Windows Server 2016

Happy 20th

anniversary Windows Server!

It's hard to believe that 20 years ago, Microsoft introduced the first OS for the masses, democratizing IT platforms and tools to help IT build solutions that drive success.

We're excited to introduce the latest milestone in this long history, Windows Server 2016! Walk with us through 20 years of history to see how Windows Server has evolved into a cloud platform for the masses.

Learn more about Windows Server 2016

20 years ago, we started with...

Scroll down to see more!

Server for the masses era

1996 - 2000

NT 4.0

Codename: Cairo

Release date: 1996

Windows NT 4.0 Server arrived at a time when big iron systems running on Unix ruled, which required large investments in hardware and extensive expertise. Microsoft software engineer David Cutler built a new kernel that was the foundation of NT. By coupling the intuitive desktop UI for the first time, organizations could quickly set up company-wide file, print, and application servers using commodity hardware.

Spice Girls first number 1 hit
Independence Day is one of the top movies of the year
Pokemon Red and Green released for Game Boy in Japan, with Blue debuting later in the year
Windows NT 4.0

Software engineer David Cutler discusses the origins of
Windows NT.

Windows NT 4.0

"We use internal code names for new versions of Windows Server while we're developing them.

It wasn't until I had a chance to ski down Springboard and grab a drink at Longhorn that I realized each codename was taken from a Whistler ski run or pub."

Nir Ben-Zvi, Principal Program Manager,
Microsoft File Server team

"Microsoft is working on an Operating System called NT—it will knock the socks off Unix, and make the Sys5 vs BSD wars irrelevant."


Enterprise era

2000 - 2008

Windows 2000 server

Codename: Sanus

Release date: 2000

With Windows 2000 Server, Microsoft enters the world of centralized enterprise management. With higher levels of scalability, reliability, and availability, Windows 2000 Server also included new features such as Active Directory (an X.500 LDAP-compatible directory), group policies, enterprise-wide security policies, and centralized groups and permissions.

Windows 2000 Advanced Server

"The immediate return on investment and the way Windows 2000 Server maps to our long-term goals makes it a perfect fit for our business. The upgrade was so easy—it only took several weeks—we're anxious to roll it out and use it throughout our service offerings."

Mike Connor, SVP, Brokerage Services Group,
Automatic Data Processing (ADP)
Windows 2000 Advanced Server

Application development for the masses era

Windows server 2003

Release date: 2003

Windows Server 2003 brought the ease of Visual Basic into a modern era of managed code through the .NET Framework, allowing for native applications to be written specifically to meet the needs of the enterprise running native and managed code. This would become the foundation for the explosion of developers writing native apps using ASP.NET, VB.NET, and C#.

LeBron James picked as Number 1
Finding nemo released
Windows Server 2003

Chief Software Architect Bill Gates unveils Windows Longhorn.

Windows Server 2003

Windows server 2003 R2

Codename: Whistler Server

Release date: 2005

Expanding on enterprise computing and into interoperability and virtualization, Windows Server 2003 saw the introduction of WinRM, a SOAP-compliant remote management interface. Other improvements would bring Virtual Server 2005 and, for the first time, branch office solutions. This year Jeffrey Snover, Chief Architect of Windows Server and Microsoft System Center, will introduce Project Monad, which will mature into PowerShell.

Xbox 360 Released in North America
YouTube is founded.
Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2
Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2

"For the third year in a row we've seen the greatest growth coming from the Microsoft segment of the market. A big part of this growth has been driven by the strong reputation of SQL Server and the Windows Server stack."

Darryl Barr, Director of Product Management,
Manhattan Associates

Datacenter era

2009 - 2013

Windows Server 2008

Codename: Longhorn

Release date: 2008

With the mantra "Server Unleashed," Windows Server 2008 introduces Server Core, a small-footprint server that allows for higher density computing. This release would also usher in the Viridian hypervisor kernel that is the foundation of Hyper-V, giving Microsoft a native Type 1 hardware virtualization solution. Windows Server 2008 is the last of the 32-bit servers.

Bill Gates steps down as CEO and CSA, stays on as Chairman of the Board
Usain Bolt smashes world record in 100 meters with 9.69 seconds at the Beijing Olympics
Windows Server 2008

"The server is unleashed" in this ad for Windows Server 2008.

Windows Server 2008

"It's more affordable to create a high-availability environment with Windows than with other proprietary systems because the hardware is less expensive. That's what we've done with our Windows Server 2008 environment, and we're really pleased with the reliability."

Ronny Chapman, General Manager of Originations,
Fidelity National Financial

Windows server 2008 R2

Codename: Windows Server 7

Release date: 2009

With the launch of Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft shifts exclusively into 64-bit architecture for the server line. Combined with Microsoft System Center, the first Microsoft private cloud solution is introduced with the Dynamic Datacenter Toolkit, laying the foundation for the next wave in cloud computing.

Avatar hits #1 at the box office and becomes highest-grossing film ever
The world goes mobile app crazy
Windows Server 2008 R2 Windows Server 2008 R2

Microsoft VP Brad Andersen discusses the
private cloud.

Windows server 2012

Codename: Windows Server 8

Release date: 2012

Windows Server 2012 opened the door to every app on any cloud. It gave users the flexibility to build and deploy applications and websites on-premises, in the cloud, and in a hybrid environment―empowering IT to enable the modern work style where users have access to data and applications from virtually anywhere, from any device.

25 images sent per second by May 2012
Users share 20 million photos per day on Snapchat
Windows Server 2012 Windows Server 2012

The cloud OS is here, introduced in this video from
the Windows Server 2012 Launch Tour.

Windows server 2012 R2

Codename: Windows Server Blue

Release date: 2013

Windows Server 2012 R2 introduced new and enhanced features that empowered users to efficiently utilize the capacity of their datacenters. To help protect investments in existing cross-platform technologies, it also offered expanded support for a heterogeneous datacenter, including for Linux.

The world population reaches 7 billion people
Selfie is the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year
Windows Server 2012 R2
Windows Server 2012 R2

Microsoft programmer Jeff Woolsey introduces Windows
Server 2012 R2.

Windows Server 2012 R2

Codename: Redstone Server

Cloud for
the masses era

Cloud for the masses era

2016 - today

Windows 2016 Server

Windows Server 2016

2016 - Today

Codename: Redstone

As organizations move to the cloud at their own pace, Windows Server 2016 supports them through their transition. Whether running traditional workloads or the latest cloud-native apps and technology, users get added availability and new layers of security from the same OS that powers Azure.

Pokemon Go becomes the most-downloaded first-week app ever
Star Wars: The Force Awakens becomes the third highest-grossing film of all time
Windows 2016 Server


Windows Server 2016 gives you the power to better prevent attacks and detect suspicious activity with new features to control privileged access, protect virtual machines, and harden the platform against emerging threats.


Windows Server 2016 delivers a more flexible and cost-efficient operating system for your datacenter, using software-defined compute, storage, and network virtualization features inspired by Azure.


Innovate faster with an application platform optimized for both traditional and cloud-native apps.

Jeffrey Snover shares how to thrive through the transition from datacenter to cloud.

Join us as we enter the future

Learn more about Windows Server 2016
Windows Server 2012 R2