Enterprises see the benefit in using containerized applications to run their mission-critical workloads, but most IT organizations are not standardized on a single infrastructure stack. These heterogeneous environments often carry both Windows and Linux platforms, siloing applications and making it difficult for a business to modernize and scale their operations. The ideal world for customers is a singular container orchestration fabric that supports the two leading commercial operating systems in customer datacenters -- Microsoft Windows and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. At Red Hat, we understand that customers do not want a binary choice between Windows vs. Linux, or .NET vs Java – they want cloud platforms to support all technologies.

Today, we are proud to announce the Developer Preview for running Windows Server Containers in OpenShift 4.4

The architecture involves letting Windows run Windows Server containers and Red Hat Enterprise Linux run Red Hat Enterprise Linux containers, with OpenShift orchestrating them as building blocks to compose your next generation applications.

The Beginning

For those that haven’t been watching, let me recap how we got here. Public cloud application platforms dating back to 2013 have been predominantly Linux based leveraging Linux containers. Along the way, Windows containers began to take form within the cloud, enabling Microsoft users to take part in the journey to the clouds.

The catalyst or change agent that turned the tide for Windows Containers started in 2016 when Microsoft decided to partner and invest engineering into the Docker Engine. At first, the focus was on declaring a true container implementation on Windows that Microsoft could stand behind. Since that announcement, Microsoft has grown their container concept to offer both Hyper-V and process isolation, while also evolving to containerd.

The Partnership

In 2016, Microsoft found themselves participating in the Kubernetes eco-system. It was not long after that, Red Hat and Microsoft announced an engineering partnership to bring Windows Containers to OpenShift, the leading supplier of enterprise Kubernetes.

Mike Neil, Corporate Vice President Microsoft; Mike Evans, Vice President Technical Business Developement Red Hat; John Gossman,Distinguished Engineer Microsoft; Mike Ferris, Vice President of Strategy, Red Hat explain the partnership on Windows Containers.

After that announcement, the real work started. We quickly built a healthy list of joint Red Hat and Microsoft customers that were interested in this capability.

Like all open source projects, engineers from all over the upstream eco-system from Microsoft to Apprenda to Red Hat to Google got to work on identifying what needed to be done to make Windows a first class citizen for workloads in Kubernetes. Changes needed to be made to the Windows operating system as well as to Kubernetes. That took time, and came together in a real way in a combination of Windows Server 2019 and Kubernetes 1.14 in the second quarter of 2019.

Open Source Leadership


Satya Nadella CEO of Microsoft; Jim Whitehurst CEO of Red Hat discuss technologies trends and joint partnerships in open source

OpenShift and Windows Containers Today

So what’s the status of Windows Container Support in OpenShift today? Microsoft and Red Hat started making developer preview drops of the solution in May of 2018. Not only was Windows Server evolving to fit the container use case, with Kubernetes versions flying out quarter-by-quarter stabilizing the additional kubelet changes, but OpenShift itself was changing as it took automating Kubernetes to the next level

With the release of this developer preview of Windows Container support in OpenShift 4.4, we’re keen to hear back from users and developers so that we can squash bugs and help with edge cases we couldn’t have anticipated. Naturally, Red Hat’s focus is on open source solutions that will support open hybrid cloud environments hosting a heterogeneous array of tools and applications. To that end, we’re close to offering a unique networking solution co-developed by Microsoft and Red Hat

Microsoft values the Windows Containers partnership we have established with Red Hat over the course of the last 5 years. We believe the containerization movement and Kubernetes eco-system is bringing Windows Server a new era of developer innovation and datacenter efficiency. 

Subodh Bhargava, Senior Product Manager at Microsoft


Next steps


Access the developer preview of the solution from this on Azure and AWS.

Check out this video on running OpenShift Container Platform 4.4 on Azure with Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Nodes

Also, Calico for Windows now supports the latest Windows Dev Preview on the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform (OCP). Read more

“Tigera is excited to join Red Hat and Microsoft in supporting Windows Server containers on OpenShift,” said Amit Gupta, Tigera’s VP of Product Management, “Calico is designed to run everywhere a customer’s business runs by enabling them to confidently and securely deploy their workloads across any mix of operating systems and infrastructure.”

We view 2020 as the year of the Windows Container in OpenShift. We hope you are as excited as we are in the possibilities these technologies bring to life!

We love to hear from you. Send us feedback of this developer preview to this email