Windows Servers come in different variations to cater to the unique requirement of different audiences and to fit the organizational goals of the target business. The server edition you have currently implemented depends on the license you are using. So, it’s possible to upgrade your license later and change the server edition.
Windows server version and edition and two different concepts. The former shows the year the particular Windows version was launched. These versions are available in several editions, including Essential, Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter, Foundation, and Advanced.
These editions are classified into retail and volume licenses. The retail license is for individuals requiring a Windows server edition for a single computer, while the volume license allows you to run it on multiple devices connected to the same network.
If you are wondering which server edition is perfect for your organization or how to choose the most reliable one, you are in the right place. We’ve curated this guide to help you understand the difference between different Windows server editions, the types of businesses they are designed for, their uses, and their functionalities.
Windows Server Editions Explained
Windows Server editions are just like any major purchase that comes in different varieties and price models. A vehicle, for instance, is offered in different types, colors, and functionalities. You can choose the one with a few seats or the car that can accommodate a joint family. This depends on your budget and requirements.
Likewise, windows server editions are packed with a host of features that can help small and large-scale companies to execute their core business operations seamlessly.
Supporting up to 8GB RAM and 8 CPUs, the Advanced edition was the first edition to be released in 2000. Later, new editions were launched with several add-ons and the latest security tools. Let’s take a look at the type of server editions windows offer.
The Foundation is a built-in server edition found in all operating systems. Since it is pre-installed on your device, you don’t need to buy a separate license for this. It is suitable for small businesses that need a windows server for a single device.
You can expect all core IT operations in this, including remote access, basic security, and file sharing. The Foundation Edition was primarily designed for IT service desks that required minimal security and an IT infrastructure that supported core business operations.
The Foundation edition allows only 15 users and supports a single processor with 32GB RAM. The edition is, however, no longer supported in the recent versions of Windows Server. It was discontinued after the 2012 edition. Back then, the Dell and HPE systems would come pre-installed with the Foundation edition.
Launched in the 2012 version of Windows Server, the Essentials comes with a pre-built Active Directory, Remote Desktop, DNS, and other basic IT tools that make IT management easier. It’s for small companies that require a volume license of a server edition that can streamline most of the IT tasks.
The Essentials edition of Windows server is the perfect solution for startups and small-scale businesses looking to streamline their IT infrastructure. Supporting 25 users and up to 50 devices, this edition works with two processors and supports 64GB of RAM, making it the most suitable option for small companies.
This edition is compatible with the Azure Virtual network, enabling businesses to take their business to the cloud and move the data to a secure place. It’s perfect for businesses that have hired remote employees that work completely remotely or in a hybrid setting.
The Standard edition supports all features offered by the Essentials and Foundation plans, except that you need to buy the license for this separately. The license will support two additional processors and up to 4 TB RAM. It’s highly advisable for virtualized environments that require virtual instances of the OS running on a single piece of hardware.
You can buy additional virtual instances for an extra cost. You can also integrate Standard with Azure to streamline your management operations. It’s best for small and medium-scale businesses that require a Windows server edition license for more than 50 people. Unlike previous editions, there’s no limit to the number of users you can add in Standard.
Launched with the Windows Server 2003, the Enterprise edition is for medium and large-scale corporations that need the most up-to-date IT infrastructure. Unfortunately, this edition is no longer supported. Microsoft discontinued the edition shortly after its release. It supported 8 processors and 64GB RAM, with additional features like hot reloading.
Datacenter is for businesses that need complete virtualized environments and advanced cloud integration support. Like Standard Edition, this one has a single Hyper-V host, but it offers unlimited VMs.
Network Controller is its best feature. Businesses can use it to control, manage, view, and even automate some basic virtualization functionalities. The edition offers security services that protect your virtualized environments.
Of all server editions, this one is the most reliable one for companies with growth plans. It scales with your business and offers seamless management of your network operations in virtualized environments. That being said, it’s also the most expensive of all editions listed above.
This is another Windows server edition that was released with the 2003 Windows Server and was discontinued in the 2008 server. The edition doesn’t need any license and is different from others in that it supports web applications, XML, web pages, and similar services.
Coming to the downside, the edition does not support Domain Controller. Many features that you get from Standard, Essentials, and Datacenter editions are also restricted in the Web variant.
Hope this post cleared your confusion regarding different Windows server editions and their uses. Microsoft introduces new settings for each server and discontinues outdated features. From the Advanced Edition that came pre-configured in Windows to the Datacenter Azure version that offers virtualized instances running on a single OS, these systems have come a long way.