Windows Server Moving to Semi-Annual Feature Update Schedule

Following in the footsteps of Windows 10 and Office, Microsoft is planning to release major updates to Windows Server each spring and fall.

Windows Server

Windows and Office users are growing accustomed to Microsoft's relatively new semi-annual update schedule. This fall, Windows Servers will join in the tradition.

Erin Chapple, general manager of Windows Server at the Redmond, Wash. software maker, announced the change in a blog post, saying the move will align with the existing, twice-yearly feature releases that the company issues for its Office line of productivity apps, and of course, Windows desktop operating system. For example, this spring's Windows 10 Creators Update will be followed later this year by the aptly named Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

The move will benefit customers seeking to innovate at a more rapid pace using the server system software's software-defined data center capabilities and its application container and microservices components, Chapple said.

And customers needn't worry that their Windows IT management solutions will fail to keep pace, suggested the Microsoft executive. System Center will also participate in the new release timetable, or the Semi-annual Channel, as Microsoft terms it.

This fall, the company is planning to release a technical preview of the next major System Center feature update, with a production release scheduled for early 2018.

Building on the functionality provided by Windows Server 2016, the company is focusing on Virtual Machine Manager, Data Protection Manager and System Center Operations Manager for the next release, revealed Bala Rajagopolan, principal group program manager of System Center at Microsoft, in a separate blog.

"This release will make it easy for you to deploy and manage nested virtualization, and support software load balancing. In addition, you will be able to provision Storage Quality of Service (QoS) via self-service," boasted Rajagopolan. "To support heterogeneous environments, System Center is investing in improved monitoring for Linux using a FluentD agent, and reducing storage costs for VMware backups. For VMware, you will also have the ability to migrate a UEFI firmware based VMware VM to a Gen 2 Hyper-V virtual machine."

Back on the Windows Server front, the company is planning changes to Nano Server, a massively streamlined, 64-bit only installation option for the operating system that is 25 times smaller than the a full Windows Server image with desktop functionality. Targeting container images, Microsoft pledges that Nano Server images will shrink by at least 50 percent, a size reduction that will help improve container density and startup times. The company also is retiring infrastructure-related functionality in Nano Server, Chapple said, asserting that the Server Core mode in Windows Server 2016 is a better fit for infrastructure workloads.

Customers wishing for an early peek at upcoming Windows Server releases can enroll in the Windows Insider program. Microsoft plans to make the early-access program available to members, which is already pumping out preview builds of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update to testers in exchange for some feedback.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...