The difference between them is the use of Hyper-V, Microsoft’s hypervisor, to manage the new containers. In production environments, it’s desirable to keep applications isolated from one another, something a hypervisor does well, Microsoft says.
Containers and virtual machines share an uneasy relationship, considering it’s possible for containers to eventually render VMs obsolete. In response, some have been arguing for container/VM co-existance. VMware, in particular, noted last summer that while containers are great for development, virtual machines might be a more robust option for housing applications in production.
Along similar lines, Microsoft says applications can be developed in Windows Server containers and then ported to Hyper-V containers.
Microsoft does seem more gung-ho about containers than VMware does. (Then again, Microsoft has less of a franchise to lose in virtualization.) Microsoft has been hedging its bets among multiple options — adding support for Docker containers in Azure, for example. And of course, virtual machines for Hyper-V remain an option for application deployment.
As for Windows Server containers, Microsoft will continue to tout them as a bridge between the Windows and Docker worlds. The first live demos of Windows Server containers are due to happen at Microsoft’s Build conference, which starts April 29 in San Francisco.
Separately, Microsoft announced a container-sized server called Nano Server. An entry on the Windows Server blog relates Nano Server to a DevOps workflow, as the server will receive fewer patches and is designed for fast restarts.