While Windows is the most iconic, most famous, and most commonly used operating system (OS) in the world, a little-known fact is that among the many different versions that are released as part of each Windows edition, there is also a “server” version. This lack of common knowledge has led to many people using normal Windows versions instead of the proper Windows Server edition on their remote access platforms and in other unique server-related applications. With that said, what are the primary differences between Windows and Windows Server? Keep reading to learn the answer as well as a summary of different versions and Windows Server use cases!
What is Windows Server?
With each edition of Windows released (7, 8,10, 11), there are different variations of the OS. One of these special releases is the Windows Server. As opposed to the normal versions of Windows, Windows Server is tailored specially for use on servers as opposed to normal desktop computers. Since servers are almost entirely used as part of a working operation related to a business, this makes Windows Server a rarity in personal use cases, and instead, it is almost exclusively used in business settings, in companies, and other types. You probably have never seen a Windows Server edition either, it is not commonly advertised, and its download and provision process is also rather different.
Windows Server Use Cases
With that said, what are the primary use cases of Windows Server? Learning these use cases may help you decide if you actually need a Windows Server instance if you are already pondering on whether you should download the program or not. Here are three of the main use cases of Windows Server that are either absent in Windows or are significantly more efficient on Windows Server.
Remote Access Server
While a normal version of Windows can also be used to perform basic tasks related to remote access servers such as a VPS, it is also important to note that normal Windows versions have a software-imposed cap on the amount of supported hardware that you can use as your server. For example, Windows does not allow you to implement more than 32 TB of RAM on your computer. If you are a large enough business that needs tons of RAM to effectively run a server, then this will be a major problem. But with Windows Server, the artificial caps are removed, and you can implement as much hardware as your heart desires.
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Enterprise Management Tool
Since Windows Server is designed for managing large business servers with many different operational aspects and quirks, it also comes with its own special Enterprise Management Software. This tool will make managing your server considerably easier compared to if you didn’t have it. With Windows Server’s Enterprise Management Tool, you can manage many different parts of your server, such as directories for domain services, certificates, federation services, network policies, remote access, web servers, and much more. You can pull most of these off with a normal Windows Version, but it’s much easier and time-efficient if you use this tool as part of the Windows Server.
Efficient Update Management
We are all familiar with the infamous Windows Updates that constantly pop up at the most improper times. In certain cases, Windows actually prevents you from doing anything else until you update it, and in other times you may have gone away for a brief second only to come back and see your Windows is updated. Since a sudden update can essentially shut down the server and severely hinder a business running on Windows Server, This version of Windows allows you to set policies on how the updates are to be treated.
Windows Server Versions
Windows Server was released all the way back in 1993, and since then, it has received 13 additional editions that are released. The latest Windows Server is Windows Server 2022. This version is preceded by the following 13 versions: Windows NT 3.1 Advanced Server, Windows NT Server 3.5, Windows NT Server 3.51, Windows NT 4.0 Server, Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003, R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2019.
While the norm suggests that the later versions are better and more optimized, there are certain features that may be better implemented in a previous version. So if your business server is going to depend on that specific feature, then it’s worth doing some research before picking your desired version.
How is Windows Server Different from Regular Windows?
Here are four of the main differences between normal Windows versions and Windows Server.
One of the main features that somewhat hampers a normal Windows’ ability to be an efficient server OS is its lack of an option to be run in a GUI-disabled environment. With Windows Server, you can toggle the GUI on or off in order to free up hardware or to manage the server.
With a normal Windows operating as a server OS, you get a maximum of 30 devices that can connect to the server, which is very low for a business. Windows Server, on the other hand, offers unlimited connections.
Since Windows Server has much more operational capacity and is an enterprise-level program, its license also costs a lot more. A normal Windows 10 Home edition will cost around $300, whereas a 2019 Windows Server will cost north of $6000.
Windows Server is a developer program for managing large servers, and as such, it has a much more bare-bones approach to quality-of-life features. Most of them, like Cortana, are missing in Windows Server editions.
Each Windows License can be pricey, so make sure that you are buying the right license for your server needs! Use Windows for small needs and Windows Server for larger servers.