Release Of Windows Server Is Not Until 2016

I, like everyone else, have no idea what Microsoft’s plans are for release dates. And, BTW, I’ve cared less and less about System Center since the 2012 SP1 release, mainly thanks to Microsoft changing the licensing of System Center back then and killing sales completely in my market. I also have no inside information on System Center. I make guesses based on stages of development cycle, news, rumours, and past practices, etc. But I was damned sure that Microsoft was going to RTM Windows Server vNext in Q3 (July-Sept) 2015. I did think that GA was going to be after the GA of Windows 10, allowing the client OS to get some headlines by itself. But looking back, I forgot one thing, which I’ll get to and should have been obvious all along.

The news that broke last week (I was on the road) that “Windows Server and System Center” were not going to come out until 2016 really surprised me. I’ve seen some speculation on Twitter that “issues” in Windows Server are delaying the release. That is QUITE a jump in logic. I would remind everyone to take a look at the announcement again …

We’d also like to share a little more on what to expect from Windows Server and System Center this year. As we continue to advance the development of these products, we plan to release further previews through the remainder of 2015, with the final release in 2016.

… “Windows Server and System Center. Isn’t it interesting that none of the speculators has mentioned System Center and assumed that “bugs” in Windows Server is the cause of this relatively late release for Windows Server?

Only on one occasion in the history of System Center (including previous to the System Center label) has System Center been released at the same time as Windows Server; that was with the last release (2012 R2) and even then, some customers were unhappy that System Center was not on feature parity with Hyper-V and Windows Server (storage and networking) – they still aren’t BTW. Can System Center catch up with Windows Server by Q3 of this year? Hmm …. let’s see how much Microsoft has already announced in the cloud aspects of Windows Server vNext. That’s quite a bit of work accomplished by the Server group, right? I don’t think System Center could catch up in such a tight time frame. Remember, they don’t just have to keep up, but they have to add value.

So why can’t Microsoft release Windows Server ahead of System Center like they have done before? There’s three aspects to this:

  • Promises: Microsoft promised that System Center would be released with Windows Server. They cannot offer free ammunition to rivals and sceptics.
  • Sales to Cloud/Enterprise: Microsoft account managers do not sell Windows Server. They sell bundles like ECI or CIS to their enterprise customers. The customer is getting Windows Server and System Center. Look at the last quarterly results to see how System Center had double digit growth. That doesn’t come in sales to SMEs – Microsoft killed that market 2 years ago with the SML license.
  • Upgrades: Customers will not upgrade Windows Server if they manage it using System Center. And remember that some elements like VMM do not support newer versions of Windows Server Hyper-V.

My gut is screaming that this delay is nothing to do with Windows Server and everything to do with System Center. But that’s just me … guessing … with a little bit of history influencing my gut.

While I am disappointed that I won’t be talking, writing, and presenting on a new release later this year, I guess it means we’ll get a more feature rich, complete, and tested release sometime in 2016. That’s a good thing. Ignite 2015 will still have LOTS of great content on Windows 10, cloud innovations, and best practices for current tech (which most still aren’t using or are barely using), but Ignite 2016 could be quite the event to launch at! Yeah, I’m guessing that the launch of Windows Server and System Center 2016 will be May 2016 🙂