It seems the days of large, monolithic software releases are now behind us. Microsoft is changing the way updates to their server platform will be delivered. Starting during our Spring (the northern Autumn/Fall) Microsoft will be releasing updates twice a year. This, they say, is to allow their customers to take advantage of new capabilities faster as they innovate.
Changes to Nano Server were also announced in a blog post by Erin Chapple, the GM for Windows Server. And Server Core, the headless Windows Server installation option will be part of the twice-a-year release cycle.
On one hand, this is good news for companies who want to take advantage of new capabilities. It's also a reflection that Microsoft's server software business is feeling the pinch. As the Azure business continues to grow, and Amazon continues to drop prices and add features, the traditional on-prem data centre is struggling to keep up.
However, having worked in large operational environments, I can imagine this will cause some headaches. There's always a desire to keep software up to date in order to ensure bugs are squashed and security updates are applied. But many struggle with weekly or monthly patching. Adding a major release every six months may not be so popular in those circles.
The latest Windows Server 2016 release from the long-term servicing channel is supported for 10 years, or up to 16 years if you have Premium Assurance. In the Semi-annual Channel, feature updates are cumulative, so each release builds on the prior one and adds new capabilities, which ultimately culminates in the next LTSC release.
Windows Server Standard or Datacenter customers covered by Software Assurance will automatically have access to Semi-annual Channel releases as they are made available. Servers without Software Assurance do not have rights to the Semi-annual Channel releases.