Skip to content

Hybrid Cloud Blog


This is the final post in the “Ten reasons you’ll love Windows Server 2016” series.

Earlier today, Mike Neil announced the availability of Technical Preview 5 for Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016. This is an exciting moment, and it coincides with our final installment of the video series, “Ten reasons you’ll love Windows Server 2016.” In today’s video, I talk about Nano Server and what the future of server computing looks like in a cloud-first world.

Looking back, the history of Windows Server has had four distinct eras:

  • Server for the masses: A world-class kernel combined with the desktop GUI experience and the economies of high volume hardware transformed the world by empowering everyone to buy, deploy, and operate their own servers. This produced so many servers and desktop machines that it brought about the next era.
  • Enterprise servers: Active Directory, Group Policy, and Remote Desktop Services enabled customers to connect, manage, and transform large sets of servers and desktops into a coherent enterprise. The introduction of .NET brought about the LOB application revolution where companies’ own developers were able to create and deliver mission critical applications. This created so many new servers that it brought about the next era.
  • Datacenter servers: Architectural improvements to scale up/scale out servers and improve storage and networking, combined with server virtualization and PowerShell, made it possible for customers to run every possible workload and to create large and highly cost-efficient datacenters. This enabled the Azure public cloud which brought us to our current era.
  • Cloud servers: Cloud-inspired, software-defined networking, storage, and compute along with Nano Server, advancements in PowerShell and DSC, and improved Linux support enable customers to develop, deploy, and operate fabrics, applications, and services with cloud scale, elasticity, performance, and resiliency.

Windows Server 2016 improves the experience of all customers, not just those moving to the cloud model. For example, a small business that wants to have a single server with a local keyboard, monitor, and mouse will love the rich Windows 10 client experience that the Server with a desktop experience deployment option delivers. The substantial innovations to Active Directory, .NET, virtualization, RDS, security, automation, and remote management make Windows Server 2016 a great release for customers using it as an Enterprise Server or Datacenter Server as well.

Nano Server is a great example of the innovation customers need in a cloud-era operating system. It is a new deployment option for Windows Server 2016, where you start by loading a very small image that is 25x smaller than a full image with Window Server with desktop experience. Then, you add only the roles you need – this is the “just enough OS” model. As a result, boot time is crazy fast and it is simpler to operate when you only support the roles you need. To gain the efficiency and agility of cloud, IT managers can use PowerShell V5 and Desired State Configuration for powerful remote management and automation. We also offer a remote GUI, the new web-based server management tools.

In this first release, the Nano Server deployment is focused on two scenarios:

  1. As the host for compute and/or storage clusters
  2. As a lightweight OS in a VM or container for “born in the cloud” applications. (See Age of Ascent example using Nano Server, ASPNET, and Service Fabric.)

I believe that the shift to the cloud era is the most revolutionary change our industry has ever seen. Changes like this provide great opportunities for people that spend the effort to keep up with the technology and invest in their skills. I strongly encourage you to watch my recent talk on this topic called Thriving through the Transition.

After watching that talk, you’ll understand why it is so important for you to download Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 and give Nano Server a try. Check out our Getting Started guide and follow us on the Nano Server blog.

Finally, make sure to visit our new Windows Server channel on Channel 9 where you can find videos for all Ten Reasons You’ll Love Windows Server 2016. If you’d like regular updates, follow me on Twitter @jsnover.

In his “Ten reasons you’ll love Windows Server 2016” video series, technical evangelist Matt McSpirit introduces you to some of the experts behind the most exciting new features in Windows Server 2016.

Get more updates on Windows Server 2016 by following the Windows Server team @WindowsServer and Matt @mattmcspirit on Twitter.

Check out the previous posts in this series:

Ready to get started? Sign up for a free trial of Windows Server 2016.