Microsoft has provided more details about the firm's next-generation server platform coming in September, including the three main editions that will be available for customers to deploy.
However, the much anticipated Nano server option will be available only under Software Assurance licensing.
Windows Server 2016 is currently in Technical Preview, but Microsoft announced this week that it will be officially launched at the firm's Ignite conference for IT leaders at the end of September, along with the System Centre 2016 management suite.
Microsoft has now disclosed that Windows Server 2016 will be offered in three main editions: Datacentre, Standard and Essentials.
Datacenter is targeted at organisations needing all the advanced capabilities of Windows Server 2016, including unlimited virtualisation, while Standard is intended for customers that need limited virtualisation but still require a robust, general purpose server platform.
Essentials is aimed at smaller companies with up to 25 users and 50 devices, according to Microsoft, and is a good option for customers using the Foundation edition of Windows Server 2012, which is not available with Windows Server 2016.
There are also three installation options for enterprise customers using Standard or Datacenter editions: Server with Desktop Experience, Server Core and Nano Server.
The Server with Desktop Experience includes the full Windows GUI needed for a Remote Desktop Services Host, for example, while Server Core is a "headless" deployment option without the user interface.
Much customer interest has centred on the third deployment option, Nano Server, which is a minimal footprint version optimised for cloud-native workloads based on containers and microservices.
However, Microsoft is applying a different servicing model to the Nano Server option, restricting it to customers signed up for Software Assurance volume licensing.
Server with Desktop Experience and Server Core deployments will follow the Long Term Servicing Branch model, and will get the traditional five years of mainstream support followed by five years of extended support under Microsoft's product lifecycle policy.
For Nano Server, Microsoft has decided to follow the Current Branch for Business service model, similar to that adopted for Windows 10, which will deliver software updates on a more frequent basis.
"Our goal is to provide feature updates approximately two or three times a year for Nano Server," the firm stated on the Windows Server Blog.
The model will be similar to the Windows 10 client servicing model, but there will be differences. Nano Server will not automatically apply updates, for example, allowing administrators to perform a manual installation at the time of their choosing.
However, Microsoft warned that customers will be required to keep up with releases, and be no more than two Nano Server releases behind the current version.
Other Windows Server 2016 editions include MultiPoint Premium Server, which enables multiple users to access one computer and is available only for academic licensing, along with Storage Server 2016 for storage appliances and Hyper-V Server 2016.
"This release puts the power of choice in the hands of our customers, making Windows Server 2016 the perfect stepping stone to the cloud," Microsoft said.
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