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Microsoft Boosting Container Support in Windows Server 2016

The next major release of Windows Server 2016 (version 1709) will have added support for running Linux and Windows containers, Microsoft said this week.

Expected to arrive in September of October, the next major Windows Server 2016 update will have the ability to run Linux or Windows containers on the same machine. That capability is being enabled via open source LinuxKit tooling developed by Docker in collaboration with ARM, HPE, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and the Linux Foundation, as explained by Docker back in April.

Docker Linux and Ubuntu Linux Containers
This week, Docker announced the availability of the preview of the LinuxKit for running Docker Linux containers on Windows Server and Windows 10, which uses Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor technology for isolation. When LinuxKit gets finalized at the general availability (GA) stage, both developers and IT pros will see some benefits, according to Docker's announcement:

When GA, Docker Linux containers on Windows will improve the Docker Linux container experience for both Windows developers and server administrators. Developers will be able to more easily build and test mixed Windows/Linux Docker applications by running containers for both platforms side-by-side on the same system.

And IT-admins that prefer Windows will soon be able to easily run (mostly) Linux-only software like HAProxy and Redis on Windows systems by way of Docker Linux containers on Windows.

Additionally, this week, Canonical announced that it has published a tutorial on how to launch Ubuntu Linux containers with Hyper-V isolation on Windows Server and Windows 10.

Windows Server 2016 Changes
The next major release of Windows Server 2016 will bring slimmed-down Nano Server images. They'll take up 80MB of disk space versus a previous 390MB size, according to Microsoft's announcement.

Microsoft had indicated back in June that Nano Server will just be used for container images, which are typically used by developers to spin up applications without conflicts. The use of Nano Server for other server roles on Windows Server 2016 is getting deprecated. Server Core is now Microsoft's preferred option for hosting virtual machines and container images on Windows Server 2016, as well as for running workloads. Updates to Server Core will get distributed according to Microsoft's semiannual channel release model.

The plans to release semiannual channel releases of Windows Server 2016 had also been explained back in June, and the version 1709 will be the first such major update release. However, only organizations with Software Assurance contracts will have access to these semiannual channel releases of Windows Server 2016. And access to Nano Server updates also will require having Software Assurance.

The semiannual channel releases for Windows Server 2016 likely will follow a biannual release cadence that's seen with Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus, in which the major releases follow a March/September release cycle. However, Microsoft hasn't laid out the specifics for the server product as yet.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for RCPmag.com and senior editor of AWSInsider.net.