Windows Server is a server operating system produced by Microsoft. It’s primarily used by businesses and organizations rather than consumers. One of its selling points is that you can manage it through an easy-to-use interface. It’s also compatible with all of the main programming languages, such as PHP and MySQL. It’s easy to link with Microsoft’s cloud hosting system, Microsoft Azure, through a separate version, Windows Server Core.
Microsoft Server Update Schedule
Starting this Fall, Microsoft has committed to delivering two new feature updates every year. Before this announcement, they have set a similar update schedule to two of their other products, Windows 10 and Office 365 Pro Plus Suite. These products will also be updated twice a year, starting September 2017.
Microsoft announced two separate servicing strategies for Windows Server. One is the Semi-Annual Channel, where updates will be delivered twice a year, and versions will be supported for 18 months. The other is the Long-Term Servicing Channel, where you’ll only receive updates every 2-3 years.
If your business values stability over features, then you’re advised to go with the Long-Term Servicing Channel. Don’t take the forthcoming update. Stick with Windows Server 2016 for the time being.
Microsoft also announced the Windows Insider Program for Windows Server, where users can get an early play on new features.
The next update of Windows Server will be called 1709. Nothing too fancy.
Microsoft Streamlining Updates
Microsoft has announced that they are streamlining the release schedules for updates across their range of products. It is easier for them and their customers to release everything at the same time.
Windows 10 and Windows Server both sit in the remit for Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Executive Vice President, Terry Myerson. Both systems are built together and share many of the same features, so it makes sense to send them out into the world together.
Microsoft believes this schedule can lead to faster innovation, enabling them to swiftly bring out new features. Microsoft can build features quickly in applications programmed in containers and hybrid datacenters.
The next Windows Server update will include support for Windows Subsystem for Linux.
Microsoft says customers have been asking for this schedule to be implemented. They want to receive updates quickly, rather than wait for the next major release, as they have had to do before this announcement.
Changes Effects the IT Department
This move will affect you the most if you are in charge of your company’s IT server updates and you use Windows Server.
If you’re a Windows Server user within your company, you may notice more features coming your way more regularly. However, it’s really one for the IT Department to worry about.
Your IT Department will need to make a decision on whether to go for the Semi-Annual Channel, or the Long Term Servicing Channel. They will also need to bear in mind that you can skip one update to Windows Server, but not two.
This rigid structure for updates means Microsoft can concentrate on other areas of the business, such as the new Surface PCs, cloud computing, and the world-beating Windows 10 for consumers (with new emoji updates). Windows Server can work to this new schedule, running smoothly and efficiently.
Windows Server History
Microsoft’s Windows Server brand was launched in 2003. However, the first server edition of Microsoft Windows was NT Server 3.1, brought to market in 1993. It was a 32-bit OS, designed from scratch.
NT Server 3.1 suffered from performance issues, however. It wasn’t until the launch of NT Server 3.5 in 1994 that improvements were seen. Year 1994 also saw the first use of the Workstation and Server branding for Windows, which were mainstays of companies’ computer monitors for many years.
Gradual improvements were made throughout the 1990s, including TCP/IP support in 1994, improved in 1995. The design was changed in 1996, so it would be similar to the hugely popular Windows 95 package.
Windows 2000 Server edition was the last version to display the NT branding, and the Workstation brand made way for ‘Professional’. It was a major update, including Active Directory Services and other new features.
In 2003, Windows Server 2003 incorporated the Windows XP design, and was released in different packages to signify the level of features. These packages were Web, Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter, and Storage Server. In 2005, an R2 update added features such as enhanced Distributed File Servers and a new Storage Manager.
Improvements to the Windows Server family of products continues through the 2000s. In 2008, the Hyper-V virtualization platform was added, enabling users to run virtual machines. The 2009 edition was the first to be released in 64-bit only.
A new Server Manager arrived in 2012, and the popular Metro start menu design was incorporated. The creaking Microsoft NTFS file system was replaced by the ReFS (Resilient File System)
In 2016, Microsoft Server’s Cloud Era began, with their new cloud-optimized product. Azure integration was at the center of this update, as well as the incorporation of Window’s 10’s design and features.
This leads us up to today, and the announcement that Windows Server will be updated twice a year.