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Microsoft announces Windows Server 2016 will launch at Ignite conference

All the prognostication about when Windows Server 2016 will be available was laid to rest in multiple blogs from Microsoft today when the company announced the next version of the server operating system will launch at the Microsoft Ignite event in Atlanta September 26-30.

Windows Server 2016 will come in the usual three editions of Datacenter, Standard and Essentials. Datacenter, being the most costly at $6,155 for two processors at eight cores, is geared toward larger organizations that have demanding virtualization needs and want to use the more innovative software-defined storage and networking features in this upcoming release. Some of the new enhancements such as the more secure Shielded VMs in Hyper-V and the software-defined storage feature Storage Spaces Direct are only available in the Datacenter edition.

Mid-sized companies would most likely use the Standard edition while organizations with fewer than 50 employees may land on the least expensive Essentials edition.

For Standard and Datacenter users, Microsoft will have three installation options: Server with Desktop Experience, Server Core and Nano Server. The Desktop Experience version is what some in IT would call the “full server installation”; it’s meant for users who require a user interface (UI) to manage applications. Server Core has no UI and is a lighter installation that has eliminated some of the roles and features found on the Desktop Experience option. Nano Server is the smallest server OS possible and is tailored for running containers but can also be used as a Hyper-V host and web server. Administrators can manage Nano Server — a headless server — with PowerShell and Server Manager. Note that Nano Server only works with 64-bit applications.

Support models for Windows Server editions

Microsoft also announced that its typical five years of mainstream support (with five years of extended support) will continue with the full Windows Server 2016 installation and Server Core through the Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) servicing model.

But for organizations using Nano Server, Microsoft has announced it will use the Current Branch for Business (CBB) servicing model. Microsoft calls CBB “a more active servicing model similar to the experience with Windows 10” and requires Software Assurance. CBB will not be available for Server with Desktop Experience and Server Core versions.

While the CBB update feature sounds similar to what is being offered with Windows 10, don’t fret. Microsoft said Nano Server CBB releases are not automatically installed. But administrators will need to be aware Microsoft plans to support just two of the most current Nano Server CBB releases. That means, if version 3 is out, administrators will no longer have support for a Nano Server still running on version 1.