Here's what's new in Windows Server Insider build 16278

Earlier today, Microsoft released Windows Server build 16278 to Insiders; however, it hadn't actually announced it, so there were no release notes. Now, the firm has finally published a changelog.

There are no new front-facing features in the build, which is no surprise, given that version 1709 of the OS is slated to be launched at Microsoft's Ignite 2017 conference, which kicks off on September 25. In fact, the company confirmed that this will be the final Server preview build before it's released later this month. Of course, that doesn't mean that this is the RTM, as the final build number will eventually line up with Windows 10 client, and the Fast ring already has a build with a greater number available.

There were, however, some general scenario highlights that were listed:

Developers and Containers:

  • New base container images (available on Windows Insider Docker Hub repo)

    • Optimized Nano Server base image (over 70% smaller)

      • The .NET team is providing a preview image based on Nano Server with .NET Core 2.0

      • The PowerShell team is providing a preview image based on PowerShell 6.0

    • Optimized Server Core base image (over 20% smaller)

  • Support for SMB volume mounting

  • Infrastructure for Orchestrators

    • Networking enhancements for ongoing Kubernetes work

    • Named pipe mapping support

  • Bug fixes, performance enhancements

Cloud Host:

  • Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) host
    • Security
      • Shielded Linux VM
      • SDN: Encrypted virtual networks
      • Secure clusters
      • SMB 1 disabled by default
    • Resiliency and Availability
      • SDN: Reduced downtime for tenant connections through gateways
      • Spaces Direct: Scoped Spaces to mitigate impact of multi-node loss
      • Spaces Direct: Marginal drive handling for predictive detection of drive failures
    • Efficiency
      • Data Deduplication available for ReFS
      • New Data Deduplication DataPort API for optimized ingress/egress
      • Space efficiency with ReFS Compaction
      • Performant Spaces Direct Multi Resilient Volumes (MRV)
    • Hyper-converged Scale
      • Cluster Sets: Significantly increases hyper-converged SDDC cloud scale by grouping multiple clusters into a larger fabric
    • Hardware support
      • Support for Storage Class Memory (SCM) in Spaces Direct

There are also some known issues to be aware of:

  • [New] Starting a system in the Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE) from a Fat32 disk partition in UEFI mode can fail, depending on the position of \sources\BOOT.WIM within the partition. This issue can block imaging and installation of the operating system.

  • Apps that call into the firewall, such apps that use networking, may become unresponsive until the user reboots because of an application hang end-task error (0xCFFFFFFF) in the Windows firewall API library (FirewallAPI.dll), which occurs when the library is blocked on an advanced local procedure call (ALPC) port while attempting to diagnose a connection failure and retrieve information.

  • Cluster Sets: A couple of key functionalities to enable end-to-end testing of Cluster Sets scenarios are not present in this build.

  • Local vs. remote management: Some command-line tools and PowerShell modules may not be available for use locally on a Server Core installation. To remotely manage RS3 Server Core by using the full set of GUI tools, command-line tools, and PowerShell modules, download Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT), available on the Windows Server Insider Preview download page.

As always, you can download Windows Server build 16278 from the official download page. The Remote Server Administration Tools are still there in x64 and x86 flavors, but those haven't been updated, although there is a new build of Server Symbols MSI.

You can use the following keys on an unlimited amount of machines:

  • Windows Server Datacenter Core: B69WH-PRNHK-BXVK3-P9XF7-XD84W

  • Windows Server Standard Core: V6N4W-86M3X-J77X3-JF6XW-D9PRV

Those keys will expire on December 4.

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