Farewell to Windows Server 20H2 and the Semi-Annual Channel
Can't do without new toys to play with on servers? There's always Azure Stack HCI
Support for Windows Server 20H2 and the Semi-Annual Channel for Microsoft's veteran server product is due to end in a matter of weeks.
The clock is ticking down to August 9, at which point Windows Server 20H2 will not receive the monthly security and quality updates that have delighted administrators so. It will instead shuffle off into obsolescence and join the Home and Pro versions of Windows 10 20H2, which had their last updates in May 2022. The Education, Enterprise, and IoT Enterprise editions of Windows 10 20H2 will continue to be serviced until May 9, 2023.
The vision of the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) was to up the cadence of releases, "enabling customers to take advantage of innovation more quickly," according to Microsoft. Each release received 18 months of support and the focus was very much on containers and microservices.
It was a neat idea, but administrators prefer stability. While the likes of Kubernetes and its ilk fling releases out with abandon (three revisions a year have dropped since 2020), Windows Server didn't. Before semi-annual releases started in 2019, there was usually a gap of a year or more in which to take a breath.
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The Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC), released every two to three years with five years of mainstream and five years of extended support, is a better bet for administrators worried about keeping everything functionally stable. Sure, it gets security fixes, but it doesn't receive the new features and functionality of its SAC sibling.
At the time of writing, users can choose between Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server 2022 to sate their LTSC desires.
Or, for users that really cannot do without new toys to play with on their servers, there is always Azure Stack HCI (hyperconverged infrastructure). While Microsoft would very much like you to buy some validated hardware from one of its OEM chums to run Stack HCI, it is possible to install the OS yourself (but look very carefully at the hardware requirements).
In the meantime, however, the impending demise of Window Server 20H2 next month means the end of the road both for that version of the operating system and for the Semi-Annual Channel. ®