This keynote was presented by Jeffrey Snover. You can find the webcast of this conference on Channel9.
Users of Windows Server, including Microsoft itself with Azure, complain:
- Reboot mandatory due to updates for components they do not use
- Windows image too big ⇒ Request more disk space (including for backups), for VM migrations it occupies more the network
- Unnecessary components ⇒ Larger attack surface
Microsoft had already started to address this issue with Windows Server Core versions from 2008 (and improved in later versions) but that was not enough.
With Windows Server 2016 Microsoft releases Windows Server Nano. This is an installation option (like Core) and not a new SKU. This version contains the bare minimum to work. Basically there is no GUI (except the login screen and a very basic configuration screen), the content of the installation DVD is no longer present on the disk, only the necessary drivers are installed, etc. For info, the image is only 400M compared to the 5.42GB of the full version.
Currently (CTP3), a few roles are supported: Hyper-V, Storage, Clustering, IIS, and DNS. The .NET Framework does not work, only Core CLR is supported. The installation mechanism of applications also changes: no more MSI, it is now necessary to make WSI (Windows Server Installation). WSIs are based on scripts (probably PowerShell).
Regarding the administration, everything (or almost) is done from another machine via PowerShell or Server Manager (GUI). PowerShell continues to evolve to make it more comfortable: simplified way to connect to a remote machine, transfer files between machines, debug a script running on a remote machine, and so on. It is also possible to perform operations from Azure:
The only GUI remaining is an interface to the DOS, emergency recovery, to modify certain parameters (network config or join a domain).
Feel free to watch the Nano Server team videos on Channel9.