Windows Servers move to two updates a year

The semi-annual model will offer updates in spring and autumn

Microsoft has revealed a two-pronged release schedule of Windows Server, explaining it will now comprise a long-term servicing channel and the semi-annual channel.

The long-term servicing channel, which was previously known as the long-term servicing branch, is released every two to three years and includes five years of mainstream support, five years of extended support and another six years if businesses want to upgrade to premium assurance. This will continue for businesses that don’t have such an urgent need to update their servers.

The semi-annual channel, Microsoft’s new offering, will offer updates for those on a faster development cycle or for hosters that want to stay on top of the latest Hyper-V investments, both of which require more frequent updates. In this case, Windows Server updates will be released twice a year, in the spring and the autumn, with releases supported for 18 months from initial roll-out.

This latter option is available for volume-licensed customers that have opted in to software assurance, from the Azure Marketplace and other hosting providers hat wish to support it. Microsoft said it will also be offered to customers on loyalty programmes such as MSDN.

Microsoft’s semi-annual channel will integrate System Centre, data center management tools and Server Core, which will become the recommended option for hosting virtual machines and containers. Businesses are able to skip a release if they want to, taking pressure off teams to continually update their server software.

Those taking part in the Windows Insider Programme or the Windows Insider Programme for Business will be able to preview the update channel, although Microsoft said the server editions available may vary depending on where they are on the development cycle.