Unable to load the Windows GUI, or authenticate the server software, when installing Windows Server 2016 Standard, downloaded from MS VLSC, on a HP Proliant server

I am attempting to install MS server 2016 standard on a HP Proliant server.  I have succeeded in installing an ISO version of MS server 2016 standard core from the Microsoft VLSC website.  However the OS boots to a CMD.exe login and then leaves me at the CMD.exe command line interface.  When trying to authenticate the server OS software the SLUI.exe app fails due to missing .EXE files and it appears that there is no way to load a windows GUI, as no GUI apps are listed as being available in the installation package.  After spending many hours with MS tech support, at various levels and departments, I have been told that I need to open a support ticket that will cost me $499, in order to solve this problem.

The server's primary function is to run one multi-user application that needs MS SQL Server 2018 Standard running under MS Windows Server 2016.  The installation of the database for the multi-user application is done remotely through a browser running in the Windows GUI.

Any help in getting this server properly setup would be appreciated.  Thanks.
Richard LancasterListerAsked:
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
Reinstall the OS, full stop.  Don't install core. Choose the desktop experience option during the initial OS selection screen. What you want to do requires the full GUI anyways. You'd not get that to work on core.
Shaun VermaakTechnical SpecialistCommented:
The installation of the database for the multi-user application is done remotely through a browser running in the Windows GUI.
Core should still be able to handle it. Almost all our servers are installed as core and managed via remote Powershell, Server Manager etc.
I do however agree with the above because it might just be too much of a learning curve for what you are trying to archive.
Richard LancasterListerAuthor Commented:
Thank you Cliff and Shaun.  I had my suspicions that there were several versions of Windows Server "Standard" OS, but I could not get Microsoft or Best Buy (where I purchased the software) to confirm that I should install another version of the "Standard" software package.  I will try a complete reinstall with the "desktop experience" version, and let you know how it goes.
Exploring SQL Server 2016: Fundamentals

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Richard LancasterListerAuthor Commented:
Further diagnosis has reveled that Microsoft had held the 2019 version of server standard desktop essentials out of the Volume licensing package until they had worked out some bugs.  As my vendor was a part of the MS VLSC program, the licenses that they assigned me did not include the essentials version, only the core version.  Microsoft has released the essentials version to the VLSC and I will try to load the server with the essentials version this week.  Thanks again for the help, and with luck I will be able to close this question soon.

Cliff GaliherCommented:
There is no "core" version.   There is essentials, standard, and datacenter.

Standard and Datacenter can be installed with and without the GUI, but they aren't different "versions."  The core and GUI are both on the same media.

And yes, 2019 was pulled due to a dataloss bug.  But even when it was released (and now in its re-release) it is really only ready for virtualized environments (Azure, AWS, VMWare.)   I would not run it on hardware yet.  Jan/Feb as hardware starts getting certified.

Before you jump into Essentials, make sure that is what you really want.  IT is a different beast and has all sorts of oddball licensing nuances.  It may not be what you think it is.
Cliff GaliherCommented:
Also, the question started about 2016 (and a version bought at Best Buy, not VLSC) so not sure where 2019 came into play.  It doesn't really change the original (correct) answers as given.  "Further diagnosis" implies otherwise, but the answers here were pretty straightforward given the information provided.  There really wasn't anything to diagnose.
Richard LancasterListerAuthor Commented:
Thank you for the comments Cliff,

If I misused the word "diagnose" it was because I did not fully understand how Microsoft does its licensing and how it assembles the ISO packages that are available for download on the VLSC site.  It has been more than ten years since I had to setup a server and things have changed.  The chat and phone sessions I had with Microsoft help personal, and the Microsoft Sales associates, did not make it clear how I was going to get the right software onto my server.  That is why I approached the experts here.

It was not until I pushed Best Buy to explain why I was licensed for Windows Server Standard 2019 (for which they later invoiced me) that I found out that Microsoft had forced all OEMs to the 2019 version, but had not put the software that I needed (the full 2019 version, not just the "Core" version) on the VLSC site.  The fact that I may have to wait until next year for software that I purchased in September is rather frustrating.  If I load a previous version of Windows Server (2016), then I will have to go through an update process on a live server, which is rather inconvenient, to get to the product I paid for.

Cliff GaliherCommented:
As I said, there is no "full" vs "core"  Not even on VLSC, and that won't change.  There is "standard" (which ha full *and* core) and there is "Essnetials" (which is a totally different product.)

Essentials is a small-business product and has unique licensing *AND* requirements (notably it must be a domain controller and isn't suitable for hosting SQL databases of the type you indicated you'd be running.)   Installing essentials *would be a mistake* in my opinion given the information you provided.

Yes, 2019 got pulled due to a dataloss bug.  But as standard got pulled, that'd be both the GUI *and* the core installs that got pulled.  I'll stress that this is the same media.

As for 2016 vs 2019, all I will say is technology changes.  Yes, if you bought a Surface Pro In August, the October Surface Pro 6 made it "old,"

You can wait until 2019 is certified for hardware.  Or you can install 2016 today and it will be "old" in a few months and you can upgrade later.  A lot of that depends on the immediacy of your need and how much you "need" to be on the cutting edge.  I think in most instances rolling out 2016 is perfectly acceptable as it is the mainstream OS right now.  Yes, you paid for, and are entitled to, 2019.  But you can upgrade to that in two years if you feel so inclined.  You don't need to upgrade now, or in January, or in February, just because it is suddenly certified.  You have the benefit of upgrading when it is mainstream enough to meet your needs and not need to rush.  There are businesses still on 2008 R2, after all, and that is nearing end of support!   I don't recommend running 2016 for 10 years by any means, but you'll have 2019 in VLSC for years to come, giving you an upgrade path that is sensible and not rushed.  There is a happy medium to be found.
Richard LancasterListerAuthor Commented:
Thanks again Cliff, good advice, and I appreciate your time and your explanation.   I will likely install the 2016 Standard first.

As much as this might be nit-picking, my problem was manifested by the fact that when Microsoft "pulled" the "2019 Standard" version, the only current (non 2016) licensed "standard" version that was available to me on the VLSC site was a bastardized version of a MS standard server that did not allow you to install anything but the "CORE" of the standard server.  I believe that this particular version was the 2019 version without the troublesome Windows GUI (desktop essentials components).  After installing the ISO, which did not give me any options to choose from, I was left with a "core" (command line) interface with all GUI options unavailable.  There was no way to make this version of MS standard server a GUI version of Windows Server at that time.  This was confirmed by multiple attempts to enable a GUI interface that was simply "unavailable".  Microsoft had disabled any method of updating/installing the GUI modules.  I will be happy to send you the ISO file if you would like to confirm this for yourself.

Cliff GaliherCommented:
Yes, Microsoft disabled the ability to switch after install. They didn't do that with 2016 tho if. 2016 has the same limitation. 2012 R2 was the last version that aowed switching after the fact.

2016 and 2019 both have (and had) ISP's where the choice is presented during ins.

Note that the phrasing was "desktop experience." It was NOT "desktop essentials"

That matters because "essentials" is a different product and that word has meaning. So it isn't random nitpicking.

My guess is you simply pulled the wrong ISO and not the one for windows Standard. (any version.)  As I had the 2019 version...from VLSC before it was pulled... And it allowed the GUI install.

Also note that the recommendation not to install on hardware predates them pulling it. January was always the tentative timelije for hardware certification.  As MS moves away from terms like GA, I think you'll increasingly see "gold" images months before hardware is certified. Virtualization has changed that process.  Why delay allowing people from spinning up 2019 in Azure because hardware isn't ready yet?

The bug that caused them to pull it was a data loss bug. It wasn't GUI related. When they pulled 2019, they pulled ALL of it. It wasn't a core vs GUI decision. Then didn't leave core up. Which is why I can say with some certainty you either missed the prompt ro have the wrong ISO.

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Richard LancasterListerAuthor Commented:

I concede.  I will give you credit. I do respect your knowledge and understanding of the Microsoft software environment.  Again, thank you for your time and effort.
Cliff GaliherCommented:
Not trying to make you concede. Just tying to help you avid similar mistakes with 2016. VLSC has enough downloads it is easy to get turned about. It's about helping stop a repeat performance.  :)
Richard LancasterListerAuthor Commented:
Thank you both for getting me up to date on the Microsoft software development and licensing process.

Cliff, my difficulty appears to be in my lack of experience with the current state of software development and deployment.  I started programming 50 years ago and I have been involved in most aspects of the computer revolution.  I am a jack of all trades, a master of none, not withstanding a MS in computer science.  So I really do appreciate your deeper understanding of the nuances of Microsoft's software deployment and deployment strategy.  Being on the edge of the industry, and working the remote fringes of the revolution, I have not been exposed to all the current trends, or jargon.

But be warned, should I need assistance again, I will be at your door, notebook in hand, making confused demands for your help.

Cliff GaliherCommented:
I'm cool with that.
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