Support policy for Windows containers and Docker in on-premises scenarios

Applies to: Windows Server 2019 DatacenterWindows Server 2019 StandardWindows Server 2016 Version 1803

When customers experience issues with or have questions about Windows containers and related Docker functionality, Microsoft is their first point of contact. This article outlines Microsoft's support policy concerning Windows containers and Docker for on-premises deployments. For similar information about Microsoft's support policy for containers in Azure, see Support policy for containers and related services on Azure

Supported configurations for container hosts


Microsoft defines the supported host configurations in the following terms:

  • Host operating system. Windows Server or Windows 10.
  • Hypervisor. Windows 10 must run Hyper-V to support containers; Windows Server, as shown in the table, has more flexibility.
  • Docker engine. Docker is a third-party application for managing containers. Docker Enterprise runs on Windows Server; Docker Desktop for Windows runs on Windows 10. For more information about Docker, see Docker on Windows.
  • Container type. Microsoft supports Windows Server containers, Hyper-V containers, and Linux containers. However, not all host configurations can support all of the container types. For general information about Windows containers and container types, see Containers on Windows.

Supported configurations for Windows Server container hosts

Microsoft supports Windows containers on the following versions and releases of Windows Server:

  • Windows Server 2019 (1809) Standard or Datacenter editions
  • Windows Server 2016 (1803) Standard or Datacenter editions
  • Windows Server 2016 (1709) Standard or Datacenter editions
  • Windows Server 2016 (1607) Standard, Datacenter, or Nano Server editions
  • Windows IoT core (only available to Windows Insider members)

To deploy containers on Windows Server, you must install Docker Enterprise (see Install Docker Engine - Enterprise on Windows Servers). Docker provides full support for Docker Enterprise at https://success.docker.com/support.

On these versions of Windows, the types of containers that Microsoft supports depends on whether your host is a physical computer or a virtual machine, and whether Windows is running with Hyper-V enabled.

Supported container types on a physical container host
Hypervisor
Supported container types
None Windows Server containers
Hyper-V Windows Server containers
Hyper-V containers
Linux containers

 

Supported container types on a virtual machine container host
VM host hypervisor
Guest OS
Guest hypervisor
Supported container types
Hyper-V Windows Server (full or core) None Windows Server containers
Hyper-V  (must be running in nested virtualization mode) Windows Server containers
Hyper-V containers
Linux Linux Linux containers
VMWare ESX Windows Server (full or core) None (Hyper-V not supported on VMWare ESX) Windows Server containers

 

Supported configurations for Windows 10 container hosts

Microsoft supports containers on Windows 10 Professional or Enterprise with Anniversary Update (version 1607) or later, with the following requirements:

You can use Hyper-V containers or Linux containers on Windows 10. You cannot use Windows Server containers.

Microsoft does not support containers on virtual machines that are hosted on a Windows 10 computer. To use containers on a virtual machine, use Windows Server as the virtual machine host.

Requirements for container hosts

For information about requirements for container hosts, see:

For information about requirements and compatibility issues for virtualization, see Windows Server Catalog: Server Virtualization Validation Program.

To run Hyper-V containers, the container host must meet the requirements for running Hyper-V itself. To summarize, Hyper-V requires:

  • 64-bit processor, with the following capabilities:
    • Second-level address translation (SLAT). The Windows hypervisor functionality requires SLAT (the Hyper-V management tools do not.
    • Hardware-assisted virtualization. This is available in processors that include a virtualization option - specifically processors with Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) or AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) technology.
    • Hardware-enforced Data Execution Prevention (DEP) must be available and enabled. For Intel systems, this is the XD bit (execute disable bit). For AMD systems, this is the NX bit (no execute bit).
  • VM Monitor Mode extensions.
  • At least 4 GB of RAM. More memory is better. You'll need enough memory for the host and all virtual machines that you want to run at the same time.
  • Virtualization support turned on in the BIOS or UEFI.

For more information, see System requirements for Hyper-V on Windows Server

Supported container orchestrators


The Azure Service Fabric is not available to orchestrate on-premises containers. Windows does support Docker swarm, Kubernetes, and Red Hat orchestrators.

  • Docker swarm. Docker swarm is a feature of the Docker engine. Docker swarm is fully supported by Docker. For more information about using Docker swarm with Windows containers, see Getting started with swarm mode.
  • Kubernetes. Kubernetes for on-premises Windows Server deployments is still in preview (Beta). Microsoft will not provide any support until the official announcement of general availability. Until then, use the following resources:
    • For the latest information about functionality with Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019, see Kubernetes on Windows.
    • To track development and participate in community preview efforts, follow the Kubernetes #SIG-Windows community.
  • Red Hat OpenShift (Windows Server 2019 only). Red Hat OpenShift on Windows Server 2019 is still in private preview. Microsoft will not provide support until the announcement of general availability.

Supported container images


Microsoft offers four container base images for Windows:

  • Windows Server core. If your application needs the full .NET framework, this is the best image to use.
  • Nano Server. For applications that only require .NET Core, Nano Server will provide a much slimmer image.
  • Windows. You may find your application depends on a component or .dll that is missing in Server Core or Nano Server images, such as GDI libraries. This image carries the full dependency set of Windows.
  • Windows IoT core. This image is purpose-built for IoT applications. You should use this container image when targeting an IoT Core host.

As outlined in Supported container hosts, not all host operating systems support both Windows Server containers and Hyper-V containers. Similarly, not all of the base images support both container types. The following table outlines which container types you can create using each base image on each of the host operating systems.

Container base OS images that are supported on Windows container hosts
 
Base OS image
Container host OS
Windows Server core
Nano Server
Windows
Windows IoT core
Windows Server 2016 or 2019 Standard or Datacenter Windows Server containers
Hyper-V containers
Windows Server containers
Hyper-V containers
Windows Server containers
Hyper-V containers
Not supported
Windows Server 2016 Nano Server Not supported Windows Server containers
Hyper-V containers
Hyper-V containers Not supported
Windows 10 Professional or Enterprise Hyper-V containers Hyper-V containers Hyper-V containers Not supported
Windows IoT core Not supported Not supported Not supported Windows Server containers

 

If you plan to work with container hosts that run different versions and releases of Windows, you will also need to consider the versions and releases of the container images. Some container features are not backward-compatible, so some newer base OS images may not run on container hosts with older OS versions. For more detailed information about compatibility issues between base OS image versions and host OS versions, see Windows Container Version Compatibility.

Support for container workloads

Microsoft fully supports its container base OS images, as described in this section. For support of Microsoft applications in containers, see GitHub, the Microsoft forums, or the Microsoft repository on DockerHub for the custom container image in question.

When running third-party applications in Windows containers, refer to the application vendor for support. In particular, confirm with the application vendor that they support running the application in a Windows container.

Supported networking configurations


Microsoft fully supports Windows container networking functionality. This functionality includes the Host Networking Service (HNS) and Host Compute Service (HCS). HNS and HCS work together to create containers (HCS) and attach endpoints to a network (HNS). Additionally, it includes the following container network drivers (for full descriptions of these drivers, see Windows Container Network Drivers):

  • Network Address Translation (NAT). This is the default driver for container networks. NAT networks support port forwarding and mapping from container hosts to container endpoints. Microsoft supports multiple NAT networks on Windows 10 container hosts that have Windows 10, version 1703 (also known as the Creators Update) installed.
  • Transparent. When configured with a user-specified subnet, transparent networks support static IP addresses from the physical network or dynamic IP addresses assigned by an external DHCP server. When using a transparent network for containers on a virtual container host, you must configure MAC address spoofing.
  • Overlay. Microsoft supports overlay networks for use with Docker swarm or Kubernetes orchestration. To use overlay networks, your configuration must meet the following requirements:
    • Your container hosts run Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, or Windows 10 Creators Update.
    • Your deployment meets the requirements listed in Using overlay networks.
    • When using Kubernetes, you are using Flannel or OVN control panes.
  • L2Bridge. Microsoft supports L2Bridge networks to assign containers to the same IP subnet as the container host. To use L2Bridge networks, your configuration must meet the following requirements:
    • Your container hosts run Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, or Windows 10 Creators Update.
    • IP addresses must be assigned statically from the same prefix as the container host.
    • You configure MAC address spoofing.
  • L2Tunnel. Microsoft primarily supports L2Tunnel networks for use in a Microsoft Cloud Stack. Otherwise, requirements for L2Tunnel networks resemble the requirements for L2Bridge networks.

Advanced network options - supported and unsupported

Microsoft supports switch-embedded teaming for container host networks used by Docker. Microsoft does not support any other NIC teaming configuration for container networking. For more information, see Advanced Network Options in Windows.

Microsoft does not support the following features for container networking:

  • IPSec encryption for container communication
  • HTTP proxy configuration for containers. You can track a preliminary PR for this feature  at https://github.com/Microsoft/hcsshim/pull/163
  • Attaching endpoints to running Hyper-V containers (hot-add)

Microsoft does not support the following commands and options for Docker:

Command
Unsupported options
Docker run --ip6
--dns-option
Docker network create --aux-address
--internal
--ip-range
--ipam-driver
--ipam-opt
--ipv6
--opt encrypted

 

Supported service accounts for containers


Microsoft supports Active Directory group Managed Service Accounts (gMSAs) for containers. 

Containers cannot be domain-joined. By using Group Managed Service Accounts (gMSAs), Windows containers themselves and the services they host can be configured to use a specific gMSA as their domain identity. Any service running as Local System or Network Service will use the Windows container's identity just like they use the domain-joined host's identity. For information about using gMSAs, see:

 

Supported endpoint security options for containers and container hosts


Microsoft supports Windows Defender to protect container hosts. However, it does not support Windows Defender to run within containers.

Docker provides information about third-party providers and their endpoint protection products at Endpoint security for Windows containers. When using a third-party product, verify that the provider supports the product for containers. Be aware of any issues and limitations related to running the product within a container. Additionally, for recommendations about how to configure anti-virus protection to work with containers, see Anti-virus optimization for Windows Containers.