Windows Server 2016 Launch Details And More

Yesterday at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Toronto I was at a breakout session where they discussed the launch timeframe for Windows Server 2016, and now there is a blog post on the Windows Server Blog that includes these details. Below you will find the details they posted, and I'll include more details of WPC sessions to give an idea of what you should expect as partners, and what you should be thinking about as partners. Before we get to that, I'll just highlight some of the important things to be aware of. First of all there is the introduction of Long Term Servicing Branch and Current Branch For Business options like what we have already with Windows 10, and you will also see that there are feature/functionality differences between Standard and Datacenter editions, a change from what we've had with the 2012 and 2012 R 2 releases.

We are excited to announce the official launch of Windows Server 2016 will be at the Ignite conference this Fall. We hope you can join us in Atlanta for the excitement! Windows Server 2016 is the cloud-ready operating system that delivers new layers of security and Azure-inspired innovation for the applications and infrastructure that power your business. New capabilities will help you:

  • Increase security and reduce business risk with multiple layers of protection built into the operating system.
  • Evolve your datacenter to save money and gain flexibility with software-defined datacenter technologies inspired by Microsoft Azure.
  • Innovate faster with an application platform optimized for the applications you run today, as well as the cloud-native apps of tomorrow.

Technical Preview 5 is our final preview prior to launch and is feature complete, so download it today and try out all the new features in Windows Server 2016. Deploy, manage and secure Windows Server 2016 with the upcoming release of System Center 2016.

Windows Server 2016 editions include:

  • Datacenter: This edition continues to deliver significant value for organizations that need unlimited virtualization along with powerful new features including Shielded Virtual Machines, software-defined storage and software-defined networking.
  • Standard: This edition is ideal for organizations that need limited virtualization but require a robust, general purpose server operating system.
  • Essentials: This edition is designed for smaller organizations with less than 50 users.

These editions will be available for purchase on the October 2016 price list. Details on pricing for Windows Server 2016 can be found here.

It’s also important to note that for the Standard and Datacenter editions, there are three installation options:

  • Server with Desktop Experience: The Server with Desktop Experience installation option (previously known as Server with a GUI) provides an ideal user experience for those who need to run an app that requires local UI or for Remote Desktop Services Host. This option has the full Windows client shell and experience, consistent with Windows 10 Anniversary edition Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB), with the server Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and Server Manager tools available locally on the server.
  • Server Core: The Server Core installation option removes the client UI from the server, providing an installation that runs the majority of the roles and features on a lighter install. Server Core does not include MMC or Server Manager, which can be used remotely, but does include limited local graphical tools such as Task Manager as well as PowerShell for local or remote management.
  • Nano Server: The Nano Server installation option provides an ideal lightweight operating system to run “cloud-native” applications based on containers and micro-services. It can also be used to run an agile and cost-effective datacenter with a dramatically smaller OS footprint. Because it is a headless installation of the server operating system, management is done remotely via Core PowerShell, the web-based Server Management Tools (SMT), or existing remote management tools such as MMC.

Announcing servicing guidelines for Windows Server 2016

In prior releases, Windows Server has been serviced and supported with a “5+5” model meaning that there is 5 years of mainstream support and 5 years of extended support and this will continue with Windows Server 2016. Customers who choose to install full Windows Server 2016 with a desktop experience or Server Core will maintain this servicing experience, which will be known as the Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB).

Customers choosing the Nano Server installation will opt into a more active servicing model similar to the experience with Windows 10. Specifically, these periodic releases are known as Current Branch for Business (CBB) releases. This approach supports customers who are moving at a “cloud cadence” of rapid development lifecycles and wish to innovate more quickly. Since this type of servicing continues to provide new features and functionality, Software Assurance is also required to deploy and operate Nano Server in production.

Installation Option LTSB servicing model CBB servicing model
Server with Desktop Experience Yes No
Server Core Yes No
Nano Server No Yes

Our goal is to provide feature updates approximately two or three times per year for Nano Server. The model will be similar to the Windows client servicing model, but we expect it to have some differences. While we share the same goal of delivering new and valuable technology to our customers rapidly, we understand that a server operating environment has unique requirements.

For example, while it will be necessary to stay current with new versions as they come out, the new versions will not auto-update a server. Instead, a manual installation will be performed by the admin when they choose. Because Nano Server will be updated on a more frequent basis, customers can be no more than two Nano Server CBB releases behind. Only two CBB releases will be serviced at any given time, therefore when the third Nano Server release comes out, you will need to move off of #1 as it will no longer be serviced. When #4 comes out, you will need to move off of #2, and so on.

Windows Server 2016 meets businesses and organizations where they are today, and introduces the innovation needed for the transition to cloud computing when ready. This release puts the power of choice in the hands of our customers, making Windows Server 2016 the perfect stepping stone to the cloud. We hope you join us for the launch at Ignite, and as always, we look forward to your feedback and suggestions as we continue to innovate in Windows Server.

Comments (7)
  1. Blogger Anne says:

    Nice information. Thank you

  2. _mb says:

    Can you confirm if Server 2016 will be licensed pr CPU core instead of CPU socket as rumored on multiple IT news sites?

    1. Hi – take a look at – it includes information on the changes to per core licensing for Standard and Datacenter. There are some additional licensing details in the Windows Server 2016 FAQ as well –

      1. _mb says:

        Thanks for the links, but that information is severely depressive.
        – A minimum of 8 core licenses is required for each physical processor. (So our 6 core CPU’s just got more expensive without a good reason)
        – A minimum of 16 core licenses is required for each server. (Now this is just ridiculous)

        To be honest this horrible licensing scheme seems like VMware’s horrible Ram licensing they tried in 2011/2012.

        1. Hi again _mb

          I haven’t looked too closely at Datacenter yet because it’s not the volume product in the OEM channel, but for Standard the pricing tables I’m working from show parity in pricing between 2012 R2 and 2016 up to quad proc 8 core servers for 2 VMs, and for 4 VMs the cost difference kicks in at the dual proc quad core price tag. Once I get an official extensive list of the different CPU and Core count combinations, especially the outliers that will trigger differences, I’ll get that posted too.

          I’ve got core licensing calculator spreadsheet that I hope I can share as soon as SKUs hit the distributor price lists, there are a few things on it I am still getting clarification on.

  3. Ben says:

    Will RemoteFX be updated to support DirectX 12.0?

    1. Hi Ben – I don’t believe so. Everything from the RDS team so far has only referenced DX11 as well as the OpenGL and OpenCL.

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