Tag: Windows Insider

Windows Server Semi-annual Channel Overview

What is next for Windows Server and System Center with a faster release cadence

A couple of weeks ago at the Microsoft Build Conference, Microsoft released some new information about what is coming in the next version of Windows Server like Linux support on Hyper-V Container and much more. Today Microsoft just announced some new details about the next Windows Server releases and how they will work. The biggest change of todays announcement that Windows Server and System Center will also move to the Semi-annual Channel, just like Windows Client and Office moved to the Semi-annual Channel release cycle. The other large announcement is that Microsoft focuses Nano Server on Container and will remove support Nano on Hosts and Virtual Machines. This means you can run Nano Server only as a Windows or Hyper-V Container.

Nano Server is only supported as a Container Image

Microsoft is removing support for the Nano Server operating system running on physical hardware or inside Virtual Machines. Nano Server will be only supported as a Container Image. Windows Server Core will be the preferred installation option for your infrastructure servers like Hyper-V or Storage Spaces Direct.

This next release will focus on making Nano Server the very best container image possible. From these changes, customers will now see the Nano Server images shrink in size by more than 50 percent, further decreasing startup times and improving container density. As part of this effort to focus on containers, we will be removing the functionality for infrastructure-related roles. Instead of using Nano Server for these scenarios, we recommend deploying the Server Core installation option, which includes all the roles and features you would need.

Windows Server Servicing Channel

As mentioned Microsoft will offer Windows Server updates in the Semi-annual Channel as well as in the Long Term Servicing Channel for Nano Server Container Images as well as Windows Server Core.

There will be two primary release channels available to Windows Server customers, the Long-term Servicing Channel, and the new Semi-annual Channel.

Long-term Servicing Channel

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.

Semi-annual Channel

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 hosters keeping up with the latest Hyper-V 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.

Windows Insider Program

At Microsoft Build, Microsoft also announced that Windows Server will be part of the Windows Insider Program, and you will see the first preview builds this summer.

System Center

in the first Semi-annual Channel release from System Center, the team will focus on System Center Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, and Data Protection Manager. The key areas of investment will include support for Windows Server and Linux, enhanced performance, usability and reliability, and extensibility with Azure-based security and management services. Which will bring features like Nested Virtualization support, software load balancing, Storage QoS Self-Service and management support for heterogeneous environments with improved Linux monitoring using a FluentD agent as well as VMware backup. System Center Configuration Manager will continue to offer three releases a year to give you the latest updates for managing servers, PCs, and mobile devices.

Conclusion

This changes will improve the release cadence of datacenter and cloud innovation dramatically. Customers like service providers will have the chance to update their offerings much more often which allows them to add new features and functionality. But there is choice for customers who need a stable and not fast moving environment they can deploy builds from the Long-term servicing channel, which will have long term support. With that you should be able to choose the best solution for your environment and workload.



Hyper-V Nested Virtualization

Hyper-V Nested Virtualization in Windows 10 Build 10565

This week Microsoft released a new Windows 10 Insider Preview build to the Windows Insiders. It brings a couple of new features to the OS, but Ben Armstrong (Hyper-V Program Manager at Microsoft) mentions in a blog post that it also brings a preview of Nested Virtualization to Hyper-V in Windows 10. Nested Virtualization allows you to run Hyper-V inside a VM. This is prefect for Lab and Training scenarios, so you can run multiple Hyper-V server without the need of a lot of physical hardware.

So how can you enable Nested Virtualization in this early preview build? Theo Thompson describes this in a blog post:

Step 1: Create a VM

Step 2: Run the enablement script

Given the configuration requirements (e.g. dynamic memory must be off), we’ve tried to make things easier by providing a PowerShell script.

This script will check your configuration, change anything which is incorrect (with permission), and enable nested virtualization for a VM. Note that the VM must be off.

 
Invoke-WebRequest https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Microsoft/Virtualization-Documentation/master/hyperv-tools/Nested/Enable-NestedVm.ps1 -OutFile ~/Enable-NestedVm.ps1
~/Enable-NestedVm.ps1 -VmName "VmName"

Step 3: Install Hyper-V in the guest

From here, you can install Hyper-V in the guest VM.

Step 4: Enable networking (optional)

Once nested virtualization is enabled in a VM, MAC spoofing must be enabled for networking to work in its guests. Run the following PowerShell (as administrator) on the host machine:

 
Set-VMNetworkAdapter -VMName"VName"-MacAddressSpoofing on

Step 5: Create nested VMs

This is still a very early preview and this means this feature still has a lot of know issues:

  • Both hypervisors need to be the latest versions of Hyper-V. Other hypervisors will not work. Windows Server 2012R2, or even builds prior to 10565 will not work.
  • Once nested virtualization is enabled in a VM, the following features are no longer compatible with that VM. These actions will either fail, or cause the VM not to start:
    • Dynamic memory must be OFF. This will prevent the VM from booting.
    • Runtime memory resize will fail.
    • Applying checkpoints to a running VM will fail.
    • Live migration will fail.
    • Save/restore will fail.
  • Once nested virtualization is enabled in a VM, MAC spoofing must be enabled for networking to work in its guests.
  • Hosts with Virtualization Based Security (VBS) enabled cannot expose virtualization extensions to guests. You must first disable VBS in order to preview nested virtualization.
  • This feature is currently Intel-only. Intel VT-x is required.
  • Beware: nested virtualization requires a good amount of memory. I managed to run a VM in a VM with 4 GB of host RAM, but things were tight.

 

 



Windows 10 Task View

The best Windows 10 Features – Why you will love Windows 10

Since the first release of the Windows 10 Preview in the Insider program, I was using the Technical previews on my Surface Pro 3, and it is excellent how Microsoft is improving Windows 10 over the last several months based on research and feedback from the Windows Insider program.

In some days, on July 29, Microsoft will release Windows 10 to the public, and here are some reasons why you will love Windows 10:

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge Browser

With Windows 10 Microsoft released a new browser called Microsoft Edge (before Project Spartan) which is amazingly fast and brings a lot of new features to the table such as Cortana Integration, Web notes which allow you basically draw your notes on websites and share them and Microsoft also promised to enable browser extensions. Secret: you can also switch from a Light Theme to a Dark Theme.

You can also check out the new edge insider preview here: Microsoft Edge Insider

Task View & Virtual Desktop

Windows 10 Task View

Most of the IT Pros reading this blog already knew about Task view in the previous version of Windows using WIN + TAB, but only a few other users did know about these features. Microsoft not only improved the Task view, but Microsoft also promoted it much better with an icon in the Taskbar.

In Windows 10 WIN + TAB does not only offer you Task View it also allows you to create and switch between Virtual Desktops. With Virtual Desktops, you can now finally create multiple workspaces on your PC, which should bring you the productivity boost you need. Secret: You can switch between different Desktops using the Shortcut: CTRL + WIN + ARROW (LEFT and RIGHT).

Hyper-V

Hyper-V vNext Runtime Memory Resize

Microsoft builds Hyper-V directly into the Windows Client since Windows 8. This is great if you want to run Virtual Machines on your Windows Client. Windows 10 Client Hyper-V brings you the excellent performance and features Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V will bring you. Of course, some features are only available in the server build of Hyper-V, but you get some great features such as Enhanced Session mode to copy & paste between your PC and your Virtual Machine. Secret: Windows 10 will allow you to run Hyper-V and use Connected Standby at the same time.



Microsoft Windows 10 January Event

What’s next for Windows 10

Microsoft yesterday held the January event about the next generation of Windows and showed some great new features of Windows 10. If you have watched the Windows 10 webcast, you have seen that Microsoft announced and showed a lot of new stuff yesterday. In this post I do a quick summary about this Windows 10 event. Spoiler alert, since this was a consumer event, there were no news about Windows Server or System Center.

Windows as a Service

Well the first great news yesterday was that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade in the first year for Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 7 users. After that Microsoft tries to keep the install base very up-to-date to make it easier for developers to develop and deploy new apps to customers.

New Windows 10 Experience

Windows 10 Expierence

Joe Belfiore demoed some great new features and the experience you get with new Windows 10. One of the great things you will see that there will be just one version of Windows 10, everything should be one platform. He also demoed the new Action Center and the new Start menu.

Continuum Mode

Windows10 Continuum

Continuum Mode was announced back in September. Continuum helps two-in-one devices to switch between different modes such as desktop mode with mouse and keyboard and tablet mode using touch input. So you always get the best experience when using the device.

Cortana

Windows 10 Phone Laptop Cortana

Another big news was the release of Cortana for Windows. Cortana is the personal digital assistant you already know from Windows Phone. Microsoft also showed some great improvements and how Cortana can make your life easier.

Windows 10 for phones

Windows 10 Phone

Microsoft also announced that Windows 10 will be coming to phones and small tablets.

New Browser

Windows 10 Spartan

Microsoft officially showed a new browser called Project Spartan, which will bring the latest web standard to the Microsoft web platform and some other cool features like digital inking and Cortana integration.

New universal applications

Windows 10 Universal Apps

Microsoft bring several universal apps to the Windows 10 platform like a great new Photo, Video or Music apps. This apps are running across several devices such as phones, tablets, desktops, TVs and the Xbox One.

Office universal apps

Windows 10 Universal Office

Not only Windows integrated apps are coming as universal apps, Microsoft is also releasing a touch-friendly version of Office as universal app which will run Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint across different devices types.

Xbox app

Windows 10 Xbox App

Microsoft also demoed a new Xbox app on Windows 10. The Xbox App will allow you to get your Xbox experience to Windows 10. This will bring multiplayer across devices (PC and Xbox One), Game DVR, Game streaming (from Xbox One to PC) and DirectX 12.

Microsoft HoloLens

Microsoft HoloLens

One of the biggest things Microsoft announced yesterday was the Microsoft HoloLens which is the world’s first holographic computing platform. With Windows 10, holograms are Windows universal apps and Windows universal apps can work as holograms, making it possible to place three-dimensional holograms in the world around you to communicate, create and explore in a manner that is far more personal and human.

Surface Hub

Surface Hub

Microsoft yesterday not only announced a new device called HoloLens, they also announced a new device called Surface Hub, which is basically a 84-inch touch screen with multi-touch and multi pen input, including Skype for Business and some great whiteboard technology.

Feedback is really important

Windows Insider

Microsoft did talk a lot about the Windows Insider Program and the feedback they are getting from a lot of people around the world.

 

Some facts

  • The next Windows 10 Preview will be available next week
  • Project Spartan will not be included in the next preview release
  • The first Preview for Windows 10 for Phones will be available in February
  • HoloLens will be released in the Windows 10 timeframe