I'm considering replacing a dedicated windows web server server I run for several clients - the server is hosted at an ISP, and I currently I have a Windows 2003 standard server with SQL Server 2000 standard edition installed. There is a very limited amount of other software, including

  • A third party SMTP server
  • PHP
  • ScriptFTP (automatic ftp for backups)

The server is accessed by remote desktop. It's getting a little long in the tooth now - just 1Gb ram - but there's been no significant performance issues. The server runs one moderate use/visibility public webservers, a couple of server based application sites (using PHP/SQLServer) and a dozen or more very low traffic sites.

The ISP, who I'm pretty happy with, is now offering a higher spec machine for about 30% less than I'm paying, with the exception that the OS would be Windows Web Server 2008 x64. I've no experience with this edition but from Microsoft's spec it would seem ok. Can anyone tell me -

  1. Are there any significant restrictions with the web edition I should be aware of?
  2. Would there be any issue installing SQL Server 2005 standard x32 on the server?
  3. Any problems with PHP - or other software?

The temptation to reduce costs and increase spec is significant, but the web edition restriction is an unknown.


There are some restrictions from both a licensing perspective and a technical perspective. The basic licensing restriction is that whatever is installed must be used for your web sites that are in use on that machine. So for example, the SQL Server you install can only be used by the web sites on the server, not by sites on other systems. The SMTP server can only be used to send emails from the sites on the system, not by other servers, etc.

From a technical perspective, the 3 big limitations I can think of (that probably don't affect your use case) are:

  • limited to 10 open file shares at a time
  • no terminal services installation (you can use remote desktop administrative services)
  • cannot be a hyper-v host

Here is the Microsoft licensing information for Web edition: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/licensing-web-server.aspx

And here is the list of technical limitations (compared to other editions): http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/r2-compare-specs.aspx

I'm certainly no licensing expert but your use case seems to fit into the web edition model.

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