'Feature-complete' Windows Server 2016 preview 5 lands

Contain yourself: Nano install now possible as System Centre's new look also arrives

Microsoft has delivered another preview of Windows Server 2016 and says this effort is “feature-complete”, meaning this is still not final code but there won't be any new surprises the final version of the software.

Technical Preview 5, available here, adds the option to install in Nano mode. That's Microsoft's slimmed down, ready-for-containers version of Windows Server.

Redmond's spiel for the new version of Windows Server is that it delivers a cloud-like experience, thanks to software-defined storage and networking. The latter emphasises security by isolation – Microsoft wants you to have fine control over which VMs get to talk to which hosts and guests. On the storage front, Microsoft thinks its Storage Spaces is ready to combine physical storage resources into virtual pools of storage. Redmond's now calling server virtualisation “software-defined compute.” Thanks for that, guys, and thanks also for the improved VM backup and the new options for non-disruptive VM upgrades.

It's no coincidence that a new preview of System Center 2016 has emerged on the same day, as it's gained the ability to manage the lifecycle of nano-servers, create and enforce software-defined networking policies and drive software-defined storage. There's also more hooks into Linux VMs – Redmond really does love Penguinistas these days.

What we don't know is when Redmond plans to loose final code into the wild. The smart money is still on late September, when Microsoft's Ignite conference … erm … ignites. Whenever the final release emerges, expect an almighty amount of noise about how Microsoft intends to deliver an Azure-like experience, with differentiation between Windows Server and Azure Stack. The Register's virtualisation desk has chatted to Redmondistas who are keen to point out it plans to offer an alternative: Windows Server and System Centre will both be much better at hybrid clouds and have tighter Azure integration. Azure Stack will behave like Azure out of the box, so while it will enable hybrid clouds you won't perceive them as such. You'll just see resources and know that some of them need to be rented. ®

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