Create a Windows Server container on an Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) cluster using the Azure CLI

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is a managed Kubernetes service that lets you quickly deploy and manage clusters. In this article, you deploy an AKS cluster using the Azure CLI. You also deploy an ASP.NET sample application in a Windows Server container to the cluster.

Image of browsing to ASP.NET sample application

This article assumes a basic understanding of Kubernetes concepts. For more information, see Kubernetes core concepts for Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).

If you don't have an Azure subscription, create a free account before you begin.


  • Use the Bash environment in Azure Cloud Shell.

    Launch Cloud Shell in a new window

  • If you prefer, install the Azure CLI to run CLI reference commands.

    • If you're using a local installation, sign in to the Azure CLI by using the az login command. To finish the authentication process, follow the steps displayed in your terminal. For additional sign-in options, see Sign in with the Azure CLI.

    • When you're prompted, install Azure CLI extensions on first use. For more information about extensions, see Use extensions with the Azure CLI.

    • Run az version to find the version and dependent libraries that are installed. To upgrade to the latest version, run az upgrade.


The following limitations apply when you create and manage AKS clusters that support multiple node pools:

  • You can't delete the first node pool.

The following additional limitations apply to Windows Server node pools:

  • The AKS cluster can have a maximum of 10 node pools.
  • The AKS cluster can have a maximum of 100 nodes in each node pool.
  • The Windows Server node pool name has a limit of 6 characters.

Create a resource group

An Azure resource group is a logical group in which Azure resources are deployed and managed. When you create a resource group, you are asked to specify a location. This location is where resource group metadata is stored, it is also where your resources run in Azure if you don't specify another region during resource creation. Create a resource group using the az group create command.

The following example creates a resource group named myResourceGroup in the eastus location.


This article uses Bash syntax for the commands in this tutorial. If you are using Azure Cloud Shell, ensure that the dropdown in the upper-left of the Cloud Shell window is set to Bash.

az group create --name myResourceGroup --location eastus

The following example output shows the resource group created successfully:

  "id": "/subscriptions/<guid>/resourceGroups/myResourceGroup",
  "location": "eastus",
  "managedBy": null,
  "name": "myResourceGroup",
  "properties": {
    "provisioningState": "Succeeded"
  "tags": null,
  "type": null

Create an AKS cluster

To run an AKS cluster that supports node pools for Windows Server containers, your cluster needs to use a network policy that uses Azure CNI (advanced) network plugin. For more detailed information to help plan out the required subnet ranges and network considerations, see configure Azure CNI networking. Use the az aks create command to create an AKS cluster named myAKSCluster. This command will create the necessary network resources if they don't exist.

  • The cluster is configured with two nodes.
  • The --windows-admin-password and --windows-admin-username parameters set the administrator credentials for any Windows Server nodes on the cluster and must meet Windows Server password requirements. If you don't specify the windows-admin-password parameter, you will be prompted to provide a value.
  • The node pool uses VirtualMachineScaleSets.


To ensure your cluster to operate reliably, you should run at least 2 (two) nodes in the default node pool.

Create a username to use as administrator credentials for the Windows Server nodes on your cluster. The following commands prompt you for a username and set it WINDOWS_USERNAME for use in a later command (remember that the commands in this article are entered into a BASH shell).

echo "Please enter the username to use as administrator credentials for Windows Server nodes on your cluster: " && read WINDOWS_USERNAME

Create your cluster ensuring you specify --windows-admin-username parameter. The following example command creates a cluster using the value from WINDOWS_USERNAME you set in the previous command. Alternatively you can provide a different username directly in the parameter instead of using WINDOWS_USERNAME. The following command will also prompt you to create a password for the administrator credentials for the Windows Server nodes on your cluster. Alternatively, you can use the windows-admin-password parameter and specify your own value there.

az aks create \
    --resource-group myResourceGroup \
    --name myAKSCluster \
    --node-count 2 \
    --enable-addons monitoring \
    --generate-ssh-keys \
    --windows-admin-username $WINDOWS_USERNAME \
    --vm-set-type VirtualMachineScaleSets \
    --network-plugin azure


If you get a password validation error, verify the password you set meets the Windows Server password requirements. If your password meets the requirements, try creating your resource group in another region. Then try creating the cluster with the new resource group.

If you do not specify an administrator username and password when setting --vm-set-type VirtualMachineScaleSets and --network-plugin azure, the username is set to azureuser and the password is set to a random value.

The administrator username can't be changed, but you can change the administrator password your AKS cluster uses for Windows Server nodes using az aks update. For more details, see Windows Server node pools FAQ.

After a few minutes, the command completes and returns JSON-formatted information about the cluster. Occasionally the cluster can take longer than a few minutes to provision. Allow up to 10 minutes in these cases.

Add a Windows Server node pool

By default, an AKS cluster is created with a node pool that can run Linux containers. Use az aks nodepool add command to add an additional node pool that can run Windows Server containers alongside the Linux node pool.

az aks nodepool add \
    --resource-group myResourceGroup \
    --cluster-name myAKSCluster \
    --os-type Windows \
    --name npwin \
    --node-count 1

The above command creates a new node pool named npwin and adds it to the myAKSCluster. When creating a node pool to run Windows Server containers, the default value for node-vm-size is Standard_D2s_v3. If you choose to set the node-vm-size parameter, please check the list of restricted VM sizes. The minimum recommended size is Standard_D2s_v3. The above command also uses the default subnet in the default vnet created when running az aks create.

Connect to the cluster

To manage a Kubernetes cluster, you use kubectl, the Kubernetes command-line client. If you use Azure Cloud Shell, kubectl is already installed. To install kubectl locally, use the az aks install-cli command:

az aks install-cli

To configure kubectl to connect to your Kubernetes cluster, use the az aks get-credentials command. This command downloads credentials and configures the Kubernetes CLI to use them.

az aks get-credentials --resource-group myResourceGroup --name myAKSCluster

To verify the connection to your cluster, use the kubectl get command to return a list of the cluster nodes.

kubectl get nodes

The following example output shows the all the nodes in the cluster. Make sure that the status of all nodes is Ready:

NAME                                STATUS   ROLES   AGE    VERSION
aks-nodepool1-12345678-vmssfedcba   Ready    agent   13m    v1.16.9
aksnpwin987654                      Ready    agent   108s   v1.16.9

Run the application

A Kubernetes manifest file defines a desired state for the cluster, such as what container images to run. In this article, a manifest is used to create all objects needed to run the ASP.NET sample application in a Windows Server container. This manifest includes a Kubernetes deployment for the ASP.NET sample application and an external Kubernetes service to access the application from the internet.

The ASP.NET sample application is provided as part of the .NET Framework Samples and runs in a Windows Server container. AKS requires Windows Server containers to be based on images of Windows Server 2019 or greater. The Kubernetes manifest file must also define a node selector to tell your AKS cluster to run your ASP.NET sample application's pod on a node that can run Windows Server containers.

Create a file named sample.yaml and copy in the following YAML definition. If you use the Azure Cloud Shell, this file can be created using vi or nano as if working on a virtual or physical system:

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
  name: sample
    app: sample
  replicas: 1
      name: sample
        app: sample
        "": windows
      - name: sample
            cpu: 1
            memory: 800M
            cpu: .1
            memory: 300M
          - containerPort: 80
      app: sample
apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
  name: sample
  type: LoadBalancer
  - protocol: TCP
    port: 80
    app: sample

Deploy the application using the kubectl apply command and specify the name of your YAML manifest:

kubectl apply -f sample.yaml

The following example output shows the Deployment and Service created successfully:

deployment.apps/sample created
service/sample created

Test the application

When the application runs, a Kubernetes service exposes the application front end to the internet. This process can take a few minutes to complete. Occasionally the service can take longer than a few minutes to provision. Allow up to 10 minutes in these cases.

To monitor progress, use the kubectl get service command with the --watch argument.

kubectl get service sample --watch

Initially the EXTERNAL-IP for the sample service is shown as pending.

NAME               TYPE           CLUSTER-IP   EXTERNAL-IP   PORT(S)        AGE
sample             LoadBalancer   <pending>     80:30572/TCP   6s

When the EXTERNAL-IP address changes from pending to an actual public IP address, use CTRL-C to stop the kubectl watch process. The following example output shows a valid public IP address assigned to the service:

sample  LoadBalancer   80:30572/TCP   2m

To see the sample app in action, open a web browser to the external IP address of your service.

Image of browsing to ASP.NET sample application


If you receive a connection timeout when trying to load the page then you should verify the sample app is ready with the following command [kubectl get pods --watch]. Sometimes the windows container will not be started by the time your external IP address is available.

Delete cluster

When the cluster is no longer needed, use the az group delete command to remove the resource group, container service, and all related resources.

az group delete --name myResourceGroup --yes --no-wait


When you delete the cluster, the Azure Active Directory service principal used by the AKS cluster is not removed. For steps on how to remove the service principal, see AKS service principal considerations and deletion. If you used a managed identity, the identity is managed by the platform and does not require removal.

Next steps

In this article, you deployed a Kubernetes cluster and deployed an ASP.NET sample application in a Windows Server container to it. Access the Kubernetes web dashboard for the cluster you just created.

To learn more about AKS, and walk through a complete code to deployment example, continue to the Kubernetes cluster tutorial.