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