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Upgrade and Conversion Options for Windows Server 2016 / 2019

It is always a good idea to start a new Windows Server 2016 / 2019 installation on a new slate. However, in some instances, you may be working on a site that will force you to upgrade from the current installation to the latest version.

The routines described here apply to the server versions of Windows 2016 and 2019. This article describes moving to Windows Server 2016 / 2019 from different lower server platforms.

The path to the new Operating System (OS) depends on the current system and configurations that you are running.

That being the case, the following terms define activities you are likely to encounter when deploying the 2016 Server.

Installation

The simplest way of installing a new OS to work on your hardware, and get a clean installation, demands that you delete the previous Operating System.

Migration

To move system settings to the new Windows Server using a virtual machine is what we call migration. The process also varies depending on the roles and system configurations already running.

Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade

This feature is new in Windows Server 2016, and its role is to make sure the Administrator can upgrade the Operating System of all nodes running Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016, without interfering with the Hyper-V or Scale-Out File Server workloads.

The feature also helps in reducing downtime, which may affect Service Level Agreements.

License Conversion

Some Operating Systems use releases that allow the conversion of one edition to another without so much struggling.

What you need is a simple command issued alongside a license key, and you end doing the license conversion.

Upgrade

When you want to use the latest software that comes with the newer versions, then you have to do an upgrade.

In-place upgrades mean using the same hardware for installing the new Operating System. For example, you can upgrade from evaluation to retail version or from a volume license to an ordinary retail edition.

NOTE 1: An upgrade will work well in virtual machines if you do not need specific OEM hardware drivers.

NOTE 2: Following the Windows Server 2016 release, you can only perform an upgrade on a version installed using the Desktop Experience (not a server core option).

NOTE 3: If you use NIC teaming, disable it before you perform an upgrade; and when the upgrade is complete, re-enable it.

Upgrade Retail Versions of Windows Server to Windows Server 2016 / 2019

Note the following general principles:

  • Upgrading a 32-bit to 64-bit architectures is not possible. Note that all Windows Server 2016 versions are only available in 64-bit.
  • You cannot upgrade from one language to another.
  • If you are running a domain controller, make sure you can handle the task, or read the following article: Upgrade Domain Controllers to Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012.
  • You cannot upgrade from a preview version.
  • You cannot switch from Server Core installation to a Server with a Desktop installation.
  • You cannot upgrade from a Previous Windows Server installation to an evaluation copy of Windows Server.

You can read from the table below that shows a summary of Windows Operating Systems available for upgrade. If you are unable to upgrade your current Windows version, then upgrading to Windows Server 2016 is impossible

Current Windows Edition Possible Upgrade Edition
  • Windows Server 2012 Standard
  • Windows Server 2016 Standard or Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2016 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard
  • Windows Server 2016 Standard or Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2016 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials
  • Windows Server 2016 Essentials
  • Windows Storage Server 2012 Standard
  • Windows Storage Server 2016 Standard
  • Windows Storage Server 2012 Workgroup
  • Windows Storage Server 2016 Workgroup
  • Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Standard
  • Windows Storage Server 2016 Standard
  • Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Workgroup
  • Windows Storage Server 2016 Workgroup

Per-Server-Role Considerations for Upgrading

It’s important to consider server roles before performing an upgrade.

For example, some server roles are part of the newer Windows versions and may only need additional preparation or actions to get the desired intent.

Converting Current Evaluation Version to Current Retail Version

It is possible to convert the trial version of Windows Server 2016 Standard to a Data 2016 Standard Server or a Datacenter version. The two conversions can be retail versions. You can also convert Windows Server 2016 Datacenter to the retail version.

Before making any conversion attempts to the retail version, ensure that your server is running an evaluation version; you can confirm this by following these steps:

  • From the administrator’s command prompt, run
slmgr.vbs /dlv;
  • The evaluation versions will include “EVAL” as the output
  • Open the control panel
  • Then click on System and Security
  • Click on System
  • View the activation status found on the activation area of the System page
  • Click view details, and you will see more information on your Windows Status
  • If your Windows is activated, you will see information showing the remaining time for the evaluation period.

If you are running a retail version, you will see the “Upgrading previous retail versions of Windows Server 2016” message prompting you to upgrade to Windows Server 2016.

In Windows Server 2016 Essentials, the conversion to retail version is possible if you have a retail volume license or OEM key in the command slmgr.vbs

In case you are running an evaluation version of Windows Server 2016 Standard or Windows Server 2016 Datacenter, the following conversions can help you:

  • If the server is a domain controller, it cannot change to the retail version. First, install another domain controller on a server that runs a retail version and remove the AD DS from the domain controller that has the evaluation version.
  • Read the license terms
  • From the administrator’s command prompt, enter this command to get the current edition:
DISM /online /Get-CurrentEdition

Note the edition ID, the abbreviation form of the edition name, and then run the following command:

DISM /online /Set-Edition:<edition ID> /ProductKey:XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX /AcceptEula

Once you get the ID and product key, the server should restart twice.

You can convert the evaluation version of Windows Server 2016 Standard to the retail version of Windows Server 2016 Datacenter using the same command and product key.

Converting Current Retail Edition to a Different Current Retail Edition

After successful installation of Windows Server 2016, you can run setup to repair the installation using a process called “repair in place” that converts it to a different edition.

In case of Windows Server 2016 Standard, you can convert the system to Windows Server 2016 Datacenter by:

  • From the administrator’s command prompt, use the following command to determine the existing edition:
DISM /online /Get-CurrentEdition
  • Run this command to get the ID of the edition you want to upgrade to:
DISM /online /Get-TargetEditions
  • Note the ID edition, the name of the edition, and then run this command:
DISM /online /Set-Edition:<edition ID> /ProductKey:XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX /AcceptEula
  • Once you get the ID and product key, the server should restart twice.

Converting Current Retail Version to Current Volume Licensed Version

Once you have Windows Server 2016 running, you can convert it to a retail version, an OEM version, or a volume-licensed version. The edition will not change.

If the starting point was an evaluation version, change it to retail version and then do as follows:

  • From the administrator’s command, run this command:
slmgr /ipk <key>
  • Insert the appropriate volume license, OEM or retail key instead of <key>

Conclusion

Upgrading Windows Server is a complicated process; therefore, Microsoft suggests that you migrate all roles and settings to Windows Server 2016 to avoid costly mistakes.

An Introduction to Windows Server 2019 Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection

Security is one of the biggest investments that Microsoft has made to its latest Windows Servers releases.

Notably, the Windows Server 2019 biggest security feature is the support for Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP).

ATP is a technology that Microsoft provides for preventive protection of users’ devices. It conducts  automated security investigations and responds accordingly.

The ATP is a unified platform that offers a preventive and automated response.

This support feature was only available for Windows 10 devices; and now, it can be accessed on the WS2019 platform, as well as other latest Server versions.

How Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection Provides Security

Here are some methods that ATP uses to maximize the security of the Windows Server 2019.

1. Robust Cloud Control Services

This security platform offers a complete solution through cloud control with no additional deployments or infrastructural requirements.

There are no delay experiences, and the system will always remain up to date, without bringing any  complications related to incompatibility.

The platform offers intelligent protection and response measures. It plays a pivotal role in actively protecting cyber threats, detecting potential data breaches, automating security incidents, and improving the security environment.

Here are some tasks that the Windows Server ATP cloud control services do to enhance security.

  • Reduces the total surface area of attack by eliminating all available loopholes and pathways that hackers can utilize.
  • The Intelligent Security Graph (ISG) gives all the resources needed for offering protection against the most advanced ransomware and other forms of attacks.
  • Endpoint detection and response helps to monitor behaviors by using machine learning and security analytics that stop possible threats.
  • Performs automatic investigations and resolutions that give specific course of actions for diffusing complex threats in minutes.
  • Provides real-time visibility into how the system security performs. By assessing the risks, you get the best recommendation to increase resilience.
  • Implements flexible queries between endpoints and gives historical data for building and enabling custom detection.

2. Automated Security Measures

The automated security measures increase the security of your platform by performing several background checks and delivering notifications without human intervention.

This pre-breach protection feature works through the following ways:

  • Protects the network by scanning the connected devices automatically.
  • Blocks all unpatched security risks such as zero-day vulnerabilities.
  • All files and devices with no clear reputation are blocked from accessing the network.
  • Devices are protected when web-based threats and hardware are isolated.
  • The malware defense strategies of all applications running on the system are updated frequenlty to avoid a possible breach.
  • The dynamism of the cloud unattended approach defends the machine against known and unknown malware threats.
  • Behavioral monitoring blocks malicious and suspicious activities using advanced runtime analysis

3. Innovative Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

The Innovative EDR feature ensures that your system is protected using any or all of the following approaches:

  • Using advanced behavioral analytics and machine learning technologies to detect unseen security threats, spot attacks, and discover zero-day vulnerabilities.
  • Investigating security evidences across endpoints and uncovering the magnitude of security breaches via the security center.
  • Using six months of historical data to carry out interactions and search for possible exploits. Data collection is done in seconds, saving a lot of time in tracking and resolving errors.
  • Using customized Indicators of Compromise (IOC) to get alerts on the specific threats.
  • Performing deep inspection of suspicious files and preparing a full analysis within minutes.

4. Clear Visuals of Security Threats

This built-in feature in Windows enables the exchange of signals to take place between each application and the Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph, providing enhanced visibility to security threats.

5. Synchronization of Defense Needs

Whenever Microsoft 365 shares your detection and exploration controls across the network, it ensures that all your defense needs are managed from a central location.

Synchronization speeds up the response and recovery time.

Moving from Windows Server 2019 to Windows Server Defender Advanced Threat Protection

If your current setup is using ATP, you can preview some of its features by installing the build preview of the Windows Server, and test it on the Windows Defender ATP.

You can follow the following procedure to onboard your machine:

  1. Go to the Windows Defender Security Center
  2. Click on settings
  3. Here, you will have an option of selecting the Operating System that you will use for the onboarding process. After selecting your preferred option, you will receive a confirmation to that effect.
  4. You can leave the chosen deployment method as the default one, which enables the machine to run the onboarding scripts locally. Note that every deployment can run on a limited number of computers.
  5. Download the Package by clicking on the link shown on the wizard
  6. Run a detection test (this will test all the deployed machines as earlier indicated).
  7. Once the verification process is completed, you will see a confirmation message.

The verification that a particular machine has been properly onboarded and responds to the new service is done by running a detection script, as described below:

  1. Open the command prompt window
  2. At the command prompt, apply the command below:
powershell.exe -NoExit -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -WindowStyle Hidden (New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile('http://127.0.0.1/1.exe', 'C:\test-WDATP-test\invoice.exe');Start-Process 'C:\test-WDATP-test\invoice.exe'

3. Once the script executes, the command window  closes automatically

A successful execution marks the test as complete, which triggers a confirmation message that is sent in a few minutes.

An Overview of the Windows Defender ATP for Windows Server 2019

The use of ATP on the Windows Server 2019 is straightforward. After the onboarding process, you will see new alerts and recommendations on the dashboard.

To keep the alerts active, you can create a test alert after onboarding. The test alert also helps to monitor the connections at any given time.

There are several filters, actions, and events in the Windows Defender Security Center, which you can use to make the most of your server security settings.

Conclusion

With the introduction of the Windows Server 2019 Windows Defender ATP, users have a single solution that protects, detects, and responds to advanced threats.

Microsoft Server 2019 takes customer security seriously and prioritizes every effort to prevent unauthorized penetration.

What’s New in Storage in Windows Server 2019 and 2016

Window Server Edition 2016 and 2019 have new features, which have made it possible to use storage migration capabilities for storing data.

The migration service helps in keeping inventory when moving from one platform to another.

This article will try to explain what is new in the storage systems of Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2019, and other semiannual releases.

We will start by highlighting some of the key features added in the two server systems.

Managing Storage with Windows Admin Center

The Windows Admin Center is a new feature that runs on Windows Server 2019 and some latest versions of Windows.

It is the central location where an App handles the server functions, clusters, and hyper-converged infrastructure containing storage locations.

The Admin Center does this as part of the new server configurations.

Storage Migration Service

The Storage Migration Service is the latest technology that makes it easy to move servers from old to new server versions.

All the events take place via a graphical interface that displays data on the servers and transfers data and configurations to the new servers; thereafter, it optimally moves old server identities to the new ones, ensuring the settings for apps and users are matched.

Storage Spaces Direct Improvements (Available in Server 2019 only)

Several improvements have been made to Storage Spaces Direct in Server 2019, though they are not available in Windows Server, Semi-Annual channel.

Here are some of the improvements:

1. Deduplication and Compression of ReFS Volume

You will be able to store up to 10X more data on the same storage space using deduplication and compression of the ReFS system.

You only need to turn on this feature, using a single click, on the Windows Admin Center.

The increase in storage sizes, with an option to compress data, amplifies the saving rates.

Furthermore, the multi-threaded post processing feature assists in keeping performance impact low.

However, it supports a volume of up to 64TB and with each file reaching 1TB.

2. Native Support for Persistent Memory

Windows Server 2019 comes with native support for persistent memory.  This allows you to speed up performance for the continuous creation of memory modules, including the Intel Optane DC PM and NVDIMM-N.

You can use persistent memory as your cache to accelerate the active working set or use it as an extra space needed to facilitate low latency.

Of course, you can manage persistent memory the same way you can manage any other storage device in Windows Admin Center or PowerShell.

3. Nested Resiliency for Two-Node Hyper-Converged Infrastructure on the Edges

The all new software resiliency option, inspired by RAID 5 + 1, helps in surviving two hardware failures.

The nested resiliency for the two-node Storage Spaces Direct cluster offers continuous accessible storage for programs and virtual machines, even when one server node fails.

4. Two-Server Cluster Using USB Flash Drive as a Witness

You an use a low-cost USB flash plugged into your router to act as a witness between two servers in a cluster.

If the server is down, the USB will know which of the servers has more data.

5. Improved Windows Admin Center

The opportunity to manage and monitor Storage Spaces Direct with the newly built dashboard lets you create, delete, open, and expand volumes, with a few clicks.

You can follow performances of IOPS and IO latency, from the entire clusters to the individual hard disks and SSDs.

6. Increased Performance Logs Visibility

You can use the built-in history feature to see your server’s resource utilization and performance capabilities.

It has more than 50 counters that automatically collect  memory, computation, storage and network data, and store them in the cluster for a full year.

This feature works without the need to install or configure anything.

7. Scale up to 4PB for Every Cluster

The Windows Server 2019 Storage Spaces Direct feature supports up to 4 petabytes (PB) (4,000 terabytes).

This way, you can get to the level of multi-petabyte scale, which makes sense in media servers for backup and archiving purposes.

Other capacity guides are increased as well; for instance, you can create volumes reaching 64, and not 32.

More so, the clusters can be stitched together into a set to make the scaling that fits within one storage namespace.

8. Accelerated Parity is now 2X Faster

You can now create Storage Spaces Direct Volumes that are part mirror and part parity.

For example, you can mix RAID-1 and RAID -5/6 to harness the advantages of both.

In Windows Server 2019, the performance of mirror accelerated parity is twice that of Windows Server 2016, due to optimizations.

9. Drive Latency Outline Detection

Using proactive monitoring and the built-in outlier detection, which is an inspiration from Microsoft Azure, you can know which drives have abnormal latency.

You can see the failing drives that have been labeled automatically in the PowerShell and Windows Admin Center.

10. Manual Delimiting of Volume Allocations to Increase Fault Tolerance

In Storage Spaces Direct, the Admin can now manually change the limit of volume allocations.

Delimiting is usually done to increase fault tolerance in specific circumstances that consider management  complexities.

Storage Replica

The Storage Replica has the following improvements:

1. Introduction of Storage Replica in Windows Server, Standard Edition

It is now possible to use Storage Replica with Windows Server, Standard Edition, as well as the Datacenter editions.

Running Storage Replica on Windows Server, Standard Edition has the following weaknesses:

  • Storage replica can replicate a single volume and not an unlimited volume number
  • Volume varies with some taking up to 2TB, instead of taking an unlimited size

2. Storage Replica Log Performance Improvements

The Storage Replica comes with improvements that enhance the tracking of logs.

To get the increased performance, all members of the replication group must run Windows Server 2019.

3. Test Failover Improvements

You can mount a temporary snapshot of the replicated storage on destination server for testing or backing up purposes.

4. Windows Admin Center Support

Support for the graphical management of replication is made possible via the Server Manager Tool.

This involves server-to-server replication, cluster-to-cluster, and stretch cluster replication.

5. Miscellaneous Improvements

Storage Replica also has the following improvements:

  • Changes to asynchronous stretch cluster behaviors for automatic failover to take place.
  • Multiple bug fixes

SMB

SMB1 and Guest Authentication Removal

Windows Server does not install the SMB1 client and server by default, while, at the same time, the ability to authenticate guests in SMB2 if off by default.

SMB2/SMB3 Security and Compatibility

More options for security and applications compatibility were added, including disabling opLocks in SMB2+ for old applications.

This also covers the need for signing encryption on every connection from the client.

Data Deduplication

Data Deduplication Supports ReFS

You’ll not need to choose between the advantages of a modern file system with ReFS and Data Deduplication.

Anytime you enable Data Deduplication, enabling ReFS is also possible now.

Data Port API for Optimized Ingress/egress to Deduplicated Volumes

As a developer, you’ll now enjoy the advantages of data deduplication and possibilities of storing data in an efficient manner

File Server Resource Manager

The Windows Server 2019 can prevent the File Resources Manager service from creating a change (USN) journal on storage volumes.

This is to create and conserve more space on every volume; however, it will disable real-time classification.

This is the same effect that takes place in Windows Storage Server, Version 1803.

What’s New in Storage in Windows Server, Version 1709

Server Version 1709 is the first Windows Server release with a Semi-Annual Channel, which is a channel that is fully supported in production for 18 months, with a new version coming in every six months.

Storage Replica

Disaster recovery and protection is an added function of the Storage Replica, which is now expanded to include:

  • Test Failover

You now have an option of mounting the destination storage through a test failover.

You can also mount the snapshots temporarily for both testing and backup purposes.

  • Windows Admin Center Support

Thee is support for the graphical applications that are managing replications. You can access it via the  Server Manager Tool.

Storage Replica also has the following improvements:

  • Changes to asynchronous cluster behaviors to enable automatic failover
  • Multiple bug fixes

What’s New in Storage in Windows Server 2016

1. Storage Spaces Direct

The Storage Spaces Direct feature facilitates the availability and scalability of storage using servers with local storage.

This implies that it’s now possible to deploy and manage software that control storage systems, unlocking the use of new classes of storage devices.

These devices include SATA, SSD, and NVMe disks. Achieving such storage capabilities may not be possible using clustered Storage Spaces with Shared Disks.

What Value Does this Change Add?

Storage Spaces Direct allows service providers and enterprises to use industry standard servers with local storage.

The idea is to build highly available and scalable software-defined storage.

The use of servers with local storage decreases complexity, as it increases scalability and allows the use of storage devices such as SATA solid state disks. This lowers the cost of flash storage or NVMe sold state Disks

Storage Spaces Direct Removes the need to have a shared SAS fabric, which simplifies deployment and configuration.

This means that the server uses the network as the storage fabric while leveraging the SMB3 and SMB Direct (RDMA) for both high speed and low latency, as well as good use of the processing unit.

Adding more servers to the configuration increases storage capacity and input and output performance.

The Windows Server 2016 Storage Spaces Direct works differently, as explained below.

2. Storage Replica

It enables the storage, block-level stretching of failover clusters between sites, as well as the synchronous replication between servers.

Synchronous replication enables mirroring of data in physical sites with consistent volumes to ensure no data is lost at the file system level.

Asynchronous replication may increase the possibility of data loss.

What Value Does this Change Add?

It provides a single vendor disaster recovery solution for both planned and unplanned power loss situations.

You can use SMB3 transport and gain from proven performance, scalability, and reliability.

It will help you to:

  • Stretch Windows failover clusters further
  • Use Microsoft end-to-end software for storage and clustering, such as Hyper-V, Scale-Out File Server, Storage Replica, Storage Spaces, ReFS/ NTFS, and deduplication

It helps in reducing complexity costs by:

  • Being hardware agnostic with no specific requirements for storage configurations like DAS or SAN
  • Allowing for the storage of commodities and network technologies
  • Featuring easy graphical management interface for nodes and clusters through failover cluster manager
  • Including comprehensive and large scale scripting options through the Windows PowerShell
  • Helping in the reduction of downtimes and enhancing  large scale productivity
  • Providing supportability and performance metrics and diagnostic capabilities

What Works Differently

The functionality is new in Windows Server 2016

3. Storage Quality of Service

In Windows Server 2016, you can use the Storage Quality of Service (QoS) feature as a central monitor for end-to-end storage performance and developing management policies using Hyper-V and CSV clusters.

What Value Does this Change Add?

You can change the QoS policies in a CSV and assign one or more virtual disks on Hyper-V machines.

The storage automatically adjusts itself to meet the fluctuating policies and workloads.

This way, each policy can give a minimum reserve or create a maximum to be used when collecting data.

For example, a single virtual hard disk, a tenant, a service or a virtual machine can be used.

You can use Windows PowerShell or WMI to perform the following:

  • Create policies on CSV cluster
  • Assign the policies to virtual hard disks
  • Enumerate policies on the CSV clusters
  • Monitor flow performance and status of the policies

If you have several virtual hard disks sharing the same policy and performance is shared to meet the demands within the policy’s minimum and maximum settings, it means that the policy can manage virtual hard disks and a single or multiple virtual machines that constitute a service owned by a tenant.

What Works Differently

This is a new feature in Windows Server 2016.

The management of minimum reserves and monitoring the flow of all virtual disks over a cluster using a single command and central policy-based management are not possible in the previous Server releases.

4. Data Deduplication

Function

New or Updated

Description

Support large volumes

Updated Before Windows Server 2016, you had to specify sizes. Anything above 10TB did not qualify for deduplication. Server 2016 supports deduplication sizes of up to 64TB

Large file support

Updated Before Windows Server 2016, files with 1TB could not deduplicate. Server 2016 supports deduplication of files up to 1TB.

Nano Server Support

New Deduplication is available and fully supported for Server 2016

Simple Backup Support

New Windows Server 2012 R2 supported Virtual backups using the Microsoft’s Data Protection Manager. Windows Server 2016 simple backup is possible and is seamless

Cluster OS Rolling Upgrades Support

New Deduplication supports Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade and is available in Windows Server 2016

5. SMB Hardening Improvements for SYSVOL and NETLOGON Connections

Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 client connections to the Active Directory Domain Service, the SYSVOL, and NETLOGON now all share domain controllers that require SMB signing and authentication via Kerberos.

What Value Does this Change Add?

It reduces the possibility of man-in-the-middle attacks

What Works Differently?

If the SMB and mutual authentication are not available, Windows 10 or Server 2016 will not access the domain-based Group Policy Scripts.

It is also good to note that the registry values of the settings are not present by default; the hardening rules will apply until a new policy change comes in through Group Policy or any relevant registry values.

6. Work Folders Improvements

The added changes to notifications are there when the Work Folder server is running on Windows Server 2016, and the Work Folder is on a client running Windows 10.

What Value Does this Change Add?

In Windows Server 2012 R2, when the changes in files are synchronized to the Work Folder, clients will get notified of the impending changes and wait for at least 10 minutes for the update to materialize.

When running Windows Server 2016, the Work Folders will immediately notify the Windows 10 client, and the synchronization changes take effect immediately.

What Works Differently

This is a new feature in Windows 2016.

For this feature to work, the client accessing the Work Folders must be a Windows 10.

In case you are using older clients, or if the Work Folder is on Windows Server 2012 R2, the client will poll every 10 minutes for any new changes.

7. ReFS Improvements

The ReFS (Resilient File System) offers support for large scale data storage allocation with varying workloads, reliability, resiliency, and scalability.

What Values Does this Change Add?

ReFS brings in the following improvements:

  • Implementing new storage tiers that help in delivering fast performance and increased capacity
  • Multipling resiliency on the same virtual disk through mirroring and parity tiers
  • Enhancing responsiveness to drifting working sets
  • Introducing a block of cloning and improvements to VM operations such as vhdx checkpoint merge operations
  • Helping in the recovery of leaked storage and keeping them from being corrupted

What Works Differently?

These functionalities are new in Windows Server 2016.

Conclusion

With so many features available in Windows Server 2019, this article covered the fully supported features.

At the time of writing this post, some features were partially supported in earlier versions but are getting full support in the latest Server versions.

From this read, you can see that Windows Server 2019 is a good upgrade experience.

What’s New in Windows Server 2019 Essentials?

The Windows Server 2019 Essentials does what the current version of Windows Server 2016 was designed to do: answering the needs of small businesses employing between 25 users or using a total of 50 devices.

The latest Windows Server 2019 Essentials was developed after broad consultations to understand the needs of small companies.

For a long time, small business customers have been embracing cloud services. However, business premises still need servers as valued assets that help in supporting the operations that are not yet compatible with cloud technology.

The Windows Server 2019 Essentials is another on-site version that small business users will find appropriate.

There are indications from Microsoft that the Windows Server 2019 Essentials could be the last edition of Windows Server Essentials.

Nonetheless, the company will continue its Server Essentials support based on the existing service schedule.

A word from Microsoft also indicates that the new release will have the same technical and licensing specifications as the earlier versions.

If you intend to use Windows Server 2019 as a Domain Controller, Windows Server 2019 Essentials must be the only Domain Controller and be flexible enough to run all Flexible Master Operations (FSMO) roles and allow only two-way trusts with other Active Directory Domains.

The New Approach

The new Windows Server 2019 Essentials will support new features and hardware such as Storage Migration Services and System Insights, without the inclusion of the Essentials Experience role.

Some of the removed features leave system administrators and small businesses unattended because they will no longer support these features:

  • Remote web access to the server
  • Centralized client PC backups
  • Office 365 integration

With the above features missing, some of the key stakeholders consulted before the introduction of Windows Server 2019 Essentials expressed their dissatisfaction with the new implementation because the new release looks like a foundation server, and it is not set up to run like a complete Essentials.

In response to such claims, Microsoft suggests that System Administrators should use the Windows Admin Center as part of a replacement to the lost features.

They also recommend the use of Microsoft Business Licensing bundle to access hosted services on Microsoft data centers, instead of running applications and storing their files.

The use of Office365 as a file sharing option and collaboration tool is complete when you consider Office Applications, intelligent solutions, Windows 10, security, and Enterprise Mobility.

Other features supported by Office 365 include e-mail, cloud storage, calendar, data protection, and more.

Those who may not see the need to move to the new Windows Server 2019 Essentials can still access their Windows Server 2016 Essentials through the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) timeline.

The same applies to those who chose to update from the current server installation to the 2019 edition.

What Do We Have in Windows Server 2019 Essentials?

Even though the new Essentials will have the same characteristics as the ones in earlier versions, the following stand out:

  • A single license, including Client Access Licenses (CAL) for 50 devices or 25 users
  • Reduced costs
  • Ability to run traditional applications such as file sharing and print sharing

The idea behind Microsoft’s decision to reduce the functionalities of Windows Server Essentials for the 2019 Server edition may not be clear to everyone.

However, the general assumption has been to bring small businesses aboard the Microsoft 365 Business platform.

The business platform is based on subscriptions that include Windows 10, Enterprise Mobility and Security, and Office 365.