The best features of Microsoft Next Gen 2016 releases

31 Mar 2016

2016 brings the next iteration of the big four Microsoft technologies: Windows Server 2016, SQL Server 2016, SharePoint 2016 and Exchange 2016. With these big releases also comes many new training titles, and many more further on the horizon in the later part of the year. In the coming months, as more of these course releases become available, we will be running a free webinar to discuss the new course offerings and the latest Microsoft certification roadmap. In the meantime, we take a look at some of the best new features anticipated in the latest versions of these popular Microsoft technologies below.


Microsoft Server 2016

View the course outline for new course Microsoft 10983 - Upgrading Your Skills to Windows Server 2016, due for release in mid-May.

  • Nano Server - Without a doubt the biggest change in Windows server is the new Nano Server designed to run Hyper-V, Hyper-V cluster, and Scale-Out File Servers (SOFSs) and cloud service applications. Nano Server is a trimmed down headless version of Windows Server and will have a 93% smaller VHD size, 92% fewer critical bulletins and 80% fewer required reboots. Nano Server is a Windows Server installation option, which is completely headless - there’s no GUI and no command prompt.
  • Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V Containers - The second biggest change in Windows Server 2016 will be support for containers. Containers enable you to isolate your applications from the underlying OS, improving the deployment and reliability of those applications. Windows Server 2016 will provide two kinds of native containers: Windows Server containers and Hyper-V containers.
  • Docker Support - Docker is an open-source engine used for building, running and managing containers. Docker containers were originally built for Linux but the next version of Windows Server will provide built-in support for the Docker engine as well.
  • Rolling upgrades for Hyper-V and Storage clusters - The new rolling upgrades feature allows you to add a new Windows Server 2016 node to a Hyper-V cluster with nodes that are running Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • Hot add and removal of virtual memory and virtual network adapters while the virtual machine is running.
  • Nested virtualisation - Allows you to run Hyper-V within a Hyper-V virtual machine
  • PowerShell Direct - Enables you to run PowerShell commands in the guest operating system of a virtual machine without needing to go through the network layers.
  • Linux Secure Boot - Enables a secure boot for virtual machines with Linux guest operating systems. Secure Boot is a feature of the UEFI firmware specification 9.
  • The Host Guardian Service - A new role in Windows Server 2016 that enables shielded virtual machines and protects the data on them from unauthorised access, even from Hyper-V administrators.
  • Storage Spaces Direct - Windows Server 2016 also has a number of storage system improvements one of the most interesting is the new Storage Spaces Direct feature. Storage Spaces Direct is the evolution of the previous Storage Spaces technology found in Windows Server 2012 R2. Windows Server 2016 Storage Spaces Direct allows a cluster to access JBOD storage in an external enclosure like Windows Server 2012 R2 or it can also allow access to JBOD and SAS disks that are internal to the cluster nodes.


Exchange Server 2016

View the course outlines for new courses Microsoft 20345-1 Administering Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 and Microsoft 20345-2 Designing and Deploying Microsoft Exchange Server 2016, both due for release in May.

  • A new approach to document collaboration that makes it easy to send links and collaborate without any versioning issues of attachments
  • Faster and more intelligent search function, to help users quickly find what they need in their mailboxes and calendars
  • Significant improvements to eDiscovery search performance and reliability
  • Better extensibility, including new REST-based APIs for mail, calendar and contacts that simplify web and mobile development


SQL Server 2016

View the course outline for new course Microsoft 10986 - Updating Your Skills to SQL Server 2016, due for release at the end of April.

SQL 2016 has a number of major enhancements which will help whether or not you are implementing on-premise, in Azure or in a hybrid model.

  • Query Store - A feature that maintains a history of query execution plans with the performance data, and quickly identifies queries that have become slower recently, allowing administrators or developers to force the use of an older, better plan if needed.
  • Polybase - A SQL Server connector to Hadoop (and Azure Blob Storage) to its data warehouse appliance Analytics Platform System in 2015 but now Microsoft has incorporated that functionality into the regular on-premises product.
  • Stretch Database - Database capability where some parts of tables (configurable or automated) can be moved into an Azure SQL Database in the cloud in a secure fashion.
  • JSON Support - In addition to supporting direct querying to Hadoop, SQL Server 2016 adds support for the lingua franca of Web applications: Java Script Object Notation (JSON).
  • Row Level Security - A feature that other databases have had for many years, and SQL Server has lacked until now.
  • Always Encrypted - A new functionality through the use of an enhanced client library at the application so the data stays encrypted in transit, at rest and while it is alive in the database. Also given Microsoft's push towards the use of Azure, easy encryption makes for a much better security story.


SharePoint Server 2016

View the course outlines for new courses Microsoft 20339-1 Planning and Administering SharePoint 2016 and Microsoft 20339-2 Advanced Technologies of SharePoint 2016, both due for release in July.

SharePoint 2016 is designed to feel familiar but more intuitive, and built around the way you work. With this in mind, here are some of the top new features:

  • Mobile and touch experiences - SharePoint Server 2016 sites offer a consistent experience across screens and devices. When you use a mobile device to access your sites, you can more easily browse the sites, subsites and content on those sites through touch-enabled views. For example, you can tap tiles or links to your libraries, open files, browse to other sites and quickly get to OneDrive.
  • Simpler navigation and commands - Microsoft is learning as they improve SharePoint Online and bringing the simpler navigation and commands to SharePoint Server 2016.
  • Improved sharing experiences, including:
    • Simple and natural site sharing   
    • Members of a site can share the site
    • Sharing emails - You can send out sharing emails that include an anonymous guest link
    • New Sharing dialog box - You can create and share a folder as you create it from the new Sharing dialog box
    • Access request redesign - People who aren’t allowed to share can use the new sharing flow to request that the admin share with certain people. The admin receives a one-click email to approve or deny a request for access.
  • Document library features - The following accessibility features are now available to make working in document libraries easier:
    • Landmarks to a page for ease of navigation, and alt text improvements for all major navigation links
    • Increased keyboard shortcuts
    • Focus improvements, such as keeping focus on prior elements and focus trapping. Announcements for upload progress.
    • Announcements for file name and file types when browsing folder and file lists
    • Improved callout reading
  • Document management improvements, including:
    • Large file support - Upload and download files up to 10 GB. Earlier versions of SharePoint don't support uploading or downloading files that are larger than 2,047 MB.
    • Durable URLs - Keep links in place when you rename or move resource-based URLs
    • Special character support in file names - Use special characters such as &, ~, {, and } in file names that include a GUID, leading dots, or are longer than 128 characters.
  • OneDrive for Business improvements, including:
    • New controls for working with OneDrive for Business - Click a control to create new Office documents, upload files, synchronise your files for offline use, and share your files.
    • Shared with me - A new 'Shared with Me' view takes you to a list of folders and files that have been shared directly with you.
    • Site folders - A new 'Site Folders' view takes you directly to document libraries of sites you’re following.

Keep an eye out for our upcoming webinar discussing these new releases in detail and the updated Microsoft certification roadmap.