How is Nano Server different from Server Core?

I get this question a lot:

How is Nano Server different from Server Core?

Obviously, both configuration options for Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Server 2016 release share similarities. In other areas, they are different:


Nano Server is a refactoring

Where Server Core installations of Windows Server, since Windows Server 2008, can be seen as skimmed down versions of Windows Server – a normal Windows Servers with bits thrown out -, Nano Server is a complete refactoring of the Operating System.


Nano Server is a revolution, not an evolution

Where the goal with Server Core was to provide less attack surface and require less reboots, the goal with Nano Server is to provide the best platform for Microsoft’s cloud platform, like hypervisor hosts, scale-out file servers and such.

Of course, Nano Server does provide a smaller disk footprint (-93%), does require fewer critical security bulletins (-92%) and does require fewer reboots (-80%), but its aim is to provide the fabric for Azure and Azure Stack.


Nano Server is introduced in Windows Server 2016

Where Server Core is available since Windows Server 2008, Nano Server will be introduced with Windows Server 2016. Surprisingly, Nano Server will be made available in roughly the same way Server Core was made available in its first reincarnation on Windows Server 2008: There’s no way to switch from Nano Server to a full-blown or Server Core version of Windows Server 2016.

Nano Server is not installed in a traditional way

A main difference, though, between installing Server Core in Windows Server 2008 and Nano Server in Windows Server 2016, though, is that a Nano Server installation is not achieved through the traditional Windows Server Installation Wizard. There are only two options in Windows Server 2016 Installation Wizard:

  1. Windows Server 2016 with Desktop Experience
  2. Windows Server 2016

Where the second option corresponds to a Server Core-like installation.

Instead, Nano Server installations originate from the NanoServer folder on the Windows Server 2006 Installation Media. A new Nano Server VHD image can be built from the PowerShell Module in this folder using the New-NanoServerImage PowerShell Cmdlet.


Nano Server is headless

Where Server Core installations offered a management infrastructure, Nano Server is basically headless. Yes, you can log onto it, but it will return an experience that is best described as DOS with the ability to fix networking.

But, you can use Server Manager remotely, as you probably already would have done with Server Core installations of Windows Server 2012 R2, and you can Remote PowerShell into it, which should give you all the configuration goodness you need.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>