Microsoft working on 'Nano' version of Windows Server for web-scale ops

Slide deck appears describing lightweight core for future Windows Servers


Microsoft appears to be working on a new version of Windows Server aimed at web-scale operations.

News of the product comes via Neowin, which noticed a deck of slides titled “Nano Server: The Future of Windows Starts Now” posted to a Russian blog.

The name on the title slide is “Refaat Issa” whose biography at Microsoft's developer site Channel 9 describes him as “a Senior Program Manager on the Windows PowerShell team … working on ensuring the Manageability of all Windows components and features.”

We can't say with any certainty if the slides below are genuine, Issa looks like he'd be in a position to put his name to such a deck. So with a pinch of salt in hand, let's proceed.

Nano server looks to be a response to customer worries that disruptive patching is painful, rebooting operating systems takes too long and Windows Server needs a lot of resources. Microsoft customers are also wary of the large attack surface offered by a “full” operating system and would rather something smaller, safer and capable of being deployed as smaller and therefore denser virtual machine flocks.

The deck notes that Microsoft has sorted some of this stuff out: Azure does Windows at scale and the Cloud Platform System does density well, although both still require disruptive updates.

Nano server is described as “The next step in our Cloud journey” and appears to be designed with cloud-native apps in mind.

Slide explaining Windows Server Nano

It's suggested the product be headless, but offer either web-or-PowerShell-driven management tools.

The role of Windows Nano Server

Intriguingly, Nano Server is described as “the future nucleus of Windows Server” and “Will be part of the next release of Windows Server”.

Users have a while to wait before they can get their hands on it: the deck says it won't be in the next version of Windows Server preview but “will be in the next release after that”.

Which is where it gets even harder to predict the arrival date of the product, becuause the deck suggests Nano Server will reach “Limited TAP” - presumably Microsoft jargon for “selected members of our Technology Adopters Program” - “in early 2015”.

Windows Server “Next” isn't due until 2016. If this deck is accurate, it's now possible to understand why as the work required to turn Windows Server into a lightweight core server with optional modules won't be trivial.

Microsoft's been a little down this road before, with Windows Server 2008 introducing a “headless” version (under the in-house joke of “The Wow Stops Now”, a reference to the slogan used to launch Windows Vista). Nano Server looks to be a more radical rethink of Windows Server to make it relevant to current trends around containerisation, virtual machine density, and commodity servers being pressed into service as switches or storage arrays. It makes sense for Microsoft to go there and a if that's Redmond's destination it also explains why the company is willing to spend an extra year on the upgrade: this is a big change, not just a product refresh.

A more lightweight Windows Server would also make it easier for Microsoft to deliver rolling upgrades in SaaS style. It might also help to ease the complex interrelationships between Windows Server components that occasionally creates patching problems.

We've asked Microsoft whether the deck is genuine and if it can share any more information about Nano Server. We won't hold our breath and suggest you don't either, perhaps until the Ignite conference in May. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021