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I can run IIS on a normal installation, what is so different about windows server?

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The license agreement. – Evan Anderson Jul 8 '10 at 17:58
up vote 26 down vote accepted

Several key areas:

  • Amount of memory supported
  • Number of processors supported
  • Number of network connections may be greater than 10
  • Some apps do an OS version check, and they won't install unless it's the proper server version (as previously mentioned)
  • By default, the server OS is configured to give priority to background apps/services and the client OS is configured to give priority to foreground apps. This can be configured, however.
  • There are some services (Microsoft created) that are only permitted to run on the server OS (DNS, DHCP, Active Directory, PKI, etc.) as previously mentioned.
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This is probably the best/most complete answer so far. – mfinni Jul 8 '10 at 18:12
Some apps do an OS version check and won't install if it is a server. iTunes, for example. – Richard Gadsden Jul 23 '10 at 9:59
True, Richard. Zune software is the same way. There's a way to hack it, but it's not any fun. – K. Brian Kelley Jul 23 '10 at 13:30
Is the connections a limit is ISS? Or in the OS itself? Is it possible to use apache with more then 10 connections instead of ISS? – James T Jun 17 '11 at 14:55
@Bubby4j: I think they 10 "network connections" actually refers to an IIS limitation. There's no OS limitation that prevents you from accepting 100 or more TCP connections in the same machine (or even process for that matter). – André Caron Sep 20 '13 at 17:11

Number of connections, see here, it can be gotten around. Performance maybe, since Windows desktop OS's are optimized for foreground apps, i.e. all those Notepads, IE's, etc, where server OS's are optimized for services.

In short, it's fine for development and testing, but not recommended for serious production.

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Some software like SQL Server Enterprise Edition, Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server are server products that will specifically run on Windows Server.

Also, it can do DNS, DHCP, VPN, Print Server, etc.

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I believe you're limited to 10 connections and 1 website with IIS on a desktop version of Windows.

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