Windows Server 2016 new update model

Microsoft have recently announced a couple of upcoming changes to Windows Server 2016.

The first relates to the Windows Server 2016 update schedule:

Semi-annual Channel

Those of you working with Windows 10 or Office 365 may well be familiar with this term and concept already. This is Microsoft’s “Cloud Cadence”, giving feature updates twice a year – with each release being supported for 18 months from release.

As these updates bring new features, they are classed as new versions so it’s perhaps not surprising that:

Servers without Software Assurance do not have rights to the Semi-annual Channel releases

To access this new update schedule, customers must have Software Assurance on their Windows Server Standard or Datacenter licenses.

Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC)

For situations where such regular updates won’t work, there is the Long Term Servicing Channel which is effectively Windows Server with the same release & support schedule we’re all used to:

5 years mainstream support + 5 years extended support

and of course the option for a further 6 years with the purchase of Premium Assurance.

What does it look like?

This diagram from this Microsoft article gives a good visual representation of how the update schedule will work:

WS Channel

Organisations will have the option to skip a release and wait until the next release before upgrading.

The naming convention, as you can see above, will follow that of Windows 10, System Center etc. using the year and month. This means a new Windows Server release in March 2018 will be 1803 for example.

What does this mean?

It will be interesting to see how many organisations will move their server infrastructure to what is quite a rapid update schedule, particularly where they need to remain in step with support for 3rd party applications.

I’m intrigued to hear people’s thoughts on this. Do you see this being used within your organisation? What positives/negatives do you think this will bring?

Further Reading

Microsoft Articles:

Delivering continuous innovation with windows server

Semi Annual Channel overview

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