With strange serendipitous timing, just as the free upgrade period for Windows 10 is coming to an end, Microsoft is also celebrating the 20th anniversary of Windows Server. Way back in 1996, the company unleashed Windows NT 4.0 Server onto an unsuspecting world. The rest, as they say, is history.
Described as the operating system that would 'knock the socks of Unix' Windows NT 4.0 Server stuck around for four years before being replaced by the enterprise-specific Windows 2000 Server. With laughably low system requirements -- 133 MHz CPU, 32 MB RAM and 1 GB of disk space -- this was the start of a journey incorporating centralization and security.
Windows Server 2003 (or Whistler Server as it was known) introduced the .NET Framework, and ultimately led to massive growth in native app development. The successor, Windows Server 2003, saw the arrival of Virtual Server 2005, and as the first decade of the 21st century drew to a close, Microsoft welcomed the datacenter era.
Windows Server 2008 not only introduced Server Core, but also Hyper-V virtualization. Windows Server 2008 R saw a shift to a full 64-bit architecture, and Microsoft laid the groundwork for the age of cloud computing -- something that was fully embraced by Windows Server 2012. Better datacenter support came in Windows Server 2012 R2, and now we have the cloud-loving Windows Server 2016.