Microsoft Server first launched Windows Server back in 2016. Since then, the Windows Server series has radically improved its capabilities. Now, on March 2, 2021, Microsoft released the latest Server 2022.
This new operating system introduces advanced multi-layer security, hybrid capabilities with Azure, and a flexible application platform.
But that’s only the beginning of the list of improvements.
With ever more investment into expanding server capabilities, Server 2022 boasts the latest in server technology. To give you a glimpse of everything you can expect from this newest Microsoft offering, we’ve put together this handy guide.
Below we’ll explore everything you need to know about Microsoft Server 2022.
What is Windows Server 2022?
Windows Server is the latest operating system for on-premises data centers and virtual machines.
Unlike prior versions of Server – which since 2012 have come in two forms – Server 2022 can be expected in three distinct versions. The Standard Edition is limited to two virtual instances and includes a slimmed-down version of Storage Replica – now limited to a single partnership with max. 2 TB volumes.
The Datacenter Edition, however, also includes Shielded VMs, Storage Replica, and software-defined storage plus Storage Spaces Direct.
If you’re building a virtual infrastructure, you’ll need the Datacenter Edition. Because it provides support for unlimited virtual machines (VMs) (standard only supports two), and you’ll want Shielded Hyper-V VMs for improved isolation and security.
What can we expect from the Standard and Datacenter Editions?
Here are some of the core features found across the two versions:
- Windows Containers. Containers allow operating-system-level virtualization via access to the OS, libraries, and underlying resources to host applications in an isolated user space.
- Windows Defender. The Server Anti-malware application is installed by default.
- Storage Spaces Direct. Enables high-availability storage building using local storage systems like JBODs stored locally or networked from a storage pool.
- Active Directory Domain Services. To prevent the theft of credentials, Privileged Access Management (PAM) works with Microsoft Identity Manager (MIM) to protect the Active Directory (AD). Moreover, administrative access requests and account monitoring is now subject to an expiring links feature – it limits the administrative window period using a specific time length.
- Active Directory Federation Services. Provides a simple and secure identity federation and also Single Sign-On (SSO) between partner organizations and ADFS-secured enterprises. It allows user authentication stored in LDAP or cloud-based providers.
- Hyper V. Virtual networking adapters and virtual machine memory include hot management. Datacenter also includes shield virtual machines to reduce interference or theft of data or virtual machines states via encryption of both, stopping the inspection of video signals and disks.
New Azure Edition
Now, with the latest release, a third option has been added: Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition. This latest operating system is designed purely for the Microsoft cloud.
Its unique features include hotpatching, installing updates without reboots, and SMB over QUIC (a VPN alternative). Otherwise, the Azure Edition is the same as the Datacenter Edition.
Finally, the Essentials Edition – previously offered for Server 2019 – has removed special functions like dashboard, client backup, and access anywhere. So, don’t expect to be able to pick up this stripped-down version. Instead, it’ll come as the Standard Edition with an alternate license.
What are the minimum system requirements?
Alongside the release of any new operating system, Microsoft releases the minimum system requirements. For Server 2022, these are:
- 1.4 GHz 64-bit processor
- Compatible with x64 instruction set
- Supports NX and DEP
- Supported CMPXCHG16b, LAHF/SAHF, and PrefetchW
- Error Correcting Code (ECC) type or comparable technology – needed for physical host deployments
- 512 MB (2 GB needed for Server with Desktop Experience installation option)
- Compliant with the PCI Express architecture specification
- Ethernet adapter cable – minimum of 1 gigabit per second
- UEFI 2.3.1c-based system and secure boot supporting firmware
- Trusted Platform Module 2.0
Changes to infrastructure and server roles
Throughout the new operating system updates, there’s been a tremendous emphasis on hybrid and migration strategies. That left the server OS in the lurch.
But, as Vijay Kumar, director of Windows Server and Azure product marketing, assured buyers, “Windows Server is a highly versatile, multi-purpose operating system, with dozens of roles and hundreds of features, including guest rights.” He went on to say that the latest software will include Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) features, allowing customers multi-purpose use, e.g., running file services or SQL Server.
Meanwhile, the Azure Stack HCl is designed to run virtual machines on-premises with connections to Azure hybrid services. Indeed, on your own hardware, Azure Kubernetes Service is still all about the infrastructure rather than an application or storage server.
It now supports even more: 48 Tb of memory, up to 64 sockets, and 2,048 logical processors. It even allows confidential computing using Intel SGX on Ice Lake CPUs.
Today, with new cyberattacks occurring daily, reliable connectivity is critical. That’s why Windows prioritized new features for secure connections with Server 2022. Included is Secure DNS, another high-grade enhanced feature developed to provide reliable and secure connectivity.
Furthermore, the DNS Client also supports DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH). That works as DoH ciphers DNS requests using HTTPS protocol – keeps traffic private and improves security.
AES-256-GCM and AES-256-CCM cryptographic suites are currently upheld in Windows Server for Server Message Block encryption and marking. As enemies keep discovering new methods to separate security calculations, solid encryption is needed in registering. But, thankfully, AES-256-GCM and AES-256-CCM utilization ensure a significant degree of encryption, although AES-128 for down-level similarity is still advocated.
Two key security features have been added to Server 2022:
- Secured-core servers
- Secure connectivity
Secured-core server combines threat protection software resulting in multi-layered security throughout your IT infrastructure: hardware, firmware, and the operating system. Based on the Trusted Platform Module 2.0 and System Guard, booting up Windows Server 2022 now minimizes firmware vulnerabilities. There are also added features like virtualization-based security (VBS) (which includes Credential Guard and Hypervisor-protected code integrity (HVCI)). Credential Guard work as a preventative defense for sensitive assets. Meanwhile, HVCI prevents malware tampering via hardware-rooted security.
Secured connectivity, as discussed, improves security during transport for added protection. It also ensures faster and more secure encrypted HTTPS and TLS 1.2 is enabled by default.
Microsoft provided SMB compression to add further capabilities so users can optionally compress files to speed up file transfers. Indeed, in one demo, SMB compression was shown to handle a 20 GB file comfortably. Without SMB compression, it took three minutes to compress, but only 30 seconds with the new update.
Plus, compression benefits are also available for end-users accessing a file share through Windows Explorer.
The new Azure Edition is a game-changer for the Server series. With Azure Arc, you can now manage, secure, and govern Windows Server 2022 across a variety of settings, including on-premises, at the edge, or via a multi-cloud environment.
You can also use Azure management capabilities like Azure Defender, Azure Policy, and Azure Monitor on such servers. And, you even enable connectivity with Windows Admin Center in Azure Arc.
Finally, to further enhance seamless connectivity, Azure provides Storage Migration Service to help migrate data to servers while maintaining low latency and reducing your on-premises storage footprint.
How much does Server 2022 cost?
The cost of Server 2022 will depend on which edition you opt for: Standard, Datacenter, or Essentials. According to Microsoft, these are the prices and recommendations for the options:
- Essentials. (Suggested retail price – $501) – perfect for small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices; specialty servers; no CAL required.
- Standard. (Suggested retail price – $1069) – perfect for physical or minimally virtualized environments; core-based; requires Windows Server CAL.
- Datacenter. (Suggested retail price $6155) – perfect for highly virtualized data centers and cloud environments; core-based; requires Windows Server CAL.
There you go – your complete overview of the latest Microsoft Windows Server 2022. With several significant changes since Server 2019, the newest outing from Microsoft is an innovative update to a reliable operating system.
Which edition you opt for will depend largely on your current requirements. With most small businesses sufficing with either Standard or Datacenter Editions.
For further information, head over to the product page for a big discount on the Retail price. If you need access to the most recent Microsoft Server release, please get in contact for Server 2022 licenses at competitive prices.