Microsoft Launches Windows Server 2019 Preview, Full Release Due In 2H 2018

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Microsoft has announced the launch of the Windows Server 2019 Preview. The preview build is available right now through the Insiders Program, while the full Server 2019 OS will be available in the second half of 2018 according to Erin Chapple, Director of Program Management, Windows Server. 

Chapple gives some idea of what will be new in Server 2019 noting that it is built on the "strong foundation" of Windows Server 2016. Chapple also points out that Windows Server 2016 was the fastest adopted version of Windows Server ever.

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Chapple wrote, "We also spent a lot of time with customers to understand the future challenges and where the industry is going. Four themes were consistent – Hybrid, Security, Application Platform, and Hyper-converged infrastructure. We bring numerous innovations on these four themes in Windows Server 2019."

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Server 2019 will have hybrid cloud scenarios allowing the combination of on-premises and cloud environments working together. The hybrid approach Microsoft is using also allows for apps running on-premises to take advantage of cloud innovations like AI and IoT. Server 2019 will also integrate Project Honolulu tech.

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Chapple wrote, "Project Honolulu is a flexible, lightweight browser-based locally-deployed platform and a solution for management scenarios. One of our goals with Project Honolulu is to make it simpler and easier to connect existing deployments of Windows Server to Azure services. With Windows Server 2019 and Project Honolulu, customers will be able to easily integrate Azure services such as Azure Backup, Azure File Sync, disaster recovery, and much more so they will be able to leverage these Azure services without disrupting their applications and infrastructure."

Security is a top priority in Server 2019 and Microsoft touts a three-fold approach to security: Protect, Detect, and Respond. Protection includes Shielded VMs that support Linux VMs. VMConnect has been extended to improve troubleshooting of Shielded VMs for Windows Server and Linux. Microsoft is also adding Encrypted Networks allowing admins to encrypt network segments. For Detect and Respond, Server 2019 embeds Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection to provide preventative protection, detect attacks and zero-day exploits. 

Microsoft has also focused on the Application Platform for Server 2019. One of these aspects is the containers introduced in Server 2016. Microsoft says that it is aiming to reduce the Server Core base container image to a third of its current 5GB size in Server 2019. Significant improvements in Kubernetes are integrated into Server 2019 including improvements to compute, storage, and networking components.

One major change is Windows Subsystem on Linux to allow customers to run Linux containers side-by-side with Windows containers on a Windows Server. "In Windows Server 2019, we are continuing on this journey to improve WSL, helping Linux users bring their scripts to Windows while using industry standards like OpenSSH, Curl & Tar."

Another big focus is hyper-converged infrastructure or HCI. "Customers looking for HCI solutions can use Windows Server 2016 and the Windows Server Software Defined program today. We partnered with industry leading hardware vendors to provide an affordable and yet extremely robust HCI solution with validated design. In Windows Server 2019 we are building on this platform by adding scale, performance, and reliability. We are also adding the ability to manage HCI deployments in Project Honolulu, to simplify the management and day-to-day activities on HCI environments," wrote Chapple.