Microsoft is changing the method in which it provides updates for Windows Server, which will fall in line with Windows 10 and Office 365 upgrades. Thanks to Microsoft’s user base growing tired of ambiguous release dates they have decided to provide a set release date for their Server product line. This should provide IT providers with more realistic upgrade paths for their customers saving valuable time for all parties involved.
Much like Windows OS and Office 365, Windows Server will see upgrades promised bi-annually in both March and September which is known as the semi-annual channel. This release has key areas of investment in support for Windows Server and Linux, improved usability, reliability and extensibility with security and management services. In addition, being able to provision Storage Quality of Service via self-service. This will also include a move to semi-annual updates for Server Core as well as System Centre. Now it’s well known that Microsoft provides multiple updates for its Nano service (which has a significantly smaller image file) yearly and so the move is somewhat questionable even though these releases were never defined to be available at a particular time. So while regular, the updates were not guaranteed and could not be planned in advance for. Microsoft has also announced twice annual upgrades would be supported for 18 months, providing reassurances for those companies with customers that did not wish to take advantage of every incremental upgrade. The benefit most likely appears to those using hybrid environments and will allow for simpler upgrades across multiple machines. Business’s and by proxy customers will still be able to purchase a brand new version of Windows Server every three years which will encompass many feature upgrades and fixes introduced in the semi-annual channel – presumably as Microsoft will look at which features worked best, and those that were not required moving forward.
In terms of support, the long term brand new Windows Server option has 5 years support with an additional 5 for extended life compared to the 18-month support for each upgrade to a particular version. Ostensibly this would only cause issues for those on the semi-annual channel who are looking to run on a particular update to their current Windows Server version and are perhaps wary of the latest long term Server release removing features they have been accustomed to within their current update.