What’s new in Windows Server 2016?

Windows Server 2016 is the next upcoming server operating system from Microsoft. A technical preview was released in November 2015, and the final version is expected to be released sometime around the 3rd quarter of 2016. if the final version hasn’t been released at the time you are reading this article, you can download the technical preview version from Microsoft at this URL.

In this article, I try to list the most important features packed in Windows Server 2016. for full details of all the features contained in this release, please see the references below.

windows 2016

Windows Containers

Containers is not a new concept, they have been used in Unix for a long time, and they are very popular in Linux server deployments, take a look at Docker for example, but they are new in Windows, and most likely they borrowed the idea from Linux. what is a container anyways? to understand containers you need to have an overall understanding of what a Virtual Machine ( VM ) is first. because containers were born out of the need of solving some of the virtual machine issues, and one big issue about virtual machines is that they utilize a lot of resources. virtual machines run at the hardware level, every time you set up a new VM, you need to configure a specified amount of CPU, RAM and hard drive space to be used by that VM, when you stack up a lot of VMs in a host, you can run out of system resources quickly. containers, on the other hand, don’t need resources to be allocated to them, they utilize the host operating system resources i.e. RAM, CPU, and storage, etc. in other words, containers utilize fewer resources so you can run much more services from a host than you do with VMs. so yeah, containers are new in Windows 2016, and I’m looking forward to it.

Active Directory Services ( AD DS )

There are some new features in AD DS in Windows Server 2016. some of the new features are:

  • Privileged access management
  • AD join to Azure
  • Microsoft Password
  • RFS depreciation and Windows 2003 functional levels

Failover Clustering

  • Clustering OS rolling upgrade
  • Storage Replica
  • Cloud Witness
  • VM resiliency
  • Diagnostic Improvements in Failover Clustering
  • Site-aware Failover Clusters
  • Workgroup and Multi-domain clusters

Q. What is OS rolling upgrade?

it enables a sysadmin to upgrade the OS of the cluster nodes from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016

without stopping the Hyper-V or the Scale-Out File Server workloads. Using these feature administrators will minimize downtime greatly.

Q. What is Storage Replica?

Storage Replica is a new feature that enables storage-agnostic, block-level, synchronous replication between servers or clusters for disaster recovery, as well as stretching of a failover cluster between sites. Synchronous replication enables mirroring of data in physical sites with crash-consistent volumes to ensure zero data loss at the file-system level. Asynchronous replication allows site extension beyond metropolitan ranges with the possibility of data loss

Q. What is VM resiliency?

VM Resiliency in Windows Server 2016 includes increased virtual machines compute resiliency to help reduce intra-cluster communication issues in your computer cluster as follows: Resiliency options available for virtual machines: You can now configure virtual machine resiliency options that define the behavior of the virtual machines during transient failures:

Resiliency Level: Helps you define how the transient failures are handled.

Resiliency Period: Helps you define how long all the virtual machines are allowed to run isolated.

Quarantine of unhealthy nodes: Unhealthy nodes are quarantined and are no longer allowed to join the cluster. This prevents flapping nodes from negatively affecting other nodes and the overall cluster.

Q. What is Workgroup and Multi-domain clusters?  

In Windows Server 2012 R2 and previous OS versions, a cluster can only be created between member nodes joined to the same domain. Windows Server 2016 breaks down these barriers and introduces the ability to create a Failover Cluster without Active Directory dependencies. You can now create failover clusters in the following configurations:

  • Single-domain Clusters
  • Multi-domain Clusters
  • Workgroup Clusters

Nano Server

What’s New in Nano Server? Nano Server now has an updated module for building Nano Server images, including more separation of physical host and guest virtual machine functionality as well as support for different Windows Server editions.

There are also improvements to the Recovery Console, including separation of inbound and outbound firewall rules as well as the ability to repair the configuration of WinRM.


Hyper-V also features some useful features in Server 2016. some of those features are:

  • Compatible with Connected Standby
  • Discrete device assignment
  • Hot-add and remove for network adapters and memory
  • Hyper-V Manager improvements
  • Integration services delivered through Windows Update
  • Linux Secure Boot
  • Nested virtualization
  • Networking features
  • Production checkpoints
  • Rolling Hyper-V Cluster upgrade
  • Storage quality of service
  • Shielded virtual machines
  • Virtual machine configuration file format
  • Virtual machine configuration version
  • Windows Containers ( mentioned above )

Remote Desktop Services

Terminal services also feature some good features in this release:

  • personal session desktops
  • Support for generation 2 VMs
  • Remote Pen support ( for those using touchscreen devices )
  • The new browser EDGE is supported in Windows 2016.
  • Windows MultiPoint services.

There are many more features packed in this Windows Server 2016 release. Please see the references below to see the full details.

What are the system requirements for Windows 2016?

    • Processor Minimum: 1.4 GHz 64-bit processor
    • RAM Minimum: 512 MB
    • Storage Minimum 32GB

Please notice that those are the minimum specs recommended by Microsoft to run Windows 2016, but in reality, if you want to have a positive experience installing, and testing the OS I would double the resources listed above.


I didn’t include all the features packed in Windows Server 2016. Please look at the references below to get a full list. these features listed are the ones I believe are the most important ones. Windows 2016 is a great release, and I assume a lot of businesses will be upgrading to this release once it becomes available for production.

Reference resources:

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