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Microsoft to deliver third Windows Server 2016 preview with Windows Container support

Microsoft is making available Windows Server 2016 Preview 3, the first of its previews to include Windows Container support.

Microsoft is making its third technical preview of Windows Server 2016 available to testers on August 19.

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The bits should be available around noon ET today for download, if all goes according to plan.

The Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3 build includes support for one of the types of containers that Microsoft will be building into the product. Microsoft's Windows Server containers, which provide users with a way to run applications isolated from the rest of the operating environment, are in this build. Windows Server Containers are part of the Docker open source project. These containers can be deployed and managed either using PowerShell or the Docker container-deployment client.

But the coming Hyper-V containers are not yet built into this preview. Microsoft officials said the Hyper-V containers will be available in some future preview build, but wouldn't commit to a particular time frame.

As of today Microsoft will make available updates to Visual Studio and Visual Studio Online that support Windows Server Containers in the new preview build. Users will be able to create a Windows Server Container host in Azure, publish ASP.NET web or console apps into containers and deploy their apps to a container host.

Today's preview also includes updates to the Nano Server deployment mode. There's a new Emergency Management Console allowing users to view and fix their networking configurations directly from the Nano Server console, and a new PowerShell script that allows creation of a Nano Azure virtual machine.

Nano Server will offer Windows Server customers the option of running Windows Server stripped down to its smallest footprint. Nano Server will be about 1/20th the size of Windows Server Core, and will consist only of the essential components (Hyper-V, Clustering, Networking, Storage, .Net, Core CLR) -- and no UI.

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There's also now network controller support in the preview and a layer that adds software load-balancing functionality.

Microsoft's TechNet article on Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3 includes information on a few additional enhancements available with today's preview.

Microsoft also is making the third technical preview of System Center 2016 available on August 19, officials said.

There will be a number of additional previews of Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 coming before the products are generally available some time in calendar 2016, Microsoft officials confirmed.