This page provides an overview of Windows Server containers in Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). To learn how to create a cluster, see Creating a cluster using Windows Server node pools.
Using Windows Server containers on GKE enables you to take advantage of the benefits of Kubernetes: agility, speed of deployment and simplified management of your Windows Server applications. You can run your Windows Server and Linux containers side by side in the same cluster, which allows for a central management plane for both container platforms. Microsoft Hyper-V containers are not currently supported.
You can build your Windows Server container node images using Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) or Windows Server Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC). A single cluster can have multiple Windows Server node pools using different Windows Server versions, but each individual node pool can only use one Windows Server version. To learn more about the differences between these versions, see Choosing your Windows Server node images.
Your Windows Server containers can take advantage of many of the storage options that GKE provides. For an example of using GKE storage options with Windows, see Local SSDs.
When working with Windows Server containers, you must create a
object, and specify the name of that object in the
storageClassName field of
PersistentVolumeClaim object because the
ext4 file storage type is not
supported with Windows. If you are using a Compute Engine persistent disk, you
must use NTFS as the file storage type.
The Compute Engine persistent disk CSI Driver is also available for Windows Server containers. For more details, see Using the Compute Engine persistent disk CSI Driver.
Like Linux containers, Windows containers provide a process and resource isolation boundary. Windows Server containers can be used for enterprise multi-tenancy. However, because Microsoft does not intend to service Windows container escape vulnerabilities, the use of Windows nodes is not recommended in hostile multi-tenancy scenarios or those where differing risk levels are needed. Instead, give each application or development team a separate cluster and Google Cloud project to achieve isolation.
There are some Kubernetes features that are not yet supported for Windows Server containers. In addition, some features are Linux-specific and do not work for Windows. For the complete list of supported and unsupported Kubernetes features, see the Kubernetes documentation.
In addition to the unsupported Kubernetes features, there are some GKE features that are not supported.
For GKE clusters, the following features are not supported with Windows Server node pools:
- Cloud TPUs (
- Image streaming
- Ingress with Network Endpoint Groups
- Intranode visibility
- IP masquerade agent
- Kubernetes alpha cluster (
- Node Local DNS cache
- Private use of Class E IP addresses
- Private use of public IP addresses
- Network policy logging
- Spot VMs
- GPUs (
Local External Traffic Policy on Windows node pool is only supported with GKE version v1.23.4-gke.400 or later.
Other Google Cloud products that you want to use with GKE clusters might not support Windows Server node pools. For specific limitations, refer to the documentation of that product.
The following sections provide links to relevant resources for Windows Server containers on GKE.
Review these resources to discover information about Windows on GKE:
- Read the Run Windows Server containers on GKE blog.
- Read the Windows Server containers on GKE now GA blog.
- Read the Windows Server support comes to Anthos on-prem blog.
- Read the Migrating Legacy OSes to Google Cloud case study.
Consider these resources for getting started:
- Watch the How to modernize and run Windows apps in Anthos GKE video.
- Watch the Migrate, Manage & Modernize: Windows Workloads Powered by GKE and Anthos webinar.
- Try out the Running Windows containers on Google Cloud codelab.
- Try out the Windows on Google Cloud lab.
- Try out the New Microsoft and Windows on Google Cloud Demo Center demos.
- Learn how to Create a cluster using Windows Server node pools.
Create & deploy
For guidance on creating and deploying your applications, see these pages:
- Deploying a Windows Server application
- Deploying a stateful application
- Building Windows Server multi-arch images
- Using the Compute Engine persistent disk CSI Driver
Integrate with Active Directory
For guidance on Active Directory integration, see these pages:
- Best practices for running Active Directory on Google Cloud
- Configuring Windows Server nodes to automatically join an AD domain
- Deploying ASP.NET apps with Windows Authentication in GKE Windows containers
For help with troubleshooting, see Collecting diagnostic information.
To explore and learn about using Anthos for Windows, see these resources:
- Learn about Migrate to Containers for migrating Windows workloads.
- Learn about using Windows node pools in Anthos clusters on VMware.
When you modernize your applications, you also want to incorporate them into an end-to-end DevOps management experience that works with your existing tooling and workflows. To that end, Google has worked with several partners to make sure that your build, test, deploy, config and monitoring applications work well with Windows containers. Here are some use cases and partner solutions that we've tested to support Windows containers in GKE:
|CI/CD||Partner's CI/CD solution can build, test and deploy applications running on Windows containers.|
|Observability||Partner's ITOps and application performance management (APM) solution can collect telemetry and provide visibility (dashboards, reports, insights) for infrastructure and applications managed on Windows containers.|
|Config management and policy||Patner's solution provides secrets management or provisioning capabilities for Windows applications on Google Cloud.|
|Security||Patner's solution can secure the development and configuration of an application that runs on Windows containers.|