Most IT administrators have been waiting for a release and probably another “R2” version of Server 2016 just like the previous Server editions but Microsoft has changed a few things. This version is called 1709 which is a combination of the year 2017 and September (9th month) release. I think they are following the same approach as they did for the System Center products.
Starting with this release, you have two options for receiving Windows Server feature updates:
- Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC): This is business as usual with 5 years of mainstream support and 5 years of extended support. You have the option to upgrade to the next LTSC release every 2-3 years in the same way that has been supported for the last 20 years.
- Semi-Annual Channel (SAC): This is a Software Assurance benefit and is fully supported in production. The difference is that it is supported for 18 months and there will be a new version every six months. Windows Server, version 1709 runs in Server Core mode. That means there is no graphical user interface, so you manage it remotely.
Other Improvements such as;
- The Server Core container image has been further optimized for lift-and-shift scenarios where you can migrate existing code bases or applications into containers with minimal changes, and it’s also 60% smaller.
- The Nano Server container image is nearly 80% smaller.
- In the Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel, Nano Server as a container base OS image is decreased from 390 MB to 80 MB.
- Linux containers with Hyper-V isolation
Microsoft introduced a new management tool “Project Honolulu“. It includes next generation tooling with a simplified, integrated, secure, and extensible interface. Project Honolulu includes an intuitive all-new management experience for managing PCs, Windows servers, Failover Clusters, as well as hyper-converged infrastructure based on Storage Spaces Direct, reducing operational costs.
Those running Server 2016 today shouldn’t treat 1709 as a feature update to 2016, officials said. To move from Windows Server 2016 or earlier versions of Windows Server to 1709, users must run a clean install, as no in-place upgrades are supported. Those who want Semi-Annual Channel releases need Software Assurance for their Windows Server licenses or be willing to use the Semi-Annual Channel releases hosted on Azure or other cloud-hosted environments. Windows Server Essentials releases will only be available in LTSC; Standard or Datacenter are the only supported editions in the Semi-Annual Channel.
A few other things to mention; Nano Server is available as a container operating system. This release no longer installs the SMB1 client and server by default. Additionally, the ability to authenticate as a guest in SMB2 and later is off by default. Storage Spaces Direct is not in this release, administrators cannot add servers running 1709 to deployments of Windows Server 2016 where Storage Spaces Direct is being used. Data Deduplication now supports ReFS.
Keep in mind that Windows Server, version 1709 is NOT an update to Windows Server 2016. It’s in the Semi-Annual Channel. Windows Server 2016 is in the Long-Term Servicing Channel. If you need the Desktop Experience, you should stay on the LTSC by sticking with the current Windows Server 2016.