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Can I use Microsoft containers with the Docker platform?

Docker is a mainstay for containerizing applications, but it has been limited to Linux systems. New support for Microsoft Windows Server containers is switching things up.

Docker is the most popular container platform available today, but it does have a major shortcoming: It has historically...

been used on Linux systems. As such, Windows shops have thus far been forced to adopt some Linux systems or use something other than a Docker platform. But this is about to change.

In the forthcoming release of Windows Server 2016, native support for Microsoft containers within Windows Server will be offered for the first time. In some ways, these Microsoft containers can be thought of as a hybrid container feature. The Docker engine actually exists within Windows Server 2016. Administrators who are used to working with Docker containers will find they can use the same tools and commands to manage Microsoft containers in Windows Server 2016 as they would ordinarily use to manage Docker containers in a Linux environment.

On the other hand, Microsoft containers are a part of the Windows Server operating system and behave in a manner similar to other Windows Server roles and features. Microsoft has long stated that PowerShell is its preferred tool for managing Windows Server, so it should come as no surprise that Windows Server containers can be created and managed through the use of PowerShell cmdlets. The containers within Windows Server can be managed as if they were running on a Linux server or Windows Server.

An important thing to understand about Microsoft containers within Windows Server 2016 is that they are somewhat limited with regard to portability. Although Windows Server containers are every bit as portable as the Docker containers found in Linux environments, storage administrators probably won't be able to move a Docker image out of Linux and put it onto a Windows Server. This is due to Windows and Linux servers using different file systems and kernels, which is bound to cause some interoperability issues.

Next Steps

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This was last published in April 2016

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Essential Guide

The complete rundown on Docker data storage and containers

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