Windows Server 2016 brings all the benefits of the cloud to your own servers

But Microsoft doesn't assume everyone wants to use or build clouds – the idea is to give you access to the innovations happening in the cloud, on your own systems.

"As much as we support microservices and containers, there is a lot of investment for the existing world," he points out. That includes rolling cluster upgrades, clusters that work with certificates instead of needing to be joined to Active Directory (ideal for appliances), nested virtualisation, faster booting virtual machines, saving checkpoints on production systems and being able to back up and live migrate even shared virtual hard drives.

Nested virtualisation was needed to make Hyper-V containers work, but it's useful for anyone who builds and tests virtual machines too, because you can run Hyper-V inside a VM. "In the past when Hyper-V only ran on psychical hardware it raised the cost of experimenting," Snover points out, "now we've dramatically lowered the cost of that."

Boosted performance

Windows Server 2016 will have better performance too. He cautions that "we've really just begun to scratch the surface on our performance work – we get the architecture right and the feature set right and then we start working on performance," but even so, he says it already has "fantastic boot times".

"This is one of the most dramatic architectural changes we've made to Windows Server in quite a long time," claims Snover. "We're laying down the architectural foundations to be able to move at a cloud pace. The change to the architecture in the guest OS, means people can innovate very rapidly with server applications by having the smallest components possible with Nano Server.

"You're going to see lots of innovation – service fabric, containers, all that stuff – that you can download with package management, configure with things like Desired State Configuration, and then test with things like Pester. That architectural foundation that we've built with the OS allows customers to adopt innovation above that very quickly.

"At the fabric level we're fully on the software-defined everything stage and as Azure innovates so too we'll take those innovations and bring them to our customers and our hosters. It's going to move fast, but I think it's going to move fast in a way that has dramatically less drama."

That doesn't mean a new version of Windows Server more often – it means Windows Server 2016 makes it easier to pick up the cloud way of functioning so you can change the way your server apps work as quickly as you want, even if you're not using the cloud.

Snover notes: "We innovate in the public cloud and we find out what really works, what brings you the benefit, and we make it available to our customers' data centres."


Mary (Twitter, Google+, website) started her career at Future Publishing, saw the AOL meltdown first hand the first time around when she ran the AOL UK computing channel, and she's been a freelance tech writer for over a decade. She's used every version of Windows and Office released, and every smartphone too, but she's still looking for the perfect tablet. Yes, she really does have USB earrings.