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Windows is the most popular operating system in the world and has been for quite a while. Every couple of years, Microsoft comes up with a new Windows with improved safety features, an improved GUI, and newer software in general.
However, this isn’t the only type of Windows OS that Microsoft makes. They also have a server line, the latest installment of which is Windows Server 2019. In this article, I will be outlining the characteristics and the differences between these two systems. But what are the main differences to start with?
The main difference between Windows 10 and Windows Server is that Windows 10 is meant for at-home, personal PC use, while Windows Server is a dedicated OS meant for running server systems.
I will go into more detail on the difference between these two and also what they are good for, so if you are looking for an OS for your business, or just trying to figure out what these mean, you are in the right place.
Read on for more info on these Windows OS-s!
Table of Contents
Let’s start out with the Windows 10 Operating System (OS), which is the #1 OS installed on PC-s worldwide.
According to Wikipedia, between 77% and 87.8% of all Operating Systems installed worldwide are Windows systems, with the Apple macOS accounting for around 10% only.
What is this staggeringly large percentage about? Why is Windows 10 the most popular, and what is it used for exactly?
As mentioned above, Windows dominates the OS niche by a large, large margin. Why is this? How come the Apple macOS, which is also very popular and seen as the major competition for Windows, not so popular?
There are a couple of simple reasons for this. One of them is that Microsoft was at the right place at the right time, doing the right business deals.
When Microsoft first launched Windows 1.0 in 1985, Apple’s macOS was nowhere to be seen, and it arrived at the party almost 20 years later, in 2001.
By this time, Microsoft has gained market dominance and has signed a number of contracts with large PC manufacturers to pre-load the machines with Windows OS.
This caused Windows to be the number-1 OS used worldwide, and also the OS that people associate with by default when thinking about PC usage.
Aside from early market dominance and contracts, which are the main reasons for its popularity, Windows is also easy to use and very versatile.
Of course, the reason it is very easy to use is partly that it is the norm, but the general look and feel of the OS is easier to interpret and use at home for most individuals.
Also, the main challenge that Linux and macOS, and other OS-s face, is the fact that people are quite simply used to Windows.
It requires one’s deliberate actions to change to another OS, and there is a learning curve, which people just don’t want to go through.
Basically, Windows 10 is the everyday PC-user’s Operating System. It is the fundamental piece of software on your computer (aside from BIOS) which provides a platform for, technically, anything. This can be work, gaming, hobbies, and more.
Windows 10 was one step in the process of unifying the Windows and the general OS experience across different devices. Windows 10 Mobile was also developed alongside Windows 10, in order to provide a similar, if not identical feel on both devices.
Windows 10 also receives regular updates and also has some features that Server systems lack, like Cortana or other programs which ease personal PC use.
Windows Server, though popular with smaller businesses, especially ones that have to do with IT, is not very well known. Most people are casual PC users, who have contact with Windows 10 or 10 Pro, and have never heard of Server.
For this reason, I will first go through some basic history of the program, and then talk about its characteristics and use.
Windows Server is a group of operating systems released by Microsoft since 2003, which cater to centralized networks, and thus business use mostly.
A server is a computer or a network of computers that provides data, resources, or a platform for clients or other computers, and Windows Server is the operating system developed by Microsoft for this purpose.
The most recent addition to this group of server operating systems is the Windows Server 2019, which has some major improvements compared to the 2016 version, which wasn’t a bad system already.
Security-wise, the Windows Server 2019 is better than the 2016 version by a pretty large margin. The latter used shielded VMs as its base for security systems, while the new version, the 2019 Server, can also run Linux VMs.
The basic security principle the new version works on is the “protect, detect and respond” attitude.
One of the most upfront and visible differences between Windows Server and Windows 10 is the pricing. As Server systems cater to businesses that want to create a centralized server system, often containing multiple PCs or even more complex machinery, the prices are also a lot higher up.
For a Windows 10 system, you will be looking at around 140-300 USD, which is not very cheap but is reasonable.
For a Windows Server, you will have to cash out anywhere from 500 USD to 6,200 dollars. Of course, the higher-end the system you want to create, the more the cost.
With Server, you have much easier access to some features that you can’t find on a Windows 10 system, such as Windows Deployment Services, Active Directory Domain Services, DHCP, and more.
With these, you can deploy operating systems remotely, or control and manage domains.
The main differences between Windows 10 and Windows server are quite simply that they are meant for completely different jobs and purposes. They are built differently, they are compatible with different hardware and serve different goals.
The Windows 10, as mentioned earlier, is your go-to, at-home PC OS, which is meant to provide the most seamless experience in using your PC or laptop for the regular things you would use a laptop for.
To talk a bit about specific differences, it helps to talk about the different hardware these OS-s are compatible with.
Windows 10, for example, is compatible with a RAM (Random Access Memory) capacity of up to 2 TB, while the Server can do up to 24 TB. Now, 2 TB or RAM is way too much for 99% of PC users and is more than unnecessary, but this comparison still shows the difference between these two systems and how they are meant for different purposes completely.
Windows Server often has to keep communication and data transfer, amongst a ton of other things, between multiple computers, perhaps do multiple tasks at once. For this, having such high RAM compatibility is not outlandish, it is reasonable.
When it comes to multi-tasking or just the solving and carrying out of more complex tasks, it isn’t even the RAM that does all the heavy lifting, but the CPU (Central Processing Unit). Here, you also have a substantial difference incompatibility.
Windows 10 Home edition supports one physical CPU only, while the Windows 10 Pro can support two. Windows Server, on the other hand, can have up to 64 sockets.
It can also handle a lot more cores, so much so that the cap for core number is listed as unlimited for the Server, whereas it is “only” between 32 and 256 cores for Windows 10.
As this article is one that compares Windows 10 and Windows Server, the question of which one is better naturally follows. The issue is that the answer is quite ambiguous, and is also very heavily based on personal preference and the intended usage.
The reason for this is that these two can’t even really be compared. It is like asking whether a lawnmower or a string trimmer is better. There is some compatibility, and with enough motivation, you can use them for most of the same tasks, but they aren’t meant for it.
However, I can still go through which one is better for what, exactly.
Windows 10 (Home or Pro) is much, much better for at-home PC use and your general web browsing, gaming, movie streaming, etc. It is somewhat smoother than the Server in my experience (when it comes to the GUI, but this could be due to other issues), but its main advantage is being the go-to base program for your PC, a jack-of-all-trades.
So if you are not looking to build a server base or perhaps don’t even know what Windows Server is, Windows 10 is definitely the better option for you.
However, if you want to create a server or a solid IT basis for your business, there are just a lot more options than you can choose from in a Windows Server OS. It is tailored to the specific tasks you will come across, so no wonder they will far outperform a Windows 10 in those settings.
As a personal side note, I would add that if I did have to choose, I would probably say that Windows 10 is better, and for one small reason.
Though it will never be as efficient, let alone powerful, to run servers and complete server-related tasks as the Server is, there are many programs you can actually download which can enable you to use your PC as a sort of low-end server.
Some people might consider buying Windows Server either for their business or because they might be thinking of setting up a business in the near future, and they are also in the process of choosing an OS.
The question is, is it possible to use a Windows Server OS as you would use a Windows 10 OS? After all, it is a server operating system, right?
Well, actually you can use a Server like you would use WIndows 10. They use the same kernel and the software is pretty much the same in many regards, especially when it comes to everyday tasks.
You can just as easily download browsers, apps, and other software onto your Server OS as you would on a Windows 10, which, again isn’t a surprise, seeing as Server is basically Windows 10 with a bunch of added, specialized features for server hosting or managing.
If you are willing and able to pay the price and are perhaps thinking about starting a business that would require a Server OS, the Windows Server is definitely a great choice, and you don’t have to worry about your PC turning into a complicated coding screen; it will look and feel really similar.