Microsoft has just announced a major change to how it plans to push out Windows Server updates going forward. Instead of releasing them every few years or so, Microsoft has promised to commit rolling the updates out in a semiannual cycle, which means Microsoft will put out Windows Server updates every spring and fall.
Windows Bumps Up Windows Server Updates To Semiannual Release Schedule
That cycle mimics Microsoft's release schedules for Office and Windows 10, which will allow the company to deliver new features and innovations to customers faster than before. By contrast, the last few major versions of Windows Servers each came out three years apart, in 2008, 2012, and then in 2016. The move appears as a natural progression of Microsoft's unification efforts for Windows development.
Microsoft says a semiannual release cycle helps rapidly innovating customers to take advantage of new features at a faster pace "both in applications — particularly those built on containers and microservices, as well as in the software-defined hybrid datacenter."
Windows Server Standard and Datacenter users who are part of the company's Software Assurance program will automatically receive the updates as they arrive. However, those without a subscription won't.
The fall release of Windows Server will simply be tagged as "1709." It won't be fancily named as something like "Windows 10 Fall Creators Update," for example.
Windows Server Core, a headless version of the Windows Server which provides the base platform for Azure and Azure Stack, will also get the semiannual update schedule. Meanwhile, Nano Server, which is optimized for private clouds and datacenters, "has always been on an active release cadence and will continue," according to a Microsoft spokesperson.
What If Users Want To Skip Windows Server Updates?
Those who don't want semiannual updates for some reason can stick with Windows Server 2016, which Microsoft treats as its "Long-Term Servicing Channel" release, noting it's supported for 10 years — up to 16 years, in fact, for those with Premium Assurance. However, customers can't skip two releases in a row, according to a spokesperson.
"This is because [updates are] released each 6 months and supported for 18 months, so by the time n+3 comes out (i.e. you've skipped two releases) you'll be out of the support window on 'n'."
When Will The Next Windows Server Update Arrive?
Windows Server images should start deploying next month for those who'll join the Server Insider rings, reports ZDNet. That said, Microsoft hasn't detailed exactly what new features will the fall update for Windows Server bring, except that the next release of Windows Server will be getting an even slimmer Nano Server option — 50 percent slimmer than its current version.
With that in mind, Microsoft has also stressed that Nano Server should gravitate more toward building container images, and away from infrastructure-related chores. For those cases, Microsoft recommends using Server Core instead.
Finally, as Microsoft announced during its Build developer conference earlier this year, Windows Server will also be getting support for Linux containers, which will provide developers with Bash scripts for Linux applications.
Customers will be able to choose when they want to receive the semiannual updates, and there's going to be a preview channel as well. Those who want to get in on the action first may enroll in the company's Windows Insider Program, although of course, that opens up developers to risks involved in installing prerelease software.
Thoughts about Microsoft's new Windows Server release cycle for updates? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!