Tag: LTSC

Windows Server vNext Preview Build 20201

New Windows Server vNext Preview Build 20201

The Windows Insider and Windows Server team just announced a new Windows Server vNext Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release that contains both the Desktop Experience and Server Core installation options for Datacenter and Standard editions. The new Windows Server vNext Preview build has build number 20201 and adds a couple of new features and enhancements. Keep in mind this is an early preview version of Windows Server vNext, and there will be more channels until the official release.

If you want to learn more about Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) and the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC), check out my blog: Windows Server – Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) vs. Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) and the official Microsoft documentation for LTSC and SAC.

What is new

To give you an idea about the new features coming, here is a short glimpse of the new features and changes include:

  • CoreNet: Data Path and Transports
  • (Improved) RSC in the vSwitch
  • Direct Server Return (DSR) load balancing support for Containers and Kubernetes
  • Introducing Virtual Machine (Role) Affinity/AntiAffinity rules with Failover Clustering
  • Flexible BitLocker Protector for Failover Clusters
  • New Cluster Validation network tests
    • List Network Metric Order (driver versioning)
    • Validate Cluster Network Configuration (virtual switch configuration)
    • Validate IP Configuration Warning
    • Network Communication Success
    • Switch Embedded Teaming Configurations (symmetry, vNIC, pNIC)
    • Validate Windows Firewall Configuration Success
    • QOS (PFC and ETS) have been configured
  • Server Core Container images are 20 percent smaller
  • What’s new with the SMB protocol
    • SMB now supports AES-256 Encryption
    • Increased performance when using SMB encryption or signing with SMB Direct with RDMA enabled network cards
    • SMB now also can do compression to improve network performance

To learn more about the new features, check out the full announcement blog.

Download Windows Server vNext Preview Build

If you want to try out the new Windows Server vNext Preview Build 20201, you need to register as a Windows Insider. Registered Insiders may navigate directly to the Windows Server Insider Preview download page.  See the Additional Downloads dropdown for Windows Admin Center and other supplemental apps and products. If you have not yet registered as an Insider, see GETTING STARTED WITH SERVER on the Windows Insiders for Business portal.

Feedback is essential for the team to provide feedback for Windows Server, use your registered Windows 10 Insider device, and use the Feedback Hub application. In the app, choose the Windows Server category and then the appropriate subcategory for your feedback. In the title of the Feedback, please indicate the build number.

You can learn more about sharing feedback on Microsoft Docs: Share Feedback on Windows Server via Feedback Hub for specifics. We also encourage you to visit the Windows Server Insiders space on the Microsoft Tech Communities forum to collaborate, share, and learn from experts.

If you are interested in hyper-converged infrastructure solutions, also check out my blog post about the new Azure Stack HCI. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



OpenSSH Server on Windows Server

Install OpenSSH Server on Windows Server

Back in 2017 Microsoft made OpenSSH available on Windows 10. Shorty after OpenSSH was also available for Windows Server, version 1709. This blog post should give you a simple step by step guy how you install OpenSSH Server on Windows Server. OpenSSH is available for Windows Server, version 1709 and higher. If you are running Windows Server 2016, and you want to stay in the long-term servicing branch, you will need to wait for the next Windows Server LTSC build.

Install OpenSSH Server on Windows Server

If you are running a Windows Server 1709 or higher, you can simply use PowerShell to install the OpenSSH Client and Server.

OpenSSH on Windows Server

You can use the following PowerShell commands to install the OpenSSH Server on the server.

 
Get-WindowsCapability -Online | ? Name -like 'OpenSSH*'
 
# Install the OpenSSH Server
Add-WindowsCapability -Online -Name OpenSSH.Server~~~~0.0.1.0
 
# Install the OpenSSHUtils helper module, which is needed to fix the ACL for ths host keys.
Install-Module -Force OpenSSHUtils

After the installation you can find the OpenSSH Server files and some more configuration options under “C:\Windows\System32\OpenSSH”

Next you need to configure the OpenSSH Server (sshd)

To enable authentication into an SSH server on Windows, you first have to generate host keys and repair the ACL on the host keys.

Configure OpenSSH Server on Windows

To configure the OpenSSH Server, just run the following PowerShell commands:

 
Start-Service ssh-agent
 
cd C:\Windows\System32\OpenSSH
 
# Generate Key
.\ssh-keygen -A
 
# Add Key
.\ssh-add ssh_host_ed25519_key
 
# Repair SSH Host Key Permissions
Repair-SshdHostKeyPermission -FilePath C:\Windows\System32\OpenSSH\ssh_host_ed25519_key
 
# Open firewall port
New-NetFirewallRule -Protocol TCP -LocalPort 22 -Direction Inbound -Action Allow -DisplayName SSH
# Consider to configure the Profile for the Firewall rule

Now you should be able to access your Windows Server using an SSH client.

OpenSSH Server on Windows Server

Remember if you run your server in Microsoft Azure, you might also need to configure the Network Security Group to allow SSH Remoting on port 22.

I hope this post help you and if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.



Windows Server 2019

Microsoft announces Windows Server 2019 and System Center 2019

Microsoft today announced the next Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release for Windows Server called Windows Server 2019. In a blog post today, Erin Chapple, Director of Program Management Windows Server, announced the Windows Server 2019, which will be available in the second half of calendar year 2018. You can try out a Windows Server Preview build through the Windows Server Insider Program today. Microsoft also mentions that System Center 2019 will be available to manage Windows Server 2019 infrastructures.

Windows Server 2019 is built on the foundation of Windows Server 2016 and focuses on a couple of key scenarios. Microsoft in four key areas, Hybrid Cloud, Security, Application Platform and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI).

Windows Server 2019 – Hybrid Cloud Improvements

Project Honolulu Server Overview

As of today Hybrid Cloud is more real than ever. With Windows Server 2019 Microsoft is focusing to improve the customer experience in a hybrid cloud world. Taking advantage of public cloud innovation such as Artificial Intelligence and IoT, and connecting them with on-premise services is a huge enabler for customers. At Microsoft Ignite 2017, Microsoft showed of the Technical Preview of Project Honolulu, a web-based management console for Windows Server. One of the goals of Project Honolulu is to connect Windows Server deployments with Azure services. Together with Windows Server 2019 and Project Honolulu, you can easily integrate services like Azure Backup, Azure File Sync, Azure Site Recovery and much more.

Windows Server 2019 – Security

Security was already one of the big investments in Windows Server 2016. Microsoft does not stop there. With Windows Server 2019 Microsoft brings various security improvements like Shielded Virtual Machine support for Linux VMs and Encrypted Virtual Networks. One of my favorite improvements is the possibility to integrate with Windows Defender Advanced Thread Protection (ATP). ATP was first available for Windows 10 and provides preventative protection, detects attacks and zero-day exploits among other capabilities, into the operating system. This gives customers access to deep kernel and memory sensors, improving performance and anti-tampering, and enabling response actions on server machines.

Windows Server 2019 – Application Platform

Ubuntu on Windows Server using WSL

One of the key focus of Microsoft for Windows Server, was always on the developer experience. Microsoft brings a couple of improvements to make it the best application platform out there. Microsoft invests in a couple of scenarios such as bringing the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) to Windows Server. Another key investment area are Windows Server Containers and Windows Server Container images. In Windows Server 2019, Microsoft reduces the Server Core base container image to a third of its current size of 5 GB. This will reduce download time of the image by 72%, further optimizing the development time and performance. Another key improvement in terms of Container support is the integration and support for Container orchestrators like Kubernetes.

Windows Server 2019 – Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI)

The 4th improvement area is the Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). With Windows Server 2016 Microsoft released a new feature called Storage Spaces Direct. Together with Hyper-V and other Microsoft technologies, this was great to build you own infrastructure for your virtualization workloads. Windows Server 2019 will bring a lot of improvements for Storage Spaces Direct, Hyper-V and other related technologies. Microsoft is adding scale, performance, and reliability to the platform. Microsoft also partnered with hardware vendors to provide an affordable and yet extremely robust HCI solution with validated design.

What else?

  • Windows Server will be GA (generally available) in the second half of calendar year 2018.
  • Windows Server will be a LTSC release. LTSC will be the recommended version of Windows Server for most infrastructure scenarios and workloads like SQL Server, SharePoint and Windows Server Software-Defined Datacenter solutions.
  • With the LTSC release of Windows Server 2019, Microsoft will allow customers to use the Server with Desktop Experience as well as Windows Server Core. With the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) release, Microsoft only provides the Windows Server Core option.
  • There will be another Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) release at the same time as Windows Server 2019 focusing on Container innovations. The SAC releases will be supported as before for 18 months, while the LTSC releases follow the normal 5+5 year support.
  • Licensing will use the same model as Windows Server 2016 today, Microsoft mentions that it is likely that they will increase the pricing for Windows Sevrer Client Access Licensing (CAL), but will share more details later.

With that we can all be very excited for the next LTSC version of Windows Server. Until then the next SAC release of Windows Server, called Windows Server 1803, will be available this spring. The Windows Server, version 1803 will focus on container improvements. If you want to try out, Windows Server 2019 or Windows Server 1803, you can join the Windows Server Insider Program.



ExpertsLiveCafe

Speaking at Experts Live Cafe January 2018 Edition in Bern

I am happy to announce and remind you that I will be speaking at the Experts Live Cafe in Bern this Friday. The Experts Live Cafe is a Swiss IT Pro Meetup run by the Microsoft MVPs Stefan Johner and Stefan Roth. Experts Live is a non-profit organization that has a mission to enable sharing of knowledge and experience about Microsoft technologies worldwide. The ExpertsLive Cafes are user group meetups which are designed to bring IT professionals closer together.

I will be covering one of two sessions about this months Experts Live Cafe and talk about Windows Server.

What is next for Windows Server

In Fall 2017 Microsoft has updated Windows Server to the next Semi-Annual Channel release with new features and improvements and Microsoft will now release new SAC and LTSC releases. Join this session for the best of Windows Server, learn how the new Servicing Model of Windows Server works and what does it mean to use SAC or LTSC releases, and what new improvement and features Microsoft offers in the latest releases such as 1709 and 1803. You’ll get an overview about the new, exciting improvements that are in Windows Server and how they’ll improve your day-to-day job.

There should be still some free seats, so hopefully see you there!

 



Windows Server Semi-annual Channel Overview

Windows Server – Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) vs Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC)

Update March 2018: Microsoft Updated some of the information about the use cases of the Semi-Annual Channel and the LTSC for Windows Server. In short the Semi-Annual Channel releases are focusing on Container innovation and the infrastructure feature and roles are now features and roles of the LTSC.

I was already blogging about the new Windows Server servicing options including the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) and the new Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) options. It seems that there is a lot of confusion about what the purpose and the advantages of the Semi-Annual Channel releases. With that blog post I will try to explain what both servicing options are and when which servicing option should be used. Especially since SAC releases, like Windows Server 1709, will only be available as Windows Server Core. Spoiler alert: Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel releases are not for everyone and everything.

Windows Server Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC)

The Long-term Servicing Channel is the release model you’re already familiar with (currently called the “Long-term Servicing Branch”) where a new major version of Windows Server is released every 2-3 years. Users are entitled to 5 years of mainstream support, 5 years of extended support, and optionally 6 more years with Premium Assurance. This channel is appropriate for systems that require a longer servicing option and functional stability. Deployments of Windows Server 2016 and earlier versions of Windows Server will not be affected by the new Semi-annual Channel releases. The Long-term Servicing Channel will continue to receive security and non-security updates, but it will not receive the new features and functionality.

Example for Long-Term Servicing Channel releases

  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016

Long-Term Servicing Channel installation options

  • Windows Server Core
  • Windows Server with Desktop Experience
  • Windows Server Core as a container Image

Use cases for Long-Term Servicing Channel releases

As use cases for the Long-Term Servicing Channel releases you can basically count everything in which need predictable long term support, do not support Windows Server Core and where you don’t use the new features included in the Semi-Annual Servicing Channel releases and you prefer less updating.

  • General Purpose File Server – Traditional information worker file server which need long term support
  • Legacy Software – Legacy software which do not support server core
  • Static Software – Software which does not leverage any of the new features of Semi-Annual Channel releases, which need predictable long term support
  • Legacy Hardware – End of life hardware
  • SQL Server – Traditional databases with long lifecycles which need predictable long term support
  • Active Directory and other infrastructure roles – which benefit from long term support
  • Hyper-V and Cluster nodes for Hyper-converged scenarios
  • Hyper-V hosts which are benefiting from continuous innovation

Semi-Annual Channel (SAC)

Windows Server 1709

The Semi-annual Channel releases will deliver new functionality for customers who are moving at a “cloud cadence,” such as those on rapid development cycles or service providers keeping up with the latest Hyper-V and Storage investments. Windows Server products in the Semi-annual Channel will have new releases available twice a year, in spring and fall. Each release in this channel will be supported for 18 months from the initial release.

Most of the features introduced in the Semi-annual Channel will be rolled up into the next Long-term Servicing Channel release of Windows Server. The editions, functionality, and supporting content might vary from release to release depending on customer feedback.

The Semi-annual Channel will be available to volume-licensed customers with Software Assurance, as well as via the Azure Marketplace or other cloud/hosting service providers and loyalty programs such as MSDN.

Example for Semi-annual Channel releases

  • Windows Server 2016 Nano Server
  • Windows Server 1709
  • Windows Server 1803

Semi-annual Channel installation options

  • Windows Server Core
  • Windows Server Core Container Image
  • Windows Server Nano Server Container Image

Use cases for Semi-annual Channel releases

Use cases for the Semi-annual Channel releases right now are application and services which leverage new feature very quickly and go with cloud cadence.

  • Lift and Shift applications into Containers
  • New cloud-based applications
  • Applications which can be quickly and easily redeployed
  • Linux containers on Windows Server
  • Hyper-V and Cluster nodes for Hyper-converged scenarios
  • Hyper-V hosts which are benefiting from continuous innovation

Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) vs Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) Overview

To make it a little easier, here is a quick overview of the two servicing channels:

 Long-Term Servicing ChannelSemi-Annual Channel
Recommend ScenariosGeneral purpose File Servers, SQL Servers, Active Directory and other infrastructure rolesContainerized applications and container hosts, Hyper-converged hosts benefiting form faster innovation
New ReleasesEvery 2-3 yearsEvery 6 months
Support5 years of Mainstream support +5 years of Extended support18 months
EditionsAll available Windows Server editionsStandard and Datacenter
Installation OptionsServer Core and Server with Desktop ExperienceServer Core only
LicensingAll customer through all channelsSoftware Assurance and Cloud customers only

Conclusion

As you can see, Windows Server Semi-annual channel are not designed for everyone. And if you don’t feel comfortable with Windows Server Core (btw you should check out Microsoft Project Honolulu), the fast release cadence or the short support life cycle you should go with the Windows Server Long-Term Servicing Channel. You will not lose anything you had today, you still will get new versions every 2-3 years with all the options you had today. If you need the fast innovation and you get something out of the new features the Semi-annual channel will provide you with 2 releases a year. But make sure, that your deployment, configuration and management is automated, otherwise you will suffer from the fast release cadence. I have three other very important points I want to make sure you know about:

  • Not all your servers have to go with LTSC only or SAC only – as long as you have the right licensing in place you can choose for each server, which ever fits your needs best.
  • You don’t have to switch now – you can also decided to go with LTSC today and switch to a SAC release as soon as you benefit from it. You can also switch back to LTSC from SAC if you don’t like it. (With Switch I mean redeploy)
  • Upgrades are not in-place – It doesn’t matter which servicing channel you are using, servers need to be redeployed. (Not like in Windows 10 where you can leverage in-place upgrades)

I hope this helps to understand the point about Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) vs Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC). The Semi-Annual Channel releases are a new offer from Microsoft for customers to get their hands on new features much quicker, this offers a huge benefit if you can make use of it. But Microsoft is not forcing you to use SAC, LTSC for some scenarios and customers is still the better option. So both solutions are having huge value in different scenarios.



Windows Server 1709

Microsoft released Windows Server 1709

Microsoft just released the new Windows Server version 1709 which is the first release in the Semi-Annual Channel. The Semi-Annual Channel release cadence to deliver innovation at a faster pace, but you will also need to keep updating your systems to newer versions of Windows Server. As of today, you can download Windows Server 1709 from the Volume license portal or deploy it in Microsoft Azure, since it is available in the Azure Marketplace.

Windows Server 1709 Features and Improvements

Windows Server 1709 will drive innovation in the container space and in the Windows Subsystem for Linux, as well as some Cloud Host improvements in Hyper-V with new support for Storage Class Memory and more. Windows Server 1709 will be only available as Windows Server Core (Standard and Datacenter).

If you want to know more about the new features and improvements in Windows Server 1709, check out my blog post and check also out the Microsoft What’s new in Windows Server 1709 page.

https://www.thomasmaurer.ch/2017/05/windows-server-news-from-microsoft-build-2017-it-is-all-about-containers/

New Windows Server Management Experience

If you want to know more about the new Management Experience called Project Honolulu, check out my blog post:

https://www.thomasmaurer.ch/2017/09/microsoft-project-honolulu-the-new-windows-server-management-experience/

Windows Server Servicing

For more information about the Semi-Annual Channel and Windows Server Servicing check out my blog posts:

https://www.thomasmaurer.ch/2017/10/windows-server-release-information-windows-server-semi-annual-channel-and-ltsc/

 

https://www.thomasmaurer.ch/2017/06/what-is-next-for-windows-server-and-system-center-with-a-faster-release-cadence/

Windows Server, version 1709 is only the first step in this new world of faster release cadences. The most important aspect of having new releases twice a year is customer feedback will shape the product. You can try the preview builds of Windows Server in the Semi-Annual Channel and provide feedback by joining the Windows Insiders program. You can also join the conversation in the Microsoft Tech Community where we have tons of professionals and experts sharing their learnings and answering questions.



Windows Server Semi-annual Channel Overview

Windows Server release information – Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel and LTSC

As mentioned a couple of months ago, Microsoft has updated the Windows Server servicing model. The Semi-Annual Channel is a twice-per-year feature update release with 18-month servicing timelines for each release and the Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) will be support for 5+5 years as we know it form previous Windows Server releases as Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016. This is similar servicing model as the Windows 10 client.

In short:

The Semi-Annual Channel provides opportunity for customers who are innovating quickly to take advantage of new operating system capabilities at a faster pace, both in applications – particularly those built on containers and microservices – and in the software-defined hybrid datacenter.

Customers also have the option to continue using the Long-Term Servicing Channel releases, which continue to be released every 2-3 years. Each Long-Term Servicing Channel release is supported for 5 years of mainstream support and 5 years of extended support.

You can find more information about the Windows Server Servicing changes in my blog post: What is next for Windows Server and System Center with a faster release cadence

Today Microsoft released a page where you can get an overview about the Windows Server versions and their support end dates.

Windows Server current versions by servicing Overview

This will quickly get you an overview about the Windows Server releases.