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Compare the features in the Windows Server 2022 editions

Microsoft unveiled a Datacenter Azure edition to go with the traditional Standard and Datacenter editions. See what else is new with this server OS release in this breakdown.

Windows Server 2022 arrived without the pageantry of previous Windows Server releases, but organizations with specific needs will appreciate the refinements to this server OS release.

Microsoft has offered Standard and Datacenter editions of its Windows Server operating systems for several years, which continued with Windows Server 2022. However, the company introduced a new product called the Windows Server 2022 Datacenter Azure edition. As the name implies, this edition ties server workloads more closely to the Microsoft cloud platform and offers unique features to tempt customers who want easier patching and other perks.

Microsoft decided to drop the Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel that catered to organizations interested in emerging server technologies and stick with the Long-Term Servicing Channel, which produces a major feature release around every two years. All Windows Server 2022 editions follow Microsoft's fixed lifecycle policy and will receive five years of mainstream support followed by five years of extended support. While Microsoft always recommends a clean install of its server OS, Windows Server 2022 supports in-place upgrades from the two previous Windows Server releases.

Windows Server 2022 hardware requirements and limitations

Windows Server 2022 Standard and Datacenter editions share the same hardware requirements. Both require a 1.4 GHz, 64-bit CPU and 512 MB of RAM; for the Desktop Experience GUI-based version, the system needs 2 GB of RAM. Additionally, 32 GB of disk space are required.

These minimum hardware requirements will not be sufficient to run a workload with decent performance. Even Microsoft's own documentation points out the minimum requirements just to install Windows Server 2022 require at least 800 MB of RAM. Once Windows Server has been installed, the RAM can be decreased to 512 MB if necessary. As a best practice, organizations should match server hardware to the workload.

Both Standard Edition and Datacenter Edition can run on an unlimited number of cores, but both editions are limited to a total of 64 sockets, which must be 64-bit. Likewise, both editions support a maximum of 48 TB of RAM.

Any Trusted Platform Module (TPM) features, such as BitLocker Drive Encryption and secured-core server, will require the hardware to come with a TPM 2.0 chip.

Microsoft deprecated features in Windows Server 2022

Every time Microsoft releases a new Windows Server product, it deprecates some features. In the case of Windows Server 2022, Microsoft removed the Internet Storage Name Service, the protocol used to find and work with iSCSI systems on the network.

Microsoft also stopped development on the guarded fabric and shielded virtual machines it introduced with Windows Server 2016 but will continue to support those features.

Administrators who deploy the server core version of Windows Server should note that Microsoft plans to stop developing the Server Configuration tool (sconfig) and remove it from the next Windows server version. The sconfig utility will still run upon sign-in, but Window Server 2022 will use PowerShell as the default shell rather than the command prompt.

Other features Microsoft will not develop further include the Windows Deployment Services boot.wim image deployment, and it deactivated the Local Security Authority Remote Protocol interface used to connect to Encrypting File System encrypted files over the network.

What's in the Windows Server 2022 Standard edition?

Microsoft designed Windows Server 2022 Standard for physical machines or environments that are minimally virtualized. The retail price for Standard edition is $1,069 for use up to 16 cores. Systems with more than 16 cores will require additional licenses to cover each physical core on the CPU. Additionally, each client that accesses a Standard edition server requires a Client Access License (CAL).

Windows Server 2022 Standard largely has the same feature set as the Datacenter edition with some minor variations. For example, Standard edition limits the Storage Replica feature to a single partnership with one resource group and a 2 TB volume. Similarly, Standard edition only supports inherited activation if it is running as a guest on a Datacenter edition server. Standard edition also lacks support for software-defined networking and the Storage Spaces Direct software-defined storage feature.

The biggest difference between the Standard and Datacenter editions relates to virtual-machine licensing. Both editions support an unlimited number of Windows Server containers. However, the Standard edition limits this to two operating systems per license, meaning a Standard edition server can run a parent operating system and a single Hyper-V virtual machine or a single Hyper-V container. In contrast, a Datacenter edition license allows for an unlimited number of Hyper-V virtual machines or Hyper-V containers.

What's in the Windows Server 2022 Datacenter edition?

Microsoft markets Windows Server 2022 Datacenter for use in highly virtualized environments, such as data centers and clouds. A Datacenter license has a retail price of $6,155.

Like the Standard edition, this license allows Windows Server to run on up to 16 cores with additional licenses required for CPUs with more cores. CALs are also required for each client that accesses the server.

What's in the Windows Server 2022 Datacenter Azure edition?

Windows Server 2022 Datacenter Azure edition runs either as an Azure virtual machine or on an Azure Stack HCI cluster. It cannot install to bare hardware, nor can it be installed and run as a Hyper-V virtual machine. Microsoft has not disclosed pricing for this edition.

Windows Server 2022 Azure Edition offers several new features not available on either the Standard or Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2022. Microsoft calls this exclusive combination of features "Automanage for Windows Server."

SMB over QUIC provides encrypted access to SMB file shares without the need for a VPN. This feature uses the TLS 1.3 protocol, and administrators cannot turn off the encryption in the settings. Microsoft said this feature uses certificates rather than public key infrastructure authentication.

Also unique to the Windows Server 2022 Datacenter Azure edition is hot patching. With this feature, administrators can patch Windows Server 2022 Datacenter Azure virtual machines without the reboot Windows typically requires, which results in downtime.

The Datacenter Azure edition supports an extended network into Azure so virtual machines retain the IP address during a migration from the data center into Microsoft's cloud.

For smaller organizations, the Essentials editions is another option

Microsoft also offers an Essentials edition of Windows Server 2022 that it targets for small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices. Windows Server 2022 Essentials sells for $501 and does not require CALs but is limited to 10 cores, a single socket and a single virtual machine. The feature set is the same as the Standard edition. Windows Server 2022 Essentials is only available through certain server hardware partners.

Microsoft compares the different Windows Server 2022 editions on its website at this link.

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