Image: Stephen Brashear, Getty Images

The latest version of the long-term support release of Windows Server, Windows Server 2022, is now available. It’s perhaps best thought of as a continuing evolution of the series of releases that started with Windows Server 2016, enhancing security, adding improved hybrid cloud capabilities and improving its support for the largest on-premises applications. Now in sync with Windows Azure releases, it’s an effective on-premises platform that scales from simple file and print to running massive data warehouses and large-scale line-of-business applications like SAP.

SEE: Windows Server 2022 cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

What is Windows Server 2022?

Windows Server 2022 is the new long-term servicing channel release of Windows Server for on-premises data centers and virtual machines. The two main editions are Standard and Datacenter. While the two editions of Windows Server 2022 offer the same core server features that build on existing Windows Server functionality, there are some differences around how they support Hyper-V virtual machines and how they manage networking and storage.

If you’re building a virtual infrastructure, then you will need to choose Datacenter, as it adds support for unlimited VMs (Standard only supports two), along with shielded Hyper-V VMs for enhanced isolation and security, and support for both software-defined networking and storage.

Both versions support the same set of core features:

Windows containers: Unlike virtual machines, containers allow for operating system-level virtualization by providing just enough access to the OS, libraries and underlying resources to host applications in an isolated user-space.

Active Directory Domain Services: Privileged Access Management (PAM) helps to address the theft of credentials by working with Microsoft Identity Manager (MIM) to protect the Active Directory (AD) forest from accounts with privileged access. Additionally, new processes are in place for requesting administrative access and monitoring of such accounts, including the expiring links feature, which limits the administrative window period based on a specified time frame.

Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) continues to provide simple, secure identity federation and Single Sign-On (SSO) between ADFS-secured enterprises and partner organizations. It enables authentication of users stored in LDAP or cloud-based providers.

Hyper-V includes hot management of virtual networking adapters and memory for virtual machines. For security-minded administrators, Datacenter includes shielded virtual machines that minimize tampering with or the theft of data and virtual machine states by encrypting both and preventing the inspection of video signals and disks.

SEE: Windows 11 cheat sheet: Everything you need to know (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Windows Defender: Microsoft’s Windows Server Antimalware application is installed by default in Windows Server 2022.

Storage Spaces Direct enables the building of high-availability storage from local storage systems, including JBODs stored locally or networked as part of a storage pool.

Minimum system requirements remain the same:

  • 1.4 GHz 64-bit processor
  • Compatible with x64 instruction set
  • Supports NX and DEP
  • Supports CMPXCHG16b, LAHF/SAHF and PrefetchW
  • Supports Second Level Address Translation (EPT or NPT)
  • 512 MB (2 GB for Server with Desktop Experience installation option)
  • ECC (Error Correcting Code) type or similar technology, for physical host deployments
  • An Ethernet adapter capable of at least 1 gigabit per second throughput
  • Compliant with the PCI Express architecture specification
  • UEFI 2.3.1c-based system and firmware that supports secure boot
  • Trusted Platform Module 2.0

SEE: A new Microsoft Store: What does it mean for you and your business? A lot, actually (TechRepublic)

Why does Windows Server 2022 matter?

Windows 10 has been rolling out a series of virtualization- and processor-based security updates as part of its secured core initiative, one of the reasons for the restricted set of supported processors in Windows 11. Microsoft is bringing this model to Windows Server 2022 as an optional set of security tools, offering what it’s calling Secured-core Server, with secured hardware and firmware from server partners as well as its own software tools. This allows you to use Credential Guard to protect logins and Hypervisor-protected Code Integrity with your applications. At the same time, it’s delivering improvements to network security, upgrading HTTPS support to TLS 1.3 and adding improved AES-256 encryption to the file-share SMB protocol.

There are also significant improvements for Azure integration, either as hybrid cloud systems managed by Azure Arc or for transferring data between on-premises installations and cloud systems. These include a significantly smaller Server Core installation for use in containers or as an application host VM with remote management. Further improvements in the Windows Admin Center management tooling improve its event viewer as well as supporting more Azure management from your Windows Servers.

Microsoft has also enhanced Windows Server’s scalability options. If you’re running big applications, you now get support for 48TB of memory and 2,048 cores on 64 sockets. Other application hosting features include improved Windows container support for use with Kubernetes applications, including advanced container networking tools that add IPv6 support.

If you’re running Windows Server images in Azure, you will get additional features, including Azure Automanage, hotpatching for VM images, better migration options and support for SMB over the new QUIC protocol.

When was Windows Server 2022 released?

A preview program started in March 2021. General availability of Windows Server 2022 was announced on 1 September 2021, with a launch event as part of the Windows Server Summit on 16 September.

How can I get Windows Server 2022, and how much does it cost?

Three editions are available: Standard, Datacenter and Essentials. The Datacenter version is intended for use in large-scale data centers, where you need to host and manage large fleets of virtual machines. It’s typically used for ERP systems and for hybrid and private clouds as an alternative to tools like Azure Stack HCI. Standard is the familiar small application server or operational database server, with limited virtualization requirements. Smaller businesses with basic file and print needs, and up to 25 employees, can take the option of the Essentials release.

Windows Server 2022 is available in the Microsoft Volume Licensing Center for customers with existing licensing agreements, or in the Azure Marketplace for use as an Azure virtual machine. You can also download evaluation versions from the Windows Evaluation Center, with ISO and VHD installer options.

Microsoft is licensing Windows Server 2022 using a per-core licensing model, with CALs required for users and devices accessing your servers. Like Windows Server 2019, licenses are sold in 2- and 16-core packs with a minimum of 8 cores per processor and 16 core licenses per server.

  • Essentials: $501 (per server licensing). No CALs required.
  • Standard: $972 (for 16 cores). CALs required.
  • Datacenter: $6,155 (for 16 cores). CALs required.

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