After a rocky start in October due to a bad Windows Update that impacted the brand new Windows 2019 platform, Windows 2019 is available and being deployed. With every new Windows version comes a host of new features and functionality. Let’s take a look at some of the coolest new features in Windows 2019, broken down into three categories.

Enhanced Security with Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

In recent years, Microsoft has surprisingly become a player in the anti-malware arena with Windows Defender. Many organizations now depend on Windows Defender vs traditional third party anti-malware software.  If you are not familiar with Windows Defender ATP, it boasts a number of features and functionality such as:

  • Attack Surface Reduction
  • Endpoint Detection & Response
  • Auto Investigation & Remediation
  • Advanced Thread Hunting

Just to name a few.

One of the most interesting Windows 2019 features added to Windows Defender ATP is Windows Defender ATP Exploit Guard.

Beyond having a cool name, Exploit Guard is all about intrusion protection.  There are a total of four parameters that Exploit Guard uses to protect devices, and Microsoft has put a huge emphasis on maintaining usability while protecting Windows 2019 resources.

Exploit Guard will do things like block suspicious files, leverage Windows Defender SmartScreen to block communication to untrusted devices, block untrusted processes from accessing files, and mitigate vulnerability exploits.  These are huge steps forward for device protection.  Besides the protection itself, Windows Defender reduces operational complexity by allowing all of this to be controlled in the Windows ecosystem which is already familiar to many operators.

To read more about Windows Defender ATP, be sure to view this blog from Microsoft.

Windows 2019 Features for Containers

Containers have been on everyones mind for the last several years, but things are really heating up on the Microsoft front.  Back in 2016 we talked about getting started with Docker on Windows 2016, and things have really progressed.

There are three new Windows 2019 features of note when it comes to container land.

First is enhanced container networking for Kubernetes, commonly abbreviated as K8s.  This feature enhances support for K8s networking with Windows, including the support of container plugins and resiliency features.

Next, is group managed service accounts for continuers.  This feature is now more scalable, which is huge for managing containers on the Windows platform.

Finally, containers can now access host device protocols on the Windows platform.

While these features may not seem earth shattering when it comes to containers on Windows, they are huge for scalability and manageability, which will aid organizations in their container strategies. 

Windows Failover Cluster Enhancements in Windows 2019

Windows Failover Clustering may be one of the most interesting and most important features in Microsoft Windows.  There is a laundry list of Windows Server 2019 feature enhancements, which you can see in full on the Microsoft Blog.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Azure Aware Clusters

Now your Windows Failover Cluster is smart enough to know when it is running on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, meaning it is easier to deploy and can take into account Azure planned maintenance to ensure the cluster is always highly available.

No More NTLM Authentication

Kerberos and certificate-based authentication (yay) is now the authentication of choice for Windows Failover Clusters.  While some people may groan while reading this, this is a huge step forward when it comes to security of the cluster.

File Share Witness Enhancements

Man, do I love me some file share witnesses, and I thought this was one of the coolest parts of Windows Failover Clustering when it was first introduced.  Now, if environments fave a lack of shared drives for disk witnesses, such as in the case of a SQL AG or a DAG, they can simply use a file share.  This has the potential for cost benefits and increased ease of use and administration.

Be sure to take a look at all of the other great Windows Failover Clustering enhancements in Windows 2019.

These are just three of my favorite categories of new Windows 2019 features.  Microsoft has a great blog that lists all of the features here.