Windows Server Annual Channel for Containers

Microsoft add use rights for the Windows Server Annual Channel for Containers to the October 2023 Product Terms. Customers are eligible to use this operating system if they have Windows Server Datacenter Core licences acquired either with Software Assurance or as Software Subscriptions and can expect a new release every 12 months, with support for 24 months.

You can find an announcement article here:, an overview of Windows Server servicing channels here:, and the relevant Product Terms page here:

General Availability of Microsoft Defender for Business servers

Microsoft announce that Defender for Business servers is now generally available, offering endpoint security for Windows and Linux servers for small and medium-sized businesses. It’s $3 per server instance per month and is available as an Add-on licence to Microsoft 365 Business Premium or Microsoft Defender for Business.

Find the announcement here:, and a useful FAQ here:

Azure Hybrid Benefit for AKS

Microsoft announce that there will be a new benefit for customers who have Windows Server licenses with active SA or bought as Software Subscriptions through CSP. This is an extension to the Azure Hybrid Benefit and will allow customers to use the Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS) on Windows Server and Azure Stack HCI at no extra cost.

You can find the announcement article here:, and this page has a great diagram explaining all the different flavours of the Azure Hybrid Benefit and how they might work together:

Licensing Windows Server for use with virtualization technologies

There’s an updated (October 2022) Microsoft Licensing Brief to detail the licensing of Windows Server for use with virtualisation technologies.

This document is updated for the new per virtual machine licensing model for Windows Server, so if you’re pondering how containers are licensed, how Windows Server licensing changes with VMware or Virtuozzo, or how you license Windows Server for use on Microsoft Azure, you’ll find this useful document here:

Flexible Virtualization Benefit Licensing Guide

There’s a brand new (October 2022) Licensing Guide for the new Flexible Virtualization Benefit. This allows customers licensed with Software Assurance or Software Subscriptions to use their licences with Authorized Outsourcers’ shared servers. The guide contains an overview of the benefit itself, a definition of Authorized Outsourcers, and details about using the benefit with SQL Server, Windows Server, and the desktop products. There are also FAQ and Resources sections at the end.

Find this new guide here:

Flexible Virtualization benefit and Windows Server VM licensing

Microsoft announce that there will be two significant licensing changes coming in October 2022.

Firstly, the outsourcing terms will be expanded via the Flexible Virtualization benefit which will allow customers to use their eligible licences with any Authorized Outsourcer’s shared hardware. Eligible licences are licences purchased through a Volume Licensing agreement with active Software Assurance, or Server Subscriptions purchased through CSP, and Authorized Outsourcers are any partners offering hosted solutions – apart from the Listed Providers (Alibaba, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft).

The second change is an additional licensing option for Windows Server for customers with active SA or Server Subscriptions: rather than being restricted to licensing the whole physical server, these customers will be able to choose to license at the virtual machine level – both in their own data centres or with an Authorized Outsourcer.

For more information, see the partner announcement here:, or the customer announcement here:

Extended Security Updates for Windows Server

Extended Security Updates are critical if you want to continue safely running Windows Server workloads on versions that are out of support. They’re free for customers running Windows Server in Azure and available to purchase through an EA for on-premises workloads.

Servers in Azure receive ESUs by default, and there’s an excellent article here ( on how it works for on-premises servers where it’s not automatic and you need to register your servers.

If you’re running Azure Stack HCI then ESUs are free but you need to turn on Azure Benefits – and this article ( is useful for explaining that process. If you’re new to Extended Security Updates, then this article is a good place to start:

Windows Server 2022

Microsoft announce the General Availability of Windows Server 2022 from 1 September, 2021 and confirm that only Long-Term Servicing Channel releases will be available.

Find the announcement article with an overview of new features here:, and details on servicing models with end of support dates for existing Semi-Annual Channel releases here:

Updates to Extended Security Updates

Extended Security Updates are critical if you want to continue safely running Windows Server and SQL Server workloads on versions that are out of support.

Extended Security Updates have been available for SQL Server/Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 since support ended, but will themselves end on July 9, 2022 and January 14, 2023 respectively. If you’re running these older products in Azure then you get 3 years of free Extended Security Updates, and Microsoft have just announced that one more year of Extended Security Updates will be available only on Azure.

It’s also time to think about support ending for SQL Server 2012 on July 12, 2022, and for Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 on October 23, 2023. 3 years of Extended Security Updates will once again be available and, again, they will be free for customers running these versions in Azure. Customers will also be able to purchase ESUs through an Enterprise Agreement for on-premises workloads if they have active Software Assurance on their licences. They will just need to buy licences for the servers they need to cover, and costs will be 75% of the licence cost for the first year, 100% of the licence cost for the second year, and 125% of the licence cost for the third year.

You can find the announcement here:, find a datasheet here:, and access a Customer FAQ here: