The Difference Between Windows Server and Windows | Avast

While Microsoft offers two products that appear to be similar, Microsoft 10 and Microsoft Server, the two perform different functions and offer different functionality. While one operating system is designed for everyday use with PCs and laptops, the other is suitable for managing multiple devices, services, and files through a server. Read our guide on the differences between the two, as well as the pros and cons of both.

What is Windows Server?

Windows Server is a line of operating systems designed specifically for servers. Each released version of Windows Server has a corresponding Windows version – the two operating systems share a code base.

It was released in April 2003, although Windows previously offered server versions of its products – Windows NT was designed for both workstations and servers.

Due to the nature of the product, Windows Server is primarily used in business environments. The product allows users to share files and services while providing administrators with control over networks, data storage and applications.

Windows Server is available in three editions:

  • Data center, as the name suggests, is ideal for data centers and cloud environments
  • The standard is designed for small-scale or low-virtualized physical environments
  • Essential is perfect for small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices.

What are the similarities between Windows and Windows Server?

As Windows and Windows Server are published to match, there are many similarities between the two, especially since they share the same code base.

When using Windows or Windows Server, your desktop will appear the same. You will have the same taskbar, the same icons on the desktop, and the same Start button. You can also perform many of the same functions on either operating system, as both will allow you to install many of the same software and programs.

Whether or not you are using a server-specific operating system, you should always use anti-virus to protect your network.

Key Differences: What Windows Server Offers

At first glance, the two systems seem very similar. However, there are far more differences than similarities between the two offerings, from specific Windows Server software to pricing. We’ll take a look:

More powerful

The enterprise grade product offers more powerful hardware to support a larger network. While Windows 10 Pro allows users to install 2TB of RAM – something most people wouldn’t be ready to use on their personal device – Windows Server provides up to 24TB of RAM.

Windows Server hardware can also handle more cores and processors – it has 64 CPU sockets compared to Windows 10’s two.

Does not require a graphical interface

To use Windows 10, you’ll need a graphical user interface (GUI) – an interface on your device that lets you navigate the operating system. This is not the case for Windows Server.

Although the server operating system does not require the use of a graphical interface, it is still an option. You can install the product in two forms: Server Core or Desktop Experience. Windows Server gives you the option of installing only the server roles that you need. This provides flexibility to the user, allowing you to manage your operations in the way that works best for you and reduce the Windows Server footprint.

If you choose to run Windows Server without a GUI, you can manage your system remotely from the command line using Windows PowerShell. In addition, you can use a GUI tool, such as RSAT Where Windows Admin Center.

Offers server specific tools

Because the operating system is designed for servers, Windows Server offers server-specific tools and software that you cannot find on Windows 10. Software such as Windows PowerShell and the aforementioned Windows Command Prompt come preinstalled in the operating system to allow you to manage your operations remotely.

In addition, Windows Server can support a range of user-friendly software designed specifically for servers, such as Active Directory and DHCP.

While some of these tools can be used on Windows 10, they may require third-party software. On the flip side, Windows Server lacks some of the more “fun” features found in Windows 10. As the system is designed for business use, it doesn’t include consumer tools like Edge, the Microsoft Store, or Cortana.

Higher connection limit

Windows 10 has a connection limit of 20 devices. This is not a problem if you are using the operating system for business purposes at home or in a small business. However, if you plan to use Windows 10 on a larger scale, that could become a hindrance.

Windows Server offers virtually unlimited connections, ideal for all sizes of business.

More expensive

Since Windows Server is mainly used for business purposes, the operating system is significantly more expensive than Windows 10. Its price varies depending on the edition you select.

In 2019, Windows Server was billed as follows:

Data center

$ 6,155


$ 972


$ 501

The price of Windows 10 was as follows:

Windows 10 Home

$ 139

Windows 10 Professional

$ 199.99

Windows 10 Professional for desktops

$ 309

Should I get a server or a desktop?

The choice between Windows Server and Windows 10 will depend entirely on your network. Think about how you will use the operating system: is it for personal or business use? How big is your business and how many devices need to be connected?

A data center, for example, will require server operating systems. However, if you want a commercial-use operating system for your home devices, Windows Server is not the best option. You would be paying for excess software and tools that you would probably never use.

If you run a business and want to cover a large network, Windows Server is the right choice. Windows 10 doesn’t have the power required in a business environment – even if you were to access the server-specific software you needed, you would still struggle with RAM and CPU sockets. The Windows Server family lets you select and pay for the services you need. So even if you are a SME installing your first server, there are still some tailored options that won’t break the bank, like the Essentials Edition.

Protect your servers

When running a business, you need to keep your network secure – servers included. Avast Business Antivirus Pro can secure your infrastructure. By using an encrypted code to protect against malware and viruses, Avast provides reliable next-generation defense.

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