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How is Windows Server different from regular Windows?

If Windows Desktop versions are cheaper than Server ones, when it is advantageous to use the former in servers? Is it legal?

EDIT I need it for build server agents, which uses only 2 connections tops. They don't use IIS or any server component. They will run on virtual machines.

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marked as duplicate by squillman, jscott, Iain, Ben Pilbrow, Chris S Apr 18 '11 at 17:09

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

@squillman I saved the question by making it different from existing questions. – Jader Dias Apr 18 '11 at 16:41
I think the same principles still apply, though. If your usage complies with licensing, if there are no technicaly limitations, etc... Same answer as the others. – squillman Apr 18 '11 at 16:48

Really, the only acceptable use of the server components on a desktop Operating Systems (IIS for example) is for development purposes, in my opinion. As for the legality, my stock response of Ask Microsoft applies.

There is a concurrent connection limit in client versions of Windows (10 I think) which don't exist in the server versions. That means if you have a "file server" running Windows 7, only 10 people will be able to simultaneously access it.

There's more to a server than the Operating System it runs. I assume if you're planning on running a client version of Windows, it'll go on a regular PC. These aren't designed as servers, and as such have no redundant components. Additionally, some applications check the version of the Operating System they are running on and refuse to install.

In short, don't do it - you'll end up regretting it when it all goes up the swanny.

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Edited the question to include my usage scenario. I realize that all the possible concerns you raised don't apply to my specific case. But is an excelent answer since the specification came later. – Jader Dias Apr 18 '11 at 16:37
I'm still not 100% sure on the legality though. It seems unlikely Microsoft would allow this, but again you'll need to check with them to be certain. – Ben Pilbrow Apr 18 '11 at 16:39
Grab the official license terms for an MS product:… – Chris S Apr 18 '11 at 17:11

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