Microsoft offers extended support for Windows, SQL 2008: but with a catch

Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, as well as SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2, are due to move out of extended support over the next few years; SQL Server in July 2019, and Windows Server in January 2020. For organizations still using that software, this offers a few options: keep using the software and accept that it won’t receive any more security updates, migrate to newer equivalents that are still supported, or pay Microsoft for a custom support contract to continue to receive security updates beyond the cutoff dates.

Today, Microsoft added a fourth option: migrate to Azure. Microsoft is extending the support window by three years (until July 2022 for SQL Server, January 2023 for Windows Server) for workloads hosted on Azure in the cloud. This extended support means that customers that make the switch to the cloud will receive another three years of security fixes. After those three years are up, customers will be back to the original set of choices: be insecure, upgrade, or pay for a custom support contract.

Microsoft isn’t requiring customers to demonstrate that they have any kind of migration plan in place, and this support scheme incurs no additional costs beyond those already imposed by running software on Azure in the first place.

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Windows Server 2019 coming later this year, out now in preview

The next version of Windows Server will be branded Windows Server 2019, and it’ll be out in the second half of the year.

This isn’t tremendously surprising, as it fits with the schedule Microsoft has already committed to that splits Windows between a Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC), with 10 years of support and a release every three years, and a Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) with 18 months of support and a release every six months. Windows Server 2019 will be an LTSC release, and it’ll also have a corresponding Windows 10 release.

Highlights of the next version will be the new Project Honolulu Web-based interface, the integration the Windows Subsystem for Linux, and greater support for containers.

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Windows Server 2019 is now available in preview

Microsoft today announced the next version of Windows Server, which launches later this year under the not completely unexpected moniker of “Windows Server 2019.” Developers and operations teams that want to get access to the bits can now get the first preview build through Microsoft’s Insider Program.

This next version comes with plenty of new features, but it’s also worth noting that this is the next release in the Long-Term Servicing Channel for Windows Server, which means that customers will get five years of mainstream support and can get an extra five years of extended support. Users also can opt for a semi-annual channel that features — surprise — two releases per year for those teams that want to get faster access to new features. Microsoft recommends the long-term option for infrastructure scenarios like running SQL Server or SharePoint.

So what’s new in Windows Server 2019? Given Microsoft’s focus on hybrid cloud deployments, it’s no surprise that Windows Server also embraces these scenarios. Specifically, this means that Windows Server 2019 will be able to easily connect to Microsoft Azure and that users will be able to integrate Azure Backup, File Sync, disaster recover and other services into they Windows Server deployments.

Microsoft also added a number of new security features, which are mostly based on what the company has learned from running Azure and previous version of Windows. These include new shielded VMs for protecting Linux applications and support for Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, one of Microsoft’s flagship security products that helps guard machines against attacks and zero-day exploits.

With this release, Microsoft is also bringing its container technologies from the semi-annual release channel to the long-term release channel. These include the ability to run Linux containers on Windows and the Windows Subsystem for Linux that enables this, as well as the ability to run Bash scripts on Windows. And for those of you who are really into containers, Microsoft also today noted that it will offer more container orchestration choices, including Kubernetes support, soon. These will first come to the semi-annual channel, though.

You can find a more detailed breakdown of what’s new in this release here.

Microsoft rationalizes and rebrands Windows 10, Office updates again

One of the more visible aspects of Windows as a Service is that Microsoft has been learning as it goes along, and didn’t come straight out the gate with a clear vision of precisely how Windows updates would be delivered, or when. Initially the plan was to push each release out to consumers as the “Current Build” (CB),  and a few months later bless it as good for businesses, as the “Current Build for Business” (CBB).

A clearer plan has been crystalizing over the last few months, first with the announcement in April that Windows and Office would have synchronized, twice-annual releases, and then June’s announcement that Windows Server would also be on the semi-annual release train.

Today, Microsoft has put all the pieces together and delivered what should be the long-term plan for Windows, Windows Server, and Office updates. It’s not a huge shake-up from the cobbled together plan before, but the naming is new and consistent.

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Windows Server to copy Windows 10, get twice-yearly feature updates

The way Microsoft updates Windows Server 2016 is going to get a bit of a shake-up as Microsoft continues to unify its Windows development and deliver new features on a regular basis.

Just as is already the case with Windows 10 and Office, Windows Server is going to receive twice-yearly feature updates.

This new policy addresses one of the big unknowns of Microsoft’s unified Windows development. The desktop version of Windows 10 has picked up, for example, new features for the Hyper-V virtualization platform; these are features that server operators might well want. Putting those Windows 10 features in the hands of desktop users is straightforward, as they can just be put into one of the twice-annual feature updates. But until now, Microsoft hadn’t said how Windows Server users would be able to get their hands on the same new capabilities.

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Windows Server moves to a semi-annual release schedule

 Microsoft today announced a major change to how it will deliver new releases of Windows Server going forward. Instead of a release every few years (the last few major versions arrived in 2008, 2012 and 2016), Microsoft will now move to a semi-annual cycle that will see the company launch feature updates every spring and fall. This new release cadence, which is similar to what Microsoft is… Read More

Microsoft launches new tools to help enterprises move to its Azure cloud

 Since the dawn of Azure, Microsoft has talked about how enterprises can benefit from a hybrid cloud approach — that is, using the public cloud while still running some of their applications in their own data centers. Even today, Microsoft says that 80 percent of the companies it talks to still want to use a hybrid cloud approach and to help them move to its cloud services, the company… Read More

Use Windows Server with Skylake and you won’t have to upgrade in 18 months

In January Microsoft announced that owners of systems using Skylake processors would have to upgrade to Windows 10 within 18 months of the announcement, and that users of Intel Kaby Lake systems, due to be released later this year, would only be supported in Windows 10.

This raised an obvious question: what will the situation be for users of Windows Server 2008, based on Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 R2, based on Windows 7, Windows Server 2012, based on Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 R2, based on Windows 8.1, and the as-yet unreleased Windows Server 2016, based on Windows 10? Specifically, which versions of the server operating system will support Skylake and Kaby Lake, and will server operators be required to upgrade to Windows Server 2016 to get support for these processors?

Today the company answered those questions, and surprisingly, given that the operating systems share so many underlying components, the answer is different.

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