Windows OS and Windows servers: what‘s the difference?

February 27, 2020

Regular computer users usually come in contact with the consumer-facing editions of Windows. That is the OS with the desktop and other applications that are a part of the overall system. What most people that don’t dabble in web hosting might not know is that Windows also publishes servers for their OS that can be run on Windows VPS respectively. They are mostly used in a business setting. Naturally, these have differences between them when it comes to several aspects.


Enterprise management software

The server looks like the normal version of Windows. They share the same code base, so it can also perform such functions as downloading and installing programs just like the regular OS. But because it’s intended for companies, there are more features and software meant for enterprises. Some of these additional tools are:

  • Active Directory. This user management service allows servers to act as domain controllers. It handles all account authentication, so you don’t have to log into a local computer.
  • DHCP. Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol lets a server to automatically assign an IP address to devices on the network.
  • File and Storage. You can store all the important information in one location for safekeeping. Additionally, hosting the server on a Windows VPS grants additional space and resources needed for data and overall performance.
  • Windows Update Services. Businesses get a special Windows Update controller. Through it, users can configure when certain updates are downloaded and installed.
  • Print services. This allows to map every printer throughout the office and configure them in one go.

These are useful as companies usually have several servers for each specific task. A single Windows one can handle them on its own.


Fewer hardware limitations

A server is crucial to powering the whole system and hundreds of workers rely on it every day. That’s why they have to be powerful, so big amounts of RAM are needed. Regular Windows OS allows to install up to 2TB of RAM, but the majority of users don’t have more than 32GB as most settle just on 8GB. On the other hand, Windows servers support much more RAM; with an appropriate Windows VPS plan you can add up to 64GB depending on your needs. Fewer memory limitations mean better performance.


Lack of extraneous features

While it possesses such OS features like administrative tools and the Command Prompt, this kind of server doesn’t have some of the features of Windows 10. It doesn’t include:

  • Cortana,
  • The Microsoft Store,
  • Microsoft Edge.

These consumer-facing tools aren’t put on the server as it’s meant for businesses. But the system is much more secure and restrictive than usual. For those that want additional protection, getting a Windows VPS might be the right option as it completely isolates the server. Supplementary management tools are available through various control panels.

Although the Windows server and the OS share a code base, they are intended for different uses. Regular Windows is used by the average consumer to run their computers while the servers are designed for corporate use. They have more enterprise features and fewer hardware limitations to ensure reliable service.