Microsoft's Windows Server team released a preview of the next Windows Server product, Windows Server 2019, yesterday to the public.
Windows Server 2019 Preview is available for any participant of the Windows Insider program but the post on Microsoft's Windows Server website is unfortunately a bit vague when it comes to actual downloads of the preview version of Windows Server.
The very first thing you need to do is register an organization account or a personal account; Registering in this case means that you join the Windows Insider Program with the account so that you may download and use Insider Builds.
Once you have done that head over to the Windows Insider Preview Server download page and select "Windows Server vNext LTSC PReview" under available downloads. You can download localized versions of the Server 2019 Preview ISO and have 24 hours to download the 4.2 Gigabyte ISO image from Microsoft.
Microsoft plans to release the final version of Windows Server 2019 in the second half of the calendar year 2018. The company plans to release System Center 2019 as well which will support Windows Server 2019.
Windows Server 2019 uses Windows Server 2016 as its foundation. The new server product is a Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release that will be available as Desktop Experience and Server Core installation options.
The product has the same licensing model as Windows Server 2016 but Microsoft notes that the company might (likely) increase the "pricing for Windows Client Access Licensing (CAL)".
So, what is new in Windows Server 2019? Microsoft highlights four areas of improvement: hybrid cloud scenarios, security, application platform and hyper-converged infrastructure.
Hybrid cloud scenarios
Project Honolulu, a locally deployed platform to manage Windows and Windows Server, will be available as a management platform.
With Windows Server 2019 and Project Honolulu, customers will be able to easily integrate Azure services such as Azure Backup, Azure File Sync, disaster recovery, and much more so they will be able to leverage these Azure services without disrupting their applications and infrastructure.
Microsoft introduced Shielded virtual machines (VMs) in Windows Server 2016 to better protect VMs against attacks. Windows Server 2019 adds support for Linux virtual machines to Shielded VMs.
Other improvements include support for Encrypted Networks which let admins encrypt "network segments" easily, and improved troubleshooting of Shielded VMs when using VMConnect.
Windows Server 2019 includes Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection as well.
Microsoft promises that Server 2019 will improve Windows Server containers and the Windows Subsystem on Linux.
Two key aspects to call out for the developer community are improvements to Windows Server containers and Windows Subsystem on Linux (WSL).
The Server Core base container image size was reduced by 72% from its current size of 5 Gigabytes which improves the time it takes to deploy the image.
Other improvements include improved support for Kubernetes (beta) and support for OpenSSH, Curl and Tar to help "Linux users bring their scripts to Windows".
Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI)
Windows Server 2016 supports HCI and customers may use the Windows Server Software Defined program to find appropriate solutions.
HCI is improved in Windows Server 2019 significantly.
In Windows Server 2019 we are building on this platform by adding scale, performance, and reliability. We are also adding the ability to manage HCI deployments in Project Honolulu, to simplify the management and day-to-day activities on HCI environments.
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