Exchange 2016

Exchange 2016

Installing Exchange Server 2016


After you’ve prepared a Windows Server with the Exchange Server 2016 pre-requisites you can proceed with the installation of Exchange Server itself.

In this tutorial we’ll cover:

  • Preparing Active Directory for Exchange Server 2016 installation
  • Installing the Exchange Server 2016 Mailbox server role on a new server

Before you start there are a few things to be aware of:

  • Installing Exchange Server 2016 requires an Active Directory schema update. We’ll look at that in more detail shortly.
  • Aside from the schema update installing Exchange Server 2016 makes other irreversible changes to your Active Directory forest. If you’ve never backed up your Active Directory, or you’ve never heard of a forest recovery, here’s some reading for you.
  • If you’re installing Exchange into the forest for the first time you will be choosing an organization name. The Exchange organization can’t be renamed at a later date, so choose a name you’re happy with keeping forever.

Preparing Active Directory

A new installation of Exchange Server 2016 involves applying an Active Directory schema update, as do most Exchange Server cumulative updates, as well as preparing the Active Directory domains where Exchange Server 2016 and any mail-enabled objects will be located. In an Active Directory forest with a single domain this can all be performed as one task.

The Active Directory schema update will automatically apply when you run Exchange Server 2016 setup on the first server in your environment. A Windows Server 2012 R2 server with the Exchange Server 2016 Mailbox server role pre-requisites installed doesn’t quite meet the requirements (you’ll need to add the RSAT-ADDS feature as shown below). A domain controller will have RSAT-ADDS installed already, but may also need the .NET Framework version shown below to be installed first.

Whether you’re running the schema update from an Exchange server or a separate server (some organizations do it as a separate task due to change control reasons, or because of different teams having different administrative responsibilities in the environment) then the following requirements apply:



  • The forest functional level must be at least Windows Server 2008
  • The account used to run the schema update and Active Directory preparation must be a member of Enterprise Admins and Schema Admins. These are high privilege groups I recommend you plan to remove your account from the groups when you’re done with this task. Note, if you’ve just added yourself to these groups you’ll need to log out and back in to the server for the new group membership to take effect.
  • The server you’re running the schema update from must be located in the same Active Directory site as the Schema Master. You can identify your Schema Master by running my Get-ADInfo.ps1 script, or by using the Get-ADForest PowerShell cmdlet.


Now we’re ready to run the Active Directory schema update and and preparation.

If you’ve already got Exchange Server running in your environment you can check the current Exchange schema version before applying the update, so that you can see what the before and after version numbers are.

In PowerShell run the following one-liner created by Exchange Server MVP Michael B Smith:

Note, in my example above there is no existing Exchange server installed, hence no Exchange schema version to report.

Extract the Exchange Server 2016 setup files into a folder, open a command prompt window, and then navigate to the location where the Exchange setup files were extracted.

To apply only the schema update run the following command:

After applying the schema update we can check the version number again.

To prepare Active Directory run one of the following commands. Note this will also apply the schema update if you did not perform that step already.

If you do not already have an Exchange organization you’ll need to provide a name for the organization now, for example:

If you’re installing Exchange Server 2016 into an existing Exchange organization you do not need to specify the organization name, for example:


Remember, you can’t change the Exchange organization name later, so choose a name you’ll be happy to live with forever. Also, after installing Exchange Server 2016 as a new organization you will not be able to install any earlier versions of Exchange into the same organization.


If you have additional domains in your forest that you need to prepare (any domain that will host an Exchange server or mail-enabled objects) follow the guidance on TechNet here.

Installing the Exchange Server 2016 Mailbox Server Role

The Mailbox server role contains all of the components required to run an Exchange Server 2016 server. There is also an Edge Transport role, but that is not a mandatory role and is not covered in this tutorial.

After installing the Exchange Server 2016 pre-requisites on a server you can install the Exchange Server 2016 Mailbox server role by running the following command from an elevated command prompt.


Next Steps

After setup has completed restart the server before you continue with configuring Exchange Server 2016.

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Exchange 2016

Installing Exchange Server 2016 Pre-Requisites on Windows Server 2012 R2


change Server 2016 can be installed on Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Exchange 2016 CU3 or later can also be installed on Windows Server 2016. For either version of Windows Server the Standard or Datacenter edition can be used to run Exchange Server 2016. Exchange itself does not rely on any specific features of either the Standard or Datacenter editions.

Note that a full server installation with GUI (referred to as Desktop Experience in Windows Server 2016) is required for Exchange Server 2016, it can’t be installed on a Core mode installation of Windows Server.

There are three possible installations of Exchange Server 2016 that you can perform:

  • Mailbox server role (this is the only mandatory server role)
  • Edge Transport server role (this is optional, and can’t co-exist with the Mailbox server role on the same Windows Server)
  • Management Tools (for admin workstations or servers)

Note that installing the Edge Transport server role on Windows Server 2016 is not supported.

The requirements for each installation type are different, so let’s look at each of them in turn.

Installing Pre-Requisites for an Exchange Server 2016 Mailbox Server

For an Exchange Server 2016 Mailbox server installation open an elevated (run as administrator) PowerShell console and run the following command to install the operating system roles and features.

Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2



A restart is required after the roles and features have finished installing. If you’d prefer that the server restarts itself automatically simply append -Restart to the command.

After the restart download and install (in order):

The server is now ready to install the Exchange Server 2016 Mailbox server role.

Windows Server 2016


Next, install the following (in order):

Installing Pre-Requisites for an Exchange Server 2016 Edge Transport Server

For an Exchange Server 2016 Edge Transport server the pre-requisites installation is a little simpler than for a Mailbox server. Open an elevated PowerShell console and run the following command.

When that has completed download and install (in order):

The server is now ready to install the Exchange Server 2016 Edge Transport role.

Installing Pre-Requisites for the Exchange Server 2016 Management Tools

Exchange Server 2016 uses a web-based administrative interface called the Exchange Admin Center, similar to Exchange Server 2013. There is nothing required to be installed on a workstation or server other than a web browser to access the Exchange Admin Center.

However if you want the Exchange Management Shell to be installed on a management workstation (Windows 8.1 or later) or server (Windows Server 2012 R2 or later) then the requirements are .NET Framework 4.5.2, and then the following Windows features:


Next Steps

After installing the pre-requisites you can proceed with installing Exchange Server 2016.

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Exchange 2016

Which Edition of Exchange Server 2016 to Deploy?


If you’re planning an Exchange Server 2016 deployment you will need to consider which edition of the product to deploy on your servers.

For Exchange Server 2016 there are two editions of the server product itself, and there is only one difference between them which is the number of mounted databases per server.

  • Exchange Server 2016 Standard Edition – maximum of 5 mounted databases per server
  • Exchange Server 2016 Enterprise Edition – maximum of 100 mounted databases per server

Microsoft’s definition of a “mounted database” is:

A mounted database can be an active mailbox database that is mounted for use by clients, or a passive mailbox database that is mounted in recovery for log replication and replay. While you can create more databases than the limits described above, you can only mount the maximum number specified above. The recovery database does not count towards this limit.

Here’s a few examples. In this example a single Mailbox server running Standard Edition has 5 mailbox databases. All 5 databases will be able to mount, and an additional recovery database can also be created and mounted for any data restoration scenarios.


The same server running Standard Edition with 6 mailbox databases will not be able to mount all of the databases at the same time. However, if it is running Enterprise Edition it will be able to mount all 6 databases, or up to 100 databases.


What about a database availability group? DAGs can have up to 16 members, and each member is limited by the edition of Exchange Server 2016 that is installed. So a Standard Edition DAG member can host up to 5 active or passive database copies, and an Enterprise Edition DAG member can host up to 100 active or passive database copies. The DAG itself is only limited by the capabilities of all of its members. A DAG made up of 16 Standard Edition members, with each database having 4 copies, could therefore host up to 20 databases.


To be clear, there is no requirement to run Exchange Server 2016 Enterprise Edition just because you’re deploying a DAG. The choice of server edition is purely driven by the number of mounted databases each server will be hosting.

For the Edge Transport role, given it does not host any databases, it makes sense to use a Standard Edition server license.

When you purchase your Exchange Server 2016 server licenses you’ll be provided with a license key that needs to be entered on the server. The license keys determines which server edition is installed, there is no different in installation media or installation method for each edition. All servers are first installed as a Trial Edition, and then you add your license key after installation is complete. You can upgrade from Trial to Standard, or from Trial to Enterprise. You can also upgrade from Standard to Enterprise. However, you can’t downgrade from Enterprise to Standard without completely reinstalling the server. This means it is feasible to initially license your servers as Standard Edition, and then later upgrade them to Enterprise Edition if your environment scales up (e.g. if there is a corporate acquisition or merger).

As a final note, the information above applies only to the server licenses. The Client Access Licenses (CALs) are considered separately, and have no impact on the server license you choose to deploy and vice versa.

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Exchange 2016

Exchange Server 2016 – Planning, Deployment, Migration and Administration

Microsoft has released Exchange Server 2016 for download. The RTM (first) build of Exchange Server 2016 was released in October 2015. With the cloud-first approach that Microsoft has these days there are few surprises in the release of Exchange Server 2016, as many of the features have been rolling out in Exchange Online already. In Microsoft’s own words:
Most of the new features in Exchange Server 2016 were birthed in the cloud and then refined in a feedback loop that includes millions of mailboxes deployed worldwide. The same is true of back-end improvements to Exchange architecture, high availability, and storage. We are now working to bring these elements to the diverse world of on-premises environments.
As with any Exchange Server release there are some significant changes, as well as improvements, for customers and IT admins to get up to speed on.
Listen to MVP Andrew Higginbotham and I discussing the release of Exchange Server 2016 RTM on episode 3 of the Exchange Server Pro Podcast.

Getting Started with Exchange Server 2016

Exchange Server 2016 has just two server roles:
  • Mailbox server role – this role will consolidate the Mailbox and Client Access roles from Exchange Server 2013. Compared to Exchange Server 2010 this role consolidates all of the functions of the Client Access, Mailbox, Hub Transport, and Unified Messaging server roles. The Mailbox server role in Exchange Server 2016 is the only mandatory server role, and the consolidation reinforces the recommended practice since Exchange Server 2010 to deploy Exchange as a multi-role server instead of deploying individual roles to separate servers.
  • Edge Transport server role – this role will be much the same as Edge Transport in previous versions of Exchange, designed to sit in perimeter networks and provide secure inbound and outbound mail flow for the organization. Edge Transport servers are not mandatory.
Here is a series of articles to help you get started with learning about Exchange Server 2016 and planning your deployment.

Planning and Installing Exchange Server 2016

The current system requirements for Exchange Server 2016 include:
  • Windows Server 2008 or higher domain controllers and global catalog servers
  • Windows Server 2008 or higher domain and forest functional levels
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 or higher operating system (Windows Server “10” support is expected but can’t be formalised until it ships as well)
  • Co-existence with Exchange Server 2010 SP3 RU11 and Exchange Server 2013 CU10
The co-existence story is particularly interesting. While Exchange 2013 and 2016 can’t co-exist in the same DAG, either version can proxy client connections for databases hosted on the other, which will simplify the Client Access namespace migration. For more on deploying Exchange Server 2016 see the following articles:
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