Introducing Windows Server, version 1803

Applies To: Windows Server (Semi-Annual Channel)

Windows Server, version 1803 is the current release in the new Semi-Annual Channel

What the Semi-Annual Channel is--and isn't

Windows Server, version 1803 is not an "update" or "service pack" for Windows Server 2016. It's the current twice-yearly server release on the release track that is designed for customers who are moving at a “cloud cadence," such as those on rapid development cycles. This track is ideal for modern applications and innovation scenarios such as containers and micro-services. Each release in this track is supported for 18 months from the initial release. For more about Semi-Annual Channel, plus tips for deciding which channel to join (or remain on) see Semi-Annual Channel Overview.

Windows Server 2016 is the current Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) product. The LTSC is best if you need long-term stability and predictability in your server operating system to support traditional workloads and applications. If you want to stay in the LTSC, you should install (or continue using) Windows Server 2016, which can be installed in either Server Core mode or Server with Desktop Experience mode. See Get Started with Windows Server 2016 for details.

What's different about Windows Server, version 1803?

Windows Server, version 1803 runs in Server Core mode. Windows Server Core mode offers great advantages such as smaller hardware requirements, much smaller attack surface, and a reduction in the need for updates. Since it has no graphical user interface, Windows Server Core mode is best managed remotely. If you're new to working with Server Core, Manage a Server Core server will help you get used to this environment. Manage Windows Server 2016 shows you the various options for managing servers remotely.

What's New in Windows Server version 1803 introduces you to the new features and functionality added in Windows Server, version 1803.

Why does Windows Server, version 1803 offer only the Server Core installation option?

One of the most important steps we take in planning each release of Windows Server is listening to customer feedback – how are you using Windows Server? What new features will have the greatest impact on your Windows Server deployments, and by extension, your day-to-day business? Your feedback tells us that delivering new innovation as quickly and efficiently as possible is a key priority. At the same time, for those customers innovating most quickly, you’ve told us that you’re primarily using command line scripting with PowerShell to manage your datacenters, and as such don’t have a strong need for the desktop GUI available in the installation of Windows Server with Desktop Experience. By focusing on the Server Core installation option, we’re able to dedicate more resources toward those new innovations, while also maintaining traditional Windows Server platform functionality and application compatibility. If you have feedback about this or other issues concerning Windows Server and our future releases, you can make suggestions and comments through the Feedback Hub.

What about Nano Server?

Nano Server is available as a container operating system. See Changes to Nano Server in Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel for details.

Additional information about this release

To get a comprehensive view of the key facts about Windows Server, version 1803, you should also review these topics prior to installing it:

Where to obtain Windows Server, version 1803

This release should be installed as a clean installation.

Activating Windows Server, version 1803

  • If you've obtained this release from the Volume Licensing Service Center, you can activate it by using your Windows Server 2016 CSVLK with your Key Management System (KMS) environment.
  • If you are using Microsoft Azure, this release should automatically be activated.
  • If you obtain this release from Visual Studio Subscriptions, you can activate it by using your Windows Server 2016 CSVLK with your Key Management System (KMS) environment.