Microsoft is using its Ignite conference this week as the launch pad for Windows Server 2016, System Center 2016, and Technical Preview 2 of its Azure Stack hybrid system.
An evaluation edition of the release to manufacturing (RTM) version of Windows Server 2016 is available for download today. Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 will be on the October 1 price list, and the product should be generally available by mid-October 2016, officials said.
All Windows Server 2016 customers will get the commercially available Docker engine for no additional cost, Microsoft officials announced today, which is a good fit, given built-in containers are a key new feature of Windows Server 2016.
Microsoft is offering free Windows Server 2016 datacenter licenses to VMware users (with some caveats) as part of a nine-month promotion for its latest server product. Microsoft previously revealed licensing information for Windows Server 2016; some of the conditions around licensing Nano Server, Microsoft's new stripped-down Windows Server installation option, are worth close examination by customers.
Azure Stack -- Microsoft's tailored operating system based on Windows Server which shares programming interfaces and services with Microsoft's Azure public cloud -- won't be available until mid-2017. Microsoft recently shifted strategies and plans for Azure Stack. It now will be a turnkey bundle with Dell, HPE, and Lenovo servers, rather than something users and partners can use on hardware of their choice.
Technical preview 2 of Azure Stack will reflect some of the changes under the covers Microsoft has made since it delivered Azure Stack Technical Preview 1 back in January 2016. (Microsoft should be revealing more details of the new services in Technical Preview 2 later this week at Ignite.)
Update: TP2 includes new foundational services in the box, including Azure Queue storage for application messaging and Azure Key Vault for keeping apps private. There also will be new updates, such as App Service, in the coming weeks, officials said today.