Windows Server

Nice to Know – A very important update to Windows Server SAC and LTSC


LTSC is for Legacy workload and Infrastructure, SAC is for Apps

When Windows Server 2016 was released Microsoft explained that the Desktop Edition and Core edition was about to be LTSC (released every 2-3 years) and Core and NANO was to be SAC (released every 18 months). The purpose was to give customers a faster “cadence”. The use case for Desktop Edition was to run legacy software that needs the UI, core was targeted for legacy software the could run without the UI and NANO was containers and modern infrastructure, like Hyper-V, Storage Spaces Direct, Network Controllers and such.

The first change to this was that in the 1709 release, NANO was now “containers” only, and what they told was from the beginning was now incorrect, NANO was no longer a choice for modern infrastructure, that was a big change and I did have customers that shifted from “happy face” to “sad face”, but ok, we can now run Core, much bigger, but fine, core will be released both as LTCS and SAC and we can use that for both legacy (in that case the LTCS edition) and for modern infrastructure (in that case SAC).

I’m happy/sorry to say that is not true anymore. The SAC release will not support anything like infrastructure roles, so, no, you cant use it in a modern datacenter, you can use it for one thing only, containers. So developers can either use NAO or Core to build applications, but if you are into infrastructure, you can run the LTCS version, and then you can either pick Desktop Edition or Core.

There are reasons for this, some of them are understandable, some of them not, but it does not matter what I think, this is happening and you need to adjust “back” to the old days.

To summarize:

IT Pro/Admin/Infrastructure:

You will use the LTCS version of Windows Server, current version is 2016 (aka 1607) and the next will be Windows Server 2019, you will upgrade every 2-5 years. You will use either Core or Desktop Edition.


You can runt whatever you want, if you like new features, go for SAC, upgrade/reinstall/redeploy every 18 months or less, or do old style, go for LTCS

You can read the “official” statement here.


Categories: Windows Server

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3 replies »

  1. Hi Mike
    I personally think that MS are crumbling due to pressure from the industry, who prefer to plan long-term for investments and not rely on “Fast-Paced” / “Agile-Like” OS releases that may or may not have certain features (that may or may not work as expected, and may or may not effect the current application layer) and do not have risks involved when updating the underlying OS “on-the-fly” that affect the applications running on the platform (remember our discussion at the geek-week about the game being played with an arbitrary number of players, equipped with differing sportswear and equipment, blindfolded with moving goal-posts?).
    It is all well and good having automation for testing, but this also costs money and time (allot!!!) and having these costs every 18 months drives down profits :-)
    Therefore it’s obvious (IMHO) that LTSB / LTSC will become the norm…
    I’m anticipating a similar release statement from MS regarding the desktop OS…


    • Yes, there are reasons to shift “back” but at the same time, 2-3 year is long time, when competition in Compute, Storage and Network comes every year, so if you pick, I would say that a yearly release, with the same support statement they have would be great (5+5), then you can upgrade when YOU need and have time.

  2. I wanted Nano to grow into the infrastructure role, but I’m not surprised. When they backed out of supporting nano based Hyper-V hosts that sort of foreshadowed this decision.

    Frankly, I’m still waiting for the Windows team to tell the rest of Microsoft that Server Core is the standard. The recommendation has been to use server core for several years now, and it’s the default in Server 2016, yet I keep running into MS products that don’t support server core. It’s really frustrating when the documentation claims support for Server 2016, with no mention of core vs desktop, but down the road when I post on the forums or call support I’m told that server core isn’t supported.

    I don’t even think it’s a “doesn’t work” issue in a lot of cases, it’s just a “We never tried it.” :(

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