More information about the next version of Microsoft Windows Server and System Center

Last Wednesday, reported that Microsoft announced the next version of its Client OS: Windows 10, its Server OS Windows Server and its Management Suite: System Center. Later that day Microsoft released the technical previews including more documentation about what features are added and which features are being removed.

It’s important to note that Microsoft also announced that they will also use an agile method of developing this new version of Windows Server, which means that new functionality can be added, or announced functionality can be changed. As quoted from the blog:

This early access is just one small step we are taking. We are also evolving how we ship our software and service our platform products to keep the software up-to-date. For our datacenter products, there is a duality in what customers want: in some scenarios customers tell us they favor stability and predictability while in other scenarios they want access to the latest and greatest technologies as fast as possible. We’ll have more specifics in the coming months, but you can expect us to deliver the best of both worlds: options for speed and agility, plus options for stability and durability.

For Windows Server the new features are described on TechNet and can be found here: “What’s New in the Windows Server Technical Preview“. Since we cover virtualization, lets have a look at what functionality is added to Hyper-V as described in the following article: “What’s new for Hyper-V in the Technical Preview“:

  • Rolling Hyper-V Cluster Upgrade

This feature allows customers to introduce a Windows Server Technical Preview host in their existing Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V cluster allowing them to move VMs between the nodes. By introducing so called Cluster Functional Levels, the level of the cluster can be updated to the newest version after all the old nodes have been migrated.

  • Virtual Machine Configuration Version

The virtual machine configuration version represents what version of Hyper-V the virtual machine’s configuration, saved state, and snapshot files it is compatible with. Virtual machines with configuration version 5 are compatible with Windows Server 2012 R2 and can run on both Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server Technical Preview. Virtual machines with configuration version 6 are compatible with Windows Server Technical Preview and will not run on Hyper-V running on Windows Server 2012 R2.

  • New virtual machine configuration file format

Virtual machines now have a new configuration file format which is designed to increase the efficiency of reading and writing virtual machine configuration data. It is also designed to reduce the potential for data corruption in the event of a storage failure. The new configuration files use the .VMCX extension for virtual machine configuration data and the .VMRS extension for runtime state data.

  • Storage quality of service (QoS)

This allows customers to create storage QoS policies on a Scale-Out File Server and assign them to one or more virtual disks on Hyper-V virtual machines. Storage performance is automatically readjusted to meet policies as the storage load fluctuates.

  • Production checkpoints

Allows for creation of “point in time” images of a virtual machine, which can be restored later on in a way that is completely supported for all production workloads. This is achieved by using backup technology inside the guest to create the checkpoint, instead of using saved state technology.

  • Hyper-V Manager improvements
  • Alternate credentials support
  • Down-level Management
  • Updated management protocol (WS-MAN)
  • Integration Services delivered through Windows Update

Updates to integration services for Windows guests will begin being distributed through Windows Update.

  • Hot add and remove for network adapters and memory

Add or remove a Network Adapter while the virtual machine is running, without incurring downtime. This works for generation 2 virtual machines running both Windows and Linux operating systems.

  • Linux secure boot
  • Compatible with Connected Standby, for computers that use the Always On/Always Connected (AOAC) power model

The Technical Preview of Windows Server can be downloaded as either an installable ISO or by downloading a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) which can be run on top of Hyper-V. Microsoft also made the Technical Preview of Windows Server available as a gallery item in Windows Azure. If you want to manage Windows Server Technical Preview from a Windows 10 Technical Preview machine you will need to download and install the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview.


For System Center Microsoft released technical previews of the following products:

  • Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM)
  • Service Manager (SCSM)
  • Operations Manager (SCOM)

Within the System Center Suite the following products and features will be removed, as described in the following article: “Features removed in System Center Technical Preview

  • System Center App Contoller will be discontinued. Replacement for its functionality will be Windows Azure Pack (WAP)
  • Support for Citrix XenServer as hypervisor to manage with SCVMM will be dropped
  • Support for VMware vCenter 4.1 and 5.1 will be dropped, but vCenter 5.5. and 5.8 will be supported.

What Microsoft means with vCenter 5.8 is unknown, perhaps they are referencing to the current beta of vSphere 6 which is expected to be released next year.

  • Server App-V will be discontinued
  • Visio based Management Pack Authoring for Opeations Manager will be discontinued

Especially the discontinuing of Server App-V is disappointing, since it was an interesting technique covered by numerous times. Customers who want to deploy applications on virtualized workloads will now need to use the Service Template functionality from SCVMM and/or the Gallery Item functionality in WAP.

Unfortunately the Release Notes for System Center Technical Preview do not details that much information about new functionality. So besides running the products on top of Windows Server Technical Preview and SQL Server 2014 and adding support for the new features in the Windows Server Technical Preview much more isn’t known.