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Rancher on Windows RKE 1 to RKE 2

This document (000020592) is provided subject to the disclaimer at the end of this document.


Any customer running Rancher on Windows on RKE1 is impacted by this change. Rancher has been aware of a shifting trend in the cloud native ecosystem to move toward container runtimes with a smaller surface area than Docker


Rancher foresaw this trend and has built two Kubernetes distributions on the open source containerd container runtime, K3s and RKE 2.  RKE 2 is built on K3s and is fully conformant Kubernetes distribution that focuses on security and compliance. 

The future of Windows containers on Rancher is only found on RKE 2


Customers currently running on RKE 1 will need to move to RKE 2 

Because of the change in approach to provisioning Windows-specific clusters in RKE 1 to free-form mixed-OS clusters RKE 2, there is no direct migration path for Windows containers on RKE 1 to RKE 2. 

Rancher Labs recommends as part of customers testing workloads on the Windows containers on RKE 2 technical preview that they begin planning to refactor their Windows workloads on RKE2 using Fleet. Fleet is a GitOps solution from Rancher, now integrated directly into Rancher, with support for Windows containers. 

Windows containers on RKE 2 remains in technical preview as of Rancher 2.6.3, the current release of Rancher. Rancher 2.6.4 will be released in March bringing the Windows container experience on RKE 2 to general availability (GA). Windows containers on RKE 2 will match and then exceed the Windows containers on RKE 1 feature set, reaching even greater feature parity between Windows and Linux containers on Rancher. The Windows on Rancher team develops in the open, with full transparency into their development processes. Rancher Labs anticipates Windows containers on RKE 2 reaching general availability (GA) with official support alongside the Rancher Cluster Provisioning v2 in early March 2022. 

Additional Information

Additional guidance and a guide for transitioning the most common workloads from RKE 1 to RKE 2 will be forthcoming. Customers seeking additional assistance in migrating between RKE 1 and RKE 2 should consult with SUSE Global Services. Customers with additional questions or concerns regarding this transition should contact the Windows on Rancher team: 

See our blog post here 


This Support Knowledgebase provides a valuable tool for SUSE customers and parties interested in our products and solutions to acquire information, ideas and learn from one another. Materials are provided for informational, personal or non-commercial use within your organization and are presented "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND.

  • Document ID:000020592
  • Creation Date: 22-Feb-2022
  • Modified Date:22-Feb-2022
    • SUSE Rancher Harvester
    • SUSE Rancher
    • SUSE Rancher Longhorn

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