Windows Server Windows 10
3 min

What is the difference between Microsoft Windows and Windows Server?

3 min

Windows is available from Microsoft in desktop and server versions. Although Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 appear similar at first glance, they serve different purposes. While Windows Server manages several PCs, files, and services in the commercial setting, Windows 10 thrives in daily usage.

Windows Server vs Windows 10

If you load a clean copy of Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, you could easily confuse the two at first. They may have the same desktop, the same start button and even the same task display button. They use the same kernel and can run the same software. For example, you can install Google Chrome or Microsoft Office on both. But the similarities stop there. Microsoft has designed Windows 10 to be used as a desktop computer that you sit at, and Windows Server as a server (it's exactly there in the name) that performs services that people can access over a network. Although Windows Server has a desktop option, Microsoft recommends installing Windows Server without a graphical user interface (or eliminating it), leaving only a command line that reduces the overhead needed for the server to run. This includes a push to choose Nano Server, which means that the GUI and local login options drop in exchange for using much less space than the standard Server installation.

The programme "Server Manager"

If you have enabled the GUI, the Server Manager program of the server starts after loading Windows Server with the first clear difference between the two operating systems. Here you can add server-specific functions, such as Windows deployment services, DHCP services and Active Directory domain services. These features allow you to remotely deploy an operating system to other machines, create a static IP address for client machines, manage a network domain to connect other computers to a domain, and create domain users. Features like these are not available for Windows 10, although you could install third-party software, such as the Apache web server. Windows Server also supports features like SMB Direct for faster file sharing, plus support for the Resilient File System, the only way to get similar features without Server is to use Windows 10 Pro for workstations. Servers are designed to work together, so you can have one server performing one or two of the above functions and another server taking on other functions to distribute the work.

Windows Server 2022 banner

Hardware support

Windows Server also supports more powerful hardware. While Windows 10 Pro has a maximum limit of 2TB of RAM, Windows Server allows 24TB. A desktop user is unlikely to consider such a large amount of RAM, but servers can make good use of their larger RAM capacity, between managing many users, computers and potential virtual machines via Hyper-V. Windows 10 also has a limit on processors. Windows 10 Home edition only supports one physical CPU, while Windows 10 Pro supports two. Server 2016 supports a maximum of 64 sockets. Similarly, a 32-bit copy of Windows 10 only supports 32 cores and the 64-bit version supports 256 cores, but Windows Server has no limit on cores. To get a little closer to these options, you should use Windows 10 Pro for Workstations, which supports 4 CPUs and 6TB of RAM.

Windows 10 is the trusted desktop experience

While Windows 10 lacks server-specific features, it makes up for it in other areas. Windows 10 updates arrive faster and more frequently, it has features like Timeline and Cortana that are missing from Windows Server. Installing new software, especially downloaded from the Internet, requires few hurdles to jump through and your preferences come from one machine to another if you sign in with a Microsoft account. In addition, Windows 10 has other features, such as progressive web apps and the Windows subsystem for Linux. Some of these features rely on the Microsoft Store, which Windows Server does not have access to.

Windows 10 & Windows 11 Softtrader

What is the best Windows option for me?

If you are considering a Windows operating system for your PC, your best choice is Windows 10. The functions of this operating system are tailor-made for home use. But if you want a Windows operating system to provide other computers, at home or at work, a file server or a web server, then Windows Server is the obvious choice.

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