Review: Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4

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In November, Microsoft released Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4. With the final release due out in the second half of this year, TP4 gives us the latest look at where Microsoft's flagship operating system is heading. There are several interesting spots to look at and some licensing news that is controversial. I put the release through its paces for around a month; here are my observations.

The previous version of Windows Server 2016 -- Technical Preview 3 -- introduced support for Docker-based containers. Docker is the largest container platform used today, and provides a management space and support for a variety of operating system platforms, including Windows Server, Azure, Linux, Amazon Web Services and more.

But in this beta release, Microsoft introduces Hyper-V based containers for all those Microsoft shops and organizations that, for whatever reason, choose not to employ Docker for their containerization needs. Hyper-V containers are different than Hyper-V virtual machines, mainly because they are considered another virtualization option; Hyper-V containers are a lighter-weight virtual machine, highly isolated from everything else, while Hyper-V virtual machines are the same as they have been.

Hyper-V containers secure the container kernel from the operating system running beneath the containers, so they are not susceptible to certain attacks. And you can move them around from cloud to data center back to cloud as long as all destinations are running Windows Server 2016. They are a great way to run untrusted code or to set up hosting environments where you cannot be expected to vet every piece of software running on your system.

For more trusted applications and more sharing possibilities, traditional Docker-style containers are more capable.

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