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Microsoft Azure uses a special edition of Windows called Cloud Host

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We all know that Windows can run in a multitude of environments; from data centers, laptops, and phones to embedded devices. But there were rumors in the past that Microsoft uses non-Windows OS for its Azure nodes in the data center. Today, Microsoft revealed that Windows is actually powering the Azure nodes in the data centers.

The Azure Host OS which powers the Azure hosts in the data center is a special SKU of Windows.

The main purpose of the Azure Host operating system is to manage VMs which includes launching, shutting down, live migrating, updating, etc.

Microsoft also revealed further details about the Cloud Host (Azure Host OS’ name):

  • This special edition of Windows is designed to be console only (no GUI).
  • Cloud Host is a OneCore based edition of Windows. OneCore is the base layer upon which all the families of Windows editions build their functionality. It is a set of components (executables, DLLs, etc.) that are needed by all editions of Windows (PCs, Windows Server, XBOX or IOT).
  • Microsoft identified the set of functionalities (DLLs and API sets) that Azure needs on top of OneCore and added the handful of binaries (tens of binaries) to OneCore to create the Cloud Host OS.
  • Cloud Host OS size is just 280 MB, which is more than 10 times smaller than a typical Windows client OS file.
  • Cloud Host OS even has a special taskmgr and regedit version that doesn’t link with all the modern GUI functionality available in Windows 11.
  •  C++, Python and even Rust code can run on Cloud Host OS.

You can learn more about Cloud Host (Azure Host OS) from the source link below.

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