Microsoft announced Nano server, new purpose-built installation option in Windows Server vNext that provides the lowest possible Windows footprint, remotely managed installation, optimized for the cloud and a DevOps workflow. This is possible through a significant refactoring of the operating system and is focused around two key scenarios:
Support for multiple programming languages and runtimes. (e.g. C#, Java, Node.js, Python, etc.) running in containers, virtual machines, or on physical servers.
Microsoft Cloud Platform infrastructure
Support for compute clusters running Hyper-V and storage clusters running Scale-out File Server.
For other scenarios you would continue to leverage Server Core.
Nano server is selected during Windows install (with the other option being Server Core/Server with a GUI) and the GUI stack is removed along with other components including 32 bit support (WOW64), MSI and a number of default Server Core components. There is no option to RDP (Remote Desktop Support) and local logon to Nano server deployment. Instead management is done via WMI and PowerShell.
Visual Studio is fully supported with Nano Server including remote debugging functionality and notifications when APIs reference unsupported Nano Server components. According to James Casey, VP of Engineering, Chef,
The collaboration between Chef and Microsoft engineering brings best-in-class automation for the container-optimized Nano Server. The Nano Server, provisioned and managed with Chef, provides a perfect platform for high velocity IT and a DevOps workflow.
Some key metrics comparing Nano Server to regular Windows Server deployment are:
- 93 percent lower VHD size
- 92 percent fewer critical bulletins
- 80 percent fewer reboots
Reference: Microsoft Announces Nano Server for Modern Apps and Cloud