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Installing the SharePoint 2016 IT Preview

The sixth iteration of SharePoint server is now in the public preview stage, so if you're interested in learning about this latest platform, now is the time to download the preview and install it. You can download the preview from the Microsoft download center. You can also participate in the public
SharePoint 2016 Preview forum

Before we get into the installation and setup of SharePoint Server 2016 (SP16), there are several things to note about the preview. Some think that SP16 is just an over-blown service pack for SharePoint Server 2013 (SP13), noting that SP16 relies more on the cloud than SP13. Yet, not all the updates in SP16 rely on the cloud and the number of updates required to be a service pack vs. a new version of a platform have been debated over the years (here and here too). Remondmag.com has a good article on where SharePoint is going from a general perspective, written by the respected Christian Buckley.

First, you will not be able to upgrade from the preview to the RTM (Released to Manufacturing) version of SP16, so don't put any mission critical information into SP16 that you'll need later after the preview version goes away. Some have asked about the database attach method of taking the preview content and putting it in their SP16 RTM farm. Microsoft is not supporting this type of upgrade either, so it's best to not plan a work around to this rather clear expectation that has been set by Microsoft.

Secondly, Project Server is now embedded in SP16, so you will not need a separate product key code to use project server's functionality. In addition, SP16 supports the use of Windows Server 2016 TP3 and can be used with SQL 2016 TP2.2.

Thirdly, for those who built
Access Services 2010 apps
, those (apparently) will work in the RTM version of SP16.

Fourthly, there will be a built-in cloud hybrid search functionality for those who are using SP16 with Office 365. Office Graph will surface relevant information in Delve, regardless of where that information is stored – either in the cloud or on-premises. In the hybrid model, the search function to be executed from the cloud, thereby reducing (significantly) the server footprint for search and indexing. Since that part of managing SharePoint was usually a pain anyways, having Microsoft manage the crawling and indexing of content will be a welcome change. If you're interested in this hybrid support of Search in SP16, check out the Cloud Hybrid Search Forum.

Fifthly, if you need to install the preview in an offline setting (not connected to the internet), then this forum post might be of help to you.

Lastly, the installation will give you the option to select specific server roles or perform a single-server setup. This is new to SharePoint 2016. We'll discuss this aspect of the installing when we get to that point later in this post.

Installing SharePoint 2016 Preview

You'll want to download the preview from the Microsoft Download Center.

Once downloaded, here are the steps to installing SharePoint 2016. First, start the setup process. You'll get the familiar setup splash screen.

In this post, we're focused on the installation and initial configuration of SharePoint 2016, so we'll click on the Install Software Prerequisites link. We're installing on a Windows 2012 R2 server platform that is a member of a domain. The bits are also coming from a file server, meaning that via a mapped drive, we're installing SP16 over the network.

Similar to the installation experience for SharePoint 2013 and earlier versions, this install will interrogate the local server into which SP16 is being installed and then will go out to the internet and find the necessary bits to install the prerequisites. In our test installation, this part worked flawlessly. There was one reboot and we found ourselves back at the desktop, ready for the next step.

If you need to do an offline install, be sure to copy the prerequisites to a different drive – such as a thumb drive and then install locally off the thumb drive. We also recommend having your server's operating system fully patched before you start to install the SharePoint binaries.

As in the other install paths we've had since SharePoint 2007, you'll first install the pre-requisites and then you'll install the binaries. After that, you'll configure the farm. Our next step at this point is to install the binaries for SharePoint 2016 Technical Preview.



Installing the SharePoint 2016 Binaries

From the same splash screen, you'll click the Install SharePoint Server link. The first screen you're presented with is the Enter Your Product Key Code screen. The input box for the key will be empty. Don't panic. You can find the code can be found on Microsoft's web site (expand the Install Instructions). Note that this will lock the preview for 180 days – meaning that your install will work for 180 days from the first day you install the binaries.

The next screen you're presented with is the end-user licensing agreement. Nearly everyone on the planet selects the Yes I Agree check box and moves on without reading the licensing agreement. I would advise you to read the agreement at least once. It's insightful to learn what you're actually agreeing to when you select that little checkbox. For example, if you use information rights management, you're agreeing to connect to Microsoft's services at least once a year for validation purposes. And there is some information you're agreeing to share with Microsoft and whomever they decide to share the information with.

Of course, if you disagree with the licensing agreement, then you won't be able to install the software. To my knowledge, there is no process or method to negotiate the licensing agreement. It's not as if you can call the main number at Microsoft and say "Hey, I'd like to modify point 2, subsection B in this licensing agreement." So read it just so you know what you're agreeing with.

After accepting the licensing agreement, you'll be presented with the Choose a File Location screen. The default location of where SharePoint "lives" is in several places – here, you're choosing where to install the binaries and the search index. By default, the binaries are stored in the root folder under Program Files\Microsoft Office Servers. The index is stored in the root folder under Program Files\Microsoft Office Servers\16.0\Data. Use the Browse button to change the location of where you want these two elements of SharePoint installed. Of course, you can leave it at default as well – which I will do for ease of illustration in this blog post. I'll click the Install Now button and the installation will start. The installation will start and eventually finish. This is not a slow process but not a fast one either. So, if you're following this post to install the preview bits, then it's time for you to grab a cup of coffee. :)

Now, that the bits are installed, you're presented with the screen to configure your SharePoint farm. In a test environment, depending on the variables you're wanting to preview, you may or may not want to run immediately the configuration wizard (psconfig). Reasons would include the need to install additional language packs or, during a product cycle, the need to install hotfixes, patches or service packs. The larger point is to get everything installed at the same time that requires psconfig to run after the installation. Then run psconfig and you'll save time in running this utility only once.

If you don't want to run this utility right now, just uncheck the Run The SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard Now checkbox, select close and run it later. You'll be able to run this utility at any time by using the Start area of Windows Server 2012 and typing in "SharePoint" into the search box. Windows should return to you a list of tools for SharePoint administration that were installed with the binaries. You'll select the SharePoint 2016 Products Configuration Wizard tool and that will start the farm configuration wizard.




Note that since this tool is installed with the binaries, it will persist for the life of the SharePoint installation on your server.

Since I don't have anything additional to install, so I'll go ahead and run this utility to configure the farm. Click the Close button to start the utility. This is a bit unintuitive. You're closing the binary installation and starting the configuration wizard in the same screen. Don't let the "Close" confuse you.




When the configuration wizard starts, you'll be presented with the Welcome screen. Just click Next and you'll be asked whether or not you want to create a new farm or join an existing farm. If this is the first server in the farm, you'll select the Create A New Farm radio button. If otherwise, you'll select the Join An Existing Farm radio button (not illustrated).

The next screen will look familiar to those who have installed SharePoint in the past, but if this is your first time installing it, just understand that you'll need to enter the database server's name or the instance name (if there are multiple SQL instances installed on the sever) into which you want the farm databases hosted.

The database access account will need a username and password that has the proper permissions configured on the local server and on the SQL server. If the permissions are not configured correctly, you'll receive an error message saying that psconfig can't connect to the database server. The error message won't appear as a permissions-related error, but if the permission for the database access account are configured correctly, the error message should go away (unless you really are having connectivity problems to the database server, in which case, you'll need to ensure your Ethernet cables are plugged in properly J ).

Once you're able to connect to the SQL Server, the next screen (not illustrated) in the configuration wizard will ask you for a passphrase. This passphrase is used to ensure that only those with the correct passphrase can add other servers to the farm. It is a security measure that, in a production environment, should not be left blank. Depending on your test environment, you may or may not want to leave it blank. In my case, I'll enter a passphrase and click Next to bring up the Specify Server Role screen.

The Specify Server Role screen is a new screen to SharePoint 2016's configuration wizard. We didn't have this screen in earlier versions of SharePoint.

From this screen, you can select a specific role for a server and it will be properly tuned and configured (think services turned on and off) for its' role.

Because I'm installing a single test server so I can preview SharePoint 2016, I've selected the Single-Server Farm radio button.

To learn more about the roles – such as MinRole – in SharePoint 2016, I'll refer you to this excellent blog post by Bill Baer, Senior Product Marketing Manager on the SharePoint team. (Note that these new roles will result in additional PowerShell parameters and values as well as Health Rules and Compliance capabilities in the Health Analyzer.)

On the next screen, which is the Configure SharePoint Central Administration Web Application screen, you'll be able to specify the port number under which you want Central Administration to run. You'll also be able to select between NTLM and Kerberos. For the most part, we recommend that you use Kerberos unless you have a real need for NTLM (New Technology Lan Manager).

If you don't know how to configure Kerberos for SharePoint, I'd suggest reading
this blog post
from Thomas Balkeståhl and this Technet article.

When you click Next, you'll be presented with a summary screen of what you're committing to configure (not illustrated). Ensure your configurations are accurate, then click Next to start the Farm Setup. It will run through 10 configuration steps – and it will take a while, so go get another cup of coffee.

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