Microsoft Releases Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4

Posted on November 23, 2015 by Russell Smith in Windows Server 2016 with 0 Comments

Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4 (TP4) quietly slipped out last week and introduces Hyper-V containers and improvements to Nano Server among other developments.

With most of our attention focused on the November Update for Windows 10 and the release of what’s likely to be the RTM build of Windows 10 Mobile, it would have been easy to miss the release of Windows Server 2016 TP4. In fact, the ISOs were available well before Microsoft revealed any details of what’s new.

According to Mike Neil, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for Cloud and Enterprise, Windows Server 2016 TP4 includes the following developments:

  • Application platform features, including new capabilities for Nano Server, Windows Server Containers updates and – new in this release – Hyper-V Containers, offer great opportunities for modern app development.
  • Software-defined datacenter capabilities, across storage, networking, and compute, let you reduce cost and increase agility. New security features help address evolving threats and new threat vectors.
  • Enhanced management capabilities, to give you advanced software-defined datacenter support and intuitive monitoring improvements.

Containers

Much of the interest in the forthcoming release of Windows Server is in containers, a technology that provides a way to virtualize server applications with much less overhead than a virtual machine. For more information on containers, see What are Windows Server Containers? on the Petri IT Knowledgebase.

Hyper-V containers differ from Windows Server containers in that they offer greater isolation by providing a security boundary between containers and the host server, helping to solve a problem in traditional container technology. The downside to this is that Hyper-V containers use more resources than Windows Server containers, but at least you have the option should Windows Server containers not meet your needs.

Other improvements in this preview include Nano Server support for Windows Server Containers, so rather than using a Windows Server Core image you can take advantage of the much smaller Nano Server install option. Shared folders have been added to allow folders on the host server to be accessed inside containers.

Nano Server

Another interest area has been Nano Server, a headless server install option for deploying micro services and apps in the cloud. TP4 boosts Nano Server security and reduces servicing requirements, along with the ability to use PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) for deployment and configuration management.

Nano now supports DNS and IIS server roles, and a new capability for installing AppX-based packages. To learn more about Nano, see How to Install Windows Server 2016 Nano in a VM on Petri.

Software-Defined Infrastructure

Many of the developments in Windows Server 2016 are innovations taken from Azure, and software-defined ‘everything’ is something we’re going to be seeing a lot more of.

Hyper-V

TP4 supports Hyper-V nested virtualization, which while key for enabling Hyper-V Containers, will be a great bonus for enabling Hyper-V inside VMs for testing and development purposes.

Networking

Virtual Machine Multi-Queue is new and enables 10G+ networking performance, along with high availability for the network controller, improved East-West load balancing, live migration support and better container networking.

Storage

Storage Spaces Direct now supports all flash drive configurations with Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) SSD and SATA SSD devices for improved I/O, and Erasure Coding for better storage efficiency. TP4 also sees improved health monitoring and a consolidated monitoring point for clusters. Enhancements to storage Quality of Service have also been made.

Security

One of my favorite features in Windows Server 2016, Just Enough Administration (JEA) has been developed to include domain controllers and server maintenance roles. JEA provides users with only the privileges required to perform defined tasks, helping to avoid the common practice of assigning support staff with administrative rights. For a primer on JEA, see PowerShell 5.0 Just Enough Administration (JEA) Part 1: Understanding JEA and Configuring the Demo Toolkit on Petri.

There have also been some tweaks to shielded virtual machines and the Host Guardian Service, which you can read about here: What’s New in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V.

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Download Windows Server 2016 TP4

The Windows Server 2016 TP4 ISOs are available for download now here. TP4 is also available as a virtual machine on Azure, and that the latest preview of System Center 2016 was also dropped yesterday.

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