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What's New in Windows Server 2016

jaimeo|Last Updated: 10/19/2016

Applies To: Windows Server 2016

Icon showing a newspaperThe content in this section describes what's new and changed in Windows Server® 2016. The new features and changes listed here are the ones most likely to have the greatest impact as you work with this release.


The Compute area includes virtualization products and features for the IT professional to design, deploy, and maintain Windows Server.


Physical and virtual machines benefit from greater time accuracy due to improvements in the Win32 Time and Hyper-V Time Synchronization Services. Windows Server can now host services that are compliant with upcoming regulations which require a 1ms accuracy with regards to UTC.


Nano Server

What's New in Nano Server. Nano Server now has an updated module for building Nano Server images, including more separation of physical host and guest virtual machine functionality as well as support for different Windows Server editions.

There are also improvements to the Recovery Console, including separation of inbound and outbound firewall rules as well as the ability to repair configuration of WinRM.

Remote Desktop Services

Use Azure SQL DB for your Remote Desktop Connection Broker high availability environment. Deploying a highly available RDS deployment lets you leverage Azure SQL Database for your RD Connection Brokers in high availability mode.

Identity and Access

New features in Identity improve the ability for organizations to secure Active Directory environments and help them migrate to cloud-only deployments and hybrid deployments, where some applications and services are hosted in the cloud and others are hosted on premises.

Active Directory Certificate Services

What's New in Active Directory Certificate Services. Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) in Windows Server 2016 increases support for TPM key attestation: You can now use Smart Card KSP for key attestation, and devices that are not joined to the domain can now use NDES enrollment to get certificates that can be attested for keys being in a TPM.

Active Directory Domain Services

Active Directory Domain Services includes improvements to help organizations secure Active Directory environments and provide better identity management experiences for both corporate and personal devices. For more information, see What's new in Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) in Windows Server 2016.

Active Directory Federation Services

What's New in Active Directory Federation Services. Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) in Windows Server 2016 includes new features that enable you to configure AD FS to authenticate users stored in Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directories. For more information, see What's New in AD FS for Windows Server 2016.

Web Application Proxy

The latest version of Web Application Proxyfocuses on new features that enable publishing and preauthentication for more applications and improved user experience. Check out the full list of new features that includes preauthentication for rich client apps such as Exchange ActiveSync and wildcard domains for easier publishing of SharePoint apps. For more information, see What's New in Web Application Proxy in Windows Server 2016.

Management and Automation

The Management and Automation area focuses on tool and reference information for IT pros who want to run and manage Windows Server 2016, including Windows PowerShell.

Windows PowerShell 5.0 includes significant new features, including support for developing with classes and new security features that extend its use, improve its usability, and allow you to control and manage Windows-based environments more easily and comprehensively. See Windows Management Framework (WMF) 5.0 RTM Release Notes Overview for details.

New additions for Windows Server 2016 include: the ability to run PowerShell.exe locally on Nano Server (no longer remote only), new Local Users & Groups cmdlets to replace the GUI, added PowerShell debugging support, and added support in Nano Server for security logging & transcription and JEA.


This area addresses networking products and features for the IT professional to design, deploy, and maintain Windows Server 2016.

Software-Defined Networking

You can now both mirror and route traffic to new or existing virtual appliances. Together with a distributed firewall and Network security groups, this enables you to dynamically segment and secure workloads in a manner similar to Azure. Second, you can deploy and manage the entire Software-defined networking (SDN) stack using System Center Virtual Machine Manager. Finally, you can use Docker to manage Windows Server container networking, and associate SDN policies not only with virtual machines but containers as well. For more information, see Plan Software Defined Networking Deployment.

TCP performance improvements

The default Initial Congestion Window (ICW) has been increased from 4 to 10 and TCP Fast Open (TFO) has been implemented. TFO reduces the amount of time required to establish a TCP connection and the increased ICW allows larger objects to be transferred in the initial burst. This combination can significantly reduce the time required to transfer an Internet object between the client and the cloud.

In order to improve TCP behavior when recovering from packet loss we have implemented TCP Tail Loss Probe (TLP) and Recent Acknowledgement (RACK). TLP helps convert Retransmit TimeOuts (RTOs) to Fast Recoveries and RACK reduces the time required for Fast Recovery to retransmit a lost packet.

Security and Assurance

Includes security solutions and features for the IT professional to deploy in your datacenter and cloud environment. For information about security in Windows Server 2016 generally, see Security and Assurance.

Just Enough Administration

Just Enough Administration in Windows Server 2016 is security technology that enables delegated administration for anything that can be managed with Windows PowerShell. Capabilities include support for running under a network identity, connecting over PowerShell Direct, securely copying files to or from JEA endpoints, and configuring the PowerShell console to launch in a JEA context by default For more details, see JEA on GitHub.

Credential Guard

Credential Guard uses virtualization-based security to isolate secrets so that only privileged system software can access them. See Protect derived domain credentials with Credential Guard.

Remote Credential Guard

Credential Guard includes support for RDP sessions so that the user credentials remain on the client side and are not exposed on the server side. This also provides Single Sign On for Remote Desktop. See Protect Remote Desktop credentials with Remote Credential Guard.

Device Guard (Code Integrity)

Device Guard provides kernel mode code integrity (KMCI) and user mode code integrity (UMCI) by creating policies that specify what code can run on the server. See Introduction to Device Guard: virtualization-based security and code integrity policies.

Shielded Virtual Machines

Windows Server 2016 provides a new Hyper-V-based Shielded Virtual Machine to protect any Generation 2 virtual machine from a compromised fabric. Among the features introduced in Windows Server 2016 are the following:

  • New "Encryption Supported" mode that offers more protections than for an ordinary virtual machine, but less than "Shielded" mode, while still supporting vTPM, disk encryption, Live Migration traffic encryption, and other features, including direct fabric administration conveniences such as virtual machine console connections and Powershell Direct.

  • Full support for converting existing non-shielded Generation 2 virtual machines to shielded virtual machines, including automated disk encryption.

  • Hyper-V Virtual Machine Manager can now view the fabrics upon which a shielded virtual is authorized to run, providing a way for the fabric administrator to open a shielded virtual machine's key protector (KP) and view the fabrics it is permitted to run on.

  • You can switch Attestation modes on a running Host Guardian Service. Now you can switch on the fly between the less secure but simpler Active Directory-based attestation and TPM-based attestation.

  • End-to-end diagnostics tooling based on Windows PowerShell that is able to detect misconfigurations or errors in both guarded Hyper-V hosts and the Host Guardian Service.

  • A recovery environment that offers a means to securely troubleshoot and repair shielded virtual machines within the fabric in which they normally run while offering the same level of protection as the shielded virtual machine itself.

  • Host Guardian Service support for existing safe Active Directory – you can direct the Host Guardian Service to use an existing Active Directory forest as its Active Directory instead of creating its own Active Directory instance

For more details and instructions for working with shielded virtual machines, see Shielded VMs and Guarded Fabric Validation Guide for Windows Server 2016 (TPM).

Windows Defender

Windows Defender Overview for Windows Server 2016. Windows Server Antimalware is installed and enabled by default in Windows Server 2016, but the user interface for Windows Server Antimalware is not installed. However, Windows Server Antimalware will update antimalware definitions and protect the computer without the user interface. If you need the user interface for Windows Server Antimalware, you can install it after the operating system installation by using the Add Roles and Features Wizard.

Control Flow Guard

Control Flow Guard (CFG) is a platform security feature that was created to combat memory corruption vulnerabilities. See Control Flow Guard for more information.


Storage in Windows Server 2016 includes new features and enhancements for software-defined storage, as well as for traditional file servers. Below are a few of the new features, for more enhancements and further details, see What's New in Storage in Windows Server 2016.

Storage Spaces Direct

Storage Spaces Direct enables building highly available and scalable storage using servers with local storage. It simplifies the deployment and management of software-defined storage systems and unlocks use of new classes of disk devices, such as SATA SSD and NVMe disk devices, that were previously not possible with clustered Storage Spaces with shared disks.

For more info, see Storage Spaces Direct.

Storage Replica

Storage Replica enables storage-agnostic, block-level, synchronous replication between servers or clusters for disaster recovery, as well as stretching of a failover cluster between sites. Synchronous replication enables mirroring of data in physical sites with crash-consistent volumes to ensure zero data loss at the file-system level. Asynchronous replication allows site extension beyond metropolitan ranges with the possibility of data loss.

For more info, see Storage Replica.

Storage Quality of Service (QoS)

You can now use storage quality of service (QoS) to centrally monitor end-to-end storage performance and create management policies using Hyper-V and CSV clusters in Windows Server 2016.

For more info, see Storage Quality of Service.

Failover Clustering

Windows Server 2016 includes a number of new features and enhancements for multiple servers that are grouped together into a single fault-tolerant cluster using the Failover Clustering feature. Some of the additions are listed below; for a more complete listing, see What's New in Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2016.

Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade

Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade enables an administrator to upgrade the operating system of the cluster nodes from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016 without stopping the Hyper-V or the Scale-Out File Server workloads. Using this feature, the downtime penalties against Service Level Agreements (SLA) can be avoided.

For more info, see Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade.

Cloud Witness

Cloud Witness is a new type of Failover Cluster quorum witness in Windows Server 2016 that leverages Microsoft Azure as the arbitration point. The Cloud Witness, like any other quorum witness, gets a vote and can participate in the quorum calculations. You can configure cloud witness as a quorum witness using the Configure a Cluster Quorum Wizard.

For more info, see Deploy Cloud Witness.

Health Service

The Health Service improves the day-to-day monitoring, operations, and maintenance experience of cluster resources on a Storage Spaces Direct cluster.

For more info, see Health Service.

See Also

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