Definition

Microsoft Nano Server

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: The essential guide to Microsoft Windows Server 2016
Contributor(s): Nick Martin

Microsoft Nano Server is a lightweight operating system designed to serve as the host for Hyper-V virtual machines, Windows-based containers or purpose-built applications. Microsoft Nano Server will be released alongside Windows Server 2016, which is expected in early 2016.

Nano Server has an installation footprint of about 400 MB, compared to 6.3 GB for a full installation of Windows Server 2012. The smaller footprint of the operating system allows Nano Server instances to boot faster than a full Windows Server operating system installation, and allows administrators to consolidate more virtual workloads onto the physical hardware.

Microsoft Nano Server is the company's response to Linux-based lightweight operating systems – such as Atomic Host and Ubuntu Core. Like these Linux-based operating systems, Nano Server was designed to serve as a host for containers, cloud-native applications and microservices.

Unlike a full Windows Server OS installation, Nano Server does not include a graphical user interface or traditional .NET Framework. Instead, server administrators will manage Nano Server instances remotely using the Windows Management Instrumentation and PowerShell.

This was last updated in July 2015

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