Windows Clusters


CAPZ enables you to create Windows Kubernetes clusters on Microsoft Azure. We recommend using Containerd for the Windows runtime in Cluster API for Azure.

Using Containerd for Windows Clusters

To deploy a cluster using Windows, use the Windows Containerd flavor template.

Kube-proxy and CNIs for Containerd

Windows HostProcess Container support is in Alpha support in Kubernetes 1.22 and is planned to go to Beta in 1.23. See the Windows Hostprocess KEP for more details. Kube-proxy and other CNI’s have been updated to use HostProcess containers directly. The current implementation is using kube-proxy and Calico CNI built by sig-windows. Sig-windows is working to upstream the kube-proxy, cni implementations, and better kubeadm support in the next few releases.

Current requirements:

  • Kuberentes 1.22+
  • containerd 1.6 Beta+
  • WindowsHostProcessContainers feature-gate (currently in alpha) turned on for kube-apiserver and kubelet if using Kubernetes 1.22

These requirements are satisfied by the Windows Containerd Template and Azure Marketplace reference image cncf-upstream:capi-windows:k8s-1dot22dot1-windows-2019-containerd:2021.10.15

Deploy a workload

After you Windows VM is up and running you can deploy a workload. Using the deployment file below:

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
  name: iis-1809
    app: iis-1809
  replicas: 1
      name: iis-1809
        app: iis-1809
      - name: iis
            cpu: 1
            memory: 800m
            cpu: .1
            memory: 300m
          - containerPort: 80
        "": windows
      app: iis-1809
apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
  name: iis
  type: LoadBalancer
  - protocol: TCP
    port: 80
    app: iis-1809

Save this file to iis.yaml then deploy it:

kubectl apply -f .\iis.yaml

Get the Service endpoint and curl the website:

kubectl get services
NAME         TYPE           CLUSTER-IP   EXTERNAL-IP   PORT(S)        AGE
iis          LoadBalancer    <pending>     80:31240/TCP   1m
kubernetes   ClusterIP     <none>        443/TCP        46m



See the CAPI proposal for implementation details:

VM and VMSS naming

Azure does not support creating Windows VM’s with names longer than 15 characters (see additional details historical restrictions).

When creating a cluster with AzureMachine if the AzureMachine is longer than 15 characters then the first 9 characters of the cluster name and appends the last 5 characters of the machine to create a unique machine name.

When creating a cluster with Machinepool if the Machine Pool name is longer than 9 characters then the Machine pool uses the prefix win and appends the last 5 characters of the machine pool name.

VM password and access

The VM password is random generated by Cloudbase-init during provisioning of the VM. For Access to the VM you can use ssh which will be configured with SSH public key you provided during deployment.


ssh -t -i .sshkey -o 'ProxyCommand ssh -i .sshkey -W %h:%p capi@<api-server-ip>' capi@<windows-ip> 

There is also a CAPZ kubectl plugin that automates the ssh connection using the Management cluster

To RDP you can proxy through the api server:

ssh -L 5555:<windows-ip>:3389 capi@<api-server-ip>

And then open an RDP client on your local machine to localhost:5555

Image creation

The images are built using image-builder and published the the Azure Market place. They use Cloudbase-init to bootstrap the machines via Kubeadm.

Find the latest published images:

az vm image list --publisher cncf-upstream --offer capi-windows -o table --all  
Offer         Publisher      Sku                                     Urn                                                                           Version
------------  -------------  ----------------------------            ------------------------------------------------------------------            ----------
capi-windows  cncf-upstream  k8s-1dot22dot1-windows-2019-containerd  cncf-upstream:capi-windows:k8s-1dot22dot1-windows-2019-containerd:2021.10.15  2021.10.15
capi-windows  cncf-upstream  k8s-1dot22dot2-windows-2019-containerd  cncf-upstream:capi-windows:k8s-1dot22dot2-windows-2019-containerd:2021.10.15  2021.10.15

If you would like customize your images please refer to the documentation on building your own custom images.

Using Docker EE and dockershim for Windows Clusters

We recommend using Containerd for Windows clusters

Windows nodes can either run Containerd (recommended) or Docker EE as the container runtime.
Docker EE requires the dockershim which will be removed starting with Kubernetes 1.24 and will be maintained by Mirantis in the future. We do not plan to support dockershim after its removal from upstream kubernetes in 1.24.

To deploy a cluster using Windows using dockershim, use the Windows flavor template.

Kube-proxy and CNIs for dockershim

Kube-proxy and Windows CNIs are deployed via Cluster Resource Sets. Windows does not have a kube-proxy image due to not having Privileged containers which would provide access to the host. The current solution is using wins.exe as demonstrated in the Kubeadm support for Windows guide. You may choose to run components as Windows services directly on the node but will require a custom image and modifications to the default Docker EE windows template.

Flannel is being used as the default CNI with Docker EE and dockershim. An important note for Flannel vxlan deployments is that the MTU for the linux nodes must be set to 1400.
This is because Azure’s VNET MTU is 1400 which can cause fragmentation on packets sent from the Linux node to Windows node resulting in dropped packets. To mitigate this we set the Linux eth0 port match 1400 and Flannel will automatically pick this up and subtract 50 for the flannel network created.