Windows Server 2016 : All new Look

Windows Server 2016 is the eighth version of Microsoft’s Windows Server server operating system, which is part of the Windows NT operating system family. It is the successor to Windows Server 2012 R2 and was developed concurrently with Windows 10. On October 1, 2014, the first early preview version (Technical Preview) was released, along with the first technical preview of System Center. At Microsoft’s Ignite conference on September 26, 2016, Windows Server 2016 was introduced, and it went on sale to the public on October 12, 2016. There are three successors: Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2022, and the Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel, which does not include the graphical user interface or many older components.

Features Windows Server 2016

Active Directory Federation Services: Users stored in non-AD directories, such as X.500 compliant Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directories and SQL databases, can be authenticated using AD FS.

Windows Defender: By default, Windows Server Antimalware is installed and enabled without the GUI, which is a Windows feature that can be installed.

Remote Desktop Services: OpenGL 4.4 and OpenCL 1.1 support, improved performance and stability; MultiPoint Services role (see Windows MultiPoint Server)

Storage Services: QoS Policies for Central Storage; Storage Replicas (storage-agnostic, block-level, volume-based, synchronous and asynchronous replication using SMB3 between servers for disaster recovery). Storage Replica replicates blocks rather than files, yet files can still be used. It’s not multi-master, one-to-many, or transitive in any way. It duplicates snapshots on a regular basis, and the replication direction can be modified.

Failover Clustering: Storage Replicas, Cluster Operating System Upgrade

Web Application Proxy: Pre-authentication for HTTP Basic application publishing, application publishing with wildcard domains, HTTP to HTTPS redirection, client IP address propagation to backend applications.

  • IIS 10: Support for HTTP/2
  • Windows Server Containers 
  • Windows PowerShell 5.1

Networking Features

DHCP: Because Network Access Protection was discontinued in Windows Server 2012 R2, the DHCP role no longer supports NAP in Windows Server 2016.


DNS client: Service binding – improved support for systems that have multiple network interfaces

DNS Server: new DNS policies, DDS record kinds (TLSA, SPF, and unknown), and PowerShell cmdlets and arguments

Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) tunnels are now supported by Windows Server Gateway.

IP address management (IPAM): Support for the /31, /32, and /128 subnets; discovery of file-based, domain-joined DNS servers; new DNS capabilities; improved DNS, DHCP, and IP Address (DDI) Management integration

Network Controller: A new server role in the datacenter that configures, manages, monitors, and troubleshoots virtual and physical network devices and services.

Microsoft Hyper-V Network virtualization: Programmable Hyper-V switch (a new building component of Microsoft’s software-defined networking solution); VXLAN encapsulation support; Microsoft Software Load Balancer interoperability; better IEEE Ethernet standard compliance.


  • Rolling Hyper-V cluster update: Unlike clusters upgraded from Windows 2008 R2 to 2012, Windows Server 2016 cluster nodes can be added to a Hyper-V Cluster with nodes running Windows Server 2012 R2. Until all of the nodes in the cluster have been upgraded and the cluster functional level has been upgraded, the cluster will continue to run at a Windows Server 2012 R2 feature level.
  • Use Hyper-V with Scale-Out File Servers to centrally monitor end-to-end storage performance and define policies for storage quality of service (QoS).
  • A new binary virtual machine configuration format that is more efficient (.VMCX extension for virtual machine configuration data and the .VMRS extension for runtime state data)
  • Checkpoints for production
  • Hyper-V Manager: Support for multiple credentials, down-level management, and the WS-Management protocol
  • Windows Update distributes integration services for Windows guests.
  • Network adapters (for generation 2 virtual machines) and RAM can be added and removed quickly (for generation 1 and generation 2 virtual machines)
  • Secure boot in Linux
  • Compatibility with Connected Standby
  • Storage Resiliency feature of Hyper-V is formed for detecting transitory loss of connectivity to VM storage. VMs will be put on hold until connectivity is restored.
  • Virtual Switch with RDMA compatibility

Nano Server

Nano Server, a new installation option from Microsoft, offers a headless version of Windows Server with a small footprint. It does not include the graphical user interface, WoW64 (32-bit software support), or Windows Installer. Locally or via Remote Desktop Connection, it does not permit console login. Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), Windows PowerShell, and Remote Server Management Tools are used to execute all management remotely (a collection of web-based GUI and command line tools). However, Microsoft has reintroduced the ability to operate Nano Server locally using PowerShell in Technical Preview 5. Nano Server has a 93 percent smaller VHD, 92 percent fewer important security advisories, and 80 percent fewer reboots than Windows Server, according to Microsoft engineer Jeffrey Snover.

Nano Server is exclusively available to Microsoft Software Assurance customers and on Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services cloud computing platforms.

Nano Server can only be installed inside a container host as of Windows Server version 1709’s new feature release.


Satya Nadella has reorganised Microsoft, combining the Server and System Center teams. Previously, the Server team and the Windows client team were more closely integrated. The Azure team collaborates closely with the Server team as well.

Microsoft showed an internal version of Server 2016 running on the ARMv8-A platform in March 2017. Microsoft was said to be working with Qualcomm Centriq and Cavium ThunderX2 processors. According to James Vincent of The Verge, Intel’s dominance in the server CPU market is jeopardised as a result of this decision. However, after contacting Microsoft, it was discovered that this version of Windows Server is only for internal usage and only affects Microsoft Azure subscribers.

Preview Releases

On October 1, 2014, a public beta version of Windows Server 2016 (then still known as vNext) dubbed “Windows Server Technical Preview” was published; the technical preview builds are targeted towards enterprise users. The first Technical Preview was due to expire on April 15, 2015, but Microsoft later published a method to extend the deadline until the second Technical Preview of the OS, which is scheduled for May 2015. On May 4, 2015, the second beta version, dubbed “Technical Preview 2,” was released. On August 19, 2015, the third preview version, “Technical Preview 3,” was released. On November 19, 2015, “Technical Preview 4” was released. On April 27, 2016, “Technical Preview 5” was released.

On July 13, 2017, Windows Insiders received Windows Server 2016 Insider Preview Build 16237.

Public Release

On September 26, 2016, Microsoft’s Ignite Conference announced the official release of Windows Server 2016. Unlike its predecessor, Windows Server 2016 is licenced based on the number of CPU cores rather than CPU sockets, a shift that BizTalk Server 2013 and SQL Server 2014 have also implemented. The new licencing structure employed by Windows Server 2016 differs from the licencing model used by Windows Server 2012/2012R2 in that the number of cores covered by a single licence is now limited. Core licencing for Windows Server 2016 Standard and Datacenter now includes a minimum of 8 core licences per physical processor and 16 core licences per server. Standard Edition provides the usual rights to run two virtualized OS environments, and Core licences are supplied in packs of two. Additional licences will be required with Windows Server 2016 if the server has more than 16 cores for a two-processor server.

Version history

The first public beta version of the operating system, Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview, was published on October 1, 2014. 6.4.9841 was the version number.

On May 4, 2015, Microsoft released Technical Preview 2 of Windows Server 2016. 10.0.10074 was the version number. (Windows 10 has a similar jump in the most crucial component of the version number from 6 to 10.)

This Version’s highlights include:

  • Installation of a Nano Server
  • Rolling upgrades for Hyper-V and Storage clusters; hot add and remove RAM and NICs; robust virtual machines that keep running even if their cluster fabric fails
  • Storage: Virtual Machine Storage Path Resiliency; Storage Spaces • Networking: Converged NIC across tenants and RDMA traffic; PacketDirect on 40G Storage Replica is used to aggregate Storage Spaces across several hosts.
  • Security: Host Guardian Service, which aids in maintaining the trust and isolation boundary between the cloud infrastructure and guest OS layers. Just Enough Administration, which limits users to just performing certain activities.
  • Management: PowerShell Desired State Configuration; PowerShell Package Manager; Windows Management Framework 5.0 April Preview and DSC Resource Kit • Other: Conditional access control in AD FS; application authentication support for OpenID Connect and OAuth; full OpenGL support with RDS for VDI; server-side support for HTTP/2, including header compression, connection multiplexing, and server push; server-side support for HTTP/2, including header compression, connection multiplexing, and server push.
  • Installation options: The Minimal Server Interface has been made the default, and the Server installation option has been renamed to “Server with local admin tools.”

On August 19, 2015, Microsoft released the third technical preview of Windows Server 2016. 10.0.10514 was the version number. This version’s highlights include:

  • Containers for Windows Server
  • Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS): users in Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directories are authenticated.
  • Installation options: The Server installation option has been renamed to “Server with Desktop Experience,” which includes the shell as well as the Desktop Experience. It is no longer possible to transition from Server with Desktop Experience to Server Core or from Server Core to Server with Desktop Experience due to the fundamental modifications required to deliver the Desktop Experience on Server.

The operating system’s fourth technical preview was released on November 19, 2015, one year and one month after the initial technical preview. 10.0.10586 was the version number. The following are some of the highlights:

  • Nano Server supports the DNS and IIS server roles, as well as MPIO, VMM, SCOM, DSC push mode, DCB, Windows Server Installer, and the Windows Update WMI provider. The network settings can be edited and repaired using the Recovery Console. To make creating Nano Server images easier, a Windows PowerShell module is now available.
  • Hyper-V Containers wraps each container in a light virtual machine.

On April 27, 2016, the last technical preview of Windows Server 2016 was released. 10.0.14300 was the version number. The following are some of the highlights:

  • The majority of the refinements are of a generic nature. In both real and virtual machines, time accuracy is improved.
  • Container support on Windows 10 improves speed, simplifies network management, and provides support for Windows containers.
  • Nano Server: a revised module for creating Nano Server images, with tighter separation of physical host and guest virtual machine functionality and compatibility for various Windows Server editions. Improvements to the Recovery Console, including the ability to repair WinRM settings and the separation of inbound and outgoing firewall rules.
  • Networking: Traffic can now be mirrored and routed to new or existing virtual appliances. In a similar way to Azure, a distributed firewall and Network security groups enable dynamically segmented and secure workloads. System Center Virtual Machine Manager can be used to deploy and manage the whole Software-Defined Networking (SDN) stack. Docker may be used to handle Windows Server container networking and to associate SDN policies with containers as well as virtual machines.
  • Remote Desktop Services: In high-availability mode, an RDS deployment can use Azure SQL Database for the RD Connection Brokers.
  • Management: the ability to run PowerShell.exe locally on Nano Server (rather than only remotely), new Local Users & Groups cmdlets to replace the GUI, PowerShell debugging support, and support for security logging & transcription and JEA in Nano Server (Just Enough Administration)

Shielded Virtual Machines:

  • A new “Encryption Supported” mode that provides more security than a regular virtual machine but less than “Shielded” mode, while still supporting vTPM, disc encryption, Live Migration traffic encryption, and other features, such as direct fabric administration conveniences like virtual machine console connections and Powershell Direct.
  • Complete conversion support for non-shielded Generation 2 virtual machines to shielded virtual machines, including automated disc encryption
  • Hyper-V Replica is compatible with shielded virtual machines.

Release to Manufacturing

On September 26, 2016, Microsoft released Windows Server 2016 to manufacturing with the version number 10.0.14393. (same as Windows 10 Anniversary Update). The following finishing touches were added by Microsoft:

  • A 180-day evaluation period is available
  • Corrupted Start menus have been fixed
  • Improved user experience and efficiency
  • Removed Windows Store apps
  • Added a background to the login screen
  • Added the Windows Hello function
  • Added a dark theme

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