And, I was right. Windows Server vNext is delayed. Microsoft took to the Server & Cloud Blog today to make the announcement, but gave very little detail.
(From this point forward, I'll be referring to Windows Server vNext as Windows 10 Server. Because that's essentially what it is.)
Just last week In Missing in Action: Windows 10 Server, I surmised the release of the next version of Windows Server might slip. Some scoffed at the idea, but they had good reason to do that, particularly since Microsoft took the huge step just a couple years back to set policy to always release a new Windows client and Windows Server together. But, this is a new Microsoft. And, frankly, Windows Server 2012 R2 is probably enough. Let me explain.
Most folks actually using Windows Server 2012 R2 (reports show the customer base isn't huge) are running it in Server Core mode, which pretty much eliminates the hated Windows 8-type interface anyway. Windows 10 is Microsoft's attempt to fix the woes brought on by a misunderstood Windows 8 interface. With this in mind, what could a Windows 10 Server bring to that party other than another new interface?
Think about it. I've had this discussion with a few folks already, but it's worth piecing out here.
Windows Server 2012 R2 is actually a pretty amazing platform. It's secure and feature rich. It's probably the best server OS Microsoft has ever created, despite the horrid Windows 8-like UI. But, sadly, this amazing version hasn't seen the uptake that it should, and definitely not the uptake Microsoft desired.
Windows Server 2003 reaches end of life on July 14, 2015, and Microsoft and its partners are putting a mighty effort behind promoting Windows Server 2012 R2 as the cure for migration ills. What happens when companies do migrate, but then are then prompted to upgrade again if Windows 10 Server were to release in late summer as originally expected? That's putting a lot of additional, unneeded burden and cost on the customer.
Think, too, that on-premises is not Microsoft's intended direction. Customers will hover on-premises for quite a bit longer if recent server and datacenter hardware investment reports are any indication, and Microsoft has promised to continue to support those customer decisions. Yet still, Microsoft has dedicated itself to follow Satya's lead, who incidentally came from the Cloud-side of Microsoft, and not deliver any new feature unless there was a clear Cloud trait.
Windows 10 Server is currently in Technical Preview, along with Windows 10 client, and it does offer new features. But, really, if you take a long look at the list of new features, these are essentially improvements to what exists already in Windows Server 2012 R2 today. So, why reinvent a perfectly good server OS? Why not just deliver a massive improvement update to Windows Server 2012 R2 and be done with it?
If Windows 10 is the last major client version for Windows, I'd be fine with (and I know others would, too) Windows Server 2012 R2 being the last major version of Server. Of course, a new server version also means the potential for new software sales. But, if Microsoft's direction is to move companies to its Cloud Platform (and it is), it has to start weaning itself off on-premises dependencies some time. This could be the line in the sand.