Windows Server 2012 R2 vs Server 2016 in depth

Mini Bytes: You all know, windows Server 2016 technical preview 10.0.14300 has been released on April 27th. This is the 5th TP release by Microsoft and still Microsoft not confirmed about the release of Server 2016. So why should we use Server 2016 rather that Server 2012 R2. What is the difference between server 2012 r2 vs server 2016?

In this article, you are going to see about the difference between Windows Server 2012 R2 vs Server 2016 in depth. You all know Microsoft is releasing its latest version of the server for every 4 years with more features bundled inside it.

Even though they are releasing the latest version of the windows servers, most of the organization was not afford of changing the existing setup to the new release. This is because of the various reasons like

  • Downtime to change the existing setup
  • Vendor charges for configuring new server
  • Hardware upgradation
  • Software upgradation

The above are some of the main reasons, many of the organization was not opting for the change of new windows server. But many of the server experts are saying that changing the existing environment to the new one will actually reduce your cost and maintenance of the IT Software’s and Hardware’s.

In this article let’s see what is the difference between Windows Server 2012 R2 vs Server 2016 in depth.

Windows Server 2012

Server 2012 was released in sep 4 2012 with lot of features. Server 2012 was actually optimized for the virtualization technology. There are more difference between the Server 2008 and server 2012 at the time of release.

Some of the new features introduced in Server 2012 are

  • Hyper-V
  • ReFS File System
  • IP Address Management
  • New Windows Task Manager
  • Metro style start menu

It also included other features that really supports the cloud computing technology.

Windows Server 2012 R2

Server 2012 R2 is the successor of Windows Server 2012. It only supports x64 bit architecture and later on Microsoft stops building the servers that supports the x86 architecture. R2 version of server 2012 was released in April 2014. Some of the new features introduced in the server 2012 R2 are as follows
Work Folders

  • Desired State Configuration
  • Improvements in VM & Storage
  • Windows Server essential role
  • Hyper-V improvements in replication, migration etc.

After the release of these two major updates in the windows server, now Microsoft is planning to release the windows server 2016 in this year. More features are expected to be released in this version of server and it was fully optimized for the virtualization and cloud computing.

I personally downloaded and installed the windows server 2016 in a vm environment and found more features included in the server 2016. As a IT admin, I have noticed some of the major changes in the server 2016 and its features.

Here, I will compare the uses of server 2016 and server 2012 r2 here, that will make you to understand and get a clear view about taking decision to upgrade the server 2012 r2 to server 2016 or not.

Windows Server 2016

Till now Microsoft has released server 2016 up to technical preview 5 & version 10.0.14300. You can download the latest build version of server 2016 from here.

Microsoft has plans to release the server 2016 within this month and latest news from Microsoft says that Microsoft will release server 2016 in the month of September 2016. This was not yet confirmed by Microsoft yet.

Before comparing the server 2012 R2 with server 2016, let’s see some of the new features which was included in the latest build release of server 2016.

  • Nano Server -> No GUI & headless version of windows server.
  • Windows Server Containers –> Improves deployment & reliability of applications.
  • Hyper Containers -> Provides enhanced isolation
  • Docker Support -> Use to manage window server & Hyper-V containers.
  • Rolling upgrades for Hyper-V & storage cluster
  • Hot add VM Nic’s
  • Nested Virtualization -> Can run Hyper-V within Hyper-V
  • PowerShell direct
  • Secure boot -> Linux secure boot for VM’s

From server 2016 features, you can understand that, a lot of more features has been added to the technical preview of server 2016. Since server 2016 was not yet released, we cannot confirm that, the features listed above will be added to the latest release of server 2016 at the release time.

Microsoft only releases these features only in the form of technical previews, this clearly states that, we can only test with the help of these features in the testing environment and we should not test in the production environment since it may contain lot of coding bugs.

From the above content you saw all the features which was added to the server 2012, server 2012 r2 & server 2016. Now let’s see the comparison between the server 2012 r2 vs server 2016.

Difference between Server 2012 R2 vs Server 2016

Above information should have provided you a more in-depth details about the new features in the latest build of windows server. If you want to compare both the server releases, then you can do it with the above information But here I will explain you some of the important point in comparing both server.

Difference Server 2012 R2 Server 2016
Features As of in Server 2012 R2, you can get the latest updates in it, but you cannot use or install the features from server 2016 You can use both the features from server 2012 R2 & Server 2016
Cost Cost depends on the need which your organization need. It also depends on the variants such as Standard or Datacenter editions Costlier than Server 2012 R2. It may also contains on demand role based installation (not yet confirmed by Microsoft)
Licensing Same licensing Not yet released by Microsoft
Upgrade (HW/SW) No need to upgrade the HW or SW May need to upgrade the HW or SW

So these are some of the difference of using the server 2012 R2 with the server 2016. You need to think and consult your management before buying the server 2016 license. Since it has lot of features you first need to analyze that, whether you need those feature.

If you got the feature in the older version of the Microsoft product, then you can opt for the old one rather than buying a new one and wasting money.

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5 Responses

  1. Howdy! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content.

    Please let me know. Many thanks

  2. philippjose says:

    nice comparision man.. thank you..

  3. kavin says:

    Hi there i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anywhere, when i read this server 2016 comparison article i thought i could also make comment. Thanks for sharing..

  4. arun says:


  5. sladen says:

    server 2016 is more advanced than server 2012, with your post i can get a overview about server 2016. nice article

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