Although it is ideal for a PC with a Windows Desktop-family operating system to be hosted on a server that is operating with any of the Windows Server family of operating systems, it is not necessarily true that you need Windows Server for it. A Windows PC with a Windows Server is an ideal match-up as both are designed, crafted and developed by the same company, Microsoft, and as such shares the same architecture. Fact is that, although operating systems are designed to run on any infrastructure, first and foremost it is designed to serve a specific purpose which means that although the Windows Server-family can and may run on any other PC, it is intended and is designed to run of Windows PCs. As such, being designed for Windows PCs means that Windows Server is the ideal server operating system for any Windows PC.
However, it does not necessarily mean that Windows PCs cannot run other server operating systems. Windows is a versatile platform and has the ability to run other operating systems. Aside from its versatility, a good number of applications and software are now available, either freeware and licensed, to make the running of another operating system a reality.
On another point of view, there may be cases where the Windows operating system of your PC is powerful enough to serve your server needs which means that you need not install a separate Windows Server operating system at all. Typically, your PC’s operating system should have been different with your server operating system but if you are running on a Windows 7 or Windows 8 operating system and your need for a server is only for a small-scale level, say within an office only, chances are that your PCs operating system is more than sufficient to serve your server needs. But if you need a server for a large-scale, enterprise-level hosting, then you do need a separate server operating system, in this case, a Windows Server is recommended for your Windows PC.
What are the basic features of the latest release of Windows Server, the Windows Server 2012 R2?
Windows Server 2012 R2, released on October of 2013 and is the server version of Windows 8 brings along with it a lot of features that should be beneficial to its users. Some of these features are as follows:
- Windows Server 2012 R2 has Tiered Storage Spaces providing greater performance and scalability as well as allowing a mix of SSD and HDD in a single space.
- It’s in-box iSCSI target is able to leverage VHDX, allowing larger LUNs.
- It allows better granular balancing of flowlets, for better utilization of available resources and best performance via its Dynamic NIC Teaming.
- Windows Server 2012 R2 has a built in Site-to-Site Virtual Private Network gateway.
- The IPAM support for virtualized environments enables it to provide consistent IP management experience.
- Its new PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) extensions ensure that components of the data center have the correct configuration.
- It enables its users to have access to their data through replication of all user data to corporate file servers with its new Work Folders. The same technology also automatically encrypts data providing additional security as well as removes the corporate data of un-enrolled devices.
- Windows Server 2012 R2 has the ability to graphically create a 3-way mirrored virtual disk on its storage space.
- It has a Thin Provisioning feature in its Windows Storage System which allows clients start small and let your storage grown as needed thus reducing storage waste as well as effectively eliminating wasted and unused storage spaces.
- Windows Servers 2012 R2 is easy to deploy, use and manage.
- It has Diskless Boot feature which allows clients to boot across the network, eliminating the need for hard disk space within the server saving much needed storage space and ease in management.
- It uses Hyper-V, which supports importing and/or exporting virtual machines (VMs) between Windows Server and can handle live migrations.
In case I opt to use my Windows 8 OS, what server features are included in it?
Technically, the Windows 8 operating system of your PC cannot compete and is not built to compete with Windows Server 2012 R2 in terms of features. However, your Windows 8 does have some powerful server features that can be sufficient enough for small scale server needs, especially for smaller workgroup networks. The server features that are included in the Windows 8 OS are as follows:
- File sharing and printer sharing capabilities – Windows 8 allows the sharing of files and printers in the network. This feature is very useful especially for offices that do not have a network-attached storage server.
- VPN Server – Windows 8 allows users to remotely access files even when away from the office through the incoming VPN support.
- Web Server – Clients can simply turn the IIS component of the OS on to enable a web server.
- Hyper-V – A feature similar to the virtualization feature that is offered in the Windows Server editions. It supports importing and/or exporting virtual machines (VMs) between Windows Server and can handle live migrations.
Do I need a Windows Server for my Windows PC or is my Windows 8 sufficient enough?
The answer to the question lies on how large is your need for a server. If you are in need of an enterprise-level server for a large scale hosting, then you need a Windows Server. But if it is only needed to provide for the needs of a small workgroup network, then Windows 8 will be sufficient for you.