Microsoft has announced that its first Semi-Annual Channel release cadence for Windows Server is available for Software Assurance customers to download. Version 1709 features an updated Server Core container image that has been optimised for lift-and-shift scenarios and a Nano Server container image that is nearly 80% smaller. The release also enables Windows and Linux containers to run side-by-side on the same Windows host using Linux kernels provided by major Linux vendors.
Microsoft has announced the release of BizTalk Server 2016. The release features Hybrid connectivity that supports connecting to cloud native applications, web and mobile back end systems as well as custom applications through the Azure Logic Apps adapter. It also provides integration with the latest Microsoft products such as Windows Server 2016, Visual Studio 2015, SQL Server 2016 and Office 2016.
Microsoft has announced the general availability (GA) of Windows Server 2016. Windows Server 2016 includes software-defined capabilities to enable hybrid cloud as well as offer portability across datacentre, private and public cloud environments via virtual machine and new container formats. Microsoft has introduced the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit to allow Windows Server VMs to be run in Azure at a discounted rate.
Microsoft has announced that Azure AD Domain Services is Generally Available (GA). Azure AD Domain Services provides managed domain services such as domain join, group policy, LDAP, and Kerberos/NTLM authentication that are fully compatible with Windows Server Active Directory. The service integrates with existing Azure AD tenants so users can sign in using their corporate credentials.
Microsoft has announced the release of Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5, which includes several new additions in Compute, Identity, Management and Automation, Networking, Security as well as Storage. The Technical Preview container support adds performance improvements, simplified network management and support for Windows containers on Windows 10. There is also an updated module for building Nano Server (a lightweight OS in a VM or container) images.
Microsoft has announced the release of System Center 2016 Technical Preview 5, which offers new capabilities for managing highly virtualised software-defined infrastructure, improved management of Linux environments and support for new features in Windows Server 2016.
Microsoft has fully embraced delivering its products on non-Microsoft platforms as is seen by the continual development and releases of its flagship products on iPhone, Android, iPad and Mac. This month saw the delivery of preview versions of Skype for Business apps on iOS and Android, the release of Skype 7.11 for Mac as well as a public beta of Cortana on Android.
In addition, Microsoft announced the public release of Windows 10 IoT Core for the Raspberry Pi 2 and the MinnowBoard Max.
System Center Operations Manager management packs have been released for MySQL Server and Apache HTTP Server, which along with the Linux management packs improves Microsoft ability to provide LAMP stack monitoring. The two new management packs are open source and have been published on GitHub.
The company has also being very active in developing and evolving its cloud platform, which included another preview of Windows Server 2016 that supports containers and software-defined datacentres, the third technical preview of System Center Configuration Manager, an update to Microsoft Intune service, the release of row-Level Security for Azure SQL Database as well as the release of the fourth update to the Analytics Platform System (APS) Appliance.
Many of the articles published on Microsoft News have focused on Windows 10 apps and technical articles to encourage developers to build universal Windows apps. Microsoft claims that Windows 10 is now on 75 million devices and, as you might expect from a free upgrade, has exceeded comparable figures for Windows 7.
Microsoft has released another Windows 10 test build (10532) to insiders that includes changes to context menus, another version of its Edge browser, which has a range of enhancements, as well as a number of bug fixes.
After running Windows 10 since its release, here are my ”recommended” changes…
Unsolicited machine starts and battery longevity:
- After upgrading to Windows 10, keep your machine powered on and running for some time (overnight or, depending on what’s on your machine, even longer) – this allows a number of post update background tasks to complete and, once done, CPU and disk usage will drop to normal levels
- Disable “Allow wake timers” under the Sleep section of Advanced Power settings
- Set “Run maintenance tasks at” to a time that your device is normally switched on and disable “Allow scheduled maintenance to wake up my computer at the scheduled time” – both these settings can be found under Automatic Maintenance
- For Surface Pro, disable “Sdo Sensor V2” in the Device Manager
- Disable “Hey Cortana” voice activation on mobile devices
- Select “PCs on my local network” on the Choose how updates are delivered page (Settings, Windows Update, Advanced Options, Choose how updates are delivered) – prevents your machine serving updates to other users via the Internet
- Disable any items under “For networks I select, share them with my” on the Manage WiFi Settings page (Settings, Network & Internet, WiFi, Manage WiFi Settings) – prevents automatically allowing your Outlook, Skype and Facebook contacts connecting to networks on which you have been connected
- Enable Bold for Title bars (Settings, System, Display, Advanced display settings, Advanced sizing of text and other items) – my personal preference to improve the aesthetics of the white Windows Title Bars.
Do let me know if have any tips you think are worth sharing and whether you found the above of interest.
Microsoft has released Technical Preview updates for Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016. The updates include the first public preview of Windows Server Containers as well as the introduction of new Nano Server functionality and software-defined datacentre enhancements.
July brings the end of support for Windows Server 2003 and news that the US Navy is to pay Microsoft around $9m to continue to provide security fixes for Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003.
Microsoft has been notifying customers of changes to its Services Agreement and Privacy Statement. The Services Agreement will now cover most of Microsoft’s consumer services, including Bing, Cortana, Microsoft account, OneDrive, Outlook.com, Skype and Xbox Live. The privacy statement is being updated to reflect Microsoft’s commitments for protecting individual privacy with these services, and will also cover new technologies like the forthcoming Windows 10.
Skype activity continues with the release of Skype 5.13 for iPhone that includes preview links in chat. Skype Translator adds French and German to the line-up of spoken languages and now supports 50 instant messaging languages. Microsoft also plans to introduce Skype Translator preview technology to the Skype for Windows desktop app towards the end of summer 2015.
Microsoft has announced a significant Xbox One update due this autumn, which sees the start of the Windows 10 influence, and includes Cortana, speed improvements and a revised home screen.
Microsoft plans to deliver Windows 10 developer tools for Visual Studio 2015 with the release of Windows 10. Designed for developers to build Universal Windows Platform apps and submit them to the Windows Store. July will see a range of release previews of the Windows 10 SDK as well as releases of a matching version of the Windows 10 Mobile emulator.
In preparation for the release of Windows 10, Microsoft has announced the availability of A Developer’s Guide to Windows 10, an on-demand Virtual Academy training course.
NASA and Microsoft are developing Sidekick, a new project using Microsoft HoloLens, to help astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Just a reminder that support for Windows Server 2003 ends on 15 July. Talking of endings, Microsoft has disabled SSL 3.0 in its April update for Internet Explorer 11, although Enterprise customers can choose to enable SSL 3.0 for compatibility with their Web applications.
Microsoft announced that Bing Ads will adopt Google AdWords’ upgraded URLs, which will help advertisers move campaigns between the Bing Ads and Google AdWords platforms.
On the Office front, Microsoft has enabled Office 365 administrators to set a maximum message size from 1 MB up to and increased maximum of 150 MB. The Office Universal apps preview for Windows 10 for phone is expected to be available by the end of April. Microsoft has added Italian and Chinese (Mandarin) to the Skype Translator preview programme, which already supports Spanish and English.
Microsoft has announced new features in Windows 10 and unveiled a set of software development kits (SDKs) to help developers bring their code for the Web, .NET, Win32, Android and iOS to Windows 10. At the company’s annual Build developer conference, Microsoft also announced new Azure data services (Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Azure Data Lake and elastic databases); Visual Studio and .NET tools and runtimes for Windows, Mac and Linux; and APIs that enable developers to build apps with Office 365.
The conference keynote devoted a lot of attention in explaining the benefits of the Universal Windows Platform, the new name for the Universal App Platform (UAP). The demonstration of Office apps running on a Windows phone and then, by connecting a Bluetooth screen, keyboard and mouse, transformed the Office experience into a full desktop application (still running on the phone) certainly revealed the vision extremely well.
Other Windows 10 news includes the release of a new insider build (10074), which sees the reintroduction of some Aero Glass elements in the UI as well as a number of subtle enhancements. Microsoft also announced the availability of Windows 10 IoT Core Insider Preview with support for Raspberry Pi 2 and Intel’s Minnowboard Max. The final version will be available for Makers and commercial device builders for free.
Microsoft is making every effort to encourage developers and software firms to develop and provide offerings on the Windows 10 platform. The company has stated their objective to have Windows 10 on 1 billion devices within three years of release. In addition, they announced several new capabilities coming to Windows 10, which includes carrier billing across all Windows 10 devices, an updated Advertising SDK with support for video ads and install tracking as well as in-app purchase subscription support.
Microsoft is planning a phased rollout for Windows 10, with the desktop and tablet clients scheduled for summer (probably late July according to rumours), with additional platforms (such as Windows Phone) and features to follow in later months. Interestingly, the insider programme will continue after the release, which highlights Microsoft’s new approach to its operating system development lifecycle.