Microsoft is widely expected to release the next major version of Windows 10, thought to be version 1903 and code-named “19H1,” in April 2019. The desktop operating system follows a biannual (or “semiannual”) upgrade release cycle, with major OS “feature updates” arriving in the spring and fall. Microsoft offers Windows 10 as both a semiannual channel Windows as a Service product, and as a more traditional long-term servicing channel product where new updates arrive every two or three years.
Preview builds of Windows 10 19H1 have been rolling out to users enrolled in the Windows Insider program since July 2018. Besides minor feature additions and some tweaks to the UI, a couple of more significant changes have come to light, including the brand-new “Windows Sandbox.” Expected to be part of the Pro and Enterprise editions of Windows 10, Sandbox is described by Microsoft as a walled-off computing environment where users can run new apps in isolation, keeping the rest of their PC protected. “Any software installed in Windows Sandbox stays only in the sandbox and cannot affect your host,” Microsoft said in its announcement. “Once Windows Sandbox is closed, all the software with all its files and state are permanently deleted.”
Another new capability expected in Windows 10 19H1 is the “Reserved Storage” feature, which will set aside about 7GB of a PC’s disk space for new Windows 10 updates. This reserved space will help ensure that applications are able to properly run after an OS update, according to Microsoft.
“Without reserved storage, if a user almost fills up her or his storage, several Windows and application scenarios become unreliable. Windows and application scenarios may not work as expected if they need free space to function. With reserved storage, updates, apps, temporary files, and caches are less likely to take away from valuable free space and should continue to operate as expected,” the company said in a January blog post announcing the feature.
Beyond the spring release, Microsoft is expected to roll out the year’s second Windows 10 feature update around October. A report by veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley suggested that Microsoft may break with tradition regarding this second release’s code name, calling it “Vanadium” instead of the expected “19H2.” At any rate, the earliest public test builds of this second release are expected to appear in the early part of 2019 as development for Windows 10 19H1 wraps up. [BACK TO PRODUCT LIST]
As of this writing, the next major version of Windows Server is three test builds in, the first build having arrived back in November 2018. Like its desktop OS counterpart, Windows Server gets “feature updates” on a biannual (or “semiannual”) release cadence, which go by version numbers. There’s also a long-term servicing channel product option, where new upgrades arrive every two or three years.
Microsoft also releases a more traditional Windows Server product. Windows Server 2019, released back in October 2018, was the last such product. It doesn’t get OS upgrades as frequently as the vNext semiannual product offering. The name and timing of the next traditional Windows Server product hasn’t been announced.
Organizations can expect the first Windows Server vNext feature update release, perhaps version 1903, to arrive sometime in the spring (likely in April, coinciding with the release of Windows 10 19H1). A second feature update release is planned for the fall.
Outside of Microsoft’s perfunctory release notes for each Windows Server vNext test build, the company thus far hasn’t spotlighted any major changes or improvements to expect. Microsoft did hint at “new innovations in networking” when it issued test build 18298 in December, but said further details won’t come until “the early new year.”
The last test build as of this writing, build 18317, also spotlighted a new feature that enables organizations “to support multiple CI [code integrity] policies.” [BACK TO PRODUCT LIST]
The “2019”-branded iteration of the System Center management suite is due sometime in the first quarter of the year, according to a Microsoft document (PDF download).
System Center is a suite of eight products, called “components,” that consist of Configuration Manager, Data Protection Manager, Operations Manager, Orchestrator, Service Manager, Service Management Automation, Virtual Machine Manager, and Service Provider Foundation. Microsoft delivers major updates to System Center on a biannual (or “semiannual”) basis in the spring and fall, a practice that started for the whole suite with the release of System Center version 1801 last year, although the Configuration Manager component is an exception in that it gets major updates three times per year. A long-term servicing channel version of the product, which gets new “feature updates” every two or three years, is also available.
System Center 2019 will incorporate “[n]ew features and enhancements including integration, support and alignment with Windows Server 2019,” according to the Microsoft document. It’ll also include “[s]torage optimization and improvements to RBAC [role-based access control] in VMM [Virtual Machine Manager].”
Microsoft’s Q1 release of System Center 2019 will be the first long-term serving channel release of the product, according to a detailed blog post by Microsoft MVP Thomas Maurer. It’ll bring greater integration between servers and Microsoft’s Azure datacenters with coming “hybrid cloud” improvements, he noted. [BACK TO PRODUCT LIST]
As of last July, Dynamics 365, Microsoft’s enterprise resource planning solution, became another Microsoft product on a twice-yearly “feature update” schedule. The first of these updates, scheduled to be released on April 5 (following a Feb. 1 preview), will be a big one.
The April 5 “general availability” release of Dynamics 365 will be “the first major update where all of our customers across Dynamics 365 will be on the latest version and on a consistent update schedule,” Microsoft explained in an announcement at the end of 2018. “It’s also a template of how major updates will be done going forward in April and October every year.”
Microsoft’s release notes for this so-called “April ’19 update” of Dynamics 365 became available just last month as a massive 315-page .PDF that the company plans to update in February as more features emerge. Already, the document lists “hundreds of new capabilities” coming in the April ’19 update, including mixed reality and artificial intelligence enhancements across the entire suite.
The update will also integrate Dynamics 365 with Microsoft’s Power Platform, which combines the company’s various business analytics services — namely PowerApps, Power BI and Flow. This integration will let Dynamics 365 users “build higher-quality reports, apps, and workflows more easily, while still supporting more advanced enterprise and administrator requirements,” according to Microsoft. [BACK TO PRODUCT LIST]
It’s been well over two years since the last major release of Microsoft’s enterprise integration server, BizTalk Server, became available. The next generation of the product is due sometime in mid-2019, based on the broad timeframe that Microsoft gave in an August 2018 announcement. At that time, Microsoft indicated that it would release BizTalk Server “vNext” about nine months after Windows Server 2019.
The official launch of Windows Server 2019 came in October 2018 (though problems with the update caused Microsoft to subsequently pull the product and then rerelease it about a month later). That would put BizTalk Server’s release somewhere after the mid-point of 2019.
Microsoft so far hasn’t revealed much about its plans for BizTalk Server vNext, though its August 2018 blog post did indicate that it “will contain all previously released feature packs, platform support for the latest versions of Windows Server, SQL Server and Visual Studio, as well as a supported upgrade path from BizTalk Server 2013 R2 and 2016.” The new release will have also “vNext” versions of the BizTalk Adapter Pack and Microsoft’s Host Integration Server (HIS). [BACK TO PRODUCT LIST]
Microsoft first signaled that the next major release of Visual Studio was in the works back in the summer of 2018, soon after it acquired the open source code repository GitHub. Visual Studio 2019 is expected to be released sometime in the first half of 2019, roughly two years after the last current flagship version, Visual Studio 2017, rolled out.
As of this writing, Microsoft has released two preview versions of Visual Studio 2019, the first in late 2018 and the second in January 2019. According to reporting by our sister site, VisualStudioMagazine.com, the new release will include (among other things) AI-enhanced coding capabilities via the IntelliCode feature, improvements to the UI and collaboration capabilities, and enhancements to the “core IDE experience.” It will also incorporate improvements aimed at Python, C# and mobile .NET developers. [BACK TO PRODUCT LIST]
The successor to Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server (TFS) product, Azure DevOps Server 2019, had its first release candidate back in November 2018 and its second just this January. That second release candidate is the product’s last before becoming generally available, Microsoft said at the time, so its likely that the production-ready version of Azure DevOps Server 2019 will roll out sometime in the first quarter.
Among the product’s key features are a new UI based on Microsoft’s Fluent design philosophy, integration with SQL Server and support for the Azure Pipelines automated development service. [BACK TO PRODUCT LIST]
It’s been roughly four years since Microsoft first debuted HoloLens, its augmented reality headset, which is being positioned as an industrial diagnostic tool on top of being a gaming peripheral. HoloLens was ground-breaking technology at the time, but as the rest of the industry caught up with other mixed-reality, virtual-reality and 3-D platforms and devices, that first-generation headset is now, as Redmondmag.com columnist Brien Posey put it, “starting to show its age.”
Microsoft now appears set to unveil version 2 of HoloLens sometime in the first half of 2019. Possibly, it’ll make an appearance at the Mobile World Congress event in late February, per some reports.
Details are scant about Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 plans. However, Microsoft did confirm at its 2018 Build conference that it is resurrecting its old Kinect motion-sensing device with plans to turn it into an intelligent camera for the new HoloLens (among other use cases).
Microsoft has also described its work around developing an improved “holographic processing unit” for HoloLens that will leverage AI to process deep neural networks. Reports also suggested that the new device will run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850 system-on-a-chip.