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Windows Server 2025

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With the unveiling of the most recent vNext Preview, providing a sneak peek into upcoming server operating systems and new features for existing versions, we gain insight into what Windows Server 2025 has in store. Despite the continued branding of Windows Server 2022, it’s evident that this release signifies the evolutionary path Microsoft is taking with the forthcoming iteration of its server operating system. Let’s delve into this latest preview build and explore some of the features awaiting us in Windows Server 2025.

Windows Server 2025 – The next Windows Server version

The anticipation for the upcoming Windows Server version has finally come to an end. Insights from VMware ESXi 8 and other sources indicate that the next Windows Server version to receive mainstream support will be Windows Server 2025. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that Windows Server 2022 will continue to receive extended support until October 14, 2031, ensuring a substantial lifespan for the current “latest” Windows Server version.

New Features, Developments, and additional information

Note the following new features that are either documented or observed so far with the Windows Server vNext Preview Build 25951:

  • Azure Arc-enabled Server onboarding experience
  • Enhanced Command Line utility with the Windows Terminal
  • Advanced Storage Replica Logging
  • New Windows Server 2025 forest and domain functional levels
  • Many more features

Azure Arc-enabled servers

The preview version brings forth the onboarding experience for Azure Arc-enabled Servers. Users can now effortlessly install and set up the Azure Connected Machine Agent using a convenient system tray icon.

Once Azure Arc is activated on the server, the status information becomes instantly available through the system tray. This integration suggests Microsoft’s focus on a seamless hybrid cloud experience for users.

Enhanced Command Line Utility

Administrators can now explore an upgraded Terminal command line utility available in Windows 11. A simple search for “Terminal” reveals the application, showcasing enhanced command line tools and capabilities in the upcoming release of Windows Server.

Advanced Storage Replica Logging

A standout element is the Enhanced Log for Storage Replica, which plays a crucial role in enhancing block replication performance. Microsoft’s strategy involves eliminating file system abstractions to minimize the performance overhead linked to the Storage Replica log. This approach is geared towards accelerating and streamlining replication processes.

Download Information

The Windows Server Preview is available in ISO format in multiple languages and VHDX format in English. Specialized editions, like the Windows Server Datacenter Azure Edition, further expand the variety of the offerings.

You can download the current Windows Server Insider Preview release here: Download Windows Server Insider Preview.

Installing Windows Server 2025

Upon acquiring the Windows Server 2025 ISO image, proceed to mount and install it through the standard ISO installation process either on a virtual machine or directly on bare metal hardware. In my case, I am undertaking this installation within VMware ESXi 8.0.

Notably, when accessing the ESXi 8.0 host client (connecting directly to the ESXi 8 host), the new virtual machine wizard will display “Windows Server 2025.” However, it’s worth mentioning that this option is currently absent in the latest patch release of vCenter Server. My speculation is that it will likely be introduced in vSphere 8.0 update 2.

This observation could serve as additional confirmation that Windows Server 2025 is indeed the upcoming version in the Windows Server series.

After mounting and installing the new vNext ISO, the Windows Server 2022 branding will become visible. During this process, I am specifically installing the Desktop Experience.

Once the installation is successfully completed, you can execute a quick “winver” command to check the displayed information. The result will indicate Microsoft Windows Server Version 23H2 (OS Build 25951.1000).

The user interface of the vNext Preview for Windows Server 2025 closely resembles Windows 11, featuring familiar styling on icons and other elements, as anticipated.

One unexpected aspect, if you can characterize it as such, is that Server Manager continues to persist and initiates during startup in Windows Server 2025. The persistent notification regarding Windows Admin Center remains present as well. It remains to be seen whether this behavior will persist in the final GA release or if it’s a lingering aspect awaiting refinement. However, as of now, Server Manager appears to endure in Windows Server 2025!

New Windows Server 2025 Active Directory features

Microsoft recently released documentation on the new forest and domain functional levels. Note the following new improvements:

Active Directory Functional Levels:

  • New Forest and Domain Functional Levels:
    • Support for innovative domain and forest functional levels is introduced, applicable to AD LDS as well.
    • These levels are imperative for general support, including the support of the 32K database page feature outlined herein.
    • During automated installations, DomainLevel 10 and ForestLevel 10 correspond to these new levels. For reference, Windows Server 2016 has DomainLevel 7 and ForestLevel 7.
    • No back fitting of these functional levels is planned for Windows Server 2019 and 2022 versions.

Minimum Functional Levels Requirement:

  • Newly established AD forests and AD LDS configuration sets must operate at a minimum functional level of Windows Server 2016.Promotions of AD and AD LDS replicas necessitate the existing domain or configuration set to already function at the Windows Server 2016 level or higher.
Security Enhancements:

Implemented are heightened security measures for confidential attributes, advancements in LDAP support, cryptographic upgrades within Kerberos, and various other security-related enhancements, all aimed at reinforcing the overall security framework.

Wrapping up

Windows Server 2025 is gradually emerging, as suggested by the Preview Build 25951. While details about new features remain limited at this point, some noteworthy aspects have surfaced. Microsoft is preparing to deliver an enhanced server experience through integrated cloud solutions, advanced command-line utilities, and improved storage solutions. It’s important to note that the final release may differ from the preview, but the current preview paints an optimistic picture of the upcoming Windows Server release, featuring stronger hybrid connectivity, a new domain and forest functional level, and upgraded command line tools.

Click on the link to download Windows Server 2022.

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