Microsoft has unveiled the first preview build of Windows Server for the year 2024, designated as build 26040. This build, also aligned with the new Canary Channel preview for Windows 11, marks the initial rollout of the Windows Server Flighting feature for updates. Labelled as Windows Server 2025, the insiders within the Windows Server Insider Program now have access to this early iteration.
The latest Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) preview encapsulates both Desktop Experience and Server Core installation options for Datacenter and Standard editions. Additions embrace an Annual Channel for Container Host and Azure Edition, strictly for virtual machine evaluation.
Enhancements and Innovations
The Server Flighting initiative promises automated delivery of new builds, with build 26040 deploying automatically for registered users. To participate, users need to navigate to the Settings menu, select Windows Update, and then the Windows Insider Program to enable their device for Flighting. While Server Flighting currently concerns only the Canary Channel and Desktop Experience, distribution schedules may slightly vary from server to client versions.
The preview highlights several exclusive features designed for the Windows Server with Desktop Experience. These improvements range from refined account management, echoing the user interface found in Windows 11, to better options for Bluetooth device connections, favoring peripherals like keyboards and audio equipment.
A notable technical addition is SMB over QUIC support on alternative server ports, a departure from the previously fixed UDP/443 default. Users now enjoy the flexibility to select any available port ranging from 1 to 65535. This change is manageable through the New-SmbServerAlternativePort PowerShell cmdlet, with further guidance reachable via Microsoft's dedicated resource link.
Known Challenges and Future Fixes
Among known issues, a graphics rendering glitch creates visual disturbances during the setup process, though it does not hamper completion. A flaw in the current build also impacts the ability to employ PowerShell in WinPE, the Windows Preinstallation Environment, which may not align with the needs of those reliant on the feature.
Feedback mechanisms are facing temporary difficulties, with the new Feedback Hub app not functioning correctly. While improvements are on the horizon, contributors can continue to provide input as detailed in pertinent sections of the preview literature.
Advice against using this preview build is issued for those intending to upgrade from Windows Server 2019 or 2022 due to intermittent upgrade issues. Furthermore, systems with Secure Launch/DRTM code paths active should abstain from installing build 26040 for now.
Preview build access remains broad, though geographic restrictions apply in certain cases, following Microsoft's sales suspension in Russia. The build is set to expire on September 15, 2024, while keys provided are exclusively for the preview. The full details, available in various formats and languages, ensure broad reach for developers and IT professionals interested in experiencing the foretaste of Windows Server 2025.