Missing in Action: Windows 10 Server

Missing in Action: Windows 10 Server

Microsoft was in rare form during its latest press event for Windows 10 on January 21, showing off some exciting new features coming for its next OS, and also shocking those that attended and tuned in with some decidedly exciting new Microsoft-branded devices. The devices, an 84 inch, 4K display with white boarding, video call, and Kinect-type gesture capability called the Surface Hub and the HoloLens, Microsoft's better than GoogleGlass holographic headset, pretty much stole the show.

Check out the full list of announcements and our coverage here: One List for All the New Windows 10 Announcements

But, through the glitz and glamor there was one thing sorely missing. And, the absence of this particular piece is concerning.

Microsoft took the, roughly, hour and half to describe and detail a unified code base important to the future of Windows. By providing a common framework that can install on any Windows-capable device, Windows 10 will only add to an already fantastic turnaround story for the company. Only a year ago, the industry was scratching heads, wondering if Microsoft was too big, and too cumbersome to be relevant. Partners were scrambling to find other avenues to generate revenue, some blaming Microsoft for a failing PC market.

But, Microsoft's Windows 10 event focused solely on unified code that encompassed PCs, tablets, smartphones, and devices. Read the list again: PCs, tablets, smartphones, and devices. Can you see what's missing?


Windows Server 2012 R2 is a solid product and when announced, brought with it a huge number of advancements. Windows Server 2012 R2 is pretty much the staple upgrade for those migrating from Windows Server 2008, and definitely Windows Server 2003, which many are in the midst of retiring now. And, for good reason, considering that Windows Server 2003 reaches end of life on July 14, 2015.

With so many companies in migration mode, and a new OS from Microsoft delivering later this year (September or October, probably), it's interesting to see that 1) Microsoft has made no mention of a Windows 10 Server, and 2) Microsoft is continuing to push Windows Server 2012 R2 as the goto platform for migrations. That tells you something.

Does this mean that there will be no Windows 10 Server version? Timing is definitely part of the issue. Windows Server 2003 expires in July and Windows Server 2012 R2 is the only available server OS. If Microsoft intends to keep server on the same pace as Windows 10, we'll not see it release until later this year. But, does that mean we'll be facing yet another server upgrade push come 2016?

Obviously, Microsoft is using Windows 10 to fix the perceived problems with Windows 8, which has never been able to gain traction due to the dramatically different UI. But, a unified code is a unified code, right? If Windows 10 will be all things to all devices, shouldn't it also be available to install on a server?

So far, there's no communication from Microsoft on when a server version of Windows 10 will be available. Today, in the TechNet Evaluation Center, you can sign-up to participate in the Windows Server Technical Preview program. You can also take a glance at the proposed new features in the TechNet Library. Oh, there's been whispers, but really not enough for us hardcore server junkies to figure out Microsoft's story here or if one actually exists. I'll admit that server is not as glamorous as HoloLens or Surface Hub, but c'mon, there's a good portion of us that do care about the backbone of the business.

I don't doubt that a new Windows Server version will release. But, with so much focus on Windows Server 2012 R2 as the migratory path for Windows Server 2003 customers, might we see a slip in release dates? Of course, who really needs Windows Server when you have the Cloud, right?

Still, it would great to see Microsoft put just an ounce more effort in outlining its strategy for Windows Server.


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