So Long, Old Friend

January 14, 2020. The day Win7 died. Really it’s the day Microsoft stopped issuing free security updates and support for the nearly 11-year-old OS. No more patches. No more tech support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008/2008 R2.

And gathered among us are some who are denying the inevitable: migrating to Windows 10. A world without patches is no place to secure your business’s data. Windows desktop OS vulnerabilities have almost doubled the past six years. 1 And one-in-three breaches 2 caused globally is due to an unpatched vulnerability. A breach could mean curtains for your business: the average cost of a data breach in 2018 was $3.86 million (each lost or stolen record averaged out to $148). Consider the risks in remaining without security updates.

Low-Down on Office 365

Last week, Microsoft rolled out its promised “Unverified Sender” enhancement to Office 365 to help users “identify suspicious messages” (i.e. spam or phishing emails) that reach the Outlook inbox. 1 This comes after a bulletin in which Microsoft urged Office 365 administrators and users to not turn off its built-in spam filters to “minimize the potential of a data breach or a compromised account.” 2

Many users are mistaken that there are different kinds of protections to their data in the cloud. But the risks of data loss or compromised data are no less of a problem in the cloud than in a modern server, desktop or phone.


Your Windows 10 Transition

Using Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008/R2 after January 14, 2020 puts your systems at risk of vulnerabilities and cyberattacks. When over 200,000 computers were infected by WannaCry in 2017, it was the result of a Windows vulnerability. If a WannaCry-type attack occurs that affects Windows 7 after January 14, 2020, your Windows 7 installations will only have had access to the patch if you are paying for Extended Security Updates. 1

One in three breaches is due to unpatched vulnerabilities. For an organization, the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million — the average cost for each lost or stolen record is $148. This makes data breaches worse for most businesses than floods, fire, and transit strikes combined. 2 Data breaches end businesses.

The Mysteries of Microsoft’s Model for Windows

“All they had to do was come up with a way to charge ten bucks a month and now no one steals music,” I overheard a college student say. He was talking about how Apple transformed from selling software (mp3s via iTunes) to renting access to songs, aka Software as a Service (SaaS). Apple Music now has the most paid music subscribers in the US and based on this success, “announced new subscription offerings for magazines, TV shows and video games”. 1

Per Forbes, 84% of new software is being delivered as SaaS. 2 This selling model built Netflix memberships (20 million renters at the height of its DVD service compared to over 150 million SaaS subscribers today 3 ), Dollar Shave Club razors, Stitch Fix and Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. Subscriptions moved Adobe’s market cap more than 87% since 2012 to $108 billion. 4

The Curious Case of Windows 7 Legacy Apps

“Support for Windows 7 is Coming to an End. … January 14, 2020 …” nagged a Windows 7 screen last week.

Like any other piece of technology, Operating System software gets obsolete. The obsolescence comes in the form of vulnerabilities to hackers, who get rich knowing how to look for and exploit these weaknesses in the code, compromising the contents of your computer and network.

Obsolescence also comes from more powerful hardware at a relative lower cost that enables the OS to do more with less code. Greater efficiencies in hardware and software mean some businesses will accomplish the same work as other businesses in less time.

And among the more compelling features of Windows 10 is that developers’s apps can scale to work across platforms, so desktops, laptops, phones and tablets function with the same software without the formerly prohibitive development costs of coding from scratch for each device. The result is more robust and cost-efficient software that, for example, can control processes remotely.

But this does not mean you are without legitimate reasons for maintaining Windows 7 software that works for you. The law requires you to have access to the data created with that software: “judges … have potent sanctions options available … when [businesses treat electronic data] preservation … with ignorance, indifference”

So it is important to maintain your organization’s data created in legacy software. You or an IT partner will need to develop strategies for addressing your organization’s dependence on legacy software. This is sometimes a technical process requiring the involvement of third-party specialists. For instance, some legacy software was built to utilize 16-bit chip architecture. Windows 10’s 64-bit version does not support 16-bit programming. Still Microsoft has made a way to get you the benefits of 64-bit Windows 10, and still allow you to run 16-bit and 32-bit software through virtual machine environments. These virtual machines will probably get you enough access to meet compliance issues, but interface changes may render the legacy apps limited in function. Overcoming these types of challenges might not be appropriate to handle on your own.

If your organization has multiple Windows 7 licenses, the upgrade path can be costly, and not just for the multiple new OS product keys. There may be costs related to replacing your legacy software beyond the cost of the software itself. It is important to consider implementation costs, including possible downtime and employee training. Be sure to work with your IT department or partner to ensure that these considerations are included in your upgrade plan.

An IT partner like Bryley can help come up with a plan to meet your specific upgrade needs, so your business functions productively through the end of Windows 7 and the use of legacy apps, to arrive at solutions that will work for the coming years. Bryley can be reached at 978.562.6077 Option 2. With 32 years of experience, Bryley’s professionals have a broad knowledge of business software and can guide you with your business’s Windows 10 transition.

Office 2019 for Windows + Mac: What are the Feature Differences?

Below is a consolidated list of features Microsoft has added to Office 2019, as published on their website.


What’s new in the Office Desktop apps for Windows in Office 2019 versus Office 2016?

Word – “Get work done easier”

  • Black theme
  • Learning tools (captions and audio descriptions)
  • Speech feature (text-to-speech)
  • Improved inking functionality
  • Accessibility improvements

Excel – “Perform better data analysis”

  • Funnel charts, 2D maps, and timelines
  • New Excel functions and connectors
  • Ability to publish Excel to PowerBI
  • PowerPivot enhancements
  • PowerQuery enhancements

PowerPoint –“Create more impactful content”

  • Zoom capabilities for ordering of slides within presentations
  • Morph transition feature
  • Ability to insert and manage Icons, SVG, and 3D models
  • Improved roaming pencil case

Outlook – “Manage email more efficiently”

  • Updated contact cards
  • Office 365 Groups (requires exchange online account)
  • @mentions
  • Focused inbox
  • Travel and delivery summary cards

What are the feature differences between Office 2019 and Office 365 for Windows?  Office 2019 is an upgrade to earlier versions of on-premises Office, including Office 2016. Office 365 is the subscription service of Office, and it will have the most creative, collaborative, intelligent, and secure features to go along with cloud connectivity. The following Office 365 features are not included in Office 2019 for Windows.

Unlocks creativity

  • Editor in Word
  • Tap in Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook
  • Designer in PowerPoint
  • Researcher in Word
  • Ideas in Excel
  • Data Types in Excel

Built for teamwork

  • Real time collaboration across Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  Real-time collaboration is available in Office 2019 but only as part of Word 2019, and only when used in combination with SharePoint Online.
  • @mentions in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

Integrated for simplicity

  • Shared computer licensing
  • Language packs included
  • FastTrack Options
  • Intune Integration

Intelligent security

  • ATP in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive for Business..  Requires Exchange Online account and ATP subscription (standalone or included in Office 365 E5).
  • Office 365 Message Encryption
  • Office Enterprise Protection**
  • Add sensitivity label in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.  Features coming to Office 365 ProPlus.


What’s new with the Office Desktop apps in Office 2019 for Mac versus Office 2016 for Mac?


“Get work done easier”

  • Focus Mode
  • Translator
  • Improved inking functionality
  • Customizable Office ribbons
  • Accessibility improvements


“Perform better data analysis”

  • Funnel charts, 2D maps, and timelines
  • New Excel functions (CONCAT, TEXTJOIN, IFS, SWITCH)


“Create more impactful content”

  • Morph transition feature
  • Ability to insert and manage Icons, SVG, and 3D models
  • Improved roaming pencil case
  • 4K video export
  • Play in-click sequence


“Manage email more efficiently”

  • @mentions
  • Focused inbox
  • Office 365 Groups.  Requires an Exchange Online account.
  • Travel and delivery summary cards
  • Send Later function to delay or schedule delivery of email messages
  • Read and delivery receipts
  • Email templates

What are the feature differences between Office 2019 for Mac and Office 365 for Mac?  Office 2019 is an upgrade to earlier versions of on-premises Office, including Office 2016.  Office 365 is the subscription service of Office, and it will have the most creative, collaborative, intelligent, and secure features to go along with cloud connectivity. The following Office 365 ProPlus features are not included in Office 2019 for Mac.

Unlocks creativity

  • Researcher
  • Data Types
  • Resume Assistant

Built for teamwork

  • Real time collaboration
  • @mentions in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Shared documents
  • Activity and Version History

Integrated for simplicity

  • Google calendar & contacts in Outlook
  • Online versions of applications
  • Access on any device
  • Standard .pkg installer
  • Intune and Configuration Manager integration
  • Jamf Pro Integration
  • MAU caching server

Intelligent security

  • ATP Safe Attachments.  Must have an E5 subscription or purchased a separate ATP subscription (for E1, E3, and ProPlus standalone SKUs).
  • ATP Safe Links.   Must have an E5 subscription or purchased a separate ATP subscription (for E1, E3, and ProPlus standalone SKUs).
  • ATP URL Detonation..  Must have an E5 subscription or purchased a separate ATP subscription (for E1, E3, and ProPlus standalone SKUs).
  • Information Rights Management.  Must have an Office 365 E1, E3, or E5 subscription.
  • Exchange Online Protection.  Must have an Office 365 E1, E3, or E5 subscription.

Reach out to Bryley Systems for any additional information regarding Microsoft Office 2019.  You may contact us at 978.562.6077, or at  We are here to help.

Reference:  Reprinted: Microsoft Support. Office 2019 / FAQ.  Bryley is a Silver Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions Provider.

What’s New with Office 2019?

Commercial customers can now purchase Microsoft Office 2019 for Windows and Mac. Office 2019 is the next perpetual release of Office. It includes significant improvements over Microsoft Office 2016 and earlier versions of on-premises Office.

What’s New with Office 2019?

  1. Advanced presentation features. While PowerPoint is still one of the most popular and commonly-used presentation solutions available, there are plenty of others who view it as dated.  In order to stay relevant, Microsoft has incorporated more advanced presentation features in Office 2019. These include things like enhanced Morph and Zoom capabilities to help you create a more sophisticated and dynamic presentation.  Those features are already included in Office 365 ProPlus, but are not available to people who are currently operating with Office 2016.
  2. More powerful data analysis. When it comes to data management and analysis, Excel still reigns supreme. Office plans to kick things up a notch in the 2019 version of the software. Customers should expect even more powerful features, such as new formulas, new charts (like funnel charts and 2D maps), the ability to publish from Excel to Power BI (Microsoft’s own business analytics service), and enhancements for PowerPivot and PowerQuery.
  3. Improved inking features.  Those who use Microsoft Surface devices are probably already big fans of the digital pen that allow them to draw, note, and scribble directly onto their device’s screen. Office 2019 will introduce all new inking capabilities across all apps—such as pressure sensitivity, tilt effects that adjust the ink’s thickness depending on the angle of the pen, and even a roaming pencil case, which allows users to store and organize their favorite pens, pencils, and highlighters to roam with them across their different devices.
  4. Easier email management. Iif you’re an Outlook user, the release of Office 2019 shouldn’t leave you in the dark. Microsoft has tried to remove the hassle and headaches out of email management.

According to Microsoft, these include things like:

  • Updated contact cards
  • Office 365 Groups
  • @mentions
  • Focused inbox
  • Travel package cards

General Information

What did you announce on September 24, 2018?  Office 2019 is now available as a one-time purchase for commercial users. Office 2019 is available for both Windows and macOS, and includes classic versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. The Windows version also includes Publisher 2019, Access 2019, Project 2019, and Visio 2019. Office 2019 applications don’t receive feature updates but do receive regular security and stability updates.

If I have Office 365, do I need to get Office 2019?  No. Office 365 is our always-up-to-date version of the Office apps, and subscribers already have a version of Office that has all the functionality that’s in Office 2019 and more. See a comparison of Office 365 ProPlus and Office 2019.

Is OneNote included in Office 2019?  With the introduction of Office 2019, OneNote for Windows 10 replaces OneNote 2016 as the default OneNote experience on Windows for Office 365 and Office 2019. OneNote for Windows 10 is included with Windows 10. If you’d prefer to use OneNote 2016, you can install it at any time, including as part of a volume install with the Office Deployment Tool. There are no similar changes for OneNote for Mac: it will install as part of Office 2019, if it is not already present, and includes additional functionality for Office 2019 customers. It also remains available as a free download from the Apple App Store. Learn more, including about feature differences across platforms.

Who is the audience for this release?  The commercial release of Office 2019 is geared toward volume-licensed commercial customers who have a specific need for on-premises or hybrid deployment and want to have the latest version of Office applications and services available for that scenario.

When will consumer versions of Office 2019 be available?  Consumer versions of Office 2019 are available starting October 2, 2018.

What is the difference between Office 2019 (on-premises; one-time purchase) and Office 365 (subscription)?  Office 2019 (for both Windows and Mac) is a one-time purchase and does not receive feature updates after you purchase it. Office 2019 includes a meaningful subset of features that are found in Office 365, but it’s not part of Office 365. Office 2019 will receive quality and security updates as required.

Office 365 is a user-based subscription service powered by the Microsoft cloud. It provides access to a suite of services beyond what the on-premises version has and receives feature updates on an ongoing basis. It includes the most productive, secure, and up-to-date features.

How should a customer choose the most appropriate version of Office for their specific scenario?  For many customers, Office 365 is the way to go. It’s the most secure, intelligent and collaborative version of Office. However, going to the cloud is a journey, and our customers may be in different stages of that journey. This includes hybrid and on-premises. To support those customers, we have Office 2019, a valuable new release of Office with a subset of features from Office 365. To assess which version of Office best fits your organization’s needs, contact us at 978.562.6077, or at

Why is Microsoft offering Office 2019 when it has shifted its strategy to Office 365 in the cloud? Most of our cloud-powered innovation is coming to Office 365 and Microsoft 365. However, we recognize that some customers can’t move to the cloud in the near term. We want to support all our customers in their journey to the cloud, at the pace that makes the most sense to them.

Will there be on-premises versions of Office beyond Office 2019? Moving to the cloud is a journey with many considerations along the way. Therefore, we remain committed to on-premises customers and plan to do additional releases post Office 2019.

How do I know whether my PC or Mac can run Office 2019?  Office 2019 is compatible with Windows 10 and the three most recent versions of macOS.

  • For the best experience, use the latest version of any operating system. See the system requirements page for the full set of requirements for running Office 2019.


Note: When a new version of macOS is released, Office 2019 for Mac’s Operating System requirement becomes the then-current three most recent versions at that time: the new version of macOS and the previous two versions. For example, at the time macOS 10.14 is generally available from Apple, Office for Mac will support macOS 10.12, 10.13, and 10.14. Learn more about the latest macOS release here.

Will Office be identical on a PC and on a Mac? No. Office applications are customized for each platform. The Office applications available for Mac users and the specific features that are included may differ from those available for PC users.

Can people with earlier versions of Office open documents I created by using Office 2019?  People who use Office 365, Office 2016, Office 2013, and Office 2010 applications can open documents created by using Office 2019 without any additional action.

How do I activate Office 2019 for my organization? The activation methods for Office 2019 are the same as they were for Office 2016:

  • If you use KMS keys, then you have to set up a 2019 KMS Host to activate against.
  • If you use MAK keys, then you can either activate over the Internet (recommended) or if offline, activate over the telephone.

For more information about activation of volume licensed versions of Office 2019, see here.

Is Internet access required to use Office 2019?  No, you don’t have to be connected to the Internet to use the Office 2019 applications, such as Word 2019, Excel 2019, and PowerPoint 2019, because the applications are fully installed on your computer.

Is Internet access required to update Office 2019?  Although updates for Office 2019 are made available through the Internet, they can be hosted on-premises for disconnected networks.

How do I upgrade my Office apps? If you make a one-time purchase of Office, you don’t receive an automatic upgrade. If you use Office 365, you already have the most current version of Office. For more information, see this Office article.


For which languages is Office 2019 available?  For a full list of supported languages, see here. Not all languages are available in all countries/regions.

Can I use Office 2019 in languages other than the one I originally purchased?  Microsoft offers simple and cost-effective solutions for multilingual environments. You can install language accessory packs after you install Office 2019 to add additional display, help, or proofing tools. For more information about how to add languages, see here.


What support comes with Office 2019 for Windows? Microsoft Office 2019 for Windows provides 5 years of mainstream support plus two 2 years of extended support as an exception to the 10-year Fixed Lifecycle Policy term. This seven-year term aligns with the support period for Office 2016.

Office 2019 is supported on the following:

  • Any supported Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel
  • Windows 10 Enterprise Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) 2018
  • The next LTSC release of Windows Server

Why has Microsoft switched to a 5+2 years support model for Office 2019 for Windows? Modern software not only provides new features to help people do their best work, but also new, more efficient manageability solutions and more comprehensive approaches to security. Software that is a decade old or more, and hasn’t benefited from this innovation, is difficult to secure and inherently less productive. As the pace of change accelerates, it has become imperative to move our software to a more modern cadence.  By adopting the 5+2 year period, Office 2019 will help reduce this exposure.

What experience can I expect with Office 2019 vs. Office 365 if I’m running Windows 7 or 8 on my system?  Office 2019 is not supported on Windows 7 or Windows 8.  For Office 365 installed on Windows 7 or Windows 8:

  • Windows 7 with Extended Security Updates (ESU) is supported through January 2023.
  • Windows 7 without ESU is supported through January 2020.
  • Windows 8.1 is supported through January 2023.

Can Office 2019 run alongside Office 2016?   No. Office 2019 and Office 2016 cannot run concurrently on either Windows or Mac.


What support comes with Office 2019 for Mac?  Microsoft Office 2019 for Mac provides 5 years of mainstream support. This 5-year term is aligned with the support model for Office 2016 for Mac.

What are the system requirements for running Office 2019 on Mac?  Office 2019 for Mac is supported on the three most recent versions of macOS. When a new version of macOS is released, the Office 2019 for Mac Operating System requirement becomes the three most recent versions at that time. That is, the new version of macOS plus the previous two versions.  For the best experience, use the latest version of any operating system.

Can Office 2019 for Mac run alongside Office 2016 for Mac?  No. Office 2019 and Office 2016 cannot run concurrently on either Windows or Mac.


Reach out to Bryley Systems for any additional information regarding Microsoft Office 2019.  You may contact us at 978.562.6077, or at  We are here to help.

Reference:  Reprint: Microsoft Support. Office 2019 / FAQ. Bryley is a Silver Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions Provider.

Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10? Eeny, meeny, miny, moe?

By Anna D, Client Relationship Manager, Bryley Systems

Choosing which Windows operating system (OS) to install on your computer is not child’s play.

I know, because as the Bryley Systems’ Client Relationship Manager, I have this conversation with clients over and over again, especially when clients are purchasing new computers.

Here’s what I recommend.

If you are purchasing new computers for your organization, you should seriously consider installing Windows 10. 

Some clients want to install Windows 7, perhaps because they’re familiar with it. However, Windows 7 has a relatively short lifespan. It will be at “end of life” on January 14th, 2020.  This means that Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates for that operating system, in which case your computer will be more susceptible to viruses and your organization will not be compliant.  In 3 years, you will have to upgrade that operating system. An upgrade involves labor costs, software licensing, and employee downtime. Not the best idea.

What about Windows 8? Good question. Windows 8 was the operating system that Microsoft “abandoned,” probably because it was not well received. Windows 8 was only around for 3 years, making it one of the most short-lived operating system licenses that Microsoft has ever released. What’s more, many distributors are not stocking their inventory with computers that have Windows 8 or 8.1 pre-installed. That’s a problem.

That brings us to Windows 10, which is definitely my recommendation. Of course, prior to installing Windows 10, you need to find out if all of your applications are compatible with this newest operating system.  We can help you make that determination.

Transitioning to a new operating system isn’t always easy, but it is a best practice and we can guide you through the process. For more information, please call Bryley Systems at 978-562-6077 or toll free at 844-449-8770. Of course, you can also email us at

Office 365 Changes

Office 365 recently announced some updates to the platform.  Below is a list of changes taken from their Message Center:


Sept. 18th
Updated feature: Office 365 login screen
How does this affect me?
Any user logging into Office 365, from anywhere in the EU, will see a cookie disclosure banner. This banner will show the first time the user loads the page and will not show again for a few months, or until cookies are cleared on the browser. There is no action the user has to take on this banner and there is no change in workflow. This change is intended to meet EU regulatory requirements.   This process should be completed by the end of September.

Sept. 19th
Updated feature: Office 365 multi-factor authentication screens

How does this affect me?
If you have multi-factor authentication (MFA) turned on, users in your organization will see an updated experience for MFA screens that matches the new sign-in experience. This will only show when users opt-in to see the new sign-in experience, by clicking “try it now”. If users do not opt-in, they will continue to see MFA screens in the current experience. This change will start rolling out in the next few days.

What do I need to do to prepare for this change?
There is nothing needed on your end, but you may consider user training.

Sept, 20th

Known Issue: Email access in iOS 11
If you are using the native mail app on your iPhone or iPad, and upgrade to iOS 11, you may encounter issues.

How does this affect me?
Due to an incompatibility in the new release of iOS, users of the built-in Apple Mail app in iOS 11 may be unable to sync their Office 365 mailbox or login to their accounts. iOS 9 or 10 users are not affected.

What do I need to do to fix this?
Microsoft and Apple are working to resolve this issue.  In the meantime, it is suggested that you download the free Outlook for iOS client, available in the App Store.

Windows Server 2016

Lawrence Strauss of Strauss and Strauss

This is an exciting time in business computing. We’ve witnessed dramatically new improvements in systems, architecture, storage, and networking. Windows Server 2016 offers the promise of helping organizations deal with all these rapid changes within the entirely familiar Windows environment.

Windows Server 2016 (expect a fall release [as of this writing Windows Server 2016 is in Technical Preview 4]) represents developments that ensure stability and easy adaptability to provide a software environment able to help organizations weather the pace of change. Stability is achieved by delivering increased ways of isolating data on your servers and in the Cloud. Easy adaptability comes from moving more and more functionality to the Cloud, where both software and its underlying hardware can continue to develop; your organization sees only the benefits of these changes, not the costly interruptions.

Today’s Windows Server is a Swiss army knife that has the ability to run millions of different applications, which is where the problem lies: The base operating system (OS) continues to grow in size and complexity. (The overhead of a traditional Windows Server providing a single-core service is staggering: Simple features, such as DNS or DHCP, require a 20GB server installation.)

Windows Server Core, a full Windows Server OS without the GUI, was first introduced with Windows Server 2008 and helped address this issue. Now, Nano Server is the next step in the evolution toward a small-footprint base OS.

Nano Server is possibly the most revolutionary element of this Windows Server release. As its name indicates, Nano Server is a very lightweight OS that can host applications built on frameworks like .Net, or Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtual machines.

Nano Server is made for remote management with scripting automation through small pieces of modular code, rather than by traditional GUI OS management techniques. It is managed by PowerShell. Nano Server is incredibly efficient in that it shrinks the OS footprint by 93 percent, the number of patches and maintenance by 92 percent, and the number of reboots by 80 percent. These efficiencies make it ideal for Cloud-based implementations.

Microsoft’s Nano Server is a unique departure for Microsoft and, according to the company, the future of the Windows Server platform. Linux has a head start with its microservices journey but Microsoft has shown an uncanny ability to turn on a dime when needed. If Microsoft can find the balancing point between the agile, quick, streamlined, container platforms that are still versatile enough to support the gigantic Windows developer community, all while allowing balanced administration, Nano Server could be a game changer. While this all sounds like a lot to balance (and it is), let’s not forget the improvements Microsoft made with Server Core from Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2012, which put Windows Server Core 2012 into the enterprise with the proper balance between performance, versatility, and managerial features. Nano Server looks to be that evolutionary and revolutionary step for Windows Server.

It is very unlikely that Nano Server will replace the traditional server OS overnight; Microsoft is still working on tools for the administrator to support it. (Windows Server Core 2008 suffered slow deployment due to the lack of remote tools for the administrator, a problem that was addressed in Windows Server 2012.) The other challenge will be developing applications for the Nano Server. (Since these containers do not run a full installation of the .Net Framework, it will require developers to redesign at least part of their applications to take advantage of the .Net core framework.) While this may seem troubling, streamlining the server to focus only on exactly what it needs to do is ideal in today’s world, where a system administrator’s time is so heavily focused on administration duties, such as patching and security hardening.

The ideal target with Nano Server is the infrastructure of native, Cloud-based applications. The small footprint in disk space and code help to make the Nano Server a platform that should require little patching or maintenance – making it ideal for Cloud-based environments.

The Nano Server isn’t Microsoft starting over – but it is pretty close. Without the traditional .Net Framework, remote management is needed. Even many of the traditional hooks that allow servers with graphical user interfaces to perform remote management are missing.

Moving toward miniaturization, while based on the Microsoft server platform, has much of the interface, application stack, and traditional .Net framework removed. The Nano Server becomes a lightweight host for Hyper-V VMs or applications designed to run on the .Net Core framework.

The other important functions for Nano Server are in Hyper-V and scale-out file-server roles. Both of these roles fit very well within Azure and the Cloud-based strategy that Microsoft is moving forward with.

The Hyper-V role should be of particular interest to many administrators looking to use Hyper-V as an alternative to VMware. While Nano Server is still not as streamlined as VMware’s ESXi, it is a great step in the right direction and an improvement over Windows Server Core. However, the unique thing about Nano Server is that it can run on bare metal, as a virtual machine, or even as a container, something VMware’s ESXi cannot do, giving the developer and administrator the ultimate in flexibility.

Windows Server 2016 also offers robust support for containers and virtualization. Containers are isolated sections of data that can host applications, including the OS software needed to run those applications. This allows software requiring different operating systems to easily coexist on the same server. Windows Server 2016 supports open-source Docker containers that offer the promise of a more efficient, lightweight approach to application deployment than most organizations are currently implementing.

Unlike virtual machines (VMs), however, containers still expose the underlying operating-system version and capabilities. New Hyper-V Containers, however, offer a blend of features from Hyper-V virtual machines and Windows Containers. Like a VM, Hyper-V Containers provide isolation from the underlying operating system, but like a container it uses a filesystem for deploying single apps. The benefits to organizations of this isolation include increased security, the ability to address problems without having them affect other operations, and an increase in the number of entirely independent functionality handled on the same architecture; additionally in DevOps situations, everyone involved has the exact same conditions in which to write, test, and use.

To aid in disaster recovery and to speed failover, Microsoft has introduced Storage Replica, which gives you the ability to replicate entire volumes at the block level in either synchronous or asynchronous modes.

Storage Spaces Direct is an advancement over Storage Spaces’ high availability, storage-management software. Storage Spaces Direct gives you the ability to build a highly available storage system using only directly attached disks on each node. Also Storage Spaces Direct enables organizations to make use of new hardware like NVMe (NVM Express) SSDs and older HDDs; locally accessible node storage can be used as shared storage.

The Resilient File System (ReFS) is another feature that was introduced with Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. Designed from the beginning to be more resistant to corruption than its predecessor, ReFS brings many advantages to the NTFS on-disk format. Microsoft has elevated both the usefulness and the importance of ReFS in Windows Server 2016 TP2 by making it the preferred file system for Hyper-V workloads.

This has huge performance implications for Hyper-V. For starters, you should see new virtual machines with a fixed-size VHDX created almost as fast as you hit return. The same advantages apply to creating checkpoint files and to merging VHDX files created when you make a backup. These capabilities resemble what ODX (Offloaded Data Transfers) can do on larger storage appliances. One point you need to keep in mind is that ReFS allocates the storage for these operations without initializing it, meaning there could be residual data left over from previous files.

With Windows Server 2016, your organization gets the functionality to build a Cloud infrastructure and to run a self-service, high-density Cloud. In microservices implementation, Nano Server, dramatically cuts the weight of OS services and is, per Microsoft, the future of the Windows Server platform. Containerization and improved virtualization allow you to create protected environments making issues easy to address. There’s a lot in this important, evolutionary step for Windows Server.

Microsoft’s focus on delivering a hybrid Cloud platform is clearly dictating the direction it’s taking in Windows Server 2016. Improvements to Hyper-V mean it’s easier to host and manage virtual machines as you upgrade your host environment, while PowerShell takes center stage with the arrival of the headless Nano Server option.