Inside Windows Server’s containerized Linux future

Microsoft’s Windows Server strategy is about to change, with faster updates, a lot of Linux love, and a devops focus

Microsoft’s new continuous-delivery model, with Windows releases every six months or so, makes sense for the desktop. But does it work for Windows Server? Certainly, Microsoft didn’t think so at first. Windows Server 2016 comes from the Long-Term Servicing Build (LTSB) of Windows, with only the microservices- and container-focused Nano Server scheduled for regular releases.

More Windows Server, more often

That initial plan appears to be in flux, with Windows Server joining desktop Windows in the Insider program later this summer. Microsoft is also talking about a series of feature releases that will support the GUI-less Windows Server Core and quite possibly the awkwardly named Windows Server with Desktop Experience.

It’s a shift that makes sense. With the RS1 and RS2 releases of Windows, the desktop OS has added developer-centric features at a fast pace. Tools like the Windows System for Linux (WSL) have made it an attractive platform for cloud development, with features that work well with Azure.

Although cloud services have begun to eclipse on-premises servers, on-premises Windows Server is still an important part of any business infrastructure, and a key on-ramp for applications and services into the cloud. That’s why you can’t leave those servers as is for another two or three years, waiting for the next LTSB release, sometime in 2019.

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