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difference between a server operating system and a non-server

Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-06

i dont understand, that what is so different in windows 2003 server(or windows NT Server or windows 2000 server) operating system and windows XP(or any such desktop operating systems - windows 2000 or windows 98)  ?

What a server operating system can do that a non-server os cannot do? - like just sharing the hard disk ???

if i have a machine with server operating system -say windows 2003 server and few other machines with windows XP then what kind of  networks can I create - a domain or a workgroup

Is it possible to go for multiple logins simultaneously on a server without having a local machine - i mean just using VNC?

Pl help.

Many thanks...
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Author of the Year 2011
Top Expert 2006
Two things that come to mind are unlimited connections to a server and RAM capacity.
There is also something about the 'kernel' bit-set, but I dis-remember what it is.

I'm sure there are many others.

Have you done a 'Google' search on the topic?


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Scott CSenior Engineer
A server does many things that a desktop OS does not.

1.  Manages user accounts and permissions.

2.  File and Print server

3.  Manages folders and permissions

4.  Runs server software  ie.  Exchange, SQL, SMS, etc.

5.  Can act as a terminal server.

In a small office you can get by with a pier-to-pier network, but when you get a larger office, you need a server to handle everything.

As young hv suggested Google and get more information.

Gerald NegrotaIT Professional
First ... Server and Client OS have diferent roles and "destinations".
A "server" give to clients services (Web, FTP, SMTP, FileSharing, Network Services, etc. SERVE , no?! ) or give services to other servers/devices ( DataBase Engine, ActiveDirectory Structure, AAAA Services, etc. ) . Sure, a Client OS could in limited way running some of this but not all of them ( for example: you cannot set an AD, only with WindowsXP ; Only 10 connections and a single WebServer in WindowsXP IIS Service; ...) .
More deep, the Client and Server OS are builded and compiled in a very different ways, are treating the devices, memory and interfaces different, and so on ...

About the second question, depends of what services you are running to Server, :) and here more details are welcome !
Servers centralize administation and just, in general, make life easier (as long as they work correctly).


The second part is asking about thinclient / terminal environments, which still requires a local machine to some extent, even if its just a dumb terminal.

Author of the Year 2011
Top Expert 2006

Who you calling dumb?

The Terminalator


i dont understand window's networks - technical part

Like i have a windows server operating system - say windows 2003 server, how can I use it in my network -
for e.g.

1. To share harddisk -  to give a separate network drive of particular memory to all the users connected( for eg Z:\ mapped to myusername$ on myservermachine) ?

2. share internet connection - i dont know how...

3. no more ideas...
Distinguished Expert 2019

server OS'es also have housekeeping software running, so that you do not need to reboot regularly.
In short: A server operating system is suitable to provide mass network services, while a client operating system is suitable to provide a workspace for users.

So, people work in client operating systems, but ... usually accessing/changing data on server operating system.

The main difference as you can see is in the roles each OS can play. It may vary depending on operating system (linux, windows) and its versions.

Windows Server platform can provide features like:

1) unlimited user connections
2) use of large amounts of memory
3) can act as web server, database server, email server and other server-like roles
4) optimized for network, instead of local application execution
5) extended management
6) extended fault tolerance to avoid downtimes
7) can hold a domain
8) expensive

Windows Client platform can provide features like:

1) running client applications faster, like Office, Photoshop, Games
2) easy access to web services, like email, browsing, searching
3) rich media services
4) easy to use for non-expert users
5) can work on a domain as a member (professional edition only - home edition cannot join a domain)
6) rich connectivity support (lan, wireless, bluetooth, etc)
7) cheaper than the server version

As you can see, there are clear differences between them. Server operating system is good to provide general server services to masses. Client operating system is good to sit down and work with your good Excel spreadsheet, play games and talk with friends on the Internet.

If you are going to implement a domain on your company, i would like to suggest you something. If you want to do the dirty job by yourself, take some Windows classes (maybe Windows XP and Windows 2003 courses) on a Microsoft's authorized education partner. If you want just to manage the implementation, you can take a general purpose course and just hire a company to do the job for you.
Gerald NegrotaIT Professional
The question "what I can do with this Server OS ?" comes after "What types of services I need from this network ?".
Example :
10 PC + 1 Server ; Internet connection ( static/dynamic IP )
OS : WindowsXP and Windows2003 ( or SBS2003 )
Available Services ( no additional installations ) :
- Internet Connection Sharing
- Mail Service ( SMTP/POP3 )
- File Sharing
- Print Services
- OS update
- Antivirus protection & update ( need 3rd party Antivirus Software ... some free/limited available )
- Remote Access
- (  ...  )

for sharing disk or internet connection, u'll not need server operating system. windows xp can do this.
servers are mainly meant for centralize management and uniformity.
you can apply uniform policies on all the PCs (i.e. domain) through the server
you may multiple logins simultaneously on a server but not without having a local machine as VNC also requires client. You can also use terminal services for this purpose but you will need terminal server licenses for multiple logons.


thanks to all of you...

pl send me any weblink that has such functional description of the server operating system - that would be useful to a programmer/systems general info - like what is a directory structure-activedirectory, etc ...-how domains are created, how can client connect to domain etc. - how a computer gets ipaddress from a domain - is that ipaddress same everytime user boots machine - or when it gets renewed?

rmrustice do u suggest any such useful link for windows server 2003 or 2000 server?

Gerald NegrotaIT Professional

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