Microsoft Announces Cloud-Centric 'Nano Server' Variant Of Next Generation Windows Server OS

It's hardly a secret that Microsoft is infatuated with the cloud and is building a future that entails transitioning offline software into online services. We see it at every turn, from productivity such as Office 365 to gaming, and now it's even beginning on the Windows Server side in the form of Nano Server.

What exactly is Nano Server? In Microsoft's words, it's a "purpose-built operating system designed to run born-in-the-cloud applications and containers." It will be part of the next Windows Server release, and when installing Nano Server, Windows Server gets stripped down to just the essentials, resulting in an ultra-small footprint that requires fewer patch and update events, restarts faster, is more secure, and offers better resource utilization.


To give you a point of reference, Microsoft's initial results indicate that Nano Server improves upon Windows Server with a 93 percent lower VHD size, 92 percent fewer critical bulletins, and 80 percent fewer reboots.

As you might imagine, getting those kind of metrics requires certain sacrifices. Specifically, Nano Server doesn't have a GUI stack or 32-bit support (WOW64). Microsoft also removed MSI and a number of default Server Core components, local logon, and Remote Desktop support. All management is handed remotely via WMI and PowerShell.

Nano Server's existence is based on two types of workloads. The first is born-in-the-cloud applications, and it will offer support for multiple programming languages and runtimes running in containers, virtual machines, or on physical servers. And the second is Microsoft Cloud Platform infrastructure with support for compute clusters running Hyper-V and storage clusters running Scale-out File Server.

Note that Nano Server will not be available in the May Windows Server 2016 preview. Instead, Microsoft is planning to introduce it at a later date, though hasn't said when.