Microsoft Previews New Full 'Server' Container Image for Windows Server 2022
Microsoft on Thursday announced a preview of a new full "Server" container image option for Windows Server 2022 when it uses the "desktop experience."
This Server container image is currently available for testing by Windows Insider Program participants using Windows Server 2022 build 20344. Microsoft announced the release of build 20344 on Wednesday. Windows Server 2022 has been at the preview stage since early March.
The new Server container image "will be available with [the] Windows Server 2022 release only," the announcement indicated. That statement apparently means Microsoft is not planning to backport it to the older Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019 products.
Windows Server Container Options
Windows Server has different deployment options that can be used to host containers: Server Core (medium size), Nano Server (small size) and the full GUI (large). Microsoft refers to the latter GUI option as the desktop experience.
Also, there are three container operating system base image types, per this document, namely Core, Nano Server and Windows Base. The document explained that "Windows requires the host OS version to match the container OS version."
The new Server container image, now released at the preview stage for Windows Server 2022, represents a fourth container OS base image type.
Windows Containers vs. Server Containers
Windows container images have offered the best compatibility with applications. Their use, though, is restricted to Microsoft's Windows Server-as-a-service products, which follow a "semiannual channel" update model. So, Windows container images may not be an option for some organizations wanting to deploy Windows Server in their local "on-premises" environments. Microsoft's announcement included a table clarifying those very confusing details.
Even though Windows containers have offered the best compatibility with applications, they've also had constraints that were present "by design," the announcement explained. The new Server container, now available as a preview with Windows Server 2022, dispenses with those constraints.
Here are the specific constraints that go away with the new Server container approach on Windows Server 2022, per the announcement:
The new Server container option gives Windows Server 2020 users access to fuller Windows Server capabilities, Microsoft contended.
"As we are committed to invest in the Windows containers business, we believe it is a right thing at this right time to build a new image based on a 'full' Windows Server edition to enable more capabilities," the announcement explained.
Oddly, even though the new Server container option for Windows Server 2022 offers the best and fullest Windows Server capabilities, its deployment size (3.1GB) is slightly smaller than the deployment size (3.4GB) of Windows containers.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.