Windows Server 2019: available versions and installation choices

Windows Server 2019, the latest version of the server operating system from Microsoft, is available and introduces important new features that allow you to more easily extend the datacenters to Azure to obtain hybrid environments, modernizing your applications and infrastructure, and maintaining a high level of security and efficiency. This article provides detailed versions available in Windows Server 2019 and possible installation variants, to address better the choices related to the implementation of the new operating system.

For the Windows Server operating system you have the option of choosing two different release: Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) or Semi-Annual Channel. Windows Server 2019 belongs to the release channel Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC).

The release model defined Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) has the following features:

  • A new major version is released approximately every two or three years.
  • The products belonging to the LTSC have 5 years of mainstream support and more 5 years of extended support.
  • Products belonging to the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) may be adopted by customers regardless of the licensing model that adhered (Software Assurance is not needed).

The release channel defined Semi-Annual Channel is characterized by these elements:

  • Are released approximately two operating system release every year. This releases include new features, improvements and resolution of issues.
  • The versions are identified by a four-digit number, two for the year and two for the month.
  • The Semi-Annual Channel releases have a support of 18 months from the date of publication.
  • Can join the Windows Server released in Semi-Annual Channel Microsoft customers with a Software Assurance contract or customers using cloud environments.

The use of Windows Server in Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) is appropriate in case you want to have a longer service period and increased stability of the services functionality. It is therefore suitable for infrastructure roles, hyper-converged infrastructure and traditional applications infrastructure. The Semi-Annual Channel, considering the constant releases and particularly not long period, is suitable for customers who aim to innovate continuously and fast, to keep up with the rapid evolution of the cloud. Recommended scenarios for using the operating system on Semi-Annual Channel are, for example, Containers applications, Microservices and applications that can benefit from rapid innovation.

Versions of Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 is available in two main versions: Standard or Datacenter. The Datacenter version is ideal in the presence of data centers with a high density of virtualization and cloud computing environments, while the Standard version is typically used for physical servers, or in areas with a limited number of virtualized systems. For these versions the licensing model is based on the cores and is no longer based on the processors, choice taken by Microsoft to provide greater linearity in the management of licensing, in the presence of multi-cloud environments. There is also the version Essentials, designed for small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices. For this edition, the licensing is for server. For more details concerning the licensing and cost of Windows Server 2019 you can download this Microsoft's document.

When choosing the version, Standard or Datacenter, you should consider the following differences in functionality:


Standard edition Datacenter edition
Core Windows Server functionality OK OK
Hybrid integration OK OK
Hyper-Converged Infrastructure X OK
OSes */Hyper-V containers

Includes 2 OSes or VMs


Windows Server containers



Host Guardian Service OK OK
Storage Replica

Limited: single Volume at most 2 TB

Shielded virtual machines (VMs) X OK
Software-defined networking and Network Controller X OK
Software-defined storage X OK

ok = Feature available      X = Feature not available

To compare in detail the features of Windows Server 2019 you can consult this document.

Installation options in Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 can be installed in the following ways:

  • Windows Server Core: This is the default installation of Windows Server 2019, recommended for servers in the production environment. In this mode there is no Desktop Experience, but you can administer the system remotely using Windows Admin Center.
  • Windows Server with the Desktop Experience: in some specific cases, for application compatibility issue, however, the presence of the Desktop Experience is required. With this installation mode, core mode, uses more disk space, requires higher deployment time and it has a higher attack surface.

Figure 1 – Installation options in Windows Server 2019

In Windows Server 2019 Core can be installed an option package called Server Core App Compatibility Feature on Demand (FOD) to meet the application compatibility problems. This solution can be useful even in scenarios where tools to perform advanced operations troubleshooting and debugging are required. The procedure for installing the Server Core App Compatibility FOD is documented in this article and installing it are included the following components in the Core Operating System:

  • Microsoft Management Console (mmc.exe)
  • Event Viewer (Eventvwr.msc)
  • Performance Monitor (PerfMon.exe)
  • Resource Monitor (Resmon.exe)
  • Device Manager (Devmgmt.msc)
  • File Explorer (Explorer.exe)
  • Windows PowerShell (Powershell_ISE.exe)
  • Disk Management (Diskmgmt.msc)
  • Failover Cluster Manager (CluAdmin.msc)

The Server Core App Compatibility FOD also prepares the system to accommodate the installation of Internet Explorer 11.

If Windows Server Core mode is not a valid choice for application compatibility issues, is recommended that you consider installing the Server Core App Compatibility FOD before opting for Windows servers with the Desktop Experience.


With Windows Server 2019 Microsoft has introduced important changes and has dramatically improved the experience of new server operating system, with the ability to manage it remotely, easily and intuitively, with Windows Admin Center and focusing on issues related to application compatibility. As reported in this article, there are substantial differences between the various versions and methods of deployment, that should be taken into consideration at every deployment of Windows Server 2019.

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