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Server-based operating systems vs. PC-based operating systems

Greg Schulz explains the differences between server-based operating systems and PC-based operating systems in this ATE response.

What are the differences between a server-based operating system and a PC-based operating system?
In some cases, the differences between a server-based and PC-based operating system can come down to what features are installed or omitted, where in other instances, the differences can be significant. For example, for a Windows-based platform, the desktop versions (Vista and XP), and the server-based versions share some common core technologies. However, the desktop versions have different features, and their services are turned on or off. Likewise, the server versions will have additional features turned on or enabled. Even across the server versions there are differences. For example, a Windows Storage Server-based storage system essentially runs Windows Server with specific storage-centric features turned on and optimized for functioning as a storage system instead of as a traditional Windows server.

Besides Microsoft versions of operating systems, Apple has its versions as well. The Mac desktop or notebook, the iPod and iPhone versions of operating systems have linkages to server-based operating systems, but they have different features turned on or disabled.

Linux and Unix are other versions of operating systems, and the list goes on. In some cases, the same basic or core technology can be used with differences between a desktop and server version, based on what servers are turned on or disabled. A PC or desktop will have more user interaction and interface tools enabled, whereas a server will have tools for hosting applications and users turned on.

This was first published in June 2009

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