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What Is Microsoft Server 2008?

When you choose a web hosting provider, one of the things you'll need to consider is your choice of server operating system (OS). While Linux remains the most common choice, Microsoft Windows Server has grown in popularity. Windows Server 2012 is the newest version, but Windows Server 2008 continues to enjoy widespread support.

Microsoft Windows Server 2008 provides the environment for all the other software and applications that run on the server hardware. These include Microsoft ASP and .NET for application development, MS SQL Server or MS Access for data storage, and Microsoft Exchange Server for email. Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) is the other and maybe the most important piece of software. It is the Microsoft equivalent of Apache Web Server and it allows Windows Server to provide Internet connectivity and web hosting.

Windows Server 2008 was announced on May 25, 2007, and it officially launched on February 27, 2008. It was the successor to Windows Server 2003, which was released five years earlier. On July 22, 2008, Microsoft released Windows Server 2008 R2. R2 increased security and productivity, and reduced administrative overhead.

Windows Server 2012 was introduced by Microsoft on September 9, 2011, but it did not become generally available until November 1, 2012. Windows Server 2012 R2 was released together with Windows 8 in October 2013. In April 2014, Microsoft released a service pack, which it named Windows Server 2012 R2 Update.

Why Choose Windows Server 2008?

The first question to ask yourself when choosing a host is which web hosting package you want to go with: Unix (typically Linux) or Windows? The answer to that question may not be what you think. Simply put, you will need Windows Server:

  • for anything that requires the .NET framework (anything written in ASP or ASP.NET)
  • if you are programming with Visual Basic (VB), ColdFusion or C#
  • if you already use any products in the Microsoft stack (for example Exchange) or you're working in SharePoint
  • if you have a preference for Microsoft SQL Server or Microsoft Access over MySQL
  • if you have legacy content built with Microsoft FrontPage (Microsoft will support FrontPage extensions until July 2015)

When Windows Server Won't Work

If you need to use PHP, CGI, Perl or Python, Linux is the better choice because it supports all these well. And even though you can install WordPress on a Windows server, it's not a good idea because help is in short supply. When you go with Linux, you have far more support and documentation available to help you resolve problems.

When it comes to databases, check with your hosting provider to see what it offers. Linux tends to use MySQL. Windows Server usually runs Microsoft SQL Server (and sometimes Microsoft Access).

Windows Server 2008 Technologies

Windows Server 2008 incorporates many technologies. These are some of the more important ones:

Active Directory Services- Windows Server Active Directory Services manages public key certificates, users, domains, user authentication, and digital rights.

Application Server - Windows Server Application Server is an integrated environment for server-based business applications built with Microsoft .NET. It supports applications that use COM+, message queuing, web services, and distributed transactions.

Networking - Windows Server Networking includes core technologies such as TCP/IP, SNMP, Telnet, DNS, DHCP, Windows Firewall, access authentication, connection management, and network diagnostics.

Security and Protection - Windows Server Security and Protection technologies include AppLocker, BitLocker Drive Encryption, Kerberos, Windows authentication, password management, and others.

IIS Web Server - Windows Server Internet Information Services is a unified web platform that includes IIS web server, ASP.NET, Windows Communications Foundation, and Windows SharePoint.

How Do I Install Windows Server 2008?

Installation and management of the operating system on the web hosting server is generally the responsibility of the hosting provider. And if you choose a shared hosting package (the most common type), you may never need or want direct access to the root files on the server. But if you use custom applications, want to manage the server's configuration, or need to activate an ASP.NET or other Microsoft component, you will need to know your way around Windows Server.

Points to Consider

Pros

  • It supports ASP.NET, Visual Basic, Cold Fusion, and C#
  • It is just as stable as Linux if it's managed properly by the host

Cons

  • If you like WordPress, support for WordPress on Windows is not easy to come by
  • Windows hosting is almost always more expensive than comparable Linux-based hosting plans
  • It does not support Apache

How Much Does Windows 2008 Cost?

Like all web hosting operating systems, Windows Server 2008 is included in the price of your hosting package. But be aware that Windows hosting is slightly more expensive than comparable Linux hosting packages and that you need to factor this into your monthly hosting budget. You may also want to talk to your hosting provider about compatibility issues. These issues may mean having to add other features or applications, which could add up to more costs.

The Verdict & Further Resources

Choose Linux hosting unless you have a specific reason to choose Windows.

Read more, and compare hosts that specialize in Windows & ASP.NET hosting.

Windows 2008 Frequently Asked Questions

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