Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 Hits General Availability

Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 along with Windows Server and Hyper-V Containers reaches general availability. Nano Server in Azure Gallery, VM Agent Support, Configuration Manager v1606 released.

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Microsoft making good on their promise, on Wednesday, said customers can now broadly acquire the cloud server operating system with the general availability of Windows Server 2016, along with System Center 2016.

"As a cloud-ready OS, Windows Server 2016 inherently enables hybrid cloud. It was forged in our own Azure datacenters, learning from the rigorous requirements of a global, public cloud, and includes software-defined capabilities that are fundamental to fast-paced cloud innovation," writes Mark Jewett.

There are three deployment options available with Windows Server 2016 including "Server Core," "Server with Desktop Experience," and the new lightweight "Nano Server."

Along with new Nano Server images in the Azure Gallery, there is also a helper script that can be used to customize the image when deploying in Azure.

"Nano Server now supports running a limited VM Agent when deploying in Azure, as well as the running of Extensions," azure team said. Due to the small nature of Nano Server, "most of the Windows extensions do not run on Nano Server and are not required."

Further, with Windows Server 2016, Microsoft enabled portability to Azure with "the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit that allows Windows Server VMs to be run in Azure at a discounted rate," server team writes.

With this milestone, you can start using Windows Server 2016 images in the Azure Marketplace.

Windows Server 2016 GA

Windows Server 2016 accelerates innovation and security of both traditional and cloud-native applications, as well as offers seamless portability across datacenter, private and public cloud environments via virtual machine and new container formats that can be reliably deployed wherever the business requires.

Beyond Windows Server 2016, company said they've applied this hybrid cloud commitment across Microsoft portfolio to build comprehensive capabilities across data, identity, management, application, and the infrastructure platform overall.

In the Hybrid Stack graphic below, you can see the capabilities built-in across Microsoft products and services:

Microsoft Hybrid Stack Graphic

Today, Windows Server and Hyper-V Containers in Windows Server 2016 also reached general availability.

With this GA, Microsoft notes that they've increased the performance and density of containers, lowered their start-up times and even added Active Directory support. For example, "Hyper-V Containers, are now taking advantage of new cloning technology designed specifically to reduce start-up times and increase density," team explained.

The cross-SKU support expansion allow Windows Server Core containers run using Hyper-V Container technology including "on Windows 10 Anniversary Update as well as Windows Server Containers with Nano Server on a Windows Server 2016 host installed with Server Core or Desktop," writes server team.

Those having Windows Server 2016 enterprise support for Windows containers and Docker will get it for free.

Additionally, in the coming days, a OneGet provider will be released, and will simplify experience of installing and setting up Containers feature including the CS Docker Engine on Windows Server 2016 machines, server team said.

System Center 2016 in GA today makes it easy to deploy, configure and manage virtualized, software-defined datacenter and hybrid cloud infrastructure.

The latest release offers an array of new capabilities including:

  • "Faster time to value with simple installation, in-place upgrades, and automated workflows.
  • Efficient operations with improvements in performance and usability of all System Center components.
  • Greater heterogeneity and cloud management with broader support for LAMP stack and VMware, including monitoring resources and services in Azure and Amazon Web Services," explains server team.

Below you can see a picture highlighting features in System Center 2016:

System Center 2016 summary highlights

The latest version of Configuration Manager is now pushed to the System Center 2016 for server management, as well as a new branch type i.e. (version 1606) of System Center Configuration Manager.

With this customer can upgrade Configuration Manager 2012/R2 directly to version 1606 of the new current branch.

Along with Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) of Configuration Manager is released. Microsoft said, the LTSB now delivers an alternative option that will be supported on a fixed 10-year lifecycle.

While the LTSB is derived from the current branch of Configuration Manager (version 1606), it is scaled back and reduced in functionality to permit the extended support model, wrties Microsoft. These removed features include:

  • Support for Windows 10 Current Branch (CB) and Current Branch for Business (CBB)
  • Support for the future releases of Windows 10 LTSB and Windows Server
  • Windows 10 Servicing Dashboard and Servicing Plans
  • The ability to add a Microsoft Intune Subscription, which prevents the use of Hybrid MDM and on-premises MDM
  • Asset Intelligence
  • Cloud-based Distribution Point
  • Support for Exchange Online as an Exchange Connector
  • Any pre-release features available in the current branch of Configuration Manager

You can download Configuration Manager version 1606 from Volume Licensing Service Center here, or from Microsoft Evaluation Center and MSDN.

Finally, watch the Ignite session of RDS Improvements in Windows Server 2016 and Citrix innovations, as well as How to Deploy RDS in the Cloud.

Get started now by downloading the Windows Server 2016 Evaluation here.

Update 10/24: Windows Server 2016 Essentials has reached the GA (General Availability) milestone as a part of Windows Server 2016 launch. The product is now available in all channels.