To meet today’s complex data and business needs, Microsoft regularly introduces upgrades and enhancements to its server operating system, such as increased security, faster network, cloud upgrades, etc.

Microsoft announced a new version of Windows Server 2022 in September 2021. Since then, many people and forums have been speculating about the improvements and new features of Windows Server 2022.

Outdated hardware and software or operating systems are not recommended for IT infrastructure as they create loopholes for cyber threats.

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So let’s take a look at some of the best new features in Windows Server 2022.

Introduction

Windows Server 2022 is the most secure, reliable, and Azure-compatible server Microsoft developed in the 20th century.

Considering the increasing security threats (see research data below) and cyber-attacks, Windows Server 2022 is built with top-notch security parameters, which we will discuss in the following subsections, to ensure the security of data packets up to date at the cluster level. It is a wholesome security package that secures end-to-end IT infrastructure.

Windows Server 2022 will help organizations of all types run to their workloads securely, enable hybrid cloud integration, and update their applications to meet demanding IT needs.

Research:

A recent IBM study in 2021 investigated that more than 500+ data breaches worldwide resulted in the cost of $4.24 million, which is the highest in 17 years.

As security threats and cyber-attacks increase, data protection is paramount for all types of businesses. Windows Server 2022 plays a vital role in today’s scenario, including advanced security features with secure server kernels, secure connectivity, and more, which we will discuss in the following sections.

We will also look at the technical advancement of Windows Server 2022 and how SMBs (small to medium-sized businesses) and large enterprises can benefit from this innovative and robust Windows server platform.

Different versions of the Windows 2022 server

According to the resources from Microsoft, Windows Server 2022 has three main editions: Essential, Standard, and Data Center, and later one more version was released – the Azure Datacenter edition.

Let’s look at the exact technical differences between these editions, Windows Server 2022 Editions comparison.

All versions of Windows Server 2022 have the option to install the server core and desktop version. The desktop version is installed for remote desktop sessions hosted with non-server services and other components.

Server version installation is intended for specific roles and functions such as DNS server, web server, Active Directory, virtualization, etc.

While there are many variations across all versions, in this section, we will look at the main differences between the server editions of Windows 2022.

Windows Server 2022 Standard

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The Standard Edition is the base version of Windows Server 2022. The single license of the standard version can only work with two virtual machines and one Hyper-V host.

The Replica Storage option is available with one partnership and one resource group with a capacity of 2 terabytes. Features such as hot patching, software-defined networking and storage are not available in the standard version.

Windows Server 2022 data center

This version has elite features that are not part of the Standard Edition, such as protected VMs. This feature protects the firmware and startup files of the VM and also enables BitLocker disk encryption.

As data protection and management are critical to enterprise-level infrastructure, Microsoft integrates two key functions: software-defined storage and storage replication with Storage Spaces Direct.

Storage replication provides block-level data replication without data loss and even replicates open files. Software-defined storage with Storage Spaces Direct enables manageability and scalability – supports up to 16 servers and up to 1 petabyte of cluster storage.

Windows Server 2022 Datacenter Azure Edition

As the name suggests, it is designed for the Microsoft Azure platform. It has excellent features that are not available in Standard Edition and Data Center Edition. For example, the Hot Patch feature allows you to install updates without restarting the server, and Server Message Block via QUIC provides access to shared files without the need for a VPN over the network.

Windows 2022 Azure Edition runs virtual machines on the Azure Stack Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) operating system, known for its security, performance, and new hybrid capabilities.

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Windows Server 2022 Essential Edition

It is designed for small organizations that support a maximum of 25 users and 50 devices. It lacks features like a dashboard, client backup, and access anywhere. It supports processors with a max of 10 cores.

How to get Windows 2022 operating system?

If you want to try the Windows 2022 server operating system before buying, you can try the 180-day evaluation by downloading its ISO. See the pricing section for details on pricing and licenses.

Hardware requirements for installing Windows 2022 server

Microsoft publishes minimum hardware requirements for servers to run satisfactorily. If the minimum requirements are not met, the installation will most likely will not complete.

The main requirements are:

  • Processor: 1.4 GHz 64-bit processor, 64-bit compatible
  • RAM (Storage): 512 MB and 2 GB for server with the option to install Desktop Experience.
  • Network: NIC card with a minimum bandwidth of 1 GBPS
  • HDD: 32GB

Now let’s discuss the top 8 features of the increasingly popular Windows 2022 server.

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Server Hardware Improvements

One major improvement in Windows 2022 is that server hardware limitations have been extended to the highest level. The server 2022 supports 48 terabytes of memory and 2,048 logical cores running on 64 physical sockets.

It also supports Intel’s Ice Lake SGX processor, which helps isolate sensitive data in an encrypted processor enclave during processing.

 Storage Enhancements

The innovation at the storage level represents one of the major improvements on Windows 2022 servers. Daily data management has become a problem for data engineers. In such scenarios, advanced storage upgrades are built into the 2022 servers:

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  • Advanced caching: Automatically stores important data on faster storage volumes and less critical data on slower volumes. This allows for faster access to read and write operations.
  • Faster, Manageable Storage Improvements: Fixes the hard drive faster in case of server restart or hardware failure.
  • ReFS file snapshots: ReFS snapshots use a unique method known as fast metadata operations to take snapshots of data at constant time, regardless of size.

Security measures updated

Microsoft will never stop innovating in its security practices because as technology evolves, so do threats. Windows Server 2022 offers three major security enhancements, including hardware trust, firmware protection, and virtual environment security, as the cloud is the second most used platform.

The most notable improvements are secure DNS support with DNS-over-HTTPS, Server Message Block AES-256 and SMB East-West encryption, SMB over QUIC, HTTPS and TLS 1.3, Azure Arc, and Azure Automanage.

These security protocols and enhancements ensure that the windows 2022 server is self-reliant to process sensitive data and critical applications. The entire server core is protected from the perspective of hardware, firmware, and the drivers to prevent today’s complex attacks.

Firmware attack prevention: Extended threats and attacks occur during a server restart via firmware. Technologies such as DRTM (Dynamic Root of Trust for Measurement) and DMA (Direct Memory Access) are used to prevent such cyber attacks.

Hypervisor security: The hypervisor is protected by virtualization-based security technology (VBS). This technology isolates individual processes from the operating system. In the event of an attack, the attack does not spread to other parts of the system and avoids the entire server getting compromised.

Secure Connectivity: By default, the latest version of the internet protocol, Transport Layer Security (TLS), is used to establish a secure connection between two nodes. Even the name resolution is separated using encrypted DNS queries.

Server Message Block (SMB):  The new SMB functionality through QUIC eliminates the need for a VPN for remote workers, mobile users, and highly secure organizations. It uses UDP (Use Datagram Protocol) and ensures that Internet traffic always remains encrypted.

Improvement in Azure capabilities

The Microsoft Azure capabilities have been extended in window 2022 to support virtualization outside the network or even other vendors. Azure Arc-enabled servers offer a comprehensive and secure approach to integration anywhere in on-premises, multi-cloud, and edge environments.

To learn more about how Azure Arc-enabled servers can be used to provide Azure monitoring, security, and update services in hybrid and multi-cloud environments, watch the following video.

Application Platform Improvements

Windows Server 2022 provides a flexible platform for updating container applications. The Server 2022 supports large-scale, business-critical applications such as SQL Server that require 48 Terabytes of memory.

Windows Server 2022 loads 30% faster than previous operating systems due to the smaller Windows container size. To store.NET applications, Windows Admin Center tools are also updated.

Effortless Management of cloud

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One of the most significant features built into the Azure edition of Windows 2022 is a cloud management and automation with security best practices, some of which are listed below:

  • Reduce costs by automating Windows Server and Linux VM management
  • Ability to apply security fixes without restarting the server
  • Auto-detection of availability and allocation of resources on demand and auto-update of templates
  • Automate time and administrative tasks such as Azure Monitoring and Archiving
  • Migrate data from on-premises to Azure while retaining the original IP address

Networking improvements

There are two major protocols in all network communication: User Datagram Protocol (UDP) and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). Microsoft has significantly improved these protocols in Windows 2022 server.

UDP: UDP Segmentation Offload (USO) and UDP Receive Side Coalescing (UDP RSC) are included in Windows 2022 servers, which reduces CPU load.

TCP:  TCP HyStart++ on Windows 2022 servers helps reduce packet loss during connection startup and RACK to shorten retransmission time.

Virtual Switch Enhancement: The virtual switch upgrade improves performance on both network traffic from an external host and from a virtual NIC to another virtual NIC on the same host.

QUIC: This feature appeals to IT professionals because it makes it easy to copy files remotely without the need for a VPN over an advanced SMB (Message Block Server).

Features removed or discontinued in 2022

With each new version of Windows Server, Microsoft makes improvements and enhancements while ending the old functionalities.

In this section, we look at the functions that have been discontinued in the Windows 2022 server:

Semi-Annual Channel (SAC): The SAC channel will be discontinued and replaced with a longer-term channel as the primary release channel. SAC will continue with Kubernetes communities such as Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS), AKS from Azure Stack HCI.

Internet Storage Name Service (iSNS) Server: This server has been removed from the Windows 2022 server.

Guarded Fabric and Shielded Virtual Machines  (VMs): Microsoft supports these, but there will be no future development.

Remote Server Administration Tool (RSAT): This feature is being removed from the client version of Windows.

Windows Deployment Services (WDS): The deployment features of the WDS operating system are partly denounced.

Comparison of Windows Server 2022 and 2019

Microsoft released Windows Server 2022 in September 2021 with some improvements from Server 2019 (released October 2018). Windows Server 2022 is more secure, flexible, and supports hybrid deployments better than 2019.

The section below lists the three main differences when it comes to security, cloud, and connectivity:

  • From a security perspective, Defender Advanced Threat Protection, Exploit Guard, and Attack Surface Reduction is available on Windows Server 2019. Meanwhile, in Windows 2022, layered security introduces enhanced security in terms of cryptographic keys, firmware protection, and virtualization environment security.
  • In terms of connectivity, Windows 2022 introduces Transport Layer 1.3 security, Secure DNS, Server Message Block (SMB), and SMB over QUIC. Software-Defined Network (SDN) Security was present in 2019.
  • The cloud has become a necessity in today’s IT infrastructure. So keeping in mind the future roadmap, Microsoft has released a hybrid cloud service in Windows 2019 that includes compatibility with the server’s core applications. Microsoft went a step further in Windows 2022 and integrated Azure Arc technology. With this technology, you can manage multiple clouds from a central console from Azure.

Conclusion 👩‍💻

With the adoption of Microsoft Windows Server 2022, enterprises can manage their businesses with a secure infrastructure, integrate their existing virtual environments into their hybrid cloud models, and restructure their applications to meet demanding growth.

More specifically, small organizations or education departments can choose the Essential edition of Windows 2022 that supports up to 25 users.

If you are looking for an on-premise solution and very little virtual participation, you can use the Standard Edition.

If you have a large enterprise-grade virtual setup or planning for scalability in your cloud or data center, then Windows 2022 Data Center or Azure Data Edition with advanced security and management features is the right choice for you.