Ignite 2022: What's new in Windows Server Azure Edition
Published Oct 12 2022 09:17 AM 10.1K Views

Heya folks, Ned here again. Last year we released the first Windows Server Azure Edition, a VM-only server where we bring continuous updates to state-of-the-art features instead of waiting three years like Windows Server Datacenter or Standard editions, especially in edge-focused scenarios.  


At Ignite, we're excited to share many updates coming to Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure edition: 


  • Azure Stack HCI now supports running Azure Edition VMs
  • Hotpatch for Azure Edition VMs with Desktop Experience is coming 
  • VM Marketplace now makes it easy to deploy Azure Edition VMs onto Azure Stack HCI
  • Storage Replica now supports SMB compression on Azure Edition 
  • SMB over QUIC client certificates are coming 


 Let's get to it. 


Azure Stack HCI now supports running Azure Edition VMs

Azure Stack HCI is a hyperconverged infrastructure cluster that hosts VMs in your datacenter or edge locations, providing a combination of on-premises private cloud with Azure services. Azure Stack HCI is free to try for 60 days. Since it's delivered as an Azure service, it's attached to an Azure subscription. Azure Stack HCI also maintains catalog of validated hardware to ensure the most reliable infrastructure and performance. Besides traditional VM workloads, it can run Azure Kubernetes Service and Azure Virtual Desktop. You can manage it using existing tools like Windows Admin Center and PowerShell, but Azure Stack HCI also provides consistency with your public cloud through the Azure Portal. 


Azure Stack HCI managed via Azure PortalAzure Stack HCI managed via Azure Portal


Starting now, Azure Stack HCI supports running Windows Server Azure Edition VMs. You can deploy Azure Edition through the new Azure Marketplace integration (read more below). You can also download the Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition ISO today to create a new VM or in-place upgrade an existing VM running on Azure Stack HCI. Downloads are here: 


Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition (EN-US) ISO

Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition (ZH-CN) ISO


Your Azure subscription permits you to use the Windows Server Azure Edition on any virtual machine instances running on Azure Stack HCI, see Product Terms.


There's a new Deploy Windows Server Azure Edition VMs - Azure Stack HCI | Microsoft Learn article you should review. With Azure Edition running on Azure Stack HCI, features like Hotpatch for Server Core and SMB over QUIC are now available to you in your on-prem datacenters and edge locations. You get the best of public and private cloud in one swirl of chocolate and peanut butter. To enable hotpatching within a VM you build from ISO instead of deploying as an Azure Marketplace image, review the following steps.


There are many new features in Azure Stack HCI that were just announced - new SA benefits, Arc-enabled management Preview 2, 22H2 Feature Update GA, Hybrid Azure Kubernetes Service, and Microsoft-provided Azure Stack hardware(!) - see What's new for Azure Stack HCI at Microsoft Ignite 2022 - Microsoft Community Hub.


Hotpatch for Azure Edition VMs with desktop experience is coming 

When we first released Windows Server 2022's Azure Edition, we supported hotpatching VMs running the Server Core installation mode. We always recommend Server Core because it consumes fewer resources and has the lowest attack surface. 


Now we're getting ready for what everyone wants: Hotpatch for Azure Edition servers running the Desktop Experience will preview this spring. Azure Edition VMs installed with the Desktop Experience mode (the Windows Explorer shell, Start Menu, etc.) will no longer reboot every month for security updates, and instead will only restart a few times a year when they re-baseline using a normal Cumulative Update. This means as many as 8 reboots a year could be skipped for any Azure Edition VMs in your fleet on Azure Stack HCI or Azure IaaS.  


To show you that we mean business, here is a teaser demo showing hotpatches installing on an Azure Edition server with Desktop Experience!



VM Marketplace now makes it easy to deploy Azure Edition VMs onto Azure Stack HCI

In Azure Marketplace you can find, try, buy, and deploy virtual machines using Azure-certified images.  We've now brought this deployment story to your edge and datacenters with Azure Marketplace VM images for Azure Stack HCI. With this new integration, you can download an Azure Marketplace VM image with few clicks then use the existing Arc-enabled flows to create VMs on Azure Stack HCI! In the public preview, we include Azure Marketplace VM images for Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition, Window 10 Enterprise, and Windows 11 Enterprise. 


Screenshot of creating Azure Marketplace VM images on Azure Stack HCIScreenshot of creating Azure Marketplace VM images on Azure Stack HCI

We'll provide Azure Marketplace Linux VM images and other Windows Server VM images in future updates. You can also deploy custom Azure Marketplace images via your Azure Storage account, go here to learn how.  


Storage Replica now supports SMB compression on Azure Edition 

Storage Replica enables replication of volumes between Windows Servers or clusters for disaster recovery and has synchronous and asynchronous modes; the latter is ideal for long range replication, such as between cities or to your nearest Azure regional datacenter. 


With the installation of the September 2022 Cumulative Update, Azure Edition servers now include compression for asynchronous replication in Storage Replica. This leverages the SMB compression available in all versions of Windows Server 2022 and Windows 11. You'll see a huge drop in network consumption over what is often a pretty congested long-haul network. You'll also lower your recovery point convergence time for many workloads, meaning your data should be protected much faster than the usual asynchronous replication performance. 


For more info on configuring Storage Replica compression, review this information


SMB over QUIC client certificates are coming 

SMB over QUIC offers an "SMB VPN" for telecommuters, mobile device users, and high security organizations. The server certificate creates a TLS 1.3-encrypted tunnel over the internet-friendly UDP port 443 instead of the legacy TCP port 445. All SMB traffic, including authentication and authorization within the tunnel is never exposed to the underlying network. SMB behaves normally within the QUIC tunnel, meaning the user experience doesn't change. SMB features like multichannel, signing, compression, continuous availability, directory leasing, and so on, work normally. Azure Edition servers can be SMB over QUIC file servers and Windows Server 2022, Windows 11, and third parties can be SMB over QUIC clients. 



With a coming monthly Cumulative Update, you will be able to add an additional layer of protection to the SMB over QUIC connection process. In the current mode, you install a certificate on the file server and a client that connects must trust that certificate's issuer. Now you will optionally be allowed to deploy additional certificates that were issued from that same certificate authority to your clients and require them when connecting to the server, adding another layer of "mutual agreement" to the connection process.  Look for this to reach Azure Edition Insider and Windows Insider this spring, with a demo coming to the Windows Storage Blog later this month. 


Sum up

Azure Stack HCI integration, Hotpatch for Desktop Experience, VM Marketplace, SMB over QUIC improvements, Storage Replica improvements, that's a lot of new Azure Edition functionality and it's not even the full list! We have at least one major surprise coming this spring and will also have a ton of new features and scenarios by the next Ignite in 2023. The train never stops on Azure Edition! 


More useful reading from Ignite today:



Until next time,


Ned Pyle

Version history
Last update:
‎Nov 07 2022 03:33 PM
Updated by: