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Desktop, schmesktop: Microsoft reveals next WINDOWS SERVER

Run it in Azure today, sysadmins, and get ready for lots of hybrid hype

Windows 10 has hogged the limelight this week, but Microsoft has also revealed a Technical Preview of Windows Server and its System Centre control freak.

The releases aren't unexpected: Windows Server's last full version emerged in 2012 and while substantial updates have landed in the years since, Redmond's increasing ardour for Azure means a Windows Server refresh with lots of extra hybrid cloud bits sounds like a fine idea.

And that's more or less what Microsoft is talking up in its posts about the preview, as the new OS is described as “the core of our cloud platform vision”.

Microsoft says the following are the biggies it's revealing so far:

  • Rolling upgrades for Hyper-V clusters to the next version of Windows Server without downtime for your applications and workloads. This includes support for mixed versions as you transition your infrastructure.
  • New components for our software-defined networking stack that enable greater flexibility and control, including a network controller role to manage virtual and physical networks.
  • New synchronous storage replication that enhances availability for key applications and workloads plus storage Quality of Service to deliver minimum and maximum IOPS in environments with workloads with diverse storage requirements.
  • Enhanced application compatibility with OpenGL and OpenCL support.
  • New scenarios to reduce the risk profile of administrators with elevated rights, including time-based access with fine-grained privileges, and new application publishing capabilities.

There's also a new version 5.0 of PowerShell in the works. This has been around for a while, but Microsoft has now revealed some more details about new features.

Information about the System Centre technical preview is harder to come by: it appears the product's pages have not been updated with data about the new versions.

Microsoft has also taken a new tack with this release, as early builds of Windows Server are usually handed out to the faithful and/or skilled for testing. This time around anyone can download the product, here. Redmond also says it's possible to deploy the OS as an Azure instance (account required).

The Technical Preview is offered with a “whatever you do, don't use this in production” caveat. And then some more caveats about it just not being ready for anything particularly useful.

There are also lots of little flags in the many posts Microsoft's server team have created to announce the previews, many hinting that it is only revealing a partial feature set and that there's more to come. There's also plenty of time to elapse before the OPS becomes real: Microsoft is talking about “weeks and months” of information drip, drip, dripping out before the product's feature set is frozen, never mind GA code hitting the street. ®

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