Dell is pleased to work closely with Microsoft to support the significant investments in Nano Server, to deliver a small, secure truly focused install option that allows for a customized deployment across servers, VMs and containers.  Dell has made a considerable effort to ensure the best possible compatibility and functionality between Nano Server and our 13G Server family.


Customers that wish to use Nano Server in production are recommended to purchase Software Assurance (SA) from Dell along with a server & OS purchase, and acquire the latest Nano Server version using that entitlement.  Customers that wish to test Nano Server can download the demo (as detailed in this link) version from Microsoft (or, if a Volume License customer, use the  version from the VL media, after ensuring it is a currently serviced version). 


Some key things to know about Nano Server servicing:


  • Microsoft requires Software Assurance to be licensed for production use and for support (link)

  • Software Assurance can only be purchased within 90 days of original OS purchase (link); updates/new versions are provided by Microsoft (OEMs cannot provide them)

  • Nano Server is on the Current Branch for Business (CBB), so it will get refreshed with new features 2-3 times per year

  • Nano Server cannot currently in-place upgrade between versions, so Rebuild and Replace is the only way to change versions

  • Nano Server will receive security updates for the current release (N), and one older version (N-1); Nano Server versions older than this will silently fail to get updates (please see Microsoft's guidance on update/refresh options).


here are some recommendations for using Nano Server:


  1. Ensure that you are using a 13G Dell system tested/supported with Nano Server

  2. Ensure that you are using the latest version of Nano Server available from Microsoft, and set a reminder to check for version updates (we expect Microsoft to provide plenty of notice when a release occurs)

  3. Use a consistent build process/script to build/customize images (nano image builder/DSC/etc.)

  4. When building an image, include the inbox drivers & any newer Nano Server qualified drivers available at

  5. Keep applications/custom configurations inside Nano Server to an absolute minimum, so that #3 works well for version changes


Dell offers OS support for Nano Server with Software Assurance in the same way we do other Microsoft Volume License OS offerings, with the qualification that since Microsoft may change/add features, APIs or other OS behavior much more aggressively on the CBB branch, the functionality of Dell tools may vary, and require future tool releases to be compatible.  Dell supports Nano Server within the Microsoft requirements.  Please refer to our Important Information Guide for Windows Server 2016 (link) for the latest information.  To prevent customers from inadvertently deploying an outdated version, Dell has removed Nano Server from the Windows Server 2016 OEM OS media.