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The essential guide to Microsoft Windows Server 2016

Microsoft's next major server operating system release has many new features and numerous enhancements in virtualization, cloud, storage and security.


Now that mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 has ended and Windows Server 2012 is getting up in years, more enterprises may want to consider jumping to Windows Server 2016, which is scheduled to be released in the third quarter of 2016.

Microsoft Windows Server 2016 includes several new features, including Nano Server -- a lightweight installation option that is 93% smaller than traditional Windows Server deployments -- and native container support. Windows Server 2016 also includes new software-defined storage options and improvements to Hyper-V.

Whether you're on the fence about upgrading or have already decided to deploy the new server operating system when it is officially released, this guide will highlight the most anticipated Windows Server 2016 features.

1What to know before you start-

How to prepare for a Windows Server 2016 upgrade

While everything may run fine on the existing server platform, there may be benefits in Windows Server 2016 that make an upgrade more appealing. Migrating server operating systems isn't a light undertaking. Does your IT staff have the expertise -- or the time -- to handle this type of upgrade or should it be outsourced to consultants?


Microsoft seeks secure cloud workloads in Windows Server 2016

One of Microsoft's key Windows Server 2016 features is Nano Server, aimed at making containers and Hyper-V workloads faster to deploy and less vulnerable to intruders. Continue Reading


How well do you know Windows Server 2016 licensing?

Find out just how much you know about the impending changes to Microsoft's Windows Server 2016 licensing model with this short quiz. Continue Reading


Time sync improvements coming to Windows Server

Organizations with a steady flow of term-limited employees may find one of the new Active Directory features on group membership expirations helpful. Continue Reading


A Windows Server 2016 upgrade requires careful consideration

An upgrade to Windows Server 2016 will generate interest as the release date draws near, but there are many decisions to weigh before making the leap. Continue Reading


Why enterprises should consider Windows Server 2016

One important factor to consider before upgrading to Windows Server 2016 is how it will benefit not only the enterprise, but the end users. You'll also want to look at the technical requirements and determine whether your existing servers will support the new features. Continue Reading


How to ensure a pain-free Windows Server 2016 upgrade

To mitigate problems during the upgrade process, ferret out any incompatibilities and errors in a test environment before switching the server platform to production. Continue Reading


Decide who should perform a Windows Server 2016 upgrade

After testing the technical preview, the next step is to decide who will execute the upgrade. Small to medium-sized businesses may be able to rely on in-house staff, but large businesses should consider using consultants for this task. Continue Reading


Windows Server 2016 backup challenges

Some of the new features in Windows Server 2016, such as Nano Server and containers, will pose backup challenges. Vendors may not offer support for these features when Windows Server 2016 is released, which leaves early adopters needing to find a workaround until support is added. Continue Reading

2Windows Server 2016 storage-

Storage Spaces Direct adds functionality

Storage Spaces Direct, a new storage feature in Windows Server 2016, uses software to let administrators build highly available storages systems with local storage.


Windows Server 2016 features include disaster recovery

The new Storage Replica is one of several key Windows Server disaster recovery elements. Storage Spaces Direct also supports DR. Continue Reading


How Windows containers work and apply to DR

Part of Windows Server 2016, the Windows container may be a good means for your organization's disaster recovery. But be cautious about moving data volumes. Continue Reading


Synchronous replication a reality with Windows Server 2016

With Storage Replica, administrators have a new tool in their arsenal to avoid disaster and to recover data quickly. Continue Reading


Get started with Storage Spaces Direct

Storage Spaces Direct allows failover clusters to be built around commodity storage without the need for a cluster shared volume. Administrators should be aware that within Storage Spaces Direct, virtual disks are not treated as virtual hard disk files, but as a series of extents. Continue Reading


Notable features in Storage Spaces Direct

One of the key features of Storage Spaces Direct is its use of high capacity devices, such as SATA disks and solid-state drives, allowing administrators to use high availability tiered storage and software-defined storage across the enterprise. Continue Reading


Windows Server 2016 features focus on cloud

Microsoft is increasingly trying to drive customers to the cloud and microservices, but one feature that continues to stick out to administrators is Storage Spaces Direct, which improves the Storage Spaces technology introduced in Windows Server 2012. Continue Reading

3Windows 2016 virtualization-

The debut of containers and Hyper-V updates

Containers are the next progression of virtualization -- isolated environments where applications and services can run without affecting the system and vice versa. Windows Server 2016 will also feature significant security developments to Hyper-V.


Container management tools continue to evolve

When Windows Server 2016 is released, admins will have to learn what options exist for managing Docker containers and what challenges the task will present. Continue Reading


How has Hyper-V security improved in Windows Server 2016?

Hyper-V Server 2016 is scheduled to be released in the third quarter of 2016. See how well you know its anticipated security features. Continue Reading


Secure Hyper-V VMs with Host Guardian

The Host Guardian server role combines three features to provide VM privacy at the hypervisor level, including virtual hard disk encryption with BitLocker. Continue Reading


Hyper-V 2016 at a glance

Hyper-V 2016 includes a few new and noteworthy features, such as shielded VMs and changes to production checkpoints. Storage resiliency also protects VMs in case of a loss of storage connectivity. Continue Reading


How to protect Hyper-V containers

Administrators who want to protect Hyper-V containers can restrict containers to trusted workloads and apply patches regularly to fix vulnerabilities. Continue Reading


Nested virtualization supports Windows containers

Nested virtualization allows a VM to host another VM, and a major benefit of Hyper-V nested virtualization is container support. Another perk? Organizations can build a test environment that more closely simulates the production deployment. Continue Reading


What's the difference between Hyper-V and Windows Server containers?

While Hyper-V and Windows Server containers are both forms of virtualization, there are some differences between the two that administrators should know. Continue Reading


What are Windows containers?

Windows Server 2016 will support containers by using the Docker engine for deployment and management. Continue Reading


How to deploy Windows containers using PowerShell or Docker commands

Administrators can deploy Windows containers in Azure using Docker commands or a PowerShell module. While admins who have worked with Docker commands may be tempted to start there, the PowerShell commands may be more trustworthy. Continue Reading


New Hyper-V features in Windows Server 2016

Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016 includes new features, such as nested virtualization and the ability to hot add and remove virtual network cards. Continue Reading


How are Hyper-V and Windows Server licensed?

Microsoft has shifted its licensing for Windows Server 2016 from a per-processor to per-core model for the Datacenter and Standard editions, while Hyper-V Server is available to download for free which, however, comes at the cost of limitations. Continue Reading


How containers affect application virtualization and management

Containers divide complex applications into constituent components and can then be linked together to form a complete application. This allows each component to be patched without affecting other components in other containers. Continue Reading

4Microsoft goes small-

Nano Server in Windows Server 2016

Nano Server is a lightweight installation that is 93% smaller than a traditional Windows Server deployment. Despite its small size, Nano Server offers big benefits to enterprises. This section will break down the benefits of Nano Server, how to deploy it and what it means for Windows Server.


Microsoft Nano Server: A lighter OS for heavy workloads

Microsoft offers a refactored Windows Server 2016 option called Nano Server that fills the need for speed in today's data centers. Here's how it works. Continue Reading


How does Windows Nano Server differ from Windows Server Core?

After Windows Server Core failed to catch on, Microsoft may convince administrators with its next attempt for a more VM- and cloud-friendly Windows Server deployment. Continue Reading


Microsoft's headless server readies for prime time

Windows Nano Server is a stripped-down version of Windows Server designed for hosting virtual workloads and cloud-native applications. Continue Reading


Why should enterprises consider a Nano Server deployment?

Microsoft Nano Server isn't intended to replace a traditional Windows Server deployment, but its small footprint can improve performance and security. Continue Reading


Why Nano Server matters for businesses

One of the benefits of Nano Server's small size is a reduced attack surface. Microsoft estimates that critical security bulletins for Nano Server will decrease by 92%. Continue Reading


How to deploy Nano Server

Nano Server debuted in the second Windows Server technical preview, but deployment wasn't easy. This tip breaks down how to deploy Nano Server from a WIM file. Continue Reading


What does Nano Server mean for Windows Server?

Microsoft expects Nano Server will help organizations cut down on reboots with the added benefit of being highly portable so it can be executed in multiple scenarios. Continue Reading


How Nano Server is changing containers

Nano Server is ideal for cloud-based environments because it can be run on bare metal as a container, something VMware cannot do with ESXi. Continue Reading


Changes to VM management with Nano Server

While Nano Server won't replace every VM in an organization, it can help conserve hardware resources. It also has the potential to reduce the cost of server virtualization by decreasing VM hardware use. Continue Reading


How Nano Server can improve security and cost savings

Nano Server's small attack surface means hackers have less code to try and exploit. Its reduced footprint also means it can improve performance because there are fewer running resources. Continue Reading


Admins anticipate containers, Nano Server in Windows Server 2016

Nano Server and containers are some of the most highly anticipated features of Windows Server 2016. Storage Replica is also a topic of interest, especially for organizations that want to roll their own hyper-converged clusters. Continue Reading

5Manage Windows Server 2016-

Keep the server OS running smoothly

This section of the guide will walk you through how to manage Windows Server 2016 using features such as rolling cluster upgrades and PowerShell Direct.


New PowerShell security features arriving in Windows Server 2016

Windows Server 2016 will ship with new PowerShell security features, including cmdlets that allow the use of PKI encryption for public and private key certificates. Continue Reading


Improving Windows Server security requires other means

Newer Windows Server versions are inherently more secure but that's only part of what's needed to improve security in an organization. Continue Reading


PowerShell DSC fundamentals for Windows admins

PowerShell Desired State Configuration is a configuration management feature in Windows PowerShell. Learn the fundamentals and where it can help. Continue Reading


Rolling cluster upgrades reduce downtime

Rolling cluster upgrades let administrators upgrade Windows Server clusters without downtime by allowing them to upgrade cluster nodes individually until they are all running the new operating system. Continue Reading


Essential security improvements in Windows Server 2016

There are several security updates in Windows Server 2016, including the Just Enough Administration PowerShell toolkit and Windows Defender. Continue Reading


Changes to Group Policy in Windows Server 2016

The structure of Group Policy is largely unchanged in Windows Server 2016, but the configuration process is different from previous versions, as the preferred deployment method does not include a GUI. Continue Reading


Why Microsoft hasn't gotten rid of the GUI

While features such as a Nano Server don't include a GUI, Microsoft has yet to completely eliminate the interface. Some applications still require it, which is one reason it is still around. Continue Reading


How administrators can prepare for Docker containers

Windows administrators will have to adjust to using containers and will also have to learn how to manage them. Containers will also present challenges in terms of backups and troubleshooting. Continue Reading


How to use PowerShell Direct

PowerShell Direct is enabled by default in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V hosts, but there are a few prerequisites administrators need to be aware of before they can use it. Continue Reading

6Stay up to date-

Windows Server 2016 news

This section will look at different Windows Server 2016 news stories.


Windows Server 2016 to arrive in mid-October

Microsoft added several cloud-friendly security enhancements to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016, but for some the road to the cloud has too many obstacles. Continue Reading


Docker for Windows Server 2016 GA details revealed

Microsoft Docker container products got a boost from a deepened partnership between the two companies, which may pay enterprise dividends. Continue Reading


IT pros take the reins on Windows container management

While Windows shops are eager to containerize, they're foregoing Azure containers and waiting until Windows Server 2016 becomes generally available to jump on the Docker bandwagon. Continue Reading


How Azure Stack integrates the cloud and data center

At Ignite in 2015, Microsoft revealed Azure Stack, which is both an infrastructure as a service and platform as a service offering. Azure Stack allows administrators to deliver more consistent application deployments when they are provisioned to the Azure public cloud or data center based Azure Stack. Continue Reading


Second Windows Server 2016 technical preview excludes containers

Although there was much hullaballoo around containers leading up to Microsoft Ignite, the highly anticipated feature was noticeably absent from the second technical preview of Windows Server 2016. However, containers finally made an appearance in the third technical preview. Continue Reading


Docker containers may start hitting primary storage

Industry experts see Docker containers following a similar trajectory as VMware in its early days, but it might not be long before Docker containers move out of testing environments and start becoming deployed in primary storage. Continue Reading


Changes to Windows Server 2016 licensing

With Microsoft changing its Windows Server licensing from a per-processor to per-core model, users will have to make sure they know their hardware to avoid having to pay a large bill. Continue Reading


Docker and Azure CTO discuss containers

Docker co-founder and CTO Solomon Hykes and Azure CTO Mark Russinovich discussed the challenges of moving Docker to Windows, and how the partnership between Microsoft and Docker is developing. Continue Reading


Windows Containers, Docker hit Microsoft shops

Microsoft introduced containers in the third technical preview of Windows Server 2016. It was also the first time Windows users were able to use Docker containers, which were previously only available with Linux. Continue Reading

7Essential definitions-

Must know Windows Server 2016 terms

Use this glossary section to get familiar with the terms you may encounter during your Windows Server 2016 upgrade.

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I have enabled MSMQ features but do not see Public queue option. how to enable public queues in Win Server 2016
How do you actually licence the server? Are the user cals used to license the cores, and the device cals used to license the processors?
Very interesting
Thank you! This website is really interesting.