|Initial release||July 27, 1993|
|Latest release||2022 (10.0.20348.1487) / January 10, 2023|
|Latest preview||vNext (10.0.25295) / February 9, 2023|
|License||Trialware, SaaS, or volume licensing|
Windows Server (formerly Windows NT Server) is a group of operating systems (OS) for servers that Microsoft has been developing since July 27, 1993. The first OS that was released for this platform is Windows NT 3.1 Advanced Server. With the release of Windows Server 2003, the brand name was changed to Windows Server.
Microsoft's history of developing operating systems for servers goes back to Windows NT 3.1 Advanced Server. Windows 2000 Server is the first OS to include Active Directory, DNS Server, DHCP Server, and Group Policy.
Main releases include:
Traditionally, Microsoft supports Windows Server for 10 years, with five years of mainstream support and an additional five years of extended support. These releases also offer a complete desktop experience. Starting with Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Core and Nano Server configurations were made available to reduce the OS footprint. Between 2015 and 2021, Microsoft referred to these releases as "long-term support" releases to set them apart from semi-annual releases (see below.)
For sixteen years, Microsoft released a major version of Windows Server every four years, with one minor version released two years after a major release. The minor versions had an "R2" suffix in their names. In October 2018, Microsoft broke this tradition with the release of Windows Server 2019, which should have been "Windows Server 2016 R2". Windows Server 2022 is also a minor upgrade over its predecessor.
Certain editions of Windows Server have a customized name:
Following the release of Windows Server 2016, Microsoft attempted to mirror the lifecycle of Windows 10 in the Windows Server family, releasing new versions twice a year which were supported for 18 months. These semi-annual versions were only available as part of Microsoft subscription services, including Software Assurance, Azure Marketplace, and Microsoft Visual Studio subscriptions, until their discontinuation in July 2021.
The semi-annual releases do not include any desktop environments. Instead, they are restricted to the Nano Server configuration installed in a Docker container, and the Server Core configuration, licensed only to serve as a container host.
Semi-annual releases include:
when reporting issues please refer to "VNext" rather than Windows Server 2022 which is currently in market.