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Microsoft Releases Windows Server 2022 Preview

Microsoft this week announced during its Ignite event that Window Server 2022 is currently availability at the preview stage.

The Windows Server 2022 preview is a long-term servicing channel (LTSC) product version. It can be downloaded by Windows Insider Program participants at this page, or it can be tested on Azure virtual machine infrastructure via an Azure Portal download from the Azure Marketplace. The latter option delivers Azure Security Baseline settings that are configured by default.

Some related management portal news was announced, as well, such as the "general availability" release of Windows Admin Center version 2103 (see this video for an overview), including its integration within the Azure Portal at the preview stage.

Windows Admin Center version 2103 notably includes support for Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows. This feature, which was at the preview stage back in January, "facilitates installation, configuration, and diagnostics of IoT Edge on the Linux virtual machine."

Windows Server 2022 Features
Windows Server 2020 has three straightforward enhancements with regard to security, portal integration and Windows Containers support on Kubernetes.

On the Kubernetes side, the Windows Container image size has been reduced, which is described as improving performance and download speeds. It's "smaller by about a gigabyte," according to Bernardo Caldas, vice president of program management at Microsoft, in this Ignite session. Other Kubernetes support embellishments include:

  • The ability to run "applications that depend on Azure Active Directory with group Managed Services Accounts (gMSA) without domain joining the container host."
  • The ability to set policy using Calico across "hybrid Kubernetes clusters."
  • Easier Kubernetes setup, including node configuration for host-process containers and IPv6 support.

Some workload stats for the new server were described. Microsoft is claiming that Windows Server 2022 can support "large-scale applications like SQL Server that require 48TB of memory and 2,048 logical cores running on 64 physical sockets."

Windows Server 2022 will have built-in security capabilities, such as using HTTPS and Transport Layer Security 1.3 by default. The Server Message Block protocol in Windows Server 2022 will use AES-256 encryption. The big news, though, is the addition of Secured-core protection.

Secured-Core Server Protection
On the security front, a new feature in Windows Server 2022 is its "Secured-core server" capability, which adds security protections at the firmware level when using qualified hardware.

Secured-core server is a hardware (Trusted Platform Module 2.0) and virtualization-based security approach designed to attest that the operating system hasn't been compromised by so-called "rootkits" or "bootkits" at the bootup stage, or corrupted by tainted drivers. Such a protection scheme is already available on the client side in commercially released Windows 10 Secured-core PCs.

The Secured-core approach also is getting extended to Microsoft's Azure Stack HCI product, plus "Azure-certified IoT devices," Microsoft explained in this announcement by David Weston, director of enterprise and OS security at Microsoft. Secured-core protections won't just apply to Windows systems, but also will work for Linux operating systems, he added.

The release of Windows Server 2022 Secured-core server products will depend on the timing of Microsoft's chip (AMD and Intel) and original equipment manufacturer hardware partners. However, new machines are expected to arrive sometime this year, according to Caldas during the Ignite session.

"You can expect to see new Secured-core systems from Dell EMC, HP Enterprise, Lenovo and others later this year," he said.

The current Windows Admin Center release has a new "Security" tool at the preview stage that will show "the current state of Secured-core features." It also lets users enable Secured-core features, if applicable, Microsoft indicated.

Management Portal Integration
Microsoft's management and migration solutions were part of the Windows Server 2022 news. A summary of what's new in Windows Admin Center version 2103 and the Windows Admin Center in the Azure Portal was published by Microsoft in this Twitter post.

Microsoft is claiming that its "Azure Arc and Storage Migration Service are two key hybrid capabilities that work best with Windows Server 2022." Azure Arc is Microsoft's multicloud management tool that also supports server management on-premises. The Storage Migration Service permits the "seamless connectivity of file servers on-premises to file servers on Azure," as well as "low latency" data migrations to the cloud.

Also, the browser-based Window Admin Center portal is now integrated with the Azure Portal. It's free to use and permits the management of virtual machines (based on Windows Server 2016 and newer) using that portal, per Microsoft's documentation.

IT pros will get an enhanced view of virtual machine information via the Windows Admin Center integration, Microsoft's announcement promised:

With the addition of Windows Admin Center, we have supplemented this great management experience with additional opportunities such as an enhanced view of virtual machine usage, performance monitoring, viewing of events, and much more. We expect this to reduce the need for you to remote desktop into your virtual machine for administration improving your experience as you deploy and maintain virtual machines with or without a GUI.

Secured use of the Windows Admin Center in the Azure Portal is assured by an "integrated certificate experience," Microsoft indicated.

Microsoft is also touting Azure Automanage for Windows virtual machine management, which is an Azure Portal capability that's at the preview stage. It has a new hotpatch capability for Windows Server virtual machines "without needing to reboot," according to an announcement. It now includes support for Linux virtual machines, including "CentOS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Ubuntu, and SLES" distros. However, right now, the Linux management lacks the ability to use the hotpatch feature and Microsoft anti-malware, and it has a different Guest Configuration behavior.

Microsoft also this week announced a preview of App Containerization, a new Azure Migrate tool for containerizing existing applications and moving them to Microsoft's Azure Kubernetes Service. The preview supports the containerization of ASP.NET applications on Windows Server and Java Web apps on Apache Tomcat on Linux machines.

Windows Server 2022 Support and Licensing
Nothing was shared, apparently, in the Ignite announcements about the editions, support and licensing to expect when Windows Server 2022 reaches the commercial-release stage.

Typically, the LTSC designation would suggest that the Windows Server 2022 product, when released, would have 10 years of support, divided into two five-year periods (called "mainstream" and "extended" support). Ten years of support is the expectation when Windows Server 2022 LTSC gets commercially released.

Microsoft did announce last month that it planned to halve the traditional 10 years of support for the next Windows 10 and Office LTSC releases. However, nothing was said then about the next Windows Server LTSC product.

Editions and licensing details regarding Windows Server 2022 LTSC weren't described. Traditional licensing options are expected.

However, we do know that Microsoft's next application server products (Exchange, SharePoint, Project and Skype for Business) will have their licensing switched to being on a subscription basis. Microsoft had talked about that change back in September during last year's Ignite event. Those new application server products are expected to appear sometime in the second half of this year.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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