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.
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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.