In the opening keynote for Ignite yesterday, Microsoft announced that Windows Server 2016 will be generally available by mid-October. The evaluation edition of the release to manufacturing (RTM) version is available now for download.

Microsoft is making a hard push for Hyper-V adoption with this version. You might be eligible for free Windows Server 2016 Datacenter licenses if you switch from VMware to Hyper-V.

There are quite a few changes and enhancements that are coming along with Windows Server 2016 that you’ll want to check out:

Licensing Structure Change

Your current Windows Server licenses are done per processor. However, with Windows Server 2016, you will have to license it per core. Each socket license equivalent only comes with eight cores’ worth, so if you have more than eight cores per socket, you’ll have to buy multiple licenses. The pricing may not change much for you, or it could change a lot, depending.

Learn more about the Windows Server 2016 core-based licensing structure.

Hyper-V Improvements

With this version of Windows Server, you’ll enjoy a slicker, more manageable Hyper-V experience. Microsoft simplified cluster upgrading by allowing rolling upgrades, introduced VSS-based snapshots for better production checkpoints, added hot adding and removing NICs and memory to VMs, and integrated PowerShell scripting directly inside a guest OS from the Hyper-V host. Find out more details on how all this works.

New Features with Failover Clustering

Microsoft wants to make Hyper-V the incumbent in datacenters (step aside, VMware), so it’s added quite a bevy of tools to improve the experience, especially with stretch or metro clusters.

Meet Storage Replica, a new feature within failover clustering that allows you to replicate data at a volume level to another site without suffering any lag time. Learn more about how it works.

Cloud Witness is also a new functionality, a third party in Azure that functions as a witness for your failover cluster to allow you to achieve quorum easier. You can also designate hosts to a specific site with the new Site-Aware Failover Cluster feature, which can help prevent workloads from failing to another site unnecessarily.

Microsoft has also injected a few fail-safes with VM and storage resiliency to prevent failures during small hiccups. VMs can run on isolated or quarantined states if access or connectivity is temporarily lost. Learn more about how Microsoft has enhanced its failover clustering in Windows Server 2016.

Nano Servers

Yep, it’s a really small server — just a stripped down install of Windows with only the basics to perform roles. No command prompt, no local management, just remote management with PowerShell, WMI, WinRM and Emergency Management Services. What can you do with a nano server? Well, Hyper-V, failover clustering, file servers, DNS, IIS … check out more about how nano servers work in this blog post.


Linux is officially not the only environment with containers now! Windows Server 2016 has functionality for host-based containers and Hyper-V containers. Great for isolating specific apps or for moving apps and processes between hosts easily. It also allows more segmentation between processes. Each container can only see its own processes, which can be great for those of us who have certain segmentation requirements. Learn more about how host-based and Hyper-V containers work, and then how Windows Server 2016 containers inject more segmentation into your environment.

Storage Spaces Direct

Windows has had some form of Storage Spaces for years in some shape or form, but Windows Server 2016 really ups the ante with high availability improvements. You get more flexibility in how you can attach disks to your nodes and share them amongst each other. You can deploy Storage Spaces Direct as either hyper-converged or disaggregated. Learn more about that in our blog post.


It’s one of the hot things amongst the storage people right now. Windows Server has had some semblance of dedup functionality for a few versions, but it’s really good in Windows Server 2016. Its dedup now supports large volumes and files and boasts simplified configuration for virtual backup files. Learn more about how Windows Server 2016’s dedup improvements can make your life easier.


Born in 2012 but not recommended until now, ReFS (its proper name being Resilient File System) is ready to rock and roll. It comes with corruption detection and repair abilities, block cloning, and is compatible with SQL 2014 and works with Exchange and SQL 2016. Note: ReFS is not supported with deduplication or certain workloads. Learn more about ReFS.

Windows Server 2016 is focused on improving your datacenter management and virtualization experience. Take a closer look, and let us know if you have questions.

Download the RTM evaluation edition now. Email us or give us a call at 502-240-0404 if you have any questions!