Tag Archives: 2019

The Latest Updates from Windows Server 2019 Development

**Webinar Announcement**

Want to know all about the full version of Windows Server 2019 upon its release? Join our upcoming free webinar What’s New in Windows Server 2019 on October 3rd to learn from the experts about all the new updates as well as a closer look at the standout features.

Windows Server 2019 free webinar from Altaro

The webinar will be presented live twice on the day at 2pm CEST/8am EDT/5am PDT and at 7pm CEST/1pm EDT/10am PDT to cater for our audiences on both sides of the pond. The content will be the same so feel free to join whichever time slot suits you best. Both webinars are live so bring your questions to ask our experts anything you want to know about Windows Server 2019!

Save my Seat for the webinar!

The Current State of Affairs – Windows Server 2019 Updates

Microsoft’s Windows Server teams have been hard at work on preparing 2019 for release. They’ve already given us several new features over the past few months. As we approach the unveiling of the final product, the preview release cadence accelerates as long-term projects begin to wrap up. Where we previously covered one build per article, I now have three separate builds to report on (17733, 17738, and 17744). We’ve got a raft of new features as well as multiple refinements geared toward a polished end product.

The Final Stages

If you haven’t yet started trying out Windows Server 2019 previews but have been thinking about it, I don’t think there will be a better time. There’s always a chance that some new major feature has yet to be announced, but there are more than enough now to keep you busy for a while. If you’re thinking about becoming an expert on the product for employability or sales purposes, if you’re planning to release software for the new platform, or if you intend to adopt Windows Server 2019 early on, this is the time to get into the program. Get your feedback and bug reports into the system now while it’s still relatively easy to incorporate.

Microsoft has been asking for two things all along that have increased in importance:

  • In-place upgrades: Wouldn’t you like to just hop to the next version of Windows Server without going through a painful data migration? If so, try it out on a test system. Microsoft has done a great deal of work trying to make Windows Server 2019 upgrade friendly. I’ve had some mixed experiences with it so far. They can only make it better if we tell them where it fails.
  • Application compatibility: I would prioritize application compatibility testing, especially for software developers and administrators responsible for irreplaceable line-of-business applications. Windows Server 2019 introduces major changes to the way Windows Server has operated nearly since its introduction. You need to be prepared.

How to Join the Windows Server Insider Program

To get involved, simply sign up on the Windows Server Insiders page. Unlike the Windows [Desktop] Insiders program, you don’t need to use up a licensed server instance. Windows Server Insider builds use their own keys. You can try out features and report any problems or positive experiences to a special forum just for Insiders. Be aware that the builds are time-bombed, so you will only be able to keep one running for a few months. This software is not built for production use.

Remember that even after Windows Server 2019 goes live, the Insider program will continue. You’ll have the opportunity to preview and help shape the future of LTSC and SAC builds beyond 2019. However, I expect that the Windows Server teams will turn their attention toward the next SAC release after 2019 goes gold, meaning that you likely won’t be getting new GUI-enabled builds until they start working on the post-2019 LTSC release.

Official Release Statements

You can read Microsoft’s notices about each of the builds mentioned in this article:

Summary of Features in Windows Server 2019 Builds 17733, 17738, and 17744

New features included in these builds:

  • Support for HTTP/2
  • Support for Cubic (a “congestion control provider” that helps regulate TCP traffic)
  • Software Defined Networking (SDN) right in Windows Server and controlled by Windows Admin Center — no VMM necessary!
  • SDN high-performance gateways
  • Distributed Cluster Name Objects — allows a CNO to simultaneously hold an IP from each node rather than present a single IP across the entire cluster
  • Specialized bus support for Windows Server containers grants containers the ability to directly utilize SPI, I2C, GPIO, and UART/COM
  • Failover Clustering no longer requires NTLM
  • SMB 1.0 is now disabled by default
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux is part of the build
  • Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection has been rolled in
  • Windows Server 2019 images ship with version 4.7 of the .Net Framework

Summary of Updated Features in Windows Server 2019 Builds 17733, 17738, and 17744

The following features were previously introduced, but received significant updates in these builds:

  • Cluster Sets: A “cluster set” is essentially a cluster of clusters. They address the scalability limits of clusters without making many changes on the cluster level; smaller organizations can use clusters as they always have while larger organizations can employ new benefits. Build 17733 adds new enhancements for virtual machine placement on hyper-converged cluster sets.
  • Windows Admin Center provides greater control over Hyper-V

Refinements in Windows Server 2019 Builds 17733, 17738, and 17744

Not everything is a feature; sometimes things just need to work better or differently. Microsoft did a few things during the preview cycles that would be inappropriate for a release product. These builds include some of those corrections.

  • The Hyper-V Server SKU no longer needs a product key. This does not mean that you can or should use a preview release of Hyper-V Server 2019 indefinitely.
  • You will now be asked to change your password at initial post-install sign in.
  • Changes to branding during the installation process.

Additional Reading on Windows Server 2019 Updates

We have a lot going on now with Windows Server 2019, but it’s just the leading edge of a long march of new features and improvements. A few links to help you get caught up:

Spend some time discovering and reading up on the new features. There is something in there for just about everyone.

Thoughts on Windows Server 2019 Builds 17733, 17738, and 17744

Overall, my greatest feeling on these builds is excitement — we’re seeing the clear signs that we’re closing in on the final release. I do have a few thoughts on some of the specific features.

Standard Networking Enhancements

I’ve followed a number of these enhancements closely. The HTTP/2 and LEDBAT demonstrations are impressive to watch. I have not yet seen any presentations on Cubic, but it certainly holds a great of promise. Even in my private home systems, I’ve long wanted a way to shape the way that various networking activities utilize my available networking bandwidth.

Hyper-V Networking Enhancements

Modifying the software-defined networking feature so that it can be controlled without VMM or a third-party tool is a huge step. Cloud and hosting providers have great use for SDN, as do large organizations that strain the limits of VLANs. However, SDN provides more than scalability. It also allows for a high degree of isolation. We’ve been able to use private Hyper-V virtual switches for isolation, but those become difficult to use for multiple VMs, especially in clusters. Now, anyone can use SDN.

Specialized Bus Support

Server virtualization solves multiple problems, but we still have a few barriers to virtual-only deployments. Hardware peripherals remain right at the top of those problems. The new bus functionality included in Windows Server containers may present a solution. It won’t be full virtualization, of course. It will, however, grant the ability to run a hardware-dependent container on a general-purpose host.

I should point out that this feature is designed around IoT challenges. We may or may not be able to fit it into existing hardware challenges.

Security Enhancements

If you look through the multitude of feature notes, you’ll find multiple points of hardening in Windows Server 2019. I welcomed two new particular changes in these recent builds:

  • SMB 1.0 disabled by default. Newer features of SMB eclipse version 1.0 in every imaginable way. First and foremost, the security implications of using SMB 1.0 can no longer be ignored. Through 2016, Windows and Windows Server made SMB 1.0 passively available because Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and some applications require it. Now that Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 have been out of support for several years, Microsoft no longer has any native reason to continue supporting SMB 1.0 by default. If you still have software vendors hanging on to the ’90s, they’ll have to go through extra steps to continue their archaic ways.
  • End of NTLM requirement for Failover Clustering. NTLM is relatively easy to break with modern technologies. Realistically, a cluster’s inter-node communications should be isolated from general network access anyway. However, that does not diminish our need to secure as much as possible. It’s good to see NTLM removed from cluster communications.

Windows Admin Center Enhancements for Hyper-V

I spent some time going through the 1808 version of Windows Admin Center release and noted several changes. The current state of WAC for Hyper-V deserves its own article. However, it would appear that Microsoft has been working on the user experience of this tool. Furthermore, WAC has additional control points over Hyper-V. It’s still not my interface of choice for Hyper-V, but it continues to improve.

Next Steps

I’ll continue bringing news of builds as they release, of course. I would recommend becoming directly acquainted with the advancements in Windows Server 2019 as soon as you can. At this stage of Windows Server’s maturation, new features are complicated enough that they’ll take time to learn. The sooner you get started, the less catch-up you’ll have to look forward to later. Of course, during our October webinar on Windows Server 2019 we will have all the details on the final version of all the features in all these builds – and more! Make sure to save your seat now and don’t miss out on that event!

If you are looking through these enhancements and testing things for yourself, are there any features here that you are most excited about? Anything you feel is over-the-top amazing? Anything you feel is lack-luster? Let us know in the comments section below!

Thank for reading!

This post is part of a series on Windows Server 2019 builds leading up to the release in late 2018. Read more about the release here:

These 3 New Features in Windows Server 2019 Could be Game Changers

Windows Server 2019 Preview: What’s New and What’s Cool

Sneak peek: Windows Server 2019 Insider Preview Build 17666

What’s New in Windows Server 2019 Insider Preview Build 17692

Curious About Windows Server 2019? Here’s the Latest Features Added

Curious About Windows Server 2019? Here’s the Latest Features Added

Microsoft continues adding new features to Windows Server 2019 and cranking out new builds for Windows Server Insiders to test. Build 17709 has been announced, and I got my hands on a copy. I’ll show you a quick overview of the new features and then report my experiences.

If you’d like to get into the Insider program so that you can test out preview builds of Windows Server 2019 yourself, sign up on the Insiders page.

Ongoing Testing Requests

If you’re just now getting involved with the Windows Server Insider program or the previews for Windows Server 2019, Microsoft has asked all testers to try a couple of things with every new build:

  • In-place upgrade
  • Application compatibility

You can use virtual machines with checkpoints to easily test both of these. This time around, I used a physical machine, and my upgrade process went very badly. I have not been as diligent about testing applications, so I have nothing of importance to note on that front.

Build 17709 Feature 1: Improvements to Group Managed Service Accounts for Containers

I would bet that web applications are the primary use case for containers. Nothing else can match containers’ ability to strike a balance between providing version-specific dependencies while consuming minimal resources. However, containerizing a web application that depends on Active Directory authentication presents special challenges. Group Managed Service Accounts (gMSA) can solve those problems, but rarely without headaches. 17709 includes these improvements for gMSAs:

  • Using a single gMSA to secure multiple containers should produce fewer authentication errors
  • A gMSA no longer needs to have the same name as the system that host the container(s)
  • gMSAs should now work with Hyper-V isolated containers

I do not personally use enough containers to have meaningful experience with gMSA. I did not perform any testing on this enhancement.

Build 17709 Feature 2: A New Windows Server Container Image with Enhanced Capabilities

If you’ve been wanting to run something in a Windows Server container but none of the existing images meet your prerequisites, you might have struck gold in this release. Microsoft has created a new Windows Server container image with more components. I do not have a complete list of those components, but you can read what Lars Iwer has to say about it. He specifically mentions:

  • Proofing tools
  • Automated UI tests
  • DirectX

As I read that last item, I instantly wanted to know: “Does that mean GUI apps from within containers?” Well, according to the comments on the announcement, yes*. You just have to use “Session 0”. That means that if you RDP to the container host, you must use the /admin switch with MSTSC. Alternatively, you can use the physical console or an out-of-band console connection application.

Commentary on Windows Server 2019 Insider Preview Build 17709

So far, my experiences with the Windows Server 2019 preview releases have been fairly humdrum. They work as advertised, with the occasional minor glitch. This time, I spent more time than normal and hit several frustration points.

In-Place Upgrade to 17709

Ordinarily, I test preview upgrades in a virtual machine. Sure, I use checkpoints with the intent of reverting if something breaks. But, since I don’t do much in those virtual machines, they always work. So, I never encounter anything to report.

For 17709, I wanted to try out the container stuff, and I wanted to do it on hardware. So, I attempted an in-place upgrade of a physical host. It was disastrous.

Errors While Upgrading

First, I got a grammatically atrocious message that contained false information. I wish that I had saved it so I could share with others that might encounter it, but I must have accidentally my notes. the message started out with “Something happened” (it didn’t say what happened, of course), then asked me to look in an XML file for information. Two problems with that:

  1. I was using a Server Core installation. I realize that I am not authorized to speak on behalf of the world’s Windows administrators, but I bet no one will get at mad at me for saying, “No one in the world wants to read XML files on Server Core.”
  2. The installer didn’t even create the file.

I still have not decided which of those two things irritates me the most. Why in the world would anyone actively decide to build the upgrade tool to behave that way?

Problems While Trying to Figure Out the Error

Well, I’m fairly industrious, so I tried to figure out what was wrong. The installer did not create the XML file that it talked about, but it did create a file called “setuperr.log”. I didn’t keep the entire contents of that file either, but it contained only one line error-wise that seemed to have any information at all: “CallPidGenX: PidGenX function failed on this product key”. Do you know what that means? I don’t know what that means. Do you know what to do about it? I don’t know what to do about it. Is that error even related to my problem? I don’t even know that much.

I didn’t find any other traces or logs with error messages anywhere.

How I Fixed My Upgrade Problem

I began by plugging the error messages into Internet searches. I found only one hit with any useful information. The suggestions were largely useless. But, the guy managed to fix his own problem by removing the system from the domain. How in the world did he get from that error message to disjoining the domain? Guesswork, apparently. Well, I didn’t go quite that far.

My “fix”: remove the host from my Hyper-V cluster. The upgrade worked after that.

Why did I put the word “fix” in quotation marks? Because I can’t tell you that actually fixed the problem. Maybe it was just a coincidence. The upgrade’s error handling and messaging was so horrifically useless that without duplicating the whole thing, I cannot conclusively say that one action resulted in the other. “Correlation is not causation”, as the saying goes.

Feedback for In-Place Upgrades

At some point, I need to find a productive way to express this to Microsoft. But for now, I’m upset and frustrated at how that went. Sure, it only took you a few minutes to read what I had to say. It took much longer for me to retry, poke around, search, and prod at the thing until it worked, and I had no idea that it was ever going to work.

Sure, once the upgrade went through, everything was fine. I’m quite happy with the final product. But if I were even to start thinking about upgrading a production system and I thought that there was even a tiny chance that it would dump me out at the first light with some unintelligible gibberish to start a luck-of-the-draw scavenger hunt, then there is a zero percent chance that I would even attempt an upgrade. Microsoft says that they’re working to improve the in-place upgrade experience, but the evidence I saw led me to believe that they don’t take this seriously at all. XML files? XML files that don’t even get created? Error messages that would have set off 1980s-era grammar checkers? And don’t even mean anything? This is the upgrade experience that Microsoft is anxious to show off? No thanks.

Microsoft: the world wants legible, actionable error messages. The world does not want to go spelunking through log files for vague hints. That’s not just for an upgrade process either. It’s true for every product, every time.

The New Container Image

OK, let’s move on to some (more) positive things. Many of the things that you’ll see in this section have been blatantly stolen from Microsoft’s announcement.

Once my upgrade went through, I immediately started pulling down the new container image. I had a bit of difficulty with that, which Lars Iwer of Microsoft straightened out quickly. If you’re trying it out, you can get the latest image with the following:

Since Insider builds update frequently, you might want to ensure that you only get the build version that matches your host version (if you get a version mismatch, you’ll be forced to run the image under Hyper-V isolation). Lars Iwer provided the following script (stolen verbatim from the previously linked article, I did not write this or modify it):

Trying Out the New Container Image

I was able to easily start up a container and poke around a bit:

Testing out the new functionality was a bit tougher, though. It solves problems that I personally do not have. Searching the Internet for, “example apps that would run in a Windows Server container if Microsoft had included more components” didn’t find anything I could test with either (That was a joke; I didn’t really do that. As far as you know). So, I first wrote a little GUI .Net app in Visual Studio.

*Graphical Applications in the New Container Image

Session 0 does not seem to be able to show GUI apps from the new container image. If you skimmed up to this point and you’re about to tell me that GUI apps don’t show anything from Windows containers, this links back to the (*) text above. The comments section of the announcement article indicate that graphical apps in the new container will display on session 0 of the container host.

I don’t know if I did something wrong, but nothing that I did would show me a GUI from within the new container style. The app ran just fine — it shows up under Get-Process — but it never shows anything. It does exactly the same thing under microsoft/dotnet-framework in Hyper-V isolation mode, though. So, on that front, the only benefit that I could verify was that I did not need to run my .Net app in Hyper-V isolation mode or use a lot of complicated FROM nesting in my dockerfile. Still no GUI, though, and that was part of my goal.

DirectX Applications in the New Container Image

After failing to get my graphical .Net app to display, I next considered DirectX. I personally do not know how to write even a minimal DirectX app. But, I didn’t need to. Microsoft includes the very first DirectX-dependent app that I was ever able to successfully run: dxdiag.

Sadly, dxdiag would not display on session 0 from my container, either. Just as with my .Net app, it appeared in the local process list and docker top. But, no GUI that I could see.

However, dxdiag did run successfully, and would generate an output file:

Notes for anyone trying to duplicate the above:

  • I started this particular container with 
    docker run it mcr.microsoft.com/windowsinsider
  • DXDiag does not instantly create the output file. You have to wait a bit.

Thoughts on the New Container Image

I do wish that I had more experience with containers and the sorts of problems this new image addresses. Without that, I can’t say much more than, “Cool!” Sure, I didn’t personally get the graphical part to work, but a DirectX app from with a container? That’s a big deal.

Overall Thoughts on Windows Server 2019 Preview Build 17709

Outside of the new features, I noticed that they have corrected a few glitchy things from previous builds. I can change settings on network cards in the GUI now and I can type into the Start menu to get Cortana to search for things. You can definitely see changes in the polish and shine as we approach release.

As for the upgrade process, that needs lots of work. If a blocking condition exists, it needs to be caught in the pre-flight checks and show a clear error message. Failing partway into the process with random pseudo-English will extend distrust of upgrading Microsoft operating systems for another decade. Most established shops already have an “install-new-on-new-hardware-and-migrate” process. I certainly follow one. My experience with 17709 tells me that I need to stick with it.

I am excited to see the work being done on containers. I do not personally have any problems that this new image solves, but you can clearly see that customer feedback led directly to its creation. Whether I personally benefit or not, this is a good thing to see.

Overall, I am pleased with the progress and direction of Windows Server 2019. What about you? How do you feel about the latest features? Let me know in the comments below!

Microsoft fiscal year 2019: Priorities revealed at Inspire conference

Microsoft fiscal year 2019 priorities suggest a few areas in which partners can expect to work with the company.

At last year’s Microsoft partner conference, the company talked about reorganizing its sales force along industry lines and discussed a commercial model designed to win digital transformation projects. In this fiscal year, which began July 1, Microsoft will fine-tune that model but make no major changes, noted Judson Althoff, executive vice president of worldwide commercial business at Microsoft.

Althoff, speaking at Inspire, the annual Microsoft partner conference, did however outline top Microsoft fiscal year 2019 agenda items. Among those priorities: digging deeper into what Althoff called strategic enterprise accounts. With that direction in mind, Microsoft plans to invest more in its industry focus and strategy. Partners, for their part, will be called on to invest in industry-specific solutions and services.

In addition, Althoff said Microsoft will emphasize customer acquisition and aims to bring more customers to the Microsoft cloud, while it pursues account-based marketing. And once customers are acquired, the focus will shift to customer retention and growth, he noted. For partners, this could mean developing customer success practices, which follow upon the initial sale.

Microsoft, meanwhile, will also make learning and readiness a fiscal year 2019 priority. Althoff pointed to a new learning platform that will roll out this year, as well as new cloud certifications.

At the Microsoft partner conference, the company also stated plans to invest in its in-house cultural transformation. Althoff cited diversity, inclusion and a growth mindset as the key themes in that priority area.

In addition to those stated Microsoft fiscal year 2019 priorities, partners can also expect to see the company elaborate on its intelligent cloud, intelligent edge approach, which company executives describe as a ubiquitous distributed computing fabric with embedded artificial intelligence.

“We are going to infuse everything with AI,” said Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, during his keynote address at Inspire.

Xerox remains bullish on SMB ambitions

Xerox said recent shakeups at the company haven’t affected its goal of capturing the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market through partners.

While the fallout of a proposed merger with Fujifilm has sparked questions about Xerox’s future, company executives remain optimistic, especially as it relates to expanding Xerox’s footprint in SMBs. Xerox has long identified its channel partners as a primary means for capturing SMB deals.

“SMB is a major strategic focus for Xerox, and the way we get there will be through our channel ecosystem,” said Pete Peterson, president of channels at Xerox.

Peterson, who joined Xerox about 15 months ago, said the changes at Xerox during his tenure haven’t disrupted the vendor’s commitment to partners. He noted that Xerox’s new CEO, John Visentin, views channel partners as a key engine for growth. Xerox named Visentin its CEO after former CEO Jeff Jacobson stepped down in May.

Peterson cited managed print services (MPS) among the SMB market opportunities that Xerox wants to enable partners to pursue. Xerox in February launched its MPS Essentials Suite, a bundle of MPS software offerings for partners. “Our MPS business and channels are growing significantly compared to the overall market,” Peterson said.

The vendor is also looking to help partners to develop applications around its ConnectKey devices, he said. He noted that Xerox has either developed or enabled about 75 ConnectKey apps, which include apps for document management, archiving and translation capabilities. In the last 12 to 18 months, Xerox has hosted several training and enablement sessions for partners to learn how to monetize and build their own ConnectKey apps, Peterson added.

Other news

  • Data management vendor Commvault has bolstered its channel resources as part of a long-term partner program redesign. New partner program features include an on-demand services center dedicated to supporting partners, marketing support and an enhanced quoting system. Commvault also revamped its partner portal, adding new tools and content. In addition, the vendor consolidated its product portfolio of 20 offerings down to four products.
  • Carahsoft Technology Corp., a government IT solutions provider, is distributing Feature Labs offerings to public sector organizations through Carahsoft’s NASA Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement contract. Feature Labs offers software that automates feature engineering for machine learning and AI applications.
  • E8 Storagehas expanded into the Canadian market with the addition of CognoSystems, based in Toronto, to its roster of solutions partners. CognoSystems, a disaster-recovery-as-a-service provider, is collaborating with E8 Storage to incorporate the latter company’s NVMe architecture into environments such as supercomputing clusters.
  • In other Microsoft Inspire announcements, Pax8, a cloud distribution firm, launched its Wingman Professional Services Program. Through the program, managed services providers (MSPs) can access customized IaaS solutions built by Pax8’s cloud architects and engineers, according to the company. In addition, BitTitan, a managed services automation company, unveiled a new set of automation capabilities for its MSPComplete offering. The capabilities let service providers offer professional, managed and help desk services around Microsoft Azure, the company said.
  • IT services management vendor SolarWinds MSP updated its N-central remote monitoring and management platform. N-central 12.0 introduces deeper integration with professional services automation software, improved patch management and access to NetPath, a network performance tool.
  • IT Glue, which offers a documentation platform for MSPs, introduced a new checklist feature to its software. The Checklists tool lets MSPs create checklists to organize and track routine tasks within the IT Glue platform, the vendor said.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

What’s New in Windows Server 2019 Insider Preview Build 17692

Windows Server 2019 is set to launch later this year – but exactly what’s in store for the latest version of the popular Microsoft operating system?

We now have access to a new Windows Server 2019 preview build, and this one has some things for Hyper-V users. You can read their official notification here. If you haven’t yet gotten into the preview program yet, you can join up and test out it out – sign up to be an Insider. You might want to put this one directly onto hardware if you have the opportunity. Otherwise, try to use a system capable of nested virtualization. I’ll go over the new offerings released on the latest version: insider preview build 17692.

Ongoing Testing Request

As a reminder, Microsoft has made a request for specific items to test in each build, they want users to specifically test:

  • In-place upgrade from WS2012R2 and/or WS2016
  • Compatibility with applications

I’ve done a little bit of my own testing down this avenue with positive results. My process started from a checkpoint of the original system. For each new build, I revert to the creation point of that checkpoint and install the new build. If you take the effort to do the same, don’t forget to report your findings! To do so you can use the Feedback Application on your Windows 10 desktop, select the server category and then choose the applicable sub-category for your feedback.

Build 17692 Feature 1: Dedicated Hyper-V Server

Hopefully, this is common knowledge now, but Hyper-V ships in its own SKU separate from Windows Server. Up until now, the preview builds of Windows Server 2019 only included the full server product. Insider preview build 17692 now has the separate Hyper-V Server product.

17692 does not include any specific functionality changes for Hyper-V. If you will use Hyper-V Server in your environment, you can start testing it now.

Build 17692 Feature 2: System Insights

In the shortest form, the System Insights feature automates a lot of the difficulty in gathering performance data and using it to predict future behavior and needs. Azure offers similar functionality and features, but Systems Insights requires nothing external. The free Windows Admin Center (formerly Project Honolulu) will give you nice charts on current and anticipated performance. You can extend the reporting functionality with response scripts.

Additional Download: Server Core App Compatibility Features on Demand

While not contained within the main bits of the build yet, this has to be one of the coolest features we’ve seen added. Insider preview build 17692 includes the ability to install a Feature on Demand package that will add several of the main Windows Server Management tools that we’ve come to rely on over the years. All of this on Server Core, and without the additional requirements and bloat from the full GUI installation!

insider preview build 17692

Current tools available with this feature are:

  • Performance Monitor (PerfMon.exe)
  • Resource Monitor (Resmon.exe)
  • Device Manager (Devmgmt.msc)
  • Microsoft Management Console (mmc.exe)
  • Windows PowerShell ISE (Powershell_ISE.exe)
  • Failover Cluster Manager (CluAdmin.msc)
  • Process Monitor (Procmon.exe) and other Sysinternals
  • SQL Server Management Studio

Commentary on Windows Server 2019 Insider Preview Build 17692

First, a bit about the split-out of Hyper-V Server. That was an expected move as we near release. Microsoft has not signaled any intent to end SKU separation. Organizations using Hyper-V Server can now start previewing 2019 in the same way that they use previous versions today. You can expect Hyper-V Server to start extending down the same paths as Windows Server. Of course, the Windows Server features won’t appear in Hyper-V Server, but management and reporting capabilities will.

On to the bigger topic of System Insights. If you were looking for a good reason to make the jump to 2019, this might be it. In the past, we had to either guess at utilization or become comfortable with the various performance monitoring tools. Guesses nearly always result in overspending. Proper performance monitoring consumes a lot of time, especially during the analysis phases. Systems Insights eases the data-gathering process. Even better, it leverages modern machine learning technologies to help predict what will sort of needs you’ll have in the future. Windows Admin Center will make the whole thing easy to use.

My primary hope for System Insights is that it will put a knife into one of my personal pet peeves: predatory “consultants” and incompetent “admins”. I commonly see unscrupulous outfits peddling a one-size-fits-all design as a magic bullet to every customer they have. Of course, it always does everything that those customers need because it can handle many times more work than they’ll ever reasonably throw at it. The “consultant” never needs to spend any time on analysis, which saves them money. The “consultant” gets more commission from the bigger system, which makes them money. Their customers don’t know enough to even realize that they’ve been robbed. I see similar behavior from a lot of in-house “admins”. They just tell the business owners to overbuy and their bosses don’t know any different.

Now, with System Insights, the owner of that four-user shop who was conned into buying a full 10GbE infrastructure will be able to open up Windows Admin Center and see how his network utilization only averages .5 Mbps. The operations manager who trusted his IT staff will quickly be able to see that the 40TB system they “absolutely needed” to buy only has 2TB of usage. Sure, the liars will exert more effort and come up with better lies, but they’ll be less effective. And, as time goes on, business owners become more technologically savvy. I hope that we’re seeing the beginning of the end of those unsavory practices.

Of course, not all consultants and admins behave that way. Many genuinely want to perform their duties to the best of their ability, and System Insights will make their jobs much easier. They’ll be able to use it to quickly show their customers and bosses how well they’re doing and use its predictive capabilities to stay ahead of problems — the exact intent behind the feature. I look forward to System Insights as a powerful tool that improves everyone’s experience with Windows Server 2019.

The addition of some of the core management utilities into Windows Server Core is also a welcome addition. The lack of these tools on Server Core frustrated some admins and stifled adoption of Core as the primary server SKU. With them available now it seems Microsoft has seen this gap and is moving to address it.


Overall, another solid release. Things are looking up for when 2019 officially hits the shelves! What are your thoughts on the features and capabilities this build brings? Will you be utilizing these features inside of your datacenter? Whatever direction Windows Server 2019 goes from here, rest assured we will be providing our expert insight and analysis throughout the development and at launch. Watch out for more Windows Server 2019 content on our blog and upcoming content.

Let us know in the comments section below!