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A rack of servers at the Wikimedia Foundation. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons / cc3.0)

Microsoft is ready to talk about Windows Server 2019, the first fully-featured release of its server operating system since Windows Server 2016, which is due out later this year. Like the previous version, much of the pitch for Windows Server 2019 is how well it works with Microsoft Azure in hybrid cloud deployments, but it also suggests Microsoft is having a bit of a hard time with an accelerated release schedule introduced last year.

The new version of the server operating system is focused primarily on improving the connections between on-premises servers running Windows Server and cloud servers on Azure, adding better support for backup and disaster recovery features that are a big part of the reason to adopt a hybrid strategy. It also introduces new security features that allow administrators to more easily encrypt parts of their network and centralizes a number of security management features.

Companies looking to upgrade their Windows Server boxes these days have the choice of getting updates twice a year through the Semi-Annual Channel or every couple of years through the Long-Term Servicing Channel, and Windows Server 2019 will be the first release in the latter category since 2016. Customers with predictable workloads that are best left untouched for a few years choose the long-term option, while customers that aren’t afraid of working out the kinks on a more frequent update pace can take advantage of new features more quickly, at the expense of a shorter period of technical support compared to the long-term option.

However, it appeared that customers in the Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel — which was only introduced for Windows Server last June — were supposed to be getting an update this March, based on comments last year that Microsoft was committing to a twice-a-year update scheduled for Semi-Annual Channel customers as of September 2017.

But based on Microsoft’s blog post on Tuesday, it doesn’t appear there will be a March release for Semi-Annual Channel customers. The company released a preview version of Windows Server in January that it said would be designated for the next Semi-Annual Channel release, but there’s no mention of that, or any Semi-Annual Channel release shipping in March, in the company’s post.

When asked specifically about the timing of that release, Microsoft said “we plan to announce another Semi-Annual Channel release in the next few weeks and will share more information soon.”

Some channel watchers had expressed skepticism that the company would be able to hit a twice-a-year release schedule for Windows Server when Microsoft unveiled this plan last year. A slight delay might not cause too many problems, but could shorten the amount of time during which the forthcoming release is eligible for technical support.

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