Microsoft delivers final public test builds of Windows Server 2016, System Center 2016

Microsoft is making the feature-complete builds of Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 available to testers. Next stop: RTM.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is making available today to testers its final public technical previews of Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016. Technical Preview 5 (TP5) of both products are available for download on April 27.


Both of these previews are considered "feature-complete" at this point, said Jeremy Winter, Partner Director Program Management for System Center & Services.

"The current thinking is these are our last technical previews" before RTM, or release to manufacturing, Winter said.

Microsoft officials indicated previously that Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 would be generally available in the third calendar quarter of 2016. It sounds like that's still the plan, with Winter saying "Fall" was still the general-availability target.

Microsoft officials said TP5 of Windows Server 2016 includes very little in terms of brand-new features beyond what was in the Windows Server 2016 TP4 build -- the first one to include Hyper-V containers -- in November 2015. It does include improvements to the core security features already there, such as shielded virtual machines; software-defined compute, storage and network virtualization; Windows Server and Hyper-V containers; and Nano Server deployment mode.

But the new System Center 2016 TP5 does include a number of new features beyond what was in TP4, according to Microsoft.

System Center 2016 is focused on hybrid/multi-cloud deployment, management and montioring. It also includes broader support for mixed environments, including those built on the LAMP stack. System Center 2016 will integrate with Microsoft's Operations Management Suite. Microsoft officials are calling it a "significant upgrade" to System Center 2012 R2.

"We are setting stage for future iterations as cloud technologies start to unfold, going into next year," said Winter.

With TP5, testers can check out new scenarios with Virtual Machine Manager, including the management of Nano-Server based hosts and virtual machines and "guarded hosts," which provide the infrastructure for shielded VMs. It also includes Operations Manager updates around Nano Server deployments and Unix/Linux server monitoring improvements.

There are Configuration Manager updates in TP5, as well, including the ability to deploy and upgrade Windows 10 with in-place upgrades. Updates around managing iOS, Android and Windows devices using mobile-device management when connected with Intune are part of TP5, too.

A final note for those who might be wondering if the new PowerShell module for Docker, which Microsoft discussed at Build 2016, is part of today's Windows Server 2016 TP5, the answer is no. Microsoft is planning to open source the work to build PowerShell comandlets manageable by Docker (on Windows or Linux), but that hasn't happened yet.

Update (April 27): Actually, the open sourcing of the new PowerShell module for Docker just happened today. It's under an MIT license. More information about what's next is here.

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