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In every edition, the name of Windows Server 2022 will change because the suffix "LTSC" has been dropped by Microsoft. This acronym stands for Long-Term Service Channel and helped to differentiate this version of the operating system from the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC). This is no longer necessary since the end of the server in the semi-annual channel has recently been announced.
LTSC as the sole channel
Like its predecessors in the LTSC, Windows Server 2022 will receive 10 years of support. As usual, this period is divided into five years of mainstream support and five years of extended support.
The two installation options, Desktop Experience and Server Core, also remain unchanged. Microsoft recommends using the slim version without the GUI for most infrastructure services; it is also the default in the setup.
To achieve better compatibility with GUI tools for system administration, you can add Core App Compatibility as a feature on demand in Server 2022.
The installation of the Desktop Experience is primarily intended for RD Session Hosts. Its desktop shows that Windows Server 2022 is not a counterpart to Windows 11 but to Windows 10 21H2, and thus still includes the old Start menu.
Three editions for Server 2022
Since version 2012, Microsoft has offered the Server OS in two main editions, which differ primarily in terms of virtualization rights. Since Server 2016, however, the Datacenter Edition has received exclusive features that are missing in the standard edition. These include Shielded VMs, Storage Replica, and software-defined storage with Storage Spaces Direct.
This difference remains in the 2022 version, where the Standard Edition is limited to two virtual instances and only includes a stripped-down version of Storage Replica (limited to one partnership with a maximum of 2 TB volumes).
The two editions are now joined by a third, called Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition. As the name suggests, this is intended only for running in the Microsoft cloud.
It has two exclusive features in its debut, which are not available on-prem, at least not for the time being. These are hotpatching, which allows for installing updates without rebooting the computer, and SMB over QUIC as an alternative to VPNs.
The Azure edition is otherwise functionally identical to the Datacenter Edition, even if some features don't seem to offer much benefit in an Azure VM. This applies to Storage Spaces Direct, for example, and SMB Direct and SMB over RDMA are not supported in Azure VMs anyway.
Essentials Edition is no longer a separate product
For Windows Server 2019, Microsoft still offered the Essentials edition, which is aimed at small businesses with a maximum of 25 users. In this version, however, Microsoft removed special functions, such as the dashboard, client backup, and access anywhere.
At the same time, the manufacturer stripped out the Windows Server Essentials Experience role in the main editions. This is also missing in the Standard and Datacenter editions of Server 2022.
Despite expectations, the smallest version of Windows Server will be available again in the 2022 version. However, it is no longer a product on its own; rather, it is a Standard Edition with an alternative license.
As before, this includes a number of restrictions, for example, a maximum of 25 users and 50 devices. In addition, Server 2022 limits the Essentials Edition to one CPU with a maximum of 10 cores.
Yet another edition under a different product name
Microsoft has another operating system in its portfolio that is based on Windows Server but goes by a different name. We are referring to Azure Stack HCI. It has its own hardware certification, is licensed by subscription, and can only be installed on bare metal, but not in a VM. Unlike Server 2022, it receives feature upgrades at short intervals.
Microsoft is positioning Azure Stack HCI as a competitor to Windows Server for hyperconverged infrastructures. In the future, it alone will get all essential new features for this use case.
With Server 2022, the manufacturer limits Windows Server to improvements in existing functions. So, the OS gets User Adjustable Storage Repair Speed for Storage Spaces Direct as the only significant innovation for hyperconverged infrastructures.
Microsoft not only reserves exclusive features for Azure Stack HCI, but also promotes it with other benefits. For example, extended support for Windows Server 2008 through 2012 as well as for SQL Server 2012 is available for free when these legacy versions are running in a VM on this platform. On Windows Server 2022 Hyper-V, on the other hand, this service is quite expensive.
Also, Datacenter: Azure Edition of Server 2022 will run in VMs on Azure Stack HCI, but not on a Hyper-V server.
Microsoft has yet to announce the official pricing for Windows Server 2022. The last major change in licensing came with the switch to per-core instead of per-CPU in Windows Server 2016. Microsoft will certainly retain this.
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This list shows a significant increase in the price of the Standard Edition by $97 to $1069 for a starter license with 16 cores. This represents an increase of 10 percent. However, the costs for the Datacenter and Essentials editions remained the same according to this source, contrary to the news from some license dealers.