
  • Windows Server 2016 ISO image
  • PowerShell (with administrator rights)
  • Starwind VMware convertor or equivalent

Installation guide

NB – Where possible always use “Run as Administrator” option from your workstation

  • Mount the Windows Server 2016 media to your computer. (usually by double clicking on the ISO)
  • Navigate to the NANO Server Folder > NanoServerImageGenerator and copy the 3 files below to your computer. In this example I will copy to C:\Temp\


  • Open PowerShell (run as administrator)
  • Type the following in the Administrator PowerShell session:

Set-ExecutionPolicy -Scope Process -ExecutionPolicy Bypass

Select YES to allow

This will allow your computer to run the Nano scripts

  • Navigate to where you copied the Nano Scripts. For Example cd C:\Temp\
  • Type the following in Administrator PowerShell session:

Import-module C:\Temp\NanoServerImageGenerator.psd1

  • Type the following in Administrator PowerShell session:

New-NanoServerImage -Edition Standard -MediaPath H:\ -BasePath C:\Temp\ -TargetPath C:\Temp\nano01.vhdx -DeploymentType Guest -ComputerName Nano01 -storage -Package Microsoft-NanoServer-IIS-package


This will create your image in the standard edition.

From my DVD ISO which is mounted to my H: drive

It will create server called Nano01 in C:\Temp

You will be prompted to create your ADMINISTRATOR password for the server.

  • Next the server will build the NANO Image. This might take some time to complete


  •  Once complete you will received this message
  • “Done. The log is at: C:\Temp\Logs\2018-01-11_21-12-56-61”


  • This will create the image on your local computer called Nano01

  • Next you need to convert the image to work in VMware Workstation

The easiest way is to use a 3rd party tool to convert it.

Download and install the application


Step by step install of the convertor


  • Run the installer (as administrator)

  • Click next to accept licence agreement

  • Click Next on licence agreement
  • Click Next On short Cuts

  • Chose if you want a desktop shortcut


  • The installer will now complete


Convert the image

  • Once installed open the application (Run as administrator)

  • Chose Source image location as LOCAL FILE

  • Browse to the Nano01.vdhx file we created earlier (C:\Temp\ in this example)

  • Click next and then chose “VMWARE GROWABLE IMAGE” VMDK. This is compatible with VMware Workstation and VMware ESX

  • Choose next and select IDE Drive


  • Click NEXT to convert the Virtual machine


  • Once complete you will see a NANO01.VMDK file in C:\ Temp


Create The Virtual Machine using VMDK file


  • Open VMware workstation
  • Select File > New > New Virtual machine and chose Custom (advanced) then NEXT

  • Click Next, and next again on Hardware compatibility screen.

  • Select “I will install operating system later”

  • Select the operating system as Microsoft Windows and Version Server 2016

  • Give the server a name (EG – NANO01) and choose a location for it (this will be overwritten later)

  • Set Firmware type as BIOS

  • Chose SCSI disk controller
  • Set your CPU and Memory requirements

  • Set Bridged Network

  • Set Logical SAS Controller

  • On the Hard disk click REMOVE


  • Click Browse and navigate to the VMDK File we converted earlier C:\Temp\Nano01.vmdk

  • Click finish – IF YOU get the message if you are using a newer version of VMware workstation. This will change the format (Hardware version) – MUST CLICK CONVERT
  • On the virtual Machines setting page you will see the disk file pointing to your recently converted VMDK


Configure Server Nano to start

Now you have your Nano server ready. You can start the server in VMware workstation, but you still need to configure access to be able to use the server.