Microsoft Windows Containers

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: The essential guide to Microsoft Windows Server 2016
Contributor(s): Tayla Holman

Microsoft Windows Containers, also known as Windows Server Containers, are isolated environments in Windows Server 2016 that isolate services or applications running on the same container host.

A container host can run one or more Windows Containers. Using a technique called namespace isolation, the host gives each container a virtualized namespace athat grants the container access only to resources it should see. This restricted view prevents containers from accessing or interacting with resources that aren't in its virtualized namespace and makes the container believe it is the only application running on the system. The host also controls how much of its resources can be used by individual containers. The container host can limit CPU usage to a certain percentage that applications cannot exceed and allocate the remaining percentage to other containers or to itself.

Containers are deployed from images, which cannot be modified. When a container image is created, the image can be stored in either a local, public or private repository. Containers can be interconnected to create larger applications, however, which allows for a different, more scalable way of architecting applications.

Windows Containers can integrate with existing Windows technologies like .NET and ASP.NET. They can be created and managed with either PowerShell or Docker, but containers created with one tool currently can't be managed with the other. Windows Containers can also be created and managed in Azure.

Windows Containers became available for the first time in the third technical preview of Windows Server 2016 and will be integrated into the final release in 2016. Nano Server, a lightweight installation method for Windows Server, is optimized for Windows Containers and Hyper-V Containers.

This was last updated in September 2015

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