Upgrading windows server 1709 to 1803?

Occasional Contributor

Hi, I am wondering if this is even possible or supported?


I was trying to complete the upgrade as described here


Running the command from the administrator cmd prompt through a remote desktop connection.

But I keep getting the ugly "Setup couldn't start properly. Please reboot your pc and running windows 10 setup again".


But when I look here,    It states that "This release should be installed as a clean installation."


Sooo ... is an upgrade from 1709 to 1803 even possible?   It is a little crappy if we have to reinstall the half year releases from scratch every time ... I understand this would be less of an issue if we use the non-lts windows versions solely as container images, but I would like to run this on my server as well ... 

12 Replies

Also ... I tried all the windows 10 related fixes for the error I get. Nothing helped. Keep getting that error.

Currently there are two RTM versions of Server 2016. 1607 and 1803. 1803 is a core only version and must be clean installed, you cannot in-place upgrade 1607 to 1803




So you are saying that Windows Server 1709 Core that has been running my server since it was released in september 2017 is not an RTM version of Server 2016, but 1803 is?  That does not make any sense.


I fully understand the semi-annual release program vs the LTS versions (2016/2019 etc)

And I get that 1803 is a semi annual release. But appluing logic I would asume that 1709 was part of that channel as well?   It is only briefly mentioned in the semi-annual channel overview above.  

Did Microsoft just forget that they released 1709?  So when we get to 1809, what are the odds that we have to reinstall again a second time if we want to run the core version of 2016?

Sorry, missed 1709, I cannot find the document right now but as far as I know you cannot in-place upgrade to Server 2016 1803; you should clean install it.



Yeah, I am reading that as well. I even quoted it in my original question above ...   Except for that one guy who wrote on his blog how he upgraded from 1709 to 1803.  See my initial question.


It's like 1709 was just swept under the carpet?  Or should we expect to reinstall version 1809, 1903 and 1909 as well, when they will be released?  That reduces the usability of the semi-annual core versions to be something that we use as the basis of our container images, where we can just bump the version number in docker files ... seems like a bit of a problem to me.

Good idea Dave. Thanks.

You're welcome.



best response confirmed by Lars Andersen (Occasional Contributor)

@Lars Andersen, in-place upgrades from Windows Server 1709 to Windows Server 1803 were part of the initial Insider previews, and were promoted as a feature of that version early on.


However, it looks like they dropped that feature when they announced, in late March, that the SAC versions would be focused entirely on "modern applications and innovation scenarios such as containers", and would drop most of the infrastructure roles.


Accordingly, 1803 has even fewer infrastructure services than 1709 (which dropped Storage Space Direct just as it was released). So an in-place upgrade would have likely stripped out features from a 1709 installation, causing issues for administrator who (rightfully) expect an in-place upgrade to maintain roughly the same feature set.


I haven't seen any indication if 1809 will offer an in-place upgrade, since all the attention has been focused on the LTSC Windows Server 2019 version.

Thanks @Jim Gaynor    Solid info. That all makes good sense, and I'll go to the LTS Windows Server 2019 then when it comes. It's just a windows container and hyper-v host lab anyway.


@Dave Patrick, I just want to make sure that this is clear for everyone. There is no such thing as Windows Server 2016 1803. There is only one RTM release of Server 2016, and that was 1607. There is Windows Server 2016 and then there is Windows Server 1803. You must view them as two different product offerings.


The Windows Server releases with YYMM build numbers, like 1607, 1709, 1803, etc... are part of the windows semi-annual channel (SAC) and will be released every six months. These releases will be bleeding edge releases and will not support the GUI interface at all, only a core install. They will only have a support life span of 18 month. Even though there is cases of engineers upgrading a SAC deployment to the next release, this is not supported and MS is expecting you to deploy brand new installs when the new version is released.


The Windows server release with the actual year referenced are the Long Term Servicing Channel. They are what we are used to seeing released every so many years, 2012, 2016, 2019, etc... They will include some of the technologies that have been released in the SAC channel that have been deemed production stable and supportable. These releases will have the normal mainstream support of 5 years. These releases on the other hand can be upgraded from old to new releases.


Great Ref: Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel overview

@JohnWC Great answer was the link to 'Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel overview'. This cleared the waters completely!!! Thanks!! sfsutherland007