The Ultimate Guide to Windows Server Versions and Dev History

Windows Server Versions and Dev History

The Ultimate Guide to Windows Server Versions and Dev History

We look at every version of Windows Server, from NT Server to Windows Server. Ascertain it’s time to upgrade. Servers offer services to other computers in a network. Because of this, they require a different operating system than regular PCs. Microsoft is well-known for its Windows operating system, and it makes a special version to support servers.

Windows Server, the most popular system for managing servers, is also the main competitor to Linux. Microsoft continues to rewrite the operating system regularly, up to Windows Server 2019. 

Windows NT Server Versions

Microsoft used the “NT” brand name to market its Windows operating system throughout the 1990s. The NT name was used in several versions of the operating systems. 

Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1

Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1 was the first version of this system, and it was released in 1993. This 32-bit system was available in two versions: one for terminals and another for

Servers. This server version led to the creation of the Windows Server family. There was never a Windows NT Server version 1. 

Windows NT Server 3.5

The company introduced Windows Server 3.0 in 1994. This enabled interconnectivity with Unix and Novell Netware. Windows Server was a new platform at the time. Most networks were running on Unix and Novell servers. Compatibility with these systems was crucial if Companies adopted windows Server with networks. 

Windows NT Server 3.51

Microsoft significantly improved its PC Windows interface in 1995 with Windows 95. Windows NT Server 3.51 was also developed by Microsoft to manage Windows 95-running computers. This server system can manage client software licenses and install and update Windows 95 over the network. 

Windows NT Server 4.0

Windows NT Server did not get the Windows 95 interface until 1996 when Windows NT Server 4.0 was released. The operating system came with IIS 2.0 free of charge. Internet Information Server (IIS ) is Microsoft’s Web server system. Today, it is the most popular Webserver software worldwide, with Apache HTML Server being a close competitor. It took Microsoft 22 years to overtake Apache as the most popular Web server in 2018.

Windows NT Server Enterprise was created in 1997 to address the increased complexity of network networks. These enhancements included the integration of public-key encryption services and management of server clusters’ operating systems. The Transaction Server and Mail Queue Server were two other additions that considered interactions with potentially congested networks.

Windows NT Server 4.0 Terminal Server Edition was the last major enhancement of Windows NT Server. It was released in 1998. This enhanced connectivity to non-Windows systems and created a bridge between 16-bit DOS apps so they could interface with 32-bit Desktop environments.

The Development History of Windows Server

Microsoft dropped the “NT” brand with Windows Server 2000. Each Edition was released became the year the Windows Server version was named. 

Windows Server 2000

Many of the features we use today were made possible by the Windows Server enhancements. These enhancements included XML support, creation of Active Server Pages (ASP), and use of Active Directory to authenticate users. Microsoft also released Advanced Server Server and Datacenter Server versions of Windows Server 2000.

Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2003 was a rewrite of the server software system. It was intended to minimize the need for a system restart. It was possible to update software and install patches on the fly without rebooting the system. This was also a first for the Windows Server operating systems that the.NET ecosystem was added to.

The 2003 Windows version included server roles. This allowed the operating system to be customized to specific tasks such as a DNS server. Microsoft also released the Windows Server 2003 Web Edition, in addition to the Standard, Advanced, and Datacenter versions. Microsoft released Windows Server 2003 shortly after an update that converted the system into a 64-bit environment.

Windows Server 2003 R2

Windows Server 2003 R2 was released in 2005. Customers who purchased Windows Server 2003 already had access to the new version. Windows Server 2003 R2 was released simultaneously as Windows Server 2003.

R2 brought improvements to Windows Server that focused on security. Active Directory was the basis for user authentication, and it still is. Microsoft added a feature to this authentication system, which was included in R2. This was the Active Directory Federation Services. This AD extension allowed external services to be added to the “single signed on” permissions managed within the network.

Active Directory was also upgraded to the Active Directory App Mode. This created an “arm’s length” relationship between third-party apps. They could be accessed by users who were verified through AD without including the authentication procedures from that software in AD.

The Security Configuration Wizard made it possible to set security policy for groups of machines using the R2 package. Other improvements to R2 include better compression of files, transfers, and replication procedures for multisite WANs.

Windows Server 2008

It took three years for the next version of Windows Server to be ready. This included an additional enhancement to Active Directory. It also introduced fundamental changes in the way network services interact with the software support functions of the operating system.

The inclusion of Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization software was a major benefit for Windows Server users. This may have been done to increase the company’s ability to compete in this area, which is becoming a more important requirement in IT management. Why would system administrators bring in another VM system when they already have Hyper-V?

Windows Server 2008 also included Event Viewer and Server Management. These tools were helpful for administrators and allowed them to have a better handle on the server’s activities.

Server Core became an increasingly important product for Microsoft. It was the basic version of Windows Server software and allowed command-line access. It can run without the Windows Desktop GUI. It is more appealing to system administrators who are more familiar with the command-line environments on UNIX or Linux.

There are four versions of Windows Server 2008: Standard Edition, Enterprise, Datacenter, and Web. 

Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows Server 2008 R2 was first released in 2009. It is still being used today. The majority of the differences between this and the original Windows Server 2008 were technical. They occurred in the underlying support services. Windows Vista was the foundation of Windows Server products up to this point. Windows Server 2008 R2 includes a Windows 7 core. This brings the program execution system to a 64-bit environment.

Active Directory was updated to improve group policy implementation. A few new services were also added to this version of Windows Server. These included Remote Desktop Services, repackaging, and an extension of Terminal Services. BranchCache and Direct Access were also included in this Windows Server version to allow remote users to access the server. 

Windows Server 2012

Microsoft was determined to win in The Cloud by 2012, so it enhanced Windows Server to allow better interaction with other services. Microsoft marketed Windows Server 2012 under the name “Cloud OS”, probably the ultimate goal of Hyper-V’s inclusion in Windows Server 2008.

This version of Windows Server was focused on improving the integration of Hyper-V to make Cloud resources as easy as possible to be integrated into onsite delivery. This version also included an update to the storage system, managed by Hyper-V. This release included the Hyper-V virtual switch, HyperV Replica, to increase uptake of hybrid network strategies.

This release saw the importance of PowerShell as well as Server Core increase.

There were four versions of Windows Server 2012: Essentials Foundation Standard Standard and Datacenter. The Essentials edition was targeted at small businesses. 

Windows Server 2012 R2

In 2013, Windows Server 2012 received this revision. PowerShell was added to the composition of the operating systems. Microsoft’s goal to offer better server functions onsite was continued, which allowed for the integration of cloud services. This included rewriting network and security services. The storage and virtualization systems were also redesigned, and web services were improved.

This upgrade brought improvements to storage features such as replicating distributed files and better access for file sharing. Also, I was able to deliver software to mobile devices from the server. Microsoft has introduced the PowerShell-based Desired Status Configuration system to improve network configuration management. 

Windows Server 2016 Standard Edition

Windows Server 2016 came with a new, important server system. This was a Nano Server, a minimal server system that was lighter and easier to attack. This Windows Server version also included Server Core.

VM systems could also be added with an encryption system for HyperV. Standard Edition allowed only two virtual machines and one Hyper-V host per license.

Containers were added to Windows Server Standard Edition as Windows native containers. These could be used in any way that Windows Server Standard Edition allows. This service allowed for the use of two Hyper-V containers.

Windows Server 2016 did not come with an R2 version.

Windows Server 2016 – Datacenter Edition

Windows Server 2016 came in two versions: Standard Edition and Datacenter Edition. These versions differed based on the expected scale of operations each would attract. The Datacenter Edition targets larger organizations. This Edition offers greater capacity and all the functionality of the Standard Editions.

One example of this is the management of containerization. The Standard Edition could only be used on Windows and HyperV containers. However, the Datacenter Edition was able to interact with any containers system. There wasn’t a limit on how many Hyper-V containers it could operate. The Datacenter Edition can interact with Container.

The Network Controller is a key feature in Windows Server 2016 Datacenter Edition, which isn’t available in the Standard Edition. This feature allows administrators to control virtual and physical network devices from one console. 

Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 was released in October 2018. This release includes the following new features:

Project Honolulu

This server management utility, Windows Admin Center, is now available. It is designed to manage Windows Server 2019 and servers running Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows Server 2016. This console can be used to monitor multiple servers. It doesn’t matter if the operating system is full GUI, Server Core, or Nano Server. This utility allows you to monitor performance, configure management, and control the services running on each server. 

Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI).

You can see that Microsoft has been increasing the virtualization power in its server operating systems since the first bundle HyperV with Windows Server 2008. This has been a ten-year campaign that has been mirrored in Microsoft’s cloud services. Network administrators now can create hybrid networks with this latest rollup, which includes all VM development from previous years.

The latest Window Server’s HCI features are geared more towards service users than providers. This system can support software-defined data centers and their customers. HCI capabilities allow virtualized services to be adjusted without the system being shut down. Many of the changes to resources that support VMs can be made automatically.

Linux on Windows Server

You can already run Linux on a Windows Server through a VM. Windows Server 2019 adds a Linux-compatible subsystem to this hosting. These are “native shielded VMware VMs for Linux.”

Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

The “HT0_ advanced persistent threat” is the latest security threat to IT systems. These APT attacks can bypass traditional antivirus systems. Their entry point is often whaling and spearphishing. Social media profiling is also common. Advanced threat protection systems are essential as traditional defenses to block access no longer work. The Windows Defender ATP is a welcome security enhancement. The ATP monitors account activity, protects log files against unauthorized modifications, and tracks the activities of users regarding data storage to detect APT intrusion.

Leaner Server Core and Services

Since Windows Server 2008, the Server Core option has been built into Windows Server. It now weighs half the size of full GUI-led Windows Server 2019. This shrinking also applies to software delivery containerization delivered on user-owned devices. Security has not been compromised by the reduction of overhead caused by containerization.

GUI controls

Users of the 2019 version get full access to all the front-end administration tools via a GUI interface, just like with any Long-Term Service Channel version of Windows Server. This feature is not available to Server Core or Nano Server users.

Channel for long-term service

Windows Server versions are not always obsolete. Microsoft classifies all standard Windows Server releases to its long-term service channel (LTSC). These products have been supported for 10 years. The purchase price includes five years of support, and five more years require a support contract extension.

Windows Server is not automatically replaced and must be purchased separately. Except for the R2 versions, customers who have already purchased the original version are eligible to receive a free upgrade. Windows Server 2003 R2 was made available to customers who had purchased Windows Server 2003.

Today, the 2008 R2, 2012 R2, and 2018 versions are still in operation around the globe.

Semi-Annual Channel

In 2017, Microsoft introduced a second buying model for Windows Server. This is the SemiAnnual Channel (SAC). This channel does not offer the same products as the Windows Server versions, which are marketed through Long-Term Services Channel. This group of products has shorter release times, so the common elements in both channels will eventually differ.

SAC products were designed for software development companies that need newer innovations quicker than enterprises that require stable servers to support regular operations. SAC server versions are updated every six months, and support contracts last for only 18 months.

These Windows Server versions are numbered according to the month and year they were released. There have been:

  • Windows Server version 1709 (September 2017).
  • Windows Server version 1803 (March 2018).
  • Windows Server version 1809 (September 2018).

These Windows Server offerings offer fewer user interface options than the Windows Server operating system offered through the Long-Term Service Channel. These are included in the Cloud-based subscriptions services of Microsoft, including Software Assurance and Azure Marketplace.

Windows Server Cloud

Cloud hosting allows you to access Windows Server remotely from your computers. Microsoft’s Azure cloud servers are available on a subscription basis. If you want to get Windows Server in the Cloud, Microsoft’s services aren’t your only options. Windows Server is also used by other providers so that you can choose from various service plans provided by different companies. This allows you to use Windows Server on any hardware you have. Google Cloud offers a Windows Server option.

Whether you want to move all your server activity to Cloud or create a hybrid network to support your customers and staff, the most recent Windows Server versions will allow you to deliver services to them seamlessly.

Monitoring Windows Server

Windows Server has many monitoring features, but you will need to purchase specialized monitoring software to manage the entire system. Both Cloud and on-premises versions of the system depend on hardware components that can go wrong. You need to monitor all connections to your server from your LAN and the internet.

Microsoft Management Tools Free Trial

It can be hard to keep track of all the components that make a server run smoothly. SolarWinds Microsoft Management Tools will monitor the operation of the Windows Server and alert you when there are any concerns. With this automated assistance, you can focus on more complex projects like budget management or user support.

SolarWinds’ Server and Application Monitor will be your best friend when monitoring Windows Server. The SolarWinds network performance monitor is essential for keeping an eye on your entire network. SolarWinds has developed its infrastructure management tools using a single platform called Orion. This allows the modules to be inserted together. This allows you to use multi-module utilities like PerfStack. This assistant shows you the support services, hardware, and Windows Server. It helps you quickly identify which component of the stack is performing poorly and which Windows Server appears to be struggling.

SolarWinds Microsoft Management Tools can be downloaded and used on a 30-day trial. 

Windows Server versions

Because cutting-edge software can sometimes be unstable, not everyone wants the latest version. With Windows Server, you get complete ten-year support. It doesn’t always make economic sense to pay for every new version.

If you want the most recent server software from Microsoft, then the SemiAnnual Channel is the best option. Or opt for a completely Cloud-based solution that includes a commitment that you will always be up to date with the latest operating system.

What version of Windows Server are you currently using? Are you tempted to purchase the SAC format? Are you more comfortable keeping your servers in-house, or have you already moved to the Cloud? You can leave a comment in the comments section to share your thoughts and experiences with the community.

What is the Windows Server Standard?

Windows Server Standard 2019 is an edition. The Standard Edition of Windows Server is the regular, unlimited version. This distinction separates the Standard service from Windows Server Essentials, limiting connections to 25 clients.

What is the licensing process for Windows Server?

Windows Server licensing is determined by cores and not on processors or machines. Eight licenses are the minimum you can purchase per processor. You must also buy 16 licenses per server. Core licenses can be purchased in packs of either two or 16, so you cannot buy one license for Windows Server. 

How can I locate my server OS?

To find out more about your server OS, you can use name-a. This will tell you if the computer is 32-bit- or 64-bit. If you get the results x86_64 or ia64, your system is 64-bit. The results i386, I486, i586, and i686 indicate that your OS runs on a 32-bit system. Enter system info | findstr /C: “OS” to get more comprehensive system information. 

What is the Windows Server’s life cycle?

Windows Server’s lifecycle refers to how long Microsoft will support an operating system version. You can expect a 10-year full lifecycle for most Microsoft products. This includes five years of mainstream support and five years of extended support. Windows Server editions have a shorter support period and extended duration. The support period should last between two and three years. However, you can check the specific life cycle times for your version.


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