Full Windows Server 2016 Feature Comparison

Contents

How to Use this Comparison Guide

Identity

Security

Compute

Storage

Networking

Virtualization

High Availability

Management and Automation

Remote Desktop Services

Application Development

How to Use this Comparison Guide

This feature comparison guide compares selected features of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2, and Windows Server 2016. Its goal is to help customers understand the differences from the version they are running today and the latest version available from Microsoft.

The comparison table includes comments about each feature, as well as notation about how well each feature is supported in each release. The legend for this notation is given in the table below.

Level of Feature Support

Feature Name

Not
Supported
Not Included
Partially
Supported
Partially Included
Fully
Supported
Included
This section will contain more detailed information.

Windows Server 2016 Highlights

You make decisions every day about how to balance traditional IT responsibilities with cloud innovation. At the same time, your organization faces increased security threats from outside and within. For these reasons and more, organizations adopt cloud computing at different rates. Windows Server 2016 is the cloud-ready operating system that supports your current workloads while introducing new technologies that make it easy to transition to cloud computing when you are ready. It delivers powerful new layers of security along with Azure-inspired innovation for the applications and infrastructure that power your business.

Layers of Security

Windows Server 2016 delivers new capabilities to prevent attacks and detect suspicious activity with features to control privileged access, protect virtual machines and harden the platform against emerging threats.
  • Prevent risks associated with compromised administrative credentials. Use new privileged identity management features to limit administrative access by enabling “just enough” and “just in time” administration. Use Credential Guard to prevent administrative credentials from being stolen by “pass-the-hash” attacks.
  • Protect your virtual machines using the unique shielded virtual machine feature. A shielded VM is encrypted using BitLocker and can only run on approved hosts.
  • Protect against unknown vulnerabilities by ensuring only permitted binaries are executed using additional security features such as Control Flow Guard and Code Integrity as well as Windows Defender optimized for Server roles.
  • Use Hyper-V Containers for a unique additional layer of isolation for containerized applications.

Software-defined Infrastructure

Windows Server 2016 delivers capabilities to help you create a more flexible and cost-efficient datacenter using software-defined compute, storage and network virtualization features inspired by Azure.

Resilient Compute

Run your datacenter with a highly automated, resilient, virtualized server operating system.
  • Reduce your datacenter footprint, increase availability, and reduce resource usage with “just enough OS” using the Nano Server deployment option, with an image that is 25x smaller than Windows Server 2016 with the full desktop experience.
  • Upgrade infrastructure clusters to Windows Server 2016 with zero downtime for your workload, and without requiring new hardware, using mixed-mode cluster upgrades.
  • Increase application availability with improved cluster resiliency to transient failures in network and storage.
  • Automate server management with PowerShell 5 and Desired State Configuration.
  • Manage Windows servers from anywhere using the new web-based GUI – Server management tools.
  • Deploy applications on multiple operating systems with best-in-class support for Linux on Hyper-V.

Reduced Cost Storage

Windows Server 2016 includes expanded capabilities in software-defined storage with an emphasis on resilience, reduced cost, and increased control.
  • Build highly available and scalable software-defined storage solutions at a fraction of the cost of SAN or NAS. Storage Spaces Direct uses standard servers with local storage to create converged or hyper-converged storage architectures.
  • Create affordable business continuity and disaster recovery among datacenters with Storage Replica synchronous storage replication.
  • Ensure application users have priority access to storage resources using quality-of-service features.

Cloud-Inspired Networking

Windows Server 2016 delivers key networking features used in the Azure datacenters to support agility and availability in your datacenter.
  • Deploy and manage workloads across their entire lifecycle with hundreds of networking policies (isolation, Quality of Service, security, load balancing, switching, routing, gateway, DNS, etc.) in a matter of seconds using a scalable network controller.
  • Dynamically segment your network based on workload needs using a distributed firewall and network security groups to apply rich policies within and across segments. Layer enforcement by routing traffic to virtualized firewall appliances for even greater levels of security.
  • Take control of your hybrid workloads, including running them in containers, and move them across servers, racks, and clouds using standards-based VXLAN and NVGRE overlay networks and multi-tenanted hybrid gateways.
  • Optimize your cost/performance ratio when you converge RDMA and tenant traffic on the same teamed NICs, driving down cost while providing performance at 40G and beyond.

Innovative Application Platform

Windows Server 2016 delivers new ways to deploy and run your applications – whether on-premises or in Microsoft Azure – using capabilities such as Windows containers and the lightweight Nano Server deployment option.
  • Windows Server Containers bring the agility and density of containers to the Windows ecosystem, enabling agile application development and management.
  • Use Hyper-V Containers for a unique additional level of isolation for containerized applications without any changes to the container image.
  • Use the lightweight Nano Server deployment option for the agility and flexibility today’s application developers need. It’s the perfect option for running applications from containers or micro services.
  • Run traditional first-party applications such as SQL Server 2016 with best-in-class performance, security and availability.

Windows Server 2016 Editions

  • Windows Server 2016 Datacenter: for highly virtualized datacenter and cloud environments. Includes new datacenter functionality including shielded virtual machines, software-defined networking, storage spaces direct and storage replica.
  • Windows Server 2016 Standard: for physical or minimally virtualized environments.
  • Windows Server 2016 Essentials: for small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices.

Azure Hybrid Use Benefit

When you are ready to transition workloads to the public cloud, you can leverage your existing investment in Windows Server. The Azure Hybrid Use Benefit lets you bring your on-premises Windows Server license with Software Assurance to Azure. Rather than paying the full price for a new Windows Server virtual machine, you will only pay the base compute rate.

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Identity

Identity is the new control plane to secure access to on-premises and cloud resources. It centralizes your ability to control user and administrative privileges, both of which are very important when it comes to protecting your data and applications from malicious attack. At the same time, our users are more mobile than ever, and need access to computing resources from anywhere.

Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS)

Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) stores directory data and manages communication between users and domains, including user logon processes, authentication, and directory searches. An Active Directory domain controller is a server that is running AD DS.

New Domain Services Capabilities

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
New in Windows Server 2016:
  • Privileged Access Management. This capability, which allows organizations to provide time-limited access to administrator accounts, is described in the Security section of this document.
  • Azure Active Directory Join. There are enhanced identity experiences when devices are joined to Azure Active Directory. These include applying Modern settings to corporate-owned workstations, such as access to the Windows Store with corporate credentials, live tile and notification settings roaming, and backup/restore.
  • Microsoft Passport. Active Directory Domain Services now supports desktop login from Windows 10 domain joined devices with Microsoft Passport. Microsoft Passport offers stronger authentication than password authentication with device specific and TPM protected credentials.
In addition, capabilities of Windows Server 2012 R2 AD DS are maintained, including:
  • Virtualized domain controller support. Virtual domain controllers hosted on hypervisor platforms that expose an identifier called VM-Generation ID (hypervisor-agnostic mechanism). The identifier can detect and employ necessary safety measures to protect the sanctity of the AD DS environment if a virtual machine is rolled back in time by an unsupported mechanism (such as the application of a virtual machine snapshot).
  • Domain Controller Replicas. The ability to create replicas of virtualized domain controllers through cloning of existing ones. This allows for virtualization-safe and rapid deployment of virtual domain controllers through cloning.
  • Off-premises domain join. Windows computers can be joined to an Active Directory domain while disconnected using a pre-generated domain-joining blob.
  • Fine-grained password policy. Simplified management of password-setting objects (PSOs) that are needed for fine-grained password policies within a domain, using the Active Directory Administrative Center.
  • Offline mounting of the Active Directory database.Improved recovery processes with the ability to compare data as it exists in the snapshots or backups that are taken at different times, enabling better decision- making about what data to restore after data loss.
  • Windows Activation. Simplified configuration of the distribution and management of volume software licenses, with the Volume Activation Services server role, Key Management Service (KMS), and activation based in Active Directory.
  • The Windows PowerShell history viewer. Ability to view Windows PowerShell cmdlets as they run. Ability to display the equivalent Windows PowerShell cmdlets in the History Viewer of Windows PowerShell with Active Directory Administrative Center.
  • Active Directory recycle bin. Recovery of accidentally deleted objects from backups of AD DS taken by Windows Server Backup with Active Directory domains. Active Directory object not physically removed from the database immediately.
  • LDAP query optimizer improvements. The LDAP query optimizer algorithm was reevaluated and further optimized. The result is the performance improvement in LDAP search efficiency and LDAP search time of complex queries.
  • Replication throughput improvement. For Active Directory replication, the remote procedure calls (RPC) transmit buffer has been increased to a maximum throughput of around 600 Mbps by changing the RPC send buffer size from 8 KB to 256 KB. This change allows the TCP window size to grow beyond 8 KB, reducing the number of network round trips.

Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS)

AD FS is a standards-based service that allows the secure sharing of identity information between trusted business partners (known as a federation) across an extranet. Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) builds on the extensive AD FS capabilities available in the Windows Server 2012 R2 timeframe. Key enhancements to AD FS in Windows Server 2016, including better sign-on experiences, smoother upgrade and management processes, conditional access, and a wider array of strong authentication options, are described in the topics that follow.

Better Sign-On to Azure AD and Office 365

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
One of the most common usage scenarios for AD FS continues to be providing sign-on to Office 365 and other Azure AD based applications using your on-premises Active Directory credentials.

AD FS extends hybrid identity by providing support for authentication based on any LDAP v3 compliant directory, not just Active Directory. This allows you to enable sign in to AD FS resources from:
  • Any LDAP v3 compliant directory including AD LDS and third party directories.
  • Un-trusted or partially trusted Active Directory domains and forests.
Support for LDAP v3 directories is done by modeling each LDAP directory as a 'local' claims provider trust. This enables the following admin capabilities:
  • Restrict the scope of the directory based on OU.
  • Map individual attributes to AD FS claims, including login ID.
  • Map login suffixes to individual LDAP directories.
  • Augment claims for users after authentication by modifying claim rules.

Improved Sign-On Experience

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
AD FS now allows for customization of the sign-on experience. This is especially applicable to organizations that host applications for a number of different customers or brands. With Windows Server 2016, you can customize not only the messages, but images, logo and web theme per application. Additionally, you can create new, custom web themes and apply these per relying party.

Users on Windows 10 devices and computers will be able to access applications without having to provide additional credentials, just based on their desktop login, even over the extranet.

Strong Authentication Options

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
AD FS in Windows Server 2016 provides more ways to authenticate different types of identities and devices. In addition to the traditional Active Directory based logon options (and new LDAP directory support), you can now configure device authentication or Azure MFA as either primary or secondary authentication methods.

Using either the device or Azure Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) methods, you can create a way for managed, compliant, or domain joined devices to authenticate without the need to supply a password, even from the extranet.In addition to seamless single sign-on based on desktop login, Windows 10 users can sign-on to AD FS applications based on Microsoft Passport credentials, for a more secure and seamless way of authenticating both users and devices.

Simpler Upgrade, Deployment, and Management

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Previously, migrating to a new version of AD FS required exporting configuration from the old farm and importing to a brand new, parallel farm. Now, moving from AD FS on Windows Server 2012 R2 to AD FS on Windows Server 2016 has gotten much easier. The migration can occur like this:
  • Add a new Windows Server 2016 server to a Windows Server 2012 R2 farm, and the farm will act at the Windows Server 2012 R2 farm behavior level, so it looks and behaves just like a Windows Server 2012 R2 farm.
  • Add new Windows Server 2016 servers to the farm, verify the functionality and remove the older servers from the load balancer.
  • Once all farm nodes are running Windows Server 2016, you are ready to upgrade the farm behavior level to 2016 and begin using the new features.
Previously custom AD FS policies have been configured in claim rules language, making it difficult to implement and maintain more complex policies. Now, AD FS in Windows Server 2016, policies are easier to configure with wizard-based management that allows you to avoid writing claim rules even for conditional access policies. The new access control policy templates enable the following new scenarios and benefits:
  • Templates to simplify applying similar policies across multiple applications.
  • Add new Windows Server 2016 servers to the farm, verify the functionality and remove the older servers from the load balancer.
  • Parameterized policies to support assigning different values for access control (e.g. Security Group).
  • Simpler UI with additional support for many new conditions.
  • Conditional Predicates (Security groups, networks, device trust level, require MFA).
AD FS for Windows Server 2016 introduces the ability to have separation between server administrators and AD FS service administrators. This means that there is no longer a requirement for the AD FS administrator to be a local server administrator.

In AD FS for Windows Server 2016, it is much easier to consume and manage audit data. The number of audits has been reduced from an average of 80 per logon to 3, and the new audits have been schematized. In AD FS on Windows Server 2012 R2, certificate authentication could not be done over port 443. This is because you could not have different bindings for device authentication and user certificate authentication on the same host. In Windows Server 2016 this has changed. You can now configure user certificate authentication on standard port 443.

Conditional Access

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
AD FS in Windows Server 2016 builds on our previous device registration capabilities by enabling new scenarios, working with Azure AD, to require compliant devices and either restrict or require multiple factors of authentication, based on management or compliance status.

Azure AD and Intune based conditional access policies enable scenarios and benefits such as:
  • Enable Access only from devices that are managed and/or compliant.
  • Restrict access to corporate ‘joined’ PC’s (including managed devices and domain joined PC’s).
  • Require multi factor authentication for computers that are not domain joined and devices that are not compliant.
AD FS in Windows Server 2016 can consume the computer or device compliance status, so that you can apply the same policies to your on-premises resources as you do for the cloud.

Compliance is re-evaluated when device attributes change, so that you can always ensure policies are being enforced.

Seamless Sign-On from Windows 10 and Microsoft Passport

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Domain Join in Windows 10 has been enhanced to provide integration with Azure AD, as well as stronger and more seamless Microsoft Passport based authentication. This provides the following benefits after being connected to Azure AD:
  • SSO (single-sign-on) to Azure AD resources from anywhere.
  • Strong authentication and convenient sign-in with Microsoft Passport and Windows Hello.
AD FS in Windows Server 2016 provides the ability to extend the above benefits and device policies to on-premises resources protected by AD FS.

Developer Focus

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
AD FS for Windows Server 2016 builds upon the Oauth protocol support that was introduced in Windows Server 2012 R2, to enable the most current and industry standard-based authentication flows among web apps, web APIs, browser and native client-based apps.

Windows Server 2012 R2 offered support for the Oauth authorization grant flow and authorization code grant type, for public clients only.

In Windows Server 2016, the following additional protocols and features are supported:
  • OpenId Connect support.
  • Additional Oauth authorization code grant types.
    • Implicit flow (for single page applications).
    • Resource Owner password (for scripting apps).
  • Oauth confidential clients (clients capable of maintaining their own secret, such as app or service running on web server)
  • Oauth confidential client authentication methods:
    • Symmetric (shared secret / password).
    • Asymmetric keys.
    • Windows Integrated Authentication (WIA).
  • Support for “on behalf of” flows as an extension to basic Oauth support.
AD FS in Windows Server 2016 provides the ability to extend the above benefits and device policies to on-premises resources protected by AD FS.

Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS)

AD LDS is a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directory service that provides flexible support for directory-enabled applications, without the dependencies that are required for Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). AD LDS provides much of the same functionality as AD DS, but it does not require the deployment of domains or domain controllers.

Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services

Windows Server
2008 R2
Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
There are no significant enhancements to AD LDS in Windows Server 2016.

Windows Server 2012 R2 offered support for the Oauth authorization grant flow and authorization code grant type, for public clients only.

Existing capabilities that continue to be offered in AD LDS include:
  • Role support for Server Core installations.
  • Ability to back up and restore databases to an existing AD LDS instance.
  • Ability to concurrently run multiple instances of AD LDS on a single computer with an independently managed schema for each AD LDS instance.

Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS)

AD CS gives organizations a cost-effective, efficient, and secure way to manage the distribution and use of certificates. AD CS provides customizable services for issuing and managing public key infrastructure certificate used in software security systems that employ public key technologies.

Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services

Windows Server
2008 R2
Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
There are no new significant enhancements to the Active Directory Certificate Services functionality in Windows Server 2016. Existing Server 2012 R2 capabilities are still available, including:
  • PKI Certification Authority services. Certificate revocation and certificate enrollment. Root and subordinate CAs. Active Directory-integrated enterprise CAs, and stand-alone CAs.
  • Web enrollment. Enrollment mechanism for organizations that need to issue and renew certificates for users and computers that are not joined to the domain or not connected directly to the network, and for users of non-Microsoft operating systems.
  • OCSP service. Ability to configure and manage Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP) validation and revocation checking in networks based on Microsoft Windows.
  • OCSP service. Ability to configure and manage Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP) validation and revocation checking in networks based on Microsoft Windows.
  • Network Device Enrollment Service (NDES). This is a Microsoft implementation of the Simple Certificate Enrollment Protocol (SCEP), a communication protocol that makes it possible for the software running on network devices such as routers and switches, which cannot otherwise be authenticated on the network to enroll for X.509 certificates from a certification authority.
  • Certificate Enrollment Policy Web Service. AD CS role service for obtaining certificate enrollment policy information for humans and computers.
  • Certificate Enrollment Web Service. Certificate enrollment with HTTPS protocol for users and computers.
  • Server Core support. Ability to install and run virtually all AD CS role services on Server Core installations of Windows Server 2012 or the Minimal Server Interface installation options.
  • Automatic certificate renewal for non-domain-joined computers. Builds on Certificate Enrollment Web Services by adding the ability to automatically renew certificates for computers that are part of untrusted Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) domains or not joined to a domain.
  • Enforcement of certificate renewal with the same key. Increased security with AD CS that requires certificate renewal with the same key, enabling the same assurance level of the original key to be maintained throughout its life cycle.
  • Support for internationalized domain names. Support for IDNs that contain characters that cannot be represented in ASCII.
  • Enhanced security for CA certificate requests. Enforcement of enhanced security by CA role service in the requests sent to it. Encryption required for packets requesting a certificate.
  • TPM-based key attestation. Allows the CA to verify that the private key is protected by a hardware-based TPM.

Web Application Proxy

The Web Application Proxy is a Windows Server service that allows for secure publishing of internal resources to users on the Internet.

Web Application Proxy

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Web Application Proxy supports new features including pre-authentication support with AD FS for HTTP Basic applications such as Exchange Active Sync. Additionally, certificate authentication is now supported. The following new features build on the existing application publishing capabilities found in the Web Application Proxy in Windows Server 2012 R2:
  • Pre-authentication for HTTP basic application publishing: HTTP Basic is the authorization protocol used by many protocols, including ActiveSync, to connect rich clients, including smartphones, with your Exchange mailbox. Web Application Proxy traditionally interacts with AD FS using redirections which is not supported on ActiveSync clients. This new version of Web Application Proxy provides support to publish an app using HTTP basic by enabling the HTTP app to receive a non-claims relying party trust for the application to the Federation Service. For more information on HTTP basic publishing, see Publishing Applications using AD FS Pre-authentication.
  • Wildcard Domain publishing of applications: To support scenarios such as SharePoint 2013, the external URL for the application can now include a wildcard to enable you to publish multiple applications from within a specific domain, for example, https://*.sp-apps.contoso.com. This will simplify publishing of SharePoint apps.
  • HTTP to HTTPS redirection: In order to make sure your users can access your app, even if they neglect to type HTTPS in the URL, Web Application Proxy now supports HTTP to HTTPS redirection.
  • Publishing of Remote Desktop Gateway Apps: For more information on RDG in Web Application Proxy, see Publishing Applications with SharePoint, Exchange and RDG
  • New debug log: for better troubleshooting and improved service log for complete audit trail and improved error handling. For more information on troubleshooting, see Troubleshooting Web Application Proxy.
  • Administration Console UI improvements
  • Propagation of client IP address to backend applications

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Security

Windows Server 2016 delivers layers of protection that help address emerging threats and make Windows Server 2016 an active participant in your security defenses. These include the new Shielded VM solution that protects VMs from attacks and compromised administrators in the underlying fabric, extensive threat resistance components built into the Windows Server 2016 operating system and enhanced auditing events that will help security systems detect malicious activity.

Shielded Virtual Machines

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Shielded VMs and Guarded Fabric help provide hosting service providers and private cloud operators the ability to offer their tenants a hosted environment where protection of tenant virtual machine data is strengthened against threats from compromised storage, network and host administrators, and malware.

A Shielded VM is a generation 2 VM (supports Windows Server 2012 and later) that has a virtual TPM, is encrypted using BitLocker and can only run on healthy and approved hosts in the fabric. You can configure to run a Shielded VM on any Hyper-V host. For the highest levels of assurance, the host hardware requires TPM 2.0 (or later) and UEFI 2.3.1 (or later).

Credential Guard

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Credential Guard uses virtualization-based security to isolate secrets so that only privileged system software can access them. Credential Guard offers better protection against advanced persistent threats by protecting credentials on the system from being stolen by a compromised administrator or malware.

Code Integrity (Device Guard)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Code Integrity uses Virtualization Based Security to ensure that only allowed binaries can be run on the system. If the app or driver isn’t trusted, it can’t run. It also means that even if an attacker manages to get control of the Windows kernel, they will be much less likely to be able to run malicious executable code.

App Locker

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
AppLocker can help you protect the digital assets within your organization, reduce the threat of malicious software being introduced into your environment, and improve the management of application control and the maintenance of application control policies. AppLocker and Code Integrity can be used in tandem to provide a wide set of software restriction policies that meets your operational needs.

App Locker

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Control Flow Guard (CFG) is a highly-optimized platform security feature that was created to combat memory corruption vulnerabilities. By placing tight restrictions on where an application can execute code from, it makes it much harder for exploits to execute arbitrary code through vulnerabilities such as buffer overflows. Windows user mode components are created with Control Flow Guard built-in and vendors can also include Control Flow Guard in their binaries using Visual Studio 2015.

In-Box Windows Defender: Antimalware

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Defender is malware protection that actively protects Windows Server 2016 against known malware and can regularly update antimalware definitions through Windows Update. Windows Defender is optimized to run on Windows Server supporting the various server roles and is integrated with PowerShell for malware scanning.

Distributed Firewall

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
The distributed firewall is a network layer, 5-tuple (protocol, source and destination port numbers, source and destination IP addresses), stateful, multitenant firewall. When deployed and offered as a service by the service provider, tenant administrators can install and configure firewall policies to help protect their virtual networks from unwanted traffic originating from Internet and intranet networks.

Host Guardian Service

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Host Guardian Service is a new role in Windows Server 2016 that enables Shielded Virtual Machines and Guarded Fabric.

Guarded Fabric: Shielded VMs can only run on Guarded hosts. These hosts need to pass an attestation check to make sure they are locked down and comply with the policy that enables Shielded VMs to run on them. This functionality is implemented through a Host Guardian Service deployed in the environment which will store the keys required for approved Hyper-V hosts that can prove their health to run Shielded VMs.

Device Health Attestation Service

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
For Windows 10-based devices, Microsoft introduces a new public API that will allow Mobile Device Management (MDM) software to access a remote attestation service called Windows Health Attestation Service. A health attestation result, in addition to other elements, can be used to allow or deny access to networks, apps, or services, based on whether devices prove to be healthy.

Privileged Access: Just Enough Administration (JEA)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Administrators should only be able to perform their role and nothing more. For example: A File Server administrator can restart services, but should not be able to browse the data on the server.

Just Enough Administration provides a role based access platform through Windows PowerShell. It allows specific users to perform specific adminstrative tasks on servers without giving them administrator rights.

JEA is built into Windows Server 2016 and you can also use WMF 5.0 to take advantage of JEA on Windows Server 2008 R2 and higher.

Privileged Access: Just in Time Administration

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Administrators should only be able to perform their role and nothing more. For example: A File Server administrator can restart services, but should not be able to browse the data on the server.

Just Enough Administration provides a role based access platform through Windows PowerShell. It allows specific users to perform specific adminstrative tasks on servers without giving them administrator rights.

JEA is built into Windows Server 2016 and you can also use WMF 5.0 to take advantage of JEA on Windows Server 2008 R2 and higher.

Virtual Secure Mode (VSM)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Virtual Secure Mode (VSM) is a new protected environment that provides isolation from the running operating system so that secrets and control can be protected from compromised administrators or malware. VSM is used by Code Integrity to protect kernel code, Credential Guard for credential isolation and Shielded VMs for the virtual TPM implementation.

Virtual TPM: Trusted Platform Module

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Implemented in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V, a Generation 2 virtual machine (Windows Server 2012 and later) can now have its own Virtual TPM so that it can use it as a secure crypto-processor chip. The virtual TPM is a new synthetic device that emulates TPM 2.0 functionality.

Virtual TPM does not require a physical TPM to be available on the Hyper-V host, and its state is tied to the VM itself rather than the physical host it was first created on so that it can move with the VM.

The Shielded VM functionality uses the Virtual TPM for BitLocker encryption.BitLocker Encryption Windows Server

BitLocker Encryption

Windows Server
2008 R2
Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption provides better data protection for your computer, by encrypting all data stored on the Windows operating system volume and/or data drives.

SMB 3.1.1 Security Improvements

Windows Server
2008 R2
Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption provides better data protection for your computer, by encrypting all data stored on the Windows operating system volume and/or data drives.

Dynamic Access Control

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
In Windows Server 2012, you can apply data governance across your file servers to control who can access information and to audit who has accessed information. Dynamic Access Control lets you:
  • Identify data by using automatic and manual classification of files. For example, you could tag data in file servers across the organization.
  • Control access to files by applying safety net policies that use central access policies. For example, you could define who can access health information within the organization.
  • Audit access to files by using central audit policies for compliance reporting and forensic analysis. For example, you could identify who accessed highly sensitive information.
  • Apply Rights Management Services (RMS) protection by using automatic RMS encryption for sensitive Microsoft Office documents. For example, you could configure RMS to encrypt all documents that contain Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) information.

AD Rights Management Services

Windows Server
2008 R2
Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
AD Rights Management provides information protection for your sensitive information. By using Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS) and the AD RMS client, you can augment an organization's security strategy by protecting information through persistent usage policies, which remain with the information, no matter where it is moved. You can use AD RMS to help prevent sensitive information—such as financial reports, product specifications, customer data, and confidential e-mail messages—from intentionally or accidentally getting into the wrong hands.

Azure Rights Management Connector

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Azure Rights Management (RMS) connector lets you quickly enable existing on-premises servers to use their Information Rights Management (IRM) functionality with the cloud-based Microsoft Rights Management service (Azure RMS).

Enhanced auditing for threat detection

Windows Server
2008 R2
Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Based on the Microsoft internal security operation center, Windows Server 2016 includes targeted auditing to better detect malicious behavior. These include auditing access to kernel and sensitive processes as well as new data in the logon events. These events can then be streamed to threat detection systems such as the Microsoft Operations Management Suite to alert on malicious behavior.

PowerShell 5.0 Security Features

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
There are several new security features included in PowerShell 5.0. These include: Script block logging, Antimalware Integration, Constrained PowerShell and transcript logging. PowerShell 5.0 is also available for install on previous operating systems starting from Windows Server 2008 R2 and on.

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Compute

In this section, the various aspects of server computing are discussed, such as Nano Server and Linux capabilities.

Nano Server

Nano Server is a new headless, 64-bit only installation option that installs “just enough OS,” resulting in a dramatically smaller footprint that results in more uptime and a smaller attack surface. Users can choose to add server roles as needed, including Hyper-V, Scale out File Server, DNS Server and IIS server roles. User can also choose to install features, including Container support, Defender, Clustering, Desired State Configuration (DSC), and Shielded VM support. Nano Server can be remotely managed via PowerShell, Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-ins, or the new Server management tools cloud service. Nano Server in Windows Server 2016 is for two key scenarios:
  • 1. Cloud OS Infrastructure
  • 2. Application platform for born-in-the-cloud applications running in a Guest VM or container

Nano Server Overview

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
As customers have adopted modern applications and next-generation cloud technologies, they’ve experienced an increasing need for an OS that delivers speed, agility, and lower resource consumption. Nano Server inherently provides these benefits with its smaller footprint. Nano Server is a deep rethink of server architecture. The result is a new lean cloud host and application development platform that’s a fraction of the size of Server Core. Its small size helps to reduce security attack risks, achieves quicker and fewer reboots, and significantly reduces deployment time and resource consumption. Nano Server is Informed directly by our learnings from building and managing some of the world’s largest hyperscale cloud environments. Nano Server is focused on two scenarios that demand a smaller footprint OS:
  • Born-in-the-cloud applications: support for multiple programming languages and runtimes (e.g. C#, Java, .NET Core, Node.js, Python, etc.) running in containers, virtual machines, or on physical servers. For more information on Nano Server as an application platform, see the Application Development section below.
  • Microsoft Cloud Platform infrastructure: support for compute clusters running Hyper-V and storage clusters running Scale-out File Server.
Nano Server is ideal for scenarios such as:
  • A “compute” host for Hyper-V virtual machines, Windows Server containers, and Hyper-V containers either in clusters or as standalone servers.
  • A storage host for Scale-Out File Server.
  • A DNS server
  • A web server running Internet Information Services (IIS)
  • A host for applications that are developed using cloud application patterns and run in a container or virtual machine guest operating system
Nano Server must be managed remotely – there is no local shell, nor is there any ability to connect with remote desktop services. Remote management consoles, PowerShell remoting, and management tools like System Center Virtual Machine Manager as well as the new web-based Server management tools can all be used to manage a Nano Server environment.

Nano Server OS Capabilities

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
included
Nano Server is available in Windows Server 2016 for:
  • Physical Machines
  • Virtual machines
  • Hyper-V Containers
  • Windows Server Containers
And supports the following inbox optional roles and features:
  • Hyper-V, including container and shielded VM support
  • Datacenter Bridging
  • Defender
  • DNS Server
  • Desired State Configuration
  • Clustering
  • IIS
  • Network Performance Diagnostics Service (NPDS)
  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager
  • Secure Startup
  • Scale out File Server, including Storage Replica, MPIO, iSCSI initiator, Data Deduplication
All supported optional roles and features can be installed either offline, by injecting it into a Nano Server image, or online, when Nano Server is running. To enable the fastest possible time from instantiating a new Nano Server instance to the point where a role or feature is up and running, the recommended approach is to inject the role or feature into the offline Nano Server image. The Nano Server roles and features are not included in the image, instead they are separate packages in order to minimize the footprint when Nano Server is deployed – any roles and feature not used are not in the image or consuming disk space. Nano Server is not listed in Setup. Instead, there is a Nano Server folder on the media with a Nano Server WIM file and a packages folder. Included with Nano Server is a PowerShell module that can be used to create and configure a Nano Server image, including adding drivers, roles, and features to a Nano Server image. Nano Server can join an Active Directory domain, but does not support Group Policy. To apply policy at scale, Nano Server supports DSC. Nano Server does not have a local user interface, all management of Nano Server must be done remotely using PowerShell, MMC snap-ins, the new web-based Server management tools, or other remote management tools. Nano Server include PowerShell Core and set of cmdlets as well as WMIv1 and WMIv2 providers for remote management and automation. The exception to local user interface is the Nano Server Recovery Console. If keyboard and video access (locally, vmconnect, or BMC) is available there is a text mode logon that provides a simple menu to repair the network configuration. This is provided in case the network is misconfigured remotely and the remote management tools can no longer connect, the network can be repaired instead of redeploying.

Nano Server Hyper-V

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
The Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V role can be installed on a Nano Server; this is a key Nano Server role, shrinking the OS footprint and minimizing reboots required when Hyper-V is used to run virtualization hosts. Nano server can be clustered, including Hyper-V failover clusters. Hyper-V works the same on Nano Server as it does in Windows Server 2016, aside from a few caveats:
  • All management must be performed remotely, using another Windows Server 2016 computer. The Hyper-V Manager or PowerShell can be used from the remote server.
  • RemoteFX is not available.
  • Hyper-V Replica is not supported in the current preview releases.

Nano Server Storage Server

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Nano Server can run the Windows file server role, which works the same as it does on a full deployment of Windows Server 2016. The same management restrictions apply – all management must be performed remotely through PowerShell or management consoles. Nano Server can also use Multi-Path IO for disk throughput and redundancy, and the file server role can also be joined to a failover cluster in Nano Server. In addition, there is full iSCSI support and Windows Server 2016 data deduplication can be used to conserve disk space. The combination of these features make Nano Server an excellent candidate for use as a Scale-Out File Server cluster, which can back a Hyper-V private cloud using a low-footprint, lower-maintenance OS. Nano Server also supports the new Storage Server capabilities introduced in Windows Server 2016, such as Storage Replica. For more details on these, see the Storage Server section below.

IIS on Nano Server

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
IIS 10.0 is supported on Nano Server in Windows Server 2016 with support for ASP.NET Core.
  • Individual IIS features can be added to a Nano Server installation of IIS 10 using the PowerShell IISAdministration module commands (remotely), the AppCmd.exe utility (remotely) or editing the IIS configuration store directly.
  • Web sites and related configuration tasks like binding HTTPS certificates can be performed using PowerShell or remote command-line tools.

Nano Server DNS Server

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
You can deploy the DNS server role in Windows Server 2016 on a Nano Server image. Because the Domain Controller role is not supported on Nano Server, the DNS server cannot host AD-integrated DNS zones; the DNS server will therefore use file-based DNS zones only. Administration of DNS, like all Nano features, must be performed remotely through management consoles, PowerShell scripting, or utilities.

Linux

With Hyper-V as your hypervisor, you can run a variety of guest operating systems – Windows, Linux FreeBSD – in a single virtualization infrastructure. This capability works for Hyper-V and Azure Stack in your datacenter, and also underlies the Linux and FreeBSD capabilities in the Microsoft Azure public cloud. Microsoft works with the Linux and FreeBSD vendors and communities to ensure that these guests achieve production level performance and can take advantage of Hyper-V’s sophisticated features such as online backup, dynamic memory, and generation 2 VMs.

Linux and FreeBSD virtual machines for Hyper-V

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Hyper-V supports a wide variety of Linux distributions and FreeBSD running in guest virtual machines. While these operating systems can run in emulated mode, the best results are achieved when using the drivers that take advantage of Hyper-V's virtual devices. These drivers are known as the Linux Integration Services (LIS) or FreeBSD Integration Services (BIS). With these integration services, Linux and FreeBSD guests achieve production level performance, integrated management, and use the sophisticated features provided by Hyper-V. For more information, visit Linux and FreeBSD virtual machines for Hyper-V
  • Microsoft works with Red Hat to ensure that the LIS drivers are built-in to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) releases, and that RHEL is certified by Red Hat for running on Hyper-V. For more information, visit Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtual machines on Hyper-V.
  • Microsoft works with the CentOS community to ensure that the LIS drivers are built into CentOS releases. For more information, visit CentOS virtual machines on Hyper-V. .
  • Microsoft works with the Debian community to ensure that the LIS drivers are built into Debian GNU/Linux releases. For more information, visit Debian virtual machines on Hyper-V.
  • Microsoft works with Oracle to ensure that the LIS drivers are built into Oracle Linux releases with both the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel and the Red Hat Compatible Kernel. For more information, visit Oracle Linux virtual machines on Hyper-V.
  • Microsoft works with SUSE to ensure that the LIS drivers are built into SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) releases, and that SLES is certified by SUSE for running on Hyper-V. For more information, visit SUSE virtual machines on Hyper-V.
  • Microsoft works with Canonical to ensure that the LIS drivers are built into Ubuntu releases. For more information, visit Ubuntu virtual machines on Hyper-V.
  • Microsoft works with the FreeBSD community to ensure that the BIS drivers are built into FreeBSD releases. For more information, visit FreeBSD virtual machines on Hyper-V.

Linux Secure Boot

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Linux operating systems running on generation 2 virtual machines can now boot with the Secure Boot option enabled. Ubuntu 14.04 and later, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 and later, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.0 and later, and CentOS 7.0 and later are enabled for Secure Boot on hosts that run Windows Server 2016. Before you boot the virtual machine for the first time, you must configure the virtual machine to use the Microsoft UEFI Certificate Authority. You can do this from Hyper-V Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, or an elevated Windows PowerShell session.

PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) for Linux

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) enables you to declaratively specify the configuration of your server, and PowerShell DSC will “make it so.” Originally released for Windows, PowerShell DSC is now available for your Linux servers, using the same declarative syntax.

Hot add and remove for network adapters

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
You can now add or remove a network adapter while the virtual machine is running, without incurring downtime. This works for generation 2 virtual machines that run either Windows or Linux operating systems.

Hyper-V Socket support for Linux

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Hyper-V Sockets provides a secure, general purpose communication channel between Hyper-V host and guest operating systems. Hyper-V Sockets communicates over the VMBus and therefore doesn’t require network connectivity and uses Linux sockets to communicate. Within Linux operating systems this appears as a new socket type in Linux (identified as new socket address family). More information on Hyper-V Sockets can be found within the Make your own integration services documentation.

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Storage

Microsoft offers an industry leading portfolio for building on-premises clouds. We embrace your choice of storage for your cloud – be it traditional SAN/NAS or the more cost-effective software-defined storage solutions using Storage Spaces Direct and Storage Spaces with shared JBODs. In Windows Server 2016, we support hyper-converged infrastructure with Storage Spaces Direct. The Microsoft hyper-converged solution offers the following advantages:
  • Cloud design points and management with standard servers and local storage. It introduces new device types such as SATA and NVMe SSD. Once deployed management tools are available through System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) and PowerShell.
  • Reliability, scalability and flexibility: This solution is fault tolerant to disk, enclosure and node failures. It scales pools to a large number of drives with simple and fine grained expansion available. VM creation performance and snapshotting has been optimized.
  • Simplifies the datacenter by collapsing storage and compute. The storage area network is no longer necessary with a software service acting as a storage controller.

Storage Spaces Direct

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) enables service providers and enterprises to use industry standard servers with local storage to build highly available and scalable software defined storage. Using servers with local storage decreases complexity, increases scalability, and enables use of storage devices that were not previously possible, such as SATA solid state disks for lower cost flash storage, or NVMe solid state disks for better performance. Storage Spaces Direct removes the need for a shared SAS fabric, simplifying deployment and configuration. Instead it uses the network as a storage fabric, leveraging our investments in SMB3 and SMB Direct (RDMA) for high speed and low latency storage. To scale out, simply add more servers to increase storage capacity and IO performance. Storage Spaces Direct supports both converged and hyper-converged deployment modes enabling customer choice.
  • Converged, with storage and compute in separate tiers, for independent scaling and management.
  • Hyper-converged, with compute and storage collocated on the same servers, for simple deployment.

Health Service

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
The Health Service is a new feature in Windows Server 2016 which significantly improves the day-to-day monitoring, operations, and maintenance experience of Storage Spaces Direct. The Health Service is enabled by default. New cmdlets make collecting aggregated performance and capacity metrics simple and fast. Faults and health information bubble up to a single monitoring point per cluster. New in-box intelligence determines the root cause of faults to reduce chattiness, understand severity, and recommend next steps, including providing helpful physical location and part information for disk replacement. New automation retires failed physical disks, removes them from their pool, and adds their replacements to the same pool, all while kicking off the requisite repair and rebuild jobs.

Resilient File System (ReFS)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Resilient File System is now the preferred data volume for Windows Server 2016. This updated version provides many new capabilities for private cloud workloads. Improvements to ReFS in Windows Server 2016 include:
  • Data Integrity. Checksums protect all filesystem metadata, while optional checksums protect file data. Checksum verification occurs on every read of checksum-protected data during periodic background scrubbing. Healing occurs as soon as corruption is detected. ReFS uses alternate healthy versions to automatically repair corruption.
  • Resiliency and Availability. We designed ReFS to stay online and keep your data accessible. It performs repairs without taking volumes offline. Backups of critical metadata are automatically maintained on the volume. The online repair process consults backups if checksum-based repair fails.
  • Speed and Efficiency. Efficient VM checkpoints and backup are now possible since operations between parent and child VHDX is a ReFS metadata operation. This means reduced IO, increased speed, and lowered time taken. It greatly accelerates fixed and dynamic VHDX creation, lowering VM deployment times. ReFS provides near-instantaneous VM Storage provisioning.

Storage Replica

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Storage Replica (SR) is a new feature that protects your data in stretch clusters, server-to-server, and cluster-to-cluster scenarios. Capabilities include:
  • Zero data loss, block-level replication. With synchronous replication, there is no possibility of data loss. With block-level replication, there is no possibility of file locking. Also supports asynchronous replication.
  • Guest and host. All capabilities of Storage Replica are exposed in both virtualized guest and host-based deployments. This means guests can replicate their data volumes even if running on non-Windows virtualization platforms or in public clouds, as long as they are using Windows Server 2016 in the guest.
  • SMB3-based. Storage Replica uses the proven and mature technology of SMB 3, first released in Windows Server 2012. This means all of SMB’s advanced characteristics - such as multichannel and SMB direct support on RoCE, iWARP, and InfiniBand RDMA network cards – are available to Storage Replica.
  • Simple deployment and management. Storage Replica has a design mandate for ease of use. Creation of a replication partnership between two servers can be done with only a single PowerShell command. Deployment of stretch clusters is an intuitive wizard in the familiar Failover Cluster Manager tool.

Storage Resiliency

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Protects VMs from underlying transient storage failures. Monitors the state of storage, gracefully pauses VMs, and then resumes them when storage is available again. Reduces impact and increases availability of workloads running in virtual machines in the event of storage disruption.

Data Deduplication

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Deduplication can provide volume space savings of up to 90% to reduce capacity needs and reduce costs. New features and improvements in the Data Deduplication feature in Windows Server 2016 include integrated support for virtualized backup workloads and major performance improvements to scalability of volume (up to 64TB) and file sizes (up to 1TB with no restrictions). Deduplication is also fully supported in Nano Server.

Cluster Rolling Upgrade

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade is a new feature in Windows Server 2016 that enables an administrator to seamlessly upgrade the operating system of nodes in a Failover Cluster from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016. When a rolling upgrade of a cluster takes place, there will be a temporary mixture of Windows Server 2012 R2 hosts and Windows Server 2016 hosts. Using this feature, the downtime penalties against Service Level Agreements (SLA) can be avoided for Hyper-V or the Scale-Out File Server workloads. This mechanism can also be used to upgrade your cluster nodes from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016 Nano Server. Rolling upgrades can also be orchestrated through System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM).

SMB 3.1.1

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Server 2016 includes updates to our main remote data protocol, known as SMB (Server Message Block).
  • Pre-Authentication Integrity: Provides improved protection from a man-in-the-middle attacker tampering with SMB’s connection establishment and authentication messages. SMB signing protects against an attacker tampering with any packets. SMB encryption protects against an attacker tampering with or eavesdropping on any packets.
  • Encryption Performance Improvements: Default is now AES-128-GCM, which creates a 2X improvement over AES-128-CCM in many scenarios, like copying large files over an encrypted SMB connection. Multiple encryption types now allowed for future-proofing, and full compatibility with Windows Server 2012 R2 SMB encryption.
  • Cluster Dialect Fencing: Provides support for the Cluster Rolling Upgrade feature. If the cluster is in mixed mode, the SMB server will offer up to version 3.0.2. After upgrading the cluster functional level, the SMB server offers all clients the new 3.1.1 dialect.

Work Folders – Overview

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Provides a consistent way for users to access their work files from their PCs and devices. Ability to maintain control over corporate data by storing files on centrally managed file servers, and optionally specifying user device policies such as encryption and lock-screen passwords. Ability to deploy Work Folders with the existing deployments of Folder Redirection, Offline Files, and home folders. Work Folders stores user files in a folder on the server called a sync share.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Features

Chkdsk Performance

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Ability to run in seconds to fix corrupted data. No offline time when used with CSV. Disk scanning process separated from repair process. Online scanning with volumes and offline repairs.

Scale-out File Server

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Scale-out File Server (SoFS) provides remote file server shares to be used as file based storage for workloads such as Hyper-V and SQL Server 2012.
  • Support for SMB instances on a Scale-out File Server. Provides an additional instance on each cluster node in Scale-out File Servers specifically for Clustered Shared Volume (CSV) traffic. A default instance can handle incoming traffic from SMB clients that are accessing regular file shares, while another instance only handles inter-node CSV traffic. This feature improves the scalability and reliability of the traffic between CSV nodes.
  • Automatic Rebalancing of Scale-out Server Clients. Improves scalability and manageability for Scale-Out File Servers. Server message block (SMB) client connections are tracked per file share (instead of per server), and clients are then redirected to the cluster node with the best access to the volume used by the file share. This improves efficiency by reducing redirection traffic between file server nodes. Clients are redirected following an initial connection and when cluster storage is reconfigured.

SMB 3.0

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
  • SMB Direct (SMB over RDMA). Improves performance by having SMB3 take advantage of RDMA-enabled network cards, delivering radically improved network performance with little CPU impact. Supports the use of network adapters that have Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) capability. Network adapters that have RDMA can function at full speed with very low latency, while using very little CPU. For workloads such as Hyper-V or Microsoft SQL Server, this boosts performance enabling a remote file server to resemble local storage.
  • Improved SMB bandwidth management. Ability to configure SMB bandwidth limits to control different SMB traffic types. There are three SMB traffic types: default, live migration, and virtual machine.
  • SMB Multichannel. Enables file servers to use multiple network connections simultaneously. It facilitates aggregation of network bandwidth and network fault tolerance when multiple paths are available between the SMB client and server. This capability allows server applications to take full advantage of all available network bandwidth and makes them resilient to network failures.

iSCSI

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
  • Virtual Disk Enhancements. Includes a redesigned data persistence layer that is based on a new version of the virtual hard disk format called VHDX (VHD 2.0). Provides data corruption protection during power failures and optimizes structural alignments of dynamic and differencing disks to prevent performance degradation on new, large-sector physical disks.
  • Manageability Enhancements. Uses the SMI-S provider with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) to manage iSCSI Target Server in a hosted or private cloud. The new Windows PowerShell cmdlets for iSCSI Target Server enable the exporting and importing of configuration files, and provide the ability to disable remote management when iSCSI Target Server is deployed in a dedicated Windows-based appliance scenario (for example, Windows Storage Server).
  • Improved Optimization to Allow Disk Level Caching. Ability to set the disk cache bypass flag on a hosting disk I/O, through Force Unit Access (FUA), only when the issuing initiator explicitly requests it. This can potentially improve performance.
  • Scalability Limits. Increases the maximum number of sessions per target server to 544, and increases the maximum number of logical units per target server to 256.

Network File System Support (NFS 4.1 Support)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
File sharing solution for enterprises with a mixed Windows and UNIX environment. Ability to reliably store and run VMware ESX virtual infrastructures with file system support on Windows Server 2012, while using the advanced high availability of Windows.

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Networking

Networking is a foundational part of the Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC) platform, and Windows Server 2016 provides new and improved Software Defined Networking (SDN) technologies to help you move to a fully realized SDDC solution for your organization. Software-defined networking capabilities have been significantly enhanced and revolve around the new Network Controller function.

High Performance NIC Offloads: A cost optimized, high performance data plane

Windows Server 2016 brings a number of enhancements in support of the underlying NIC hardware, specifically taking advantage of the increases in the ability of NICs to offload expensive processing tasks from the server CPUs.

Virtual Machine Queue (VMQ)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
VMQ enables a Hyper-V host’s network adapter to distribute traffic for different VMs into different queues, each of which can be serviced on a different CPU, and which can be optimized for delivery to the VM. VMQ performs CPU load spreading for Hyper-V traffic that RSS does for native stack traffic.

Virtual Machine Multi-Queue (VMMQ)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Physical NICs that support VMMQ (Virtual Machine Multi-Queue) can actually offload some of the network traffic processing from virtual RSS into a traffic queue on the physical NIC itself. VMMQ is VMQ integrated with vRSS in the hardware. Ultimately, this means virtual machines can sustain a greater networking traffic load by distributing the processing across multiple cores on the host and multiple cores on the virtual machine. vRSS continues to run on top of VMMQ to do the distribution across the logical processors. The number of queues used in the hardware for VMMQ for traffic for a particular VM has no relationship to the number of RSS queues in that VM.

Virtual Receive-side scaling

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Receive Side Scaling (RSS) is a capability traditionally enabled in physical network interface cards (NICs) and their driver stacks to allow processing of network traffic to not be constrained by being bound to a single CPU core in the computer. This enables higher network throughput by removing the bottleneck of a single CPU core being fully utilized and unable to keep up with processing incoming network traffic. In earlier versions of Windows Server, RSS was limited to the NIC in the physical host. In Windows Server 2012 R2, this capability was extended into the virtual NICs of VMs, enabling network processing load distribution across multiple virtual processors in multicore virtual machines, removing a possible bottleneck for traffic processing inside a VM. vRSS is built on top of VMQ, i.e., the packets arriving in a VMQ for a VM are distributed across the logical processors of that VM using RSS.

Encapsulation Task Offloads (NVGRE, VXLAN)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Either NVGRE or VXLAN can be used to create a tenant overlay virtual network by encapsulating the tenant’s traffic transmitted between Hyper-V VMs. Encapsulation can be an expensive CPU operation for the Hyper-V Host and so the ability to offload these operations to a physical network adapter provides increased throughput performance and decreases CPU host load. The ability to offload these encapsulation operations for NVGRE has been available since Windows Server 2012 R2. Support for VXLAN encapsulation task offloads has been added in Windows Server 2016. This feature is developed in partnership with our NIC vendors who have a supporting driver.

Converged RDMA

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
The network platform scenarios allow you to:
  • Use a converged NIC to combine both RDMA and Ethernet traffic using a single network adapter, while satisfying needed QoS guarantees required for both types of traffic
  • Use Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) to spread SMB Direct and RDMA traffic flows between up to two network adapters.

Datacenter Bridging

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
There is support for hardware compatible with Data Center Bridging (DCB). DCB makes it possible to use a single ultra-high bandwidth NIC while providing QoS and isolation services to support the multitenant workloads expected on private cloud deployments. New in Windows Server 2016 is the ability to use Network QoS (DCB) with a Hyper-V switch.

Network tracing is streamlined and provides more detail

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Network traces contain switch and port configuration information that tracks packets through the Hyper-V Virtual Switch, including any forwarding extensions installed. This simplifies network troubleshooting in a virtualized environment.

Software Defined Networking and Network Function Virtualization Stack: Dynamic Security, Azure-like Agility, Hybrid Flexibility

There is a new Azure Inspired Software Defined Networking stack in Windows Server 2016, which brings in a number of new capabilities – central to which is a scale out network controller. Customers gain the ability to drive up agility in deploying complex new workloads, in dynamically securing and segmenting their network to meet workload needs, and hybrid flexibility in moving workloads back and forth between customer datacenters and Azure or other Microsoft-powered clouds.

Network Controller

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
New in Windows Server 2016, the Network Controller provides a centralized, programmable point of automation to manage, configure, monitor, and troubleshoot network infrastructure associated with your workloads in your datacenter. Using the Network Controller, you can automate the configuration of your workloads’ network infrastructure requirements, instead of performing manual configuration of physical network devices and services. For more information, see Network Controller on TechNet. You can use Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager or PowerShell scripts to easily automate network configuration across your software defined datacenter.

Virtual Networking (with VXLAN and NVGRE)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Both Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016 support tenant overlay virtual networks to isolate tenant’s network traffic and apply fine-grained network policy on a per-IP (CA) basis. In Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V Network Virtualization (HNV) used the NVGRE encapsulation format to isolate traffic. Windows Server 2016 adds support for VXLAN encapsulation. This will help customers focus on the value network virtualization can bring to their environments rather than the underlying encapsulation mechanisms used. These Virtual Networks can be managed through either System Center Virtual Machine Manager or PowerShell scripts to create, read, update, and delete resources through the Network Controller.

Software Load Balancer

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
The Software Load Balancer (SLB) is part of the new Software-Defined Networking stack, and is managed through the Network Controller. It enables access to an arbitrary number of load balanced services’ IP addresses through a single load-balanced IP address. This load balancing is available for use between services on multiple VMs (East West), or to load balance a set of VMs, making them appear as a single IP address to external users (North South). The load balancing is performed at Layer 4, offering TCP and UDP load balancing. The load balancer also supports Direct Server Return, which allows return network traffic from the load balanced VM services to bypass the Load Balancing multiplexer. This can significantly reduce the load through the load balancer, improving performance.

Network Address Translation

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Windows Server
2016
Included
The load balancer includes Network Address Translation capability, offering an ability to present a single IP address to the public while translating and distributing traffic to workload VMs on private IP addresses. Network address translation (NAT) allows you to share a connection to the public Internet through a single interface with a single public IP address. The computers on the private network use private, non-routable addresses. NAT maps the private addresses to the public address. This software load balancer feature allows organization employees with single tenant deployments to access Internet resources from behind the gateway. For CSPs, this feature allows applications that are running on tenant VMs to access the Internet. For example, a tenant VM that is configured as a Web server can contact external financial resources to process credit card transactions. Although the Software Load Balancer function was not present in Windows Server 2012 R2, there was a NAT function available and is why partial support for Windows Server 2012 R2 is shown above.

Distributed Firewall

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
The Distributed Firewall is a new service included with Windows Server 2016. It is a network layer, 5-tuple (protocol, source and destination port numbers, source and destination IP addresses), stateful, multitenant firewall. When deployed and offered as a service by the service provider, tenant administrators can install and configure firewall policies to help protect their virtual networks from unwanted traffic originating from Internet and intranet networks. The Distributed Firewall offers the following advantages for cloud service providers:
  • A highly scalable, manageable, and diagnosable software-based firewall solution that can be offered to tenants
  • Freedom to move tenant virtual machines to different compute hosts without breaking tenant firewall policies
  • Offers protection to tenant virtual machines independent of the tenant guest operating system
The Distributed Firewall offers the following advantages for tenants:
  • Ability to define firewall rules to help protect Internet facing workloads on virtual networks
  • Ability to define firewall rules to help protect traffic between virtual machines on the same L2 virtual subnet as well as between virtual machines on different L2 virtual subnets
  • Ability to define firewall rules to help protect and isolate network traffic between tenant on premise networks and their virtual networks at the service provider

User Defined Routing (Route to Virtual appliances)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
In today’s software defined datacenters, network functions that are being performed by hardware appliances (such as load balancers, firewalls, routers, switches, and so on) are increasingly being virtualized as virtual appliances. This “network function virtualization” is a natural progression of server virtualization and network virtualization. Windows Server 2016 supports virtual appliances; they are deployed as pre-built, customized virtual machines, and could come from any vendor an plug into a Hyper-V environment. With the Software-Defined Networking stack providing the network as a pooled and dynamic resource, facilitating tenant isolation, and providing scale and performance, virtual appliances can naturally plug into this environment. The virtual appliance can be easily moved anywhere in the cloud, and scaled up or down as needed. Typical virtual appliances include firewalls, Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems, Anti-malware services, network optimizers, and edge devices like gateways, routers, and proxy servers. Many of the services described in this section are provided by Microsoft as virtual appliances, such as site-to-site or forwarding gateways, the software load balancer, and the multitenant distributed firewall.

Port Mirroring

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Port mirroring allows all traffic that is sent and received on a virtual port to be copied and sent to another port. In Windows Server 2012 R2, this capability is supported on the Hyper-V Virtual Switch and is able to mirror a single port to another single port on the same Virtual Switch. In Windows Server 2016 this capability is integrated into the SDN infrastructure to allow mirroring of ports on any Hyper-V host controlled by the controller into a single other port on any other host controlled by the controller.

Multi-Tenant Gateway

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
The Windows Server 2016 Multi-Tenant Gateway routes network traffic between the physical network and VM network resources, regardless of where the resources are located. You can use the Gateway to route network traffic between physical and virtual networks at the same physical location or at many different physical locations over the Internet. A single gateway instance is capable of serving multiple tenants with overlapping IP address spaces, maximizing efficiency for the service provider as compared to deploying a separate gateway instance per tenant, while still maintaining isolation between tenants. The following are Gateway features in Windows Server 2016. In Windows Server 2012 R2, high availability for the gateway was achieved using guest VM clustering, but in Windows Server 2016, you can deploy the Multi-Tenant Gateway more simply in high availability pools that use some or all of these features at one time:
  • Site-to-site VPN. This Gateway feature allows you to connect two networks at different physical locations across the Internet by using a site-to-site VPN connection. For Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) that host many tenants in their datacenter, RAS Gateway provides a multitenant gateway solution that allows your tenants to access and manage their resources over site-to-site VPN connections from remote sites, and that allows network traffic flow between virtual resources in your datacenter and their physical network.
  • GRE Tunneling. Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) based tunnels enable connectivity between tenant virtual networks and external networks. Since the GRE protocol is lightweight and support for GRE is available on most of network devices it becomes an ideal choice for tunneling where encryption of data is not required. GRE support in Site to Site (S2S) tunnels solves the problem of forwarding between tenant virtual networks and tenant external networks using a multi-tenant gateway. A key scenario that the GRE tunnel enables is providing connectivity to virtual networks when a tenant comes into the cloud over a high-speed link, such as MPLS.
  • L3 (Forwarding) Gateway. The L3 forwarding functionality provides connectivity between tenant virtual networks and external networks and can be used in all scenarios where GRE tunnels are used. The main difference is that it allows tenant traffic to arrive at the gateway over a VLAN and forwards traffic between VLANs and virtual networks.
  • Dynamic routing with Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). BGP reduces the need for manual route configuration on routers because it is a dynamic routing protocol, and automatically learns routes between sites that are connected by any of the Windows Server 2016 Gateway functions described in this section. If your organization has multiple sites that are connected by using BGP-enabled routers such as RAS Gateway, BGP allows the routers to automatically calculate and use valid routes to each other in the event of network disruption or failure. For more information, see the BGP topic on TechNet .
In Windows Server 2012 R2, there was support for this function, which is removed from Windows Server 2016:
  • Point-to-site VPN. This RAS Gateway feature allows organization employees or administrators to connect to your organization's network from remote locations. For multitenant deployments, tenant network administrators can use point-to-site VPN connections to access virtual network resources at the CSP datacenter.

SDN Quality of Service (QoS)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
SDN Quality of Service (QoS) allows customers to allocate egress bandwidth limits and reservations for traffic from a VM. In addition, ingress bandwidth limit is available as well for Windows Server 2016. This allows for differentiated SLAs for different types of workloads.

Switch Embedded Teaming

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) is an alternative NIC teaming solution that you can use in Windows Server 2016. SET integrates NIC Teaming functionality into the Hyper-V Virtual Switch. SET allows you to group between one and eight physical Ethernet network adapters into one or more software-based virtual network adapters. These virtual network adapters provide fast performance and fault tolerance in the event of a network adapter failure. SET member network adapters must all be installed in the same physical Hyper-V host to be placed in a team. For physical switch redundancy, you can connect your teamed NICs to the same physical switch or to different physical switches. If you connect NICs to different switches, both switches must be on the same subnet. Switch Embedded Teaming is a feature of the physical host – you would use traditional NIC teaming if you wanted to introduce a team into a VM or under a non-Hyper-V stack.

Core Network Infrastructure Services

There are a number of enhancements to the core networking services of DNS and IP Address Management in Windows Server 2016. The key new capability is DNS Server policies, which allows you to provide policy-based answers to DNS clients based on factors like client network location, time of day, or health-based global load balancing.

DHCP Server

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
DHCP has no significant new features in Windows Server 2016. Enhancements in DHCP that arrived in Windows Server 2012 R2 include DNS registration enhancements, DNS PTR registration options, and Windows PowerShell for DHCP Server management. Windows PowerShell cmdlets are available to perform tasks such as creating DHCP security groups, setting DNS credentials, managing superscopes, and managing multicast scopes. There is also the ability to deploy DHCP Failover; DHCP servers acting in parallel to provide high availability of DHCP services to clients, including replicating lease information between them. DHCP servers can be deployed in a non-clustered failover configuration that includes multi-subnet support.

DNS Server

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Domain Name System (DNS) is one of the industry-standard suite of protocols that comprise TCP/IP, and together the DNS Client and DNS Server provide computer name-to-IP address mapping name resolution services to computers and users. The following are new and updated features of DNS for Windows Server 2016:
  • DNS Policies: You can now configure DNS policies to specify how a DNS server responds to DNS queries. DNS responses can be based on client IP address (location), time of the day, and several other parameters, and enable location-aware DNS, traffic management, load balancing, split-brain DNS, and other scenarios. These policies allow you to perform sophisticated name resolution, pointing DNS clients to alternate service locations using a more flexible decision-making policy. The policies can be useful in these situations:
    • Application high availability. DNS clients are redirected to the healthiest endpoint for a given application.
    • Traffic Management. DNS clients are redirected to the closest datacenter.
    • Split Brain DNS. DNS records are split into different Zone Scopes, and DNS clients receive a response based on whether they are internal or external clients.
    • Filtering. DNS queries from a list of malicious IP addresses or FQDNs are blocked.
    • Forensics. Malicious DNS clients are redirected to a sink hole instead of the computer they are trying to reach.
    • Time of day based redirection. DNS clients can be redirected to datacenters based on the time of the day
  • Response Rate Limiting: You can now enable response rate limiting on your DNS servers. By doing this, you avoid the possibility of malicious systems using your DNS servers to initiate a denial of service attack on a target.
  • DNS-based Authentication of Named Entities: You can now use TLSA (Transport Layer Security Authentication) records to provide information to DNS clients that state what CA they should expect a certificate from for your domain name. DANE prevents man-in-the-middle attacks where someone might corrupt the DNS cache to point to their own website, and provide a certificate they issued from a different CA.
  • Unknown record support: You can now add records which are not explicitly supported by the Windows DNS server using the unknown record functionality.
  • IPv6 root hints: You can use the native IPv6 root hints support to perform internet name resolution using the IPV6 root servers.
  • Windows PowerShell Support: New Windows PowerShell cmdlets are available for DNS Server. The new cmdlets allow for management of the new DNS server capabilities and some more granular management of existing DNS Server features.
Along with the new Windows Server 2016 capabilities, the previous enhancements from DNS Server in Windows Server 2012 R2 are still available, including expanded logging and diagnostics, zone-level statistics, DNSSEC support, and dynamically-ordered DNS forwarder lists.

DNS Client Service Binding Improvement for Multi-Homed Systems

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
In Windows Server 2016 (and Windows 10), the DNS Client service offers enhanced support for computers with more than one network interface. For multi-homed computers, DNS resolution is optimized in the following ways:
  • When a DNS server that is configured on a specific interface is used to resolve a DNS query, the DNS Client service will bind to this interface before sending the DNS query. By binding to a specific interface, the DNS client can clearly specify the interface where name resolution occurs, enabling applications to optimize communications with the DNS client over this network interface.
  • If the DNS server that is used is designated by a Group Policy setting from the Name Resolution Policy Table (NRPT), the DNS Client service does not bind to a specific interface.

IPAM: Enhanced IP Address Management

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
In addition to the capabilities of the IP Address Management feature of Windows Server that were introduced in Windows Server 2012 R2, there are a number of Windows Server 2016 enhancements. These include:
  • Handling very small subnets. IPv4 /32 subnets, and IPv6 /128 subnets are now supported. These are becoming more common for use in point-to-point links between switches or switch loopback addresses.
  • PowerShell cmdlets to find free address ranges and subnets. New PowerShell cmdlets are added to help find free IP address subnets or ranges in an IP address block or subnet respectively.
  • Enhanced DNS service management. New DNS management features are added allowing administration of a wider range of DNS elements, including resource records, zones, and conditional forwarders. Role-based access control feature has been enhanced to support delegation of granular DNS operations.
  • Multiple Active Directory Forest support. Now IPAM can manage DNS and DHCP in non-local forests, provided a two-way trust is in place.
  • PowerShell support for role-based access control. The IPAM PowerShell manageability has been extended to allow for configuration of access scopes against IPAM elements.
  • Integrated DNS, DHCP, and IP Address Management. Several new experiences and integrated lifecycle management operations are enabled, such as visualizing all DNS resource records that pertain to an IP address, automated inventory of IP addresses based on DNS resource records, and creating or deleting related DNS and DHCP objects from IP address pivot.

Back to top

Virtualization

Windows Server 2016 can help you reduce costs with improved software-defined datacenter capabilities across storage, networking and compute. Underpinning all of these aspects of consolidation are the virtualization capabilities of Windows Server. In this section, read about the enhancements to the core Hyper-V hypervisor platform.

Hyper-V

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
The Hyper-V server role in Windows Server lets you create a virtualized server computing environment where you can create and manage virtual machines. You can run multiple operating systems on one physical computer and isolate the operating systems from each other. With this technology, you can improve the efficiency of your computing resources and free up hardware resources. New features for Windows Server 2016 include:
  • Shielded virtual machines
  • Production checkpoints
  • Rolling Hyper-V Cluster upgrade
  • Storage quality of service (QoS)
  • Windows Containers
  • Windows PowerShell Direct
  • Compatible with Connected Standby
  • Discrete device assignment
  • Hot add and remove for network adapters
  • Hot add and remove for fixed memory
  • Hyper-V Manager improvements
  • Integration services delivered through Windows Update
  • Linux Secure Boot
  • Nested virtualization
  • Networking features
  • Virtual machine configuration file format
  • Virtual machine configuration version
  • Hyper-V is a supported role on Nano Server

Hyper-V Support for Nano Server

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
The Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V role can also be installed on a Nano Server; this is a key Nano Server role, shrinking the OS footprint and minimizing patching required when Hyper-V is used to run private or hybrid clouds. Hyper-V works the same on Nano Server as it does in Windows Server 2016, aside from a few caveats:
  • All management must be performed remotely, using another Windows Server 2016 computer. The Hyper-V Manager or PowerShell can be used from the remote server.
  • RemoteFX is not available.
Hyper-V Replica is not supported in the current preview releases.

Windows Containers

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Containers provides greater isolation enabling many isolated applications to run on one computer system. They build fast and are highly scalable and portable. Two different types of container runtime are included with the feature, each with a different degree of application isolation. Windows Server Containers achieve isolation through namespace and process isolation. Hyper-V Containers encapsulate each container in a lightweight virtual machine. Here are additional features introduced with Windows Containers:
  • Nano Server can host both Windows Server and Hyper-V Containers as well as be the container OS for both types of containers.
  • Container data management capabilities are enabled with container shared folders.
  • Container resource policies can be implemented.

Virtual Secure Mode (VSM)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Virtual Secure Mode (VSM) is a protected area run on a hypervisor and separated from the host and its kernel. System components run inside the protected area. Data is protected and inaccessible in the VSM environment even if the kernel of the host Operating System is compromised.

Virtual Machine Resiliency

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Server 2016 increases virtual machine resiliency to help reduce downtime incurred from transient storage and networking issues:
  • Compute Resiliency: Compute servers are more resilient to intra-cluster communication issues.
  • Quarantine of unhealthy nodes: Unhealthy nodes are quarantined and are no longer allowed to join the cluster. This prevents flapping nodes from negatively effecting other nodes and the overall cluster.
  • Storage Resiliency: In Windows Server 2016, virtual machines are more resilient to transient storage failures. The improved virtual machine resiliency helps preserve tenant virtual machine session states in the event of a storage disruption. This is achieved by intelligent and quick virtual machine response to storage infrastructure issues.

Production Checkpoints

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Production checkpoints allow you to easily create “point in time” images of a virtual machine which can be restored later on in a way that is completely supported for all production workloads. Backup technology inside the guest is used to create the checkpoint, instead of using saved states. For Windows Server virtual machines, the Volume Snapshot Service (VSS) is used. For Linux virtual machines, the file system buffers are flushed to create a file system consistent checkpoint. If you'd rather use checkpoints based on saved states, you can still do that by using standard checkpoints. Production Checkpoints are on by default in Windows Server 2016.

Virtual machine configuration version

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Virtual machines with version 5 are compatible with Windows Server 2012 R2 and can run on both Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016. Virtual machines with version 6 are compatible with Windows Server 2016, but won't run in Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012 R2.

Windows PowerShell Direct

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
There is now an easy and reliable way to run Windows PowerShell commands inside a virtual machine from the host operating system. There are no network or firewall requirements, or special configuration. It works regardless of your remote management configuration. To use it, you must run Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 on the host and the virtual machine guest operating systems.

Shared virtual hard disk

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
A shared virtual hard disk enables guest clustering of virtual machines by using shared virtual hard disk (Shared VHDX) files, hosted on Cluster Shared Volume (CSV) or on Server Message Block (SMB)-based Scale-Out File Server file shares. Windows Server 2016 allows resizing Shared VHDX without downtime, support for Hyper-V Replica, and host level backups.

Resize virtual hard disk

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
This provides the ability to expand or shrink the size of a virtual hard disk while the virtual machine is still running. It also provides the ability to perform maintenance on the virtual hard disk without temporarily shutting down the virtual machine. Note that this is only available for VHDX files that are attached to a SCSI controller.

Hyper-V Live Migration over SMB

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Hyper-V Live Migration over SMB provides the ability to perform a live migration of virtual machines by using SMB 3.0 and later as a transport. This enables taking advantage of key SMB features, such as SMB Direct with RDMA enabled network cards and SMB Multichannel, delivering the highest speed virtual machine migration with little CPU utilization impact.

Live Migration with compression

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Live Migration with compression provides the ability to first compress the memory content of the virtual machine that is being migrated and then copy it to the destination server over a TCP/IP connection. This is the default setting in Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2 and later.

Live Migration Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016 provide the ability to perform faster live migration between Hyper-V hosts by establishing an efficient memory-to-memory transfer of data using RDMA. Server Message Block Direct (SMB Direct) over RDMA is a technology that, given the hardware (NICs) supporting it, can establish an efficient memory-to-memory transfer of data. In Windows Server 2012, the main advantage of this approach was faster file services but in Windows Server 2012 R2, it is used to send live migration data between the Hyper-V hosts.

Cross-version live migration

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Cross-version live migration is the ability to support migrating Hyper-V virtual machines in Windows Server 2012 to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2. Moving a virtual machine to a down-level server running Hyper-V is not supported.

Virtual machine generation

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Virtual machine generation provides the ability to determine the virtual hardware and functionality that is presented to the virtual machine. The two supported virtual machine generations include:
  • Generation 1: Provides the same virtual hardware to the virtual machine as in the previous versions of Hyper-V.
  • Generation 2: Provides the following new functionality on a virtual machine:
    • Secure Boot (enabled by default).
    • Boot from a SCSI virtual hard disk.
    • Boot from a SCSI virtual DVD.
    • Pre-Boot Execution Environment (PXE) boot by using a standard network adapter.
    • Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware support.

Live VM Export

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Live VM Export provides the ability to export a virtual machine or a virtual machine checkpoint while the virtual machine is running without any downtime.

Highly available virtual machines

Windows Server
2008 R2
Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Virtual machines can be deployed in a highly available fashion on a Failover Cluster, which provides resiliency to planned and unplanned downtime.

Enhanced session mode

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Enhanced session mode provides the ability to redirect local resources in a Virtual Machine Connection session. This enhances the interactive session experience by providing a functionality that is similar to a remote desktop connection while interacting with a virtual machine.

Automatic Virtual Machine Activation

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Automatic Virtual Machine Activation provides the ability to install virtual machines on a computer where Windows Server 2012 R2 is properly activated without having to manage product keys for each individual virtual machine, even in disconnected environments. It also provides the ability to bind the virtual machine activation to the licensed virtualization server and activate the virtual machine when it starts. This enables real-time reporting on usage and historical data on the license state of the virtual machine.

Local File Copies to a VM

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016 provides the ability to copy files to the virtual machine while the virtual machine is running without using a network connection with Copy-VMFile cmdlet.

Virtual machine drain on shutdown

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Virtual machine drain on shutdown enables a Hyper-V host to automatically live migrate running virtual machines if the computer is shut down.

Virtual machine network health detection

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Windows Server
2016
Included
Virtual machine network health detection enables a Hyper-V host to automatically live migrate virtual machines if a network disconnection occurs on a protected virtual network.

Shared-nothing live migration

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Shared-nothing live migration provides the ability to migrate virtual machines among Hyper-V hosts on different clusters or servers with no storage sharing using Ethernet connection only—with virtually no downtime.

Live storage migration

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Live storage migration provides the ability to move virtual hard disks that are attached to a running virtual machine. This supports transfer of virtual hard disks to a new location for upgrading or migrating storage, performing back-end storage maintenance, or redistributing the storage load. It also allows for the ability to add storage to either a stand-alone computer or to a Hyper-V cluster, and then move virtual machines to the new storage while the virtual machines continue to run. A new wizard in Hyper-V Manager or new Hyper-V cmdlets for Windows PowerShell can be used to perform this task.

Live Snapshot Merging

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Live Snapshot Merging provides the ability to merge snapshots back into the virtual machine while it continues to run Hyper-V Live Merge.

Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) support

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
NUMA support inside virtual machines provides the ability to project NUMA topology into virtual machines so that guest operating systems and applications can make intelligent NUMA decisions. This functinality is important for scale-up workloads like databases.

Dynamic Memory Run-time Configuration

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Dynamic Memory Run-time Configuration provides the ability to make configuration changes to dynamic memory (increasing maximum memory or decreasing minimum memory) when a virtual machine is running. This reduces downtime and increases agility to respond to requirement changes.

VHDX Virtual Disk Format

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016 provide support for VHDX file format with Hyper-V. VHDX support includes:
  • Up to 64 terabytes of storage per virtual disk.
  • Protection from corruption due to power failures by logging updates to the VHDX metadata structures along with significant performance and scale improvements.
  • Prevention of performance degradation on large-sector physical disks through optimizing structure alignment.

Hyper-V Resource Metering

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Hyper-V Resource Metering tracks and reports amount of data transferred per IP address or virtual machine. This allows customers to create cost-effective and usage-based billing solutions.

Virtual Fiber Channel

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Virtual Fiber Channel provides Fibre Channel ports within the guest operating system. This enables the ability to connect to Fibre Channel and Storage Area Networks (SANs) directly from within virtual machines.

Hyper-V Replica

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Hyper-V Replica provides the ability to replicate virtual machines among storage systems, clusters, and datacenters between two sites to provide business continuity and failure recovery. Windows Server 2012 R2 enabled the ability to configure extended replication. In this case, the Replica server forwards information about the changes that occur on the primary virtual machines to a third server (the extended Replica server). The frequency of replication, which previously was a fixed value, is now configurable for 30 seconds, 5 minutes, and 15 minutes. Access to recovery points in Windows Server 2012 R2 was changed from 15 hours to 24 hours.

Simultaneous live migrations

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Server Hyper-V enables the migration of several virtual machines with support for simultaneous live migrations at the same time limited only by hardware resources. Live migrations are also not limited to a cluster - virtual machines can be migrated across cluster boundaries and between stand-alone servers that are not part of a cluster.

Hyper-V host and workload support

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Hyper-V has the ability to configure up to 320 logical processors on hardware, 4 terabytes of physical memory, 64 virtual processors, and up to 1 terabyte of memory on a virtual machine. Additionally it supports up to 64 nodes and 8,000 virtual machines in a cluster.

Dynamic memory, startup memory, and minimum memory

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Dynamic memory, startup memory, and minimum memory increases the resiliency to temporary network failures for virtual machines that are running on a Hyper-V cluster.

Hyper-V Smart Paging

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Hyper-V Smart Paging bridges the gap between the minimum and startup memory if a virtual machine is configured with a lower minimum memory than its startup memory (Hyper-V requires additional memory to restart the virtual machine).

Incremental backup

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Hyper-V supports incremental backup (backing up only the differences) of virtual hard disks while the virtual machine is running. Windows Server 2008 R2 provides support for full backups only.

Application monitoring

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016 provide the ability to monitor health of key services provided by virtual machines. This provides higher availability for workloads not supporting clustering with automatic correction (such as restarting a virtual machine or moving it to a different server).

Hyper-V Sockets

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Hyper-V Sockets provides a secure, general purpose communication channel between Hyper-V host and guest operating systems. Hyper-V Sockets communicates over the VMBus and therefore doesn’t require network connectivity and works with both Linux and Windows Guests. More information on Hyper-V Sockets can be found within the Make your own integration services documentation.

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High Availability

Microsoft continues to invest in enhancing and improving the high availability capabilities provided by Windows Server Failover Clustering. In Windows Server 2016, new and improved features simplify your ability to deploy and manage highly available failover clusters.

Cluster Infrastructure Requirements

Cluster Rolling Upgrade

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade is a new feature in Windows Server 2016 that enables an administrator to seamlessly upgrade the operating system of nodes in a Failover Cluster from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016. When a rolling upgrade of a cluster takes place, there will be a temporary mixture of Windows Server 2012 R2 hosts and Windows Server 2016 hosts. Using this feature, the downtime penalties against Service Level Agreements (SLA) can be avoided for Hyper-V or the Scale-Out File Server workloads.

Cloud Witness

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Cloud Witness enables using Azure blob storage as a witness in quorum for a stretched cluster. Cluster witness can now be a Disk Witness, File Share Witness, or Cloud Witness. This feature allows customers to use Azure as a third datacenter hosting the Cloud Witness, without the setup and maintenance overhead associated with running a File Share Witness on a File Server VM in Azure.

Active Directory-independent clusters

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Active Directory-independent clusters provide the ability to deploy a failover cluster with less dependency on Active Directory Domain Services. With Windows Server 2012 R2 the Active Directory-detached clusters feature allows having clusters with names not attached to AD. With Windows Server 2016 Failover Clusters can be deployed in workgroups and multiple domains.

Cluster Resiliency

Windows Server 2016 Cluster Resiliency features

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Server 2016 introduces new features to improve cluster resiliency.
  • Cluster Quarantine: Prevents flapping nodes from negatively impacting other nodes and the overall cluster health. Unhealthy nodes are prevented from joining the cluster for a time period. Once quarantined, VMs hosted by the node are gracefully drained to healthy nodes.
  • Site Awareness: Fault domains with failure and placement policies which are aware and optimized for the physical locations of stretched clusters across sites. Enhances key operations during the cluster lifecycle such as failover behavior, placement policies, heartbeating between the nodes and quorum behavior.
  • Node Fairness: Identifies idle nodes in a cluster and distributes virtual machines to utilize them, to dynamically load balance the cluster.

Cluster node health detection

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Cluster node health detection ncreases the resiliency to temporary network failures for virtual machines that are running on a Hyper-V cluster.

CSV cache

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
CSV Cache provides a write-through cache for unbuffered IO, which significantly boosts virtual machine performance. Scalability improvements to increase the amount of memory that can be allocated as CSV Cache. The CSV Cache with Windows Server 2016 also has interoperability enhancements, such as being compatible with Tiered Storage Spaces and Deduplication.

CSV interoperability

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Adds CSV support for the following Windows Server features:
  • Resilient File System (ReFS).
  • Deduplication.
  • Parity storage spaces.
  • Tiered storage spaces.
  • Storage Spaces write-back caching.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Features

Failover Clustering

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
  • Dynamic witness. Dynamically adjusts the witness vote based on the number of voting nodes in the current cluster membership.
  • Force quorum resiliency. Enables automatic recovery in the case of a partitioned failover cluster.
  • Cluster dashboard. Provides a convenient way to check the health of all managed failover clusters in Failover Cluster Manager.

Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) is a cluster file system which allows multiple nodes in a Failover Cluster to simultaniously access a common NTFS or ReFS volume. CSV is a foundational technology used with private cloud infrastructure of Hyper-V and Scale-out File Servers. CSV can also simplify SQL Server deployments.
  • Placement Policies: Ability to distribute CSV ownership evenly across the failover cluster nodes.
  • Isolated SMB instances: Enables multiple Server service instances per cluster node. Enables CSV monitoring of the Server service that provides greater resiliency.
  • Improved Diagnostics: Ability to view the state of a CSV on a per node basis and the reason for I/O redirection.
  • Enables optimizing cluster configuration by easily determining the state of a CSV.

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Management and Automation

In order to reap the benefits of a modern platform for running datacenter workloads, it is imperative that capable, scalable, automation-friendly management features are built in. This allows for not only core management and automation to occur, but also allows enterprise tools and utilities to extend and expand these management capabilities.

Windows PowerShell 5.1

Windows PowerShell 5.1 Overview

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows PowerShell 5.1 includes significant new features that extend its use, improve its usability, and allow you to control and manage Windows-based environments more easily and comprehensively. PowerShell 5 enables remote management and configuration of Nano Server. PowerShell 5.1 has addded key features to support DevOps, such as Desired State Configuration (DSC), ISE improvements, writing Classes in PowerShell, the Pester test harness, and remote PowerShell debugging. Windows PowerShell 5.1 is backward-compatible. Cmdlets, providers, modules, snap-ins, scripts, functions, and profiles that were designed for Windows PowerShell 4.0, Windows PowerShell 3.0, and Windows PowerShell 2.0 generally work in Windows PowerShell 5.1 without changes. Windows PowerShell 5.1 is installed by default on Windows Server® 2016 and Windows 10®. All features of Windows PowerShell 5.1 may be added to Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2 by installing the Windows Management Framework (WMF) 5.1.

DSC Updates

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
PowerShell 5 makes writing DSC Resources and configurations significantly easier:
  • Windows PowerShell 5 enables defining DSC resources using classes which reduces the work required to develop new DSC Resources.
  • A user can now run a resource under a specified set of credentials by adding the PSDscRunAsCredential attribute to a Node block.
  • Composite Configurations enable combining multiple steps within a configuration into a separate new DSC resource.
  • A new parameter, ThrottleLimit, has been added to cmdlets in the PSDesiredStateConfiguration module.
  • Cross-computer synchronization is new in DSC configurations in Windows PowerShell 5.1. By using the built-in WaitFor* commands provides support for dependencies across multiple computers.
Configuration and control of DSC has been added for the Pull Server:
  • The DSC pull server is now configurable to support multiple servers as a role, and to allow separation of the configuration and DSC resource repositories from the centralized reporting server.
  • With centralized DSC error reporting, rich error information is not only logged in the event log, but it can be sent to a central location for later analysis. You can use this central location to store DSC configuration errors that have occurred for any server in their environment.
Users can now control the DSC processing engine known as the Local Configuration Manager (LCM):
  • The DSCLocalConfigurationManager attribute allows configuring the LCM from within a DSC configuration.
  • LCM can assemble the configuration for a node from multiple fragments, called Partial Configurations, enabling separate update and maintenance of parts of the system state, and the LCM refresh interval.
  • The Get-DSCLocalConfigurationManager cmdlet returns the current state of the LCM as Idle, Busy, Pending Reboot, or PendingConfiguration.
Improvements to Windows PowerShell ISE ease DSC resource authoring. You can now do the following:
  • List all DSC resources within a configuration or node block by entering Ctrl+Space on a blank line within the block.
  • Automatic completion on resource properties of the enumeration type.
  • Automatic completion on the DependsOn property of DSC resources, based on other resource instances in the configuration.
  • Improved tab completion of resource property values.

ISE Updates

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
The PowerShell ISE editor has these enhancements:
  • You can now edit remote Windows PowerShell scripts and files in a local copy of Windows PowerShell ISE, by running Enter-PSSession to start a remote session on the computer that’s storing the files you want to edit, and then running PSEdit <path and file name on the remote computer>. This feature eases editing Windows PowerShell files that are stored on the Server Core installation option of Windows Server, where Windows PowerShell ISE cannot run.
  • The Start-Transcript cmdlet is now supported in Windows PowerShell ISE.
  • You can now debug remote scripts in Windows PowerShell ISE.
  • A new menu command, Break All (Ctrl+B), breaks into the debugger for both local and remotely-running scripts.

Pester Test Framework

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Pester is a test automation framework specifically designed for use with PowerShell scripts and code. Developed initially as an open source project, Pester is now built into Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10. It offers these benefits:
  • Pester allows for the development of a standard set of tests for PowerShell code. Pester supports the automatic execution of tests when PowerShell code is written to the framework.
  • Eases adding PowerShell scripts, DSC Resources, and DSC Configurations into a CI/CD pipeline.

Package Management and PowerShellGet

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Package Management cmdlets provide a single approach to discover, install, and manage a a range of installer technologies, which aids deployment within a CI/CD pipeline.
  • On Nano Server, Package Management enables installation of applicable Server Roles and solutions
  • Related PowerShellGet cmdlets enable locating, inspecting, and installing PowerShell code from the PowerShell Gallery, the PowerShell code sharing site hosted by Microsoft.
  • PowerShellGet cmdlets support automatically installing dependent modules from the PowerShell Gallery.
PowerShell 5 supports multiple versions of the same PowerShell module or DSC resource installed side-by-side.

Develop using Classes

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Starting in Windows PowerShell 5.1, you can develop by using classes, by using formal syntax and semantics that are similar to other object-oriented programming languages. Class, Enum, and other keywords have been added to the Windows PowerShell language to support the new feature.

New PowerShell Cmdlets

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows PowerShell 5 adds a number of new cmdlets requested by the community, including:
  • ConvertFrom-String was developed in collaboration with Microsoft Research, and lets you extract and parse structured objects from the content of text strings. For more information, run Get-Help ConvertFrom-String.
  • New cmdlets in the Microsoft.PowerShell.Utility module, Get-Runspace, Debug-Runspace, Get-RunspaceDebug, Enable-RunspaceDebug, and Disable-RunspaceDebug, let you set debug options on a runspace, and start and stop debugging on a runspace.
  • The new Compress-Archive and Expand-Archive cmdlets ease working with ZIP files.
  • Get-Clipboard/Set-Clipboard allow scripting access to the Windows clipboard.
  • A new cmdlet, Clear-RecycleBin, has been added to the Microsoft.PowerShell.Management module; this cmdlet empties the Recycle Bin for a fixed drive, which includes external drives.
  • A new cmdlet, New-TemporaryFile, lets you create a temporary file as part of scripting. By default, the new temporary file is created in C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Local\Temp.
Additional parameters and capabilities have been added to cmdlets to make them easier to use:
  • Out-File, Add-Content, and Set-Content cmdlets have a new –NoNewline parameter, which omits a new line after the output.
  • Get-ChildItem now includes the –Depth parameter. Used in conjunction with the –RecurseNUMA
  • parameter, it allows users to control how many levels a recursive action should go.
  • Copy-Item now lets you copy files or folders from one Windows PowerShell session to another, meaning that you can copy files to sessions that are connected to remote computers, (including computers that are running Windows Nano Server, and thus have no other interface).
  • Results of the Get-Command cmdlet now display a Version column, to show support having multiple versions of the same module installed.

PowerShell 5.1 Security Features

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
There are several new security features included in PowerShell v5 security features. These include: Script block logging, Antimalware Integration, Constrained PowerShell and transcript logging. PowerShell 5.1 is also available for install on previous operating systems starting from Windows Server 2008 R2 and on.

Management

This section describes new capabilities to manage Windows Server 2016.>

Server Management Tools

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Web-based GUI and command line tools hosted in Azure. Especially useful when managing headless servers such as Nano Server and Server Core. Can be used to manage on-premises infrastructure alongside Azure resources.
  • View and change system configuration.
  • View performance across various resources and manage processes and services.
  • Manage devices attached to the server.
  • View event logs.
  • View the list of installed roles and features.
  • Use a PowerShell console to manage and automate.

Management Packs for Windows Server 2016 roles

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
System Center Operations Manager Management Packs updated for Windows Server 2016 roles: Windows Server 2016 OS, Nano Server, DNS, DHCP, Failover Clustering, NLB, Print Services, IIS, AD DS, DTC Transactions, Windows Defender, Windows Server Essentials, AD RMS, Branch Cache, File and iSCSI Services.

Console Host

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
The console host is the underlying code that supports all character-mode applications including the Windows command prompt, the Windows PowerShell prompt, and others has been updated to include several new editing and marking behaviors.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Management Features

Server Manager

Windows Server
2008 R2
Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Server Manager provides a single point of access to manage snap-ins for virtually all installed roles. It provides the ability to manage a server's identity and system information, display server status, identify problems with server role configuration, and manage virtually all roles installed on the server.

Multi-server management

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016 support management of multiple servers via roles, services, or customized management groups. It provides a single view for administrators to view events, roles, services, and other important information for virtually all managed servers.

Role and feature deployment to remote servers and offline hard disks

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
The Server Manager console and Windows PowerShell cmdlets for Server Manager allow the installation of roles and features to local or remote servers, or offline virtual hard disks. Ability to install multiple roles and features on a single remote server or offline VHD in a single Add Roles and Features Wizard or Windows PowerShell session.

Integrated console

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Integrated console for IT departments to manage multiple server platforms— whether physical or virtual—more effectively, helping lower IT operational costs (such as file storage management, Remote Desktop Services, and IP address management).

Initial Configuration Tasks

Windows Server
2008 R2
Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
The Initial Configuration Tasks provides an integrated console for IT departments to manage multiple server platforms— whether physical or virtual—more effectively, helping lower IT operational costs (such as file storage management, Remote Desktop Services, and IP address management).

Group Policy

Windows Server
2008 R2
Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Group Policy provides the ability to specify managed configurations for users and computers through Group Policy settings and Group Policy preferences.

Windows Azure Online Backup (cloud-based backup service)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Azure Online Backup provides offsite protection against data loss from failure with a cloud-based backup solution, which allows files and folders to be backed up and recovered from the cloud.

Group Policy Infrastructure Status

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Group Policy Infrastructure Status provides the ability to specify managed configurations for users and computers through Group Policy settings and Group Policy preferences.

Volume Activation Services

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Volume Activation Services is a server role Windows Server starting with Windows Server 2012 that enables you to automate and simplify the issuance and management of Microsoft software volume licenses for a variety of scenarios and environments. With Volume Activation Services, you can install and configure the Key Management Service (KMS) and enable Active Directory-based Activation.

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Remote Desktop Services

Remote Desktop Services enables an independent Windows experience, for multiple users who access a desktop experience logon session hosted on Windows Server.

RemoteFX vGPU

Windows Server
2008 R2
Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
RemoteFX vGPU provides a rich desktop remoting experiencing with Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V and Remote Desktop Services enabling multiple VM’s to share the same physical GPU for graphics acceleration. Windows Server 2016 Remote Desktop Services includes the following improvements to RemoteFX vGPU:
  • OpenGL 4.4 and OpenCL 1.1 API support.
  • Up to 1GB dedicated VRAM and up to 1GB of shared memory available in VM.
  • Up to 4k resolution support.
  • Windows Server 2016 VM support.
  • Improved performance.

Discrete Device Assignment

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Discrete Device Assignment (DDA) is a Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V feature that allows some PCI Express devices to be passed through directly to a guest VM (to be controlled by the guest VM). Devices used in this way cannot be used by the host or other VMs. Windows Server 2016 Remote Desktop Session Hosts can now take advantage of DDA, enabling enhanced graphics performance.
  • Full graphics API Support (ex. DirectX, OpenGL, CUDA, OpenCL) (depends on GPU driver).
  • Native GPU Driver Support (Intel, AMD, NVIDIA).
  • Maximum Performance (1 or more GPUs to 1 VM).
  • Multiuser RDSH Support. Multiple sessions can utilize the graphics card assigned to the RDSH VM via DDA.

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) Graphics Compression

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Server 2016 (and Windows 10) RDP graphics compression (codec) now implements full-screen AVC 444 mode. This enhancement provides:
  • Reduced bandwidth and better experience at higher resolutions
  • Hardware offload support.

Scale enhancements

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
In Windows Server 2016 the RD Connection Broker has been enhanced to handle highly concurrent logon scenarios (“log on storms”). The RD Connection Broker was tested to 10k concurrent connections with zero failure rate. The RD Connection Broker requires a SQL database. In previous OS versions a SQL cluster was recommended, requiring two virtual machines. A SQL database is still required however SQL authentication is now supported. Shared SQL/DB connections, making even smaller scale deployments more cost effective.

Cloud Optimization – Azure Active Directory

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Server 2016 Remote Desktop Services can utilize Azure services to provide more cost effective solutions. Azure AD Application Proxy enables secure remote access to applications. RD Gateway servers are still required. Now they can be published to the Application Proxy service, instead of exposed to the public internet. This reduces attack surface and enhances security. Additionally, conditional access rules can be created to further define how users must authenticate (require multi-factor authentication, require MFA only when users are not at work, block access when not at work). Azure AD Domain Services provides managed domain services (domain join, group policy, LDAP, Kerberos, etc.). A Remote Desktop Services environment using Domain Services eliminates the need to deploy and manage domain controllers.

Cloud Optimizations – SQL

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Server 2016 Remote Desktop Services can utilize Azure services to provide more cost effective solutions. The RD Connection Broker requires a SQL database. In previous OS versions a SQL cluster was recommended, requiring 2 VMs. A SQL database is still required however SQL authentication is now supported. Azure SQL Database includes high availability, disaster recovery, and upgrade mechanisms. A Remote Desktop Services environment using Azure SQL Database eliminates the need to deploy and manage VMs for SQL.

Other RDS improvements

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Server 2016 Remote Desktop Services provides several improvements over previous versions, including:
  • Personal session Desktops.
  • Support for Generation 2 virtual machines.
  • Pen Remoting Support.

MultiPoint Services Role

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
MultiPoint Services is a new server role in Windows Server 2016. It is a server solution that is easy to deploy and easy to manage. It enables low-cost per seat desktop computing. MultiPoint allows multiple users, each with their own independent Windows experience, to simultaneously share one computer. The unique tool-set of this role allows monitoring of all user sessions on the MultiPoint server. MultiPoint does not use or require the Remote Desktop (RD) Connection Broker and RD Gateway roles. Enabling the Multipoint Services role, also installs Remote Desktop Session Host role which allows users to connect remotely with devices of their choice by using Remote Desktop applications available on Windows, Windows phone, Android, iOS and Mac OS.

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Application Development

Windows Server 2016 resolves the interface between developers and operators by enabling both traditional and container models for application development, with prescribed solutions and artifacts to achieve best practices for developing and operating the application/service.
  • The traditional model can be applied across physical, guest, or containers, providing the flexibility to run the application/service in any configuration.
  • The container model requires the application/service to be only delivered and managed as a container.
In addition to developing the application/service code, each development and operational model requires a set of artifacts so that operations can benefit from the Windows Server 2016 Cloud Application Platform.
Phase Traditional Model Container Model
Develop Nano Server SDK allows targeting the smallest server footprint. Nano Server SDK allows targeting the smallest server footprint.
Package Windows Server App (WSA) installer Container Images
Configure PowerShell Desired State Configuration Container Images
Deploy Package Management (OneGet) Container Images
Run In physical, guests, or containers (Windows Server and/or Hyper-V) Containers through orchestrators
Test Pester Test frameworks
Secure Just Enough Administration (JEA) Multiple containers, and JEA

Container Model

Microsoft, Docker Inc and the Docker Community have partnered to provide Docker with support for new container technologies in Windows Server 2016. Developers and organizations that want to create container applications using Docker will be able to use either Windows Server or Linux with the same growing Docker ecosystem of users, applications and tools. Windows containers provide operating system level virtualization enabling multiple isolated applications to be run on a single system. There are two different types of container runtimes included with this feature, each with different degrees of application isolation. Both Windows container runtimes are managed by the same API layer providing the same management primitives and utilizing the same configuration format thus enabling customers at runtime to choose the level of isolation required for the specific container instance being started. Both container runtimes can be managed with PowerShell or Docker and Windows Server 2016 Nano Server is the recommended container operating system for Windows.

Windows Server Containers

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Server Containers provide operating system level virtualization that allows multiple isolated applications to be run on a single system. Windows Server Containers address density and startup performance scenarios and achieve isolation through namespace and process isolation. Process Grouping (known as Job objects in Windows) is a mechanism of classifying and operating on a set of processes, as single unit. Job objects have existed in Windows since Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2 largely as a mechanism for applying basic resource controls on processes/sets of processes, this functionality was part of the foundation for Windows Server Containers. Namespaces isolation describes a form or virtualization where operating system wide or global configuration can be instanced or virtualized to a given set of processes, as referenced by job objects. In order for applications inside containers to work properly there are a number of namespaces that must be virtualized, some of the major ones include: storage, registry, networking, object tables and process tables. Each container has a virtualized view of these namespaces limiting its ability to see global properties of the container host or other containers running alongside it.

Hyper-V Containers

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Hyper-V Containers support the same features as Windows Server Containers and additionally addresses isolation and kernel variation, lending itself to complex application development and hostile multi-tenancy scenarios. Hyper-V Containers encapsulates each container in a lightweight virtual machine. Shared kernel container environments are not designed for “hostile” multi-tenancy scenarios while Hyper-V Containers are naturally designed for this type of multi-tenancy and have their root in hardware isolation properties. Examples of “hostile” multi-tenancy scenarios include:
  • Highly regulated environments.
  • Hosting environments.
  • Competing workloads.
Hyper-V Containers encapsulate each container in a lightweight virtual machine, providing the same level of isolation provided to virtual machines, addressing kernel isolation and variation requirements while providing the same density and startup performance associated with a container.

Docker Engine for Windows

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Docker has emerged as the de facto container experience for customers and Microsoft has partnered with Docker Inc to provide Docker with support for new container technologies in Windows Server 2016. Windows containers is cross-complied with Linux to provide the same experience and common Docker engine. For customers this means that Windows containers supports the Docker experience including the Docker command structure, Docker repositories, Docker datacenter and Orchestration. In addition, Windows containers extends the Docker Community to provide Windows innovations such as PowerShell to manage Windows or Linux containers.

Emulated Domain Join

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
In a build after Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5, Windows Server will support Emulated Domain Join for Windows containers. Emulated Domain Join allows services within a container to run using an Active Directory identity through the use of the same Group Managed Service Account (gMSA) experience customers use today. Emulated Domain Join allows the container to provide applications the ability to authenticate to Active Directory using a gMSA without the overhead of startup, object and management overhead traditionally associated with Group Policy or full domain membership. This allows in-house or web applications to use Windows Integrated Authentication and supports integrated authentication for SQL workloads. Domain credentials are not stored in the container image (data at rest). Since the identity is being provided to the container image as its deployed, it can be safely stored within a repository and deployed to multiple Active Directory domains and environments, supporting development, staging and production scenarios.

Nano Server Developer Experience

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Nano Server is the recommended application platform for all new Server applications. Targeting Nano Server will allow applications to take advantage of all of the Nano Server benefits at runtime, including running physical, virtual, or in a container. Nano Server has the same API surface available for running applications. The Nano Server API surface is a subset of what is available in Server Core and Server with Desktop Experience. As a subset, any application, tool, or agent that is written to run on Nano Server will run without modification on Windows Server 2016 Core or Server with Desktop Experience. Nano Server also supports .NET Core for running managed code and ASP.NET Core for web apps. Nano Server offers a great developer experience through a Visual Studio C++ project template, which provides IntelliSense and error squiggles support. Full remote debugging from Visual Studio complete the developer experience. There are also two tools available that can be used to scan existing binaries to identify APIs not included in Nano Server:

Traditional Model

This section describes the traditional (non-container focused) model for applications.

Windows Server App (WSA) installer

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
The Windows Server App (WSA) installer is based on declarative APPX. In addition to Nano Server support, WSA will be available on Server Core and Server with Desktop Experience to help deliver more consistent and reliable installs/uninstalls. With WSA, developers declare install actions, intra-package dependencies, and Server extensions in the WSA manifest. WSA does not allow custom code during install and requires online install. With WSA, you can deploy applications and their dependencies via APPX PowerShell cmdlets or Package Management. For more information, see the Package Management topic in the PowerShell section below. WSA is not suitable when the install process requires a GUI, interactive user input, custom code.

Desired State Configuration

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
PowerShell Desired State Configuration enables cloud scale configuration management. It is a declarative platform used for configuration, deployment, and management of systems. For more information, see the DSC Updates topic in the PowerShell section below.

Pester

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
The Pester test framework was initially developed as an open source project. It is now built into Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10. For more information, see the Pester Test Framework topic in the PowerShell section below.

Just Enough Administration (JEA)

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Just Enough Administration (JEA) provides a Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) platform through PowerShell. It allows specific users to perform specific tasks without giving them administrator rights. For more information, see the Just Enough Administration topic in the Security section above.

Internet Information Services 10 (IIS 10)

IIS on Nano Server

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
IIS 10.0 is supported on Nano Server in Windows Server 2016 with support for ASP.NET Core.
  • Individual IIS features can be added to a Nano Server installation of IIS 10 using the PowerShell IISAdministration module commands (remotely), the AppCmd.exe utility (remotely) or editing the IIS configuration store directly.
  • Web sites and related configuration tasks like binding HTTPS certificates can be performed using PowerShell or remote command-line tools.

Wildcard Host Headers

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
IIS 10.0 now supports Wildcard Host Headers, enabling admins to setup a webserver for a domain, e.g. contoso.com and then have the webserver serve requests for any subdomain.

IISAdministration PowerShell module

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
IIS 10.0 introduces IISAdministration, a new PowerShell module for managing IIS.
  • IISAdministration will scale better in scripts that take a long time to run with WebAdministration.
  • You can now get a direct reference to an instance of Microsoft.Web.Administration.ServerManager object and do anything that you can do in Microsoft.Web.Administration namespace alongside your scripts.
  • PowerShell pipeline compatibility was the driving force behind the design of many cmdlets. As such, IISAdministration works much better with PowerShell Pipeline.

HTTP/2

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Windows Server 2016 adds support for HTTP/2 protocol. This allows numerous enhancements over HTTP/1.1 such as more efficient reuse of connections and decreased latency, improving web page load times. HTTP/2 support in Windows Server 2016 is added to the Networking stack (HTTP.sys) and integrated with IIS 10.0, allowing IIS 10.0 websites to automatically serve HTTP/2 requests for supported configurations.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Features

Multitenant high-density websites

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
IIS provides a hosting-friendly web server platform with FTP Logon Attempt Restriction and improved site density, centralized SSL certificate support, and server name indication. The following capabilites are provided:
  • Increased Internet Information Services (IIS) scalability with SSL scalability, centralized SSL certificate support, and NUMA-aware scalability.
  • Binding a more secure site required a unique network endpoint using an IP address and a port in the previous versions of Windows Server, which often meant having a dedicated IP address for each secure site because site owners wanted their secure sites to be running on a standard SSL port.
  • Support for increased density of secure sites for greater scalability of sites.

Dynamic IP restrictions

Windows Server
2008 R2
Not Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
Dynamic IP restrictions provide protection against brute force attacks with automatic detection of attacks in- progress and blocking of future requests from the same address. It also supports the ability to modify the number of times FTP will allow users to attempt unsuccessfully to log in within a specified time period before denying access to the IP address.

Multiple language support

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
IIS contains support for programming languages, such as .NET, PHP, Node.js, and Python. Enhanced support for PHP and MySQL through IIS extensions. IIS provides ASP.NET 4.5 integration and support for the latest HTML5 standards.

Distributed Transaction Coordinator

Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator (MSDTC) enhancements

Windows Server
2008 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2012 R2
Partially Included
Windows Server
2016
Included
MSDTC new features in Windows Server 2016 include:
  • New interface and method for Rejoin function in resource manager.
  • Enlarged DSN name for XA.
  • Include image file path in tracing file name.

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