Microsoft's Windows Server 2016 hits general availability

Microsoft is rolling out the RTM version of Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 as of today, Oct. 12.

Microsoft is making available the release-to-manufacturing bits of Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 today, Oct. 12.

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Microsoft officials said at the company's recent Ignite conference that customers should be able to get the final Windows Server 2016 bits by mid-October. During Ignite, Microsoft released the Evaluation version of Windows Server 2016, but not the final version. At Ignite, officials also announced all Windows Server 2016 customers will get the commercially available Docker engine for no additional cost.

As of today, Microsoft is releasing the RTM version of its latest Server release to MSDN, as an Azure image and via its Volume Licensing Service Center. (Thanks to Aidan Finn and Marko Loukkaanhuhta for the heads up on Azure and MSDN availability, and to Tero Alhonen for the VLSC confirmation.)

Windows Server 2016 Datacenter is one of a handful of Windows Server 2016 editions Microsoft is releasing this year. The Datacenter version is for "highly virtualized datacenter and cloud environments". Other editions include Windows Server 2016 Standard, Essentials, MultiPoint Premium Server, Storage Server, and Hyper-V Server.

On the licensing front, Windows Server 2016 Datacenter and Standard will be licensed by core, as Microsoft announced a year ago; Essentials, Multipoint Premium, Storage Server are licensed by processor, as this chart from a recent Microsoft Australia OEM Team blog post makes clear. Users who want to deploy Nano Server mode -- whether on Datacenter or Standard -- need to have Software Assurance coverage in order to do so.

Nano Server is one of three installation options in both Windows Server 2016 Standard and Datacenter. (The other two are Server with Desktop Experience and Server Core.) The Long Term Servicing Branch option is not available for Nano Server, and the more frequently updated Current Branch for Business servicing model is not available for Server with Desktop and Server Core. See this blog post for more details on the coming servicing options.

Datacenter Edition allows users to run an unlimited number of operating system environments/Hyper-V containers, while Standard Edition allows only two. Datacenter Edition also includes features like Storage Spaces Direct and Storage Replica, Shielded virtual machines, and a networking stack, which are not part of Standard Edition.

Anyone interested in seeing demos of the latest Windows Server 2016 features and who want to ask questions of some of the experts behind the product may want to tune into a Webcast on Windows Server 2016 on Oct. 13 at 12 pm ET. (No registration required.)

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