Microsoft gently leads workhorse Windows Server 1903 for a pad around the paddock

Don't mind me, I'm just the thing you run your business on

KubeCon Europe While customers gawped at the shiny bauble of Windows 10, Microsoft trotted out the 1903 version of its workhorse big brother, Windows Server.

Helpfully occurring during the Linux Foundation's Barcelona bash, KubeCon, the release is all about containers, as well as hybrid technologies and a bit of analytics. Sadly for those playing the Microsoft drinking game, AI is nowhere to be found.

Windows Server is serious stuff, you see. While Azure and its cloudy compatriots get all the attention, there are vast fleets of thrumming silicon running Microsoft's Server OS, so administrators will greet the release with interest.

Naturally, Microsoft is keen to highlight the arrival of functionality to allow Windows Server in a container on Kubernetes, something the company hopes will spur customers to at least begin the process of migrating their workloads, even if that may just be in the form of catapulting a monolithic lump of .NET code in the trendy Kubernetes world.

As well as Kubernetes, CRI Containerd has been integrated and the gang has enabled support for DirectX APIs in Windows containers. The news will please those thirsty for GPU goodness, but it is, as Microsoft admits, only a first step.

The App Compatibility Feature on Demand for Server Core, which debuted in last year's stop-start 1809 release has enjoyed a couple of tweaks with the addition of Task Scheduler and Hyper-V Manager.

The gang has also given Windows Admin Center a good buffing as well, with earlier versions of Windows squarely in the crosshairs. The Storage Migration Service (SMS) now allows direct-to-Azure (where else?) migrations from Windows Server 2003, 2008/R2, 2012/R2 or Linux Samba. The SMS then leads on to Azure File Sync.

The release is rounded out with System Insights, a local predictive analytics engine that tracks operating system metrics (such as performance or events) and provides, er, insights backed up by a machine learning model. We applaud Microsoft for resisting the urge to declare the thing AI.

If you're thinking it all looks a little light, you'd be right. The release comes swiftly on the heels of 1809 and lurks in the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC), a place where only the brave - or those with servers to spare - venture. The SAC, as its name suggests, gets two releases a year and is aimed at those seeking a faster pace.

Those sticking in the Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC), with its two- to three-year cycle, have a while to wait for their turn, but when it comes, the update will consist of most, although possibly not all, of the goodies enjoyed by the SAC team over the years. ®

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