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For a unit test server (TeamCity Agent) - is there any reason to choose old (and reliable?) Win2003 SP2 over Server 2008, assuming both are available and the machine is decent?

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10 Answers

up vote 18 down vote accepted

I can't think of any reason at all to choose Server 2003 over Server 2008 other than licensing costs. (as in, 2003 would be cheaper.)

Server 2008 has already had one service pack and is plenty mature. It also has a lot of fundamental improvements in IIS, the networking stack, etcetera.

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Depending on the licensing model, Server 2008 is actually cheaper in some situations since the 2008 Web edition can run most of what we used to use Server 2003 Standard edition for. Smaller edition = cheaper. –  Mark S. Rasmussen Apr 30 '09 at 8:25
2  
2003 isn't cheaper than 2008 in any volume. –  Richard Gadsden Apr 30 '09 at 10:02
    
I've been happy using Server 2008 and IIS 7. It takes a bit of adjusting to the way 2008 handles administration, but in general everything is just plain BETTER than 2k3. –  Wedge Apr 30 '09 at 19:46
    
It hasn't really had one service pack. When it was released it came with SP1 to keep it inline with Vista. It's only now (as of today) gotten SP2 (which is really it's first service pack). –  Ray May 27 '09 at 0:23
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Particularly for any kind of "agent" server, I would think the improved task scheduler in Windows Server 2008 alone is worthwhile.

In addition to running tasks on a schedule, you can run tasks:

  • On an Event (!!)
  • At Log On
  • At Startup
  • On Idle
  • At Task Creation / Modification
  • On Connection to User Session
  • On Disconnect from User Session
  • On Workstation Lock
  • On Workstation Unlock
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+1, the new task scheduler is one of my favorite improvements in 2k8. –  boflynn May 4 '09 at 11:33
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While I love W2K8 more than any other version of Windows there are some software products out there that aren't 'officially' supported running on it. If you need the comfort of fully support then stick with W2K3, otherwise I think you'll be delighted with the newer version.

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2003 will be out of support before 2008. For that reason alone (as well as lots of others) you should go to 2008.

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Clarification to Jeff: For technical reasons at Microsoft, when Server 2008 was released, it was decided that Server 08 and Vista SP1 would have the same codebase, as the server OS followed the desktop OS by nearly two years. Server 2008 had to have its service pack number listed as 1.

So an RTM version of Server 2008 will be listed as "Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 1".

This doesn't mean Server 2008 is less stable or less mature than it would be otherwise, especially now that SP2 is out.

Note that this is why Vista SP2 needs to have SP1 as a prerequisite--this is a first for a Windows desktop OS where SPs have included all earlier SP levels. Windows Server 2008 has the same service pack--and it is listed as SP2. It doesn't need a prerequisite.

Windows 7 and Server 08R2 are avoiding this by being released simultaneously with the same codebase.

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A couple reasons:

  • We have a Microsoft Dynamics component that's not supported on 2008 and won't ever be (despite being in very wide use in other companies). It'll take us awhile to find something else and migrate, by then 2008 will probably be out of date...

  • File sharing with older Windows boxen (think XP) and Macs is problematic. We randomly can/can't connect to Server 2008 file shares from those machines. Sometimes we can by IP, but not name. Sometimes we can't at all. Very random and not a problem from Vista or Server 2008 machines.

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We run dozens of XP machines with a mapped drive to a Server 2008 file share with zero issues whatsoever. There is no issue there - must be a local problem that you have. –  tomfanning May 19 '09 at 22:49
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At least one reason :

Getting TeamSystem Server 2008SP1 to work with 2008 is almost impossible (as of may 2008) while it will work fine on a 2003 box.

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In your case no there isn't a reason I can think of. Reasons I can think of though are hardware that isn't supported under Vista but is under XP, using software that won't run under 2008, and using your server to record tv shows is problimatic since the required librarys arn't included by default. The reason I included the last point was for people like me who run server as a primary OS.

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By running on Server 2008, you are testing the unit-test serving-platform. Arguably, stability is a virtue in a unit-test serving-platform, and it is reasonable to conjecture that, going forward, the number of patches for Server 2008 will be greater than the number of patches for Server 2003.

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One advantage of Server 2003 is, if you have volume license keys, it easier to burn-down and rebuild your server. You don't need to muck with online activation and use up MAK keys.

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Server 2008's VL activation is actually better than Server 2003's. You don't need to activate, you just need to have an active key server on the network to keep track of your consumed licenses. So this answer is wrong I'm afraid. –  Mark Henderson Jan 14 '12 at 4:30
    
"Have an active key server" is the key there . A lot of small shops won't. –  Kevin Dente Jan 16 '12 at 19:06
    
It takes about a whole 5 minutes to set one up, even if you've no idea what you're doing and are just following the technet instructions –  Mark Henderson Jan 16 '12 at 19:26
    
And to use a KMS server, you need to have at least 5 Windows Server 2008 machines (or 25 client machines) –  Kevin Dente Jan 16 '12 at 20:42
    
And I'm not sure why you would do VL if you had less than 5 or 25, because that's about where the price breaks even? –  Mark Henderson Jan 16 '12 at 20:48
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