How to install Exchange Server 2019 on Windows Server 2019 Core Step-by-Step

Tuesday, July 24, 2018
The following article is a step by step walk-through for installing Exchange Server 2019 on Windows Server 2019 Server Core.
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As announced, Exchange 2019 can be installed either on Windows Server 2019 with a GUI or Windows Server 2019 Core. Since Server Core lacks most GUI aspects, we need to use PowerShell and Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) to manage and administer Server Core. Here's how to install Windows Server 2019 Core and install Exchange Server 2019.

Install Windows Server 2019 Core:

You can download the Windows Server 2019 preview here.
Boot to the Windows Server 2019 Core ISO and run setup:
  • Set Language, Time, and keyboard, Next
  • Click Install Now
  • Select the Operating System you want to install (Windows Server Standard or Windows Server Datacenter), Next
  • Accept the license terms, Next
  • Select Custom Installation
  • Select the drive where you want to install Windows, Next. Windows will install and the server will restart.

The Administrator's password must be changed before signing in:
  • Select OK to change it. 
  • Enter the password twice to confirm and select OK again to sign in.
  • Welcome to Server Core! Exciting, ain't it?

Run sconfig.cmd to configure the server (in this order):
  • 2) Change Computer Name and restart. You must do this first if you're recovering an existing Exchange 2019 server.
  • 8) Configure Network Settings (it's currently using DHCP). Set static IP, netmask, and default gateway. Then configure the DNS Servers.
  • 7) Enable Remote Desktop (optional)
  • 5) Configure Windows Update Settings (Automatic, DownloadOnly, or Manual)
  • 6) Download and Install Updates
  • 10) Configure Telemetry settings (optional)
  • 1) Change Domain/Workgroup to join a domain. Restart.

Press Ctrl-Alt-Del to sign-in to the server with the Domain Admin account:

  • Enter the username and password for the Domain Admin account

To enable file sharing so you can copy files to the new server, run the following from the CMD window:
netsh advfirewall firewall set rule group="File and Printer Sharing" new enable=Yes
To enable the High Performance power configuration (recommended for Server Core VMs) run:
powercfg -setactive 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8c635c
Now that Server Core on Windows Server 2019 is setup, we can install Exchange Server 2019.

Install Exchange Server 2019 on Windows Server 2019 Core:

You can download the Exchange Server 2019 Public Preview here.
Sign-in to Server Core with an account with Domain Admin, Enterprise Admin, and Schema Admin rights. If you're adding another server to an existing Exchange organization, you'll also need to be a member of Organization Administrators.

Mount the Exchange Server 2019 ISO. You can either mount it in your VM or copy the ISO to the new server and mount it in PowerShell by running the following cmdlet:
Mount-DiskImage -ImagePath "C:\Temp\ExchangeServer2019-x64.iso"
Change to the drive letter that represents the mounted ISO and run Setup to install most of the Exchange 2019 prerequisites:
Setup.EXE /Mode:Install /InstallWindowsComponents /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms /Roles:MB
Notice I said "most" of the prerequisites. The command above will install all the Windows Server roles and features, but Exchange 2019 still requires the Unified Communications Managed API (UCMA) runtime 4.0. You can't install UCMA until the Windows Server features are installed first. You may ask, "Why does Exchange 2019 still need UCMA even though Unified Messaging has been removed from the product?" The answer is, it's required for Lync and Skype for Business integration.

Setup will tell you to download UCMA 4.0 from a URL, but that setup won't work on Server Core. Instead, install the version included in the Exchange Server 2019 ISO in the UCMARedist folder.

Setup will also tell you to install the Visual C++ 2013 Redistributable Package from here. This one you'll have to download and install. I expect this will be included automatically by the time Exchange 2019 ships.

If you'd rather install the Windows prerequisites yourself from PowerShell instead of letting Setup do it, run the following cmdlet:
Install-WindowsFeature Web-WebServer,Web-Common-Http,Web-Default-Doc,Web-Dir-Browsing,Web-Http-Errors,Web-Static-Content,Web-Http-Redirect,Web-Health,Web-Http-Logging,Web-Log-Libraries,Web-Request-Monitor,Web-Http-Tracing,Web-Performance,Web-Stat-Compression,Web-Dyn-Compression,Web-Security,Web-Filtering,Web-Basic-Auth,Web-Client-Auth,Web-Digest-Auth,Web-Windows-Auth,Web-App-Dev,Web-Net-Ext45,Web-Asp-Net45,Web-ISAPI-Ext,Web-ISAPI-Filter,Web-Mgmt-Tools,Web-Mgmt-Compat,Web-Metabase,Web-WMI,Web-Mgmt-Service,NET-Framework-45-ASPNET,NET-WCF-HTTP-Activation45,NET-WCF-MSMQ-Activation45,NET-WCF-Pipe-Activation45,NET-WCF-TCP-Activation45,Server-Media-Foundation,MSMQ-Services,MSMQ-Server,RSAT-Feature-Tools,RSAT-Clustering,RSAT-Clustering-PowerShell,RSAT-Clustering-CmdInterface,RPC-over-HTTP-Proxy,WAS-Process-Model,WAS-Config-APIs
Now install the UCMA runtime and the Visual C++ 2013 Redistributable Package, then run Setup again. This time we don't need to specify installing the prerequisites:
Setup.EXE /Mode:Install /IAcceptExchangeServerLicenseTerms /Roles:MB
If you'd rather run Exchange Setup in the GUI mode, you can do that too and take advantage of the rebootless Windows component installation in Windows Server 2019 server core. Simply run Setup and let it install the prerequisites. Setup will halt because UCMA 4.0 and the Visual C++ 2013 Redistributable Package are not installed - install them. Then click Retry in Exchange Setup and it will continue on with the installation. Awesome!

Once setup completes, restart the server and you can continue to configure the server using the Exchange Management Shell or the Exchange Admin Center from another PC.

Post-Setup Tips:

Run the LaunchEMS cmdlet from a CMD prompt to launch the Exchange Management Shell in another window locally on the server.

If you're new to Windows Server Core, read Manage a Server Core Server for basics on server administration.

I highly recommend Windows Admin Center (formerly Project Honolulu) for managing Server Core servers, or any other Windows server for that matter. It allows you to perform most all server tasks from a single browser window, including updating device drivers. Pretty cool!

Good luck with your Exchange 2019 Server Core implementations! If you need help with your deployments, please reach out to EXPTA Consulting.

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