Microsoft migrates Windows Server to semi-annual release schedule

Microsoft is changing the release schedule for the Server versions of its Windows operating system to more closely match those of the OS's desktop version and the Office suite.

If a server can run the current Long-Term Servicing Channel of Windows Server, it'll handle the Semi-annual Channel too.

Only customers that are covered by Microsoft's Software Assurance plans will be granted access to semi-annual releases as they become available.

Also, System Center will be releasing their major updates following the same release cycle.

This new regime will be on show with the next releases of Windows Nano Server which will soon be focussed exclusively on containers and shorn of features that make it suitable for generic workloads.

As detailed here, Microsoft is now calling that version of Windows Server the the Long-term Servicing Channel instead of Long Term Servicing Branch. This new update cycle will allow customers to take advantage of the latest features at a rapid page. Furthermore, Server Core will be Microsoft's recommended platform for virtualization hosts going forward. The developers have now replaced these with Server Core. New versions of Windows Server in this channel will be released every 2-3 years and will continue to receive five years of Mainstream Support with an additional five years of Extended Support for a total of 10 years coverage. Datacenters will be able to use the same servers to host both Windows and Linux containers, potentially reducing the number of discrete machines necessary.

The decision to issue patches to programs such as Windows XP, Windows 8 and Server 2003 was a tough one for the company, said Stephen Kleynhans, a research vice president at Gartner who looked at the enterprise PC market. It's also a reflection that Microsoft's server software business is feeling the pinch.

IT Pros and System Admins will still be able to choose their method of keeping their Windows Server installations updated through either Windows Update, Windows Server Updates Services (WSUS), and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). Developers who want to opt into this even faster release cycle (and are willing to take the risks involved with running pre-release software) can do so by enrolling into the Windows Insider Program.

  • Arturo Norris