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The move reflects the company’s new strategic focus on its Azure Stack HCI platform.

Starting with Windows Server 2022, Microsoft will no longer be providing Semi-Annual Channel releases of Windows Server. Now there will only only be Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) releases of Windows Server, which will get 10 years of support (five mainstream and five extended).

Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) updates of Windows Server will end with Windows Server version 20H2, which Microsoft made available to customers in October 2020.

The company announced the new policy in a new servicing update for Windows Server published this week.

Before the new policy, users could choose between the Long Term Servicing Channel and Semi-Annual Channel for installations. The LTSC was based on the traditional servicing model of a big release every two or three years. The SAC was more the “as-a-service” model. Customers with that model could count on frequent feature updates to get the latest technology.

Now all that has changed. “Microsoft has updated its servicing model,” this week’s update reads. “The Semi-Annual Channel in previous versions of Windows Server focused on containers and microservices,” they continue. But now “that innovation will continue with Azure Stack HCI.”

Microsoft is pushing its customer base towards Azure Stack HCI

Azure Stack HCI is a hybrid virtualization platform where the customer buys validated hardware from an approved supplier and connects it to Azur. The client must then pay $10 per physical core per month for running the platform. Azure Stack HCI is a cluster that requires a minimum of two servers.

Azure Stack HCI is not all that similar to Azure Stack Hub (despite the name,). In the Hub, users purchase Azure services to run on pre-approved hardware in their own data centre. But Azure Stack HCI is more like a special configuration of Windows Server and Hyper-V. The host operating system is purchased on subscription and kept up to date by Microsoft.

Azure Stack HCI has no desktop experience and is managed via the browser-based Windows Admin Center or via the Azure Portal.

General-purpose users will not be affected since they were unlikely to use it. But there is some confusion about what is happening with Windows Server container images, which typically do use SAC.