Microsoft’s server products aren’t very popular with the online community, but they are still making billions of dollars every year from the enterprise sector. You’d think that those businesses are just rich corporations that have nothing else to spend their money on other than bad operating systems, web servers and and database applications, but you’d forget that millions of webmasters and developers also use Windows Server edition for work and for personal sites.
Despite the bad reputation it has got over the years, the current incarnation of Windows Server, named Server 2008 R2 and based on the marvelous Windows 7 is very, very good. It’s stable, it uses few resources (less than 512 MB RAM for the OS itself) it supports any advanced technologies you can think of and is very easy to manage.
People bashing Microsoft products have most probably never tried them and forget that MSSQL is the fastest database application on the market and that the IIS 7 web server can serve about twice as many concurrent users than Apache. Of course, all of these applications are not open source and that makes them hard to customize extensively, but not that many people actually do that, and for those that want to, there are a lot of extensions, plugins and various software that will improve a Windows-based server by a very high degree.
The quality of third party software is also very high (look for example at Automate 7 BPA Server automation tool – it’s easy to use and has a ton of features, while being constantly updated to solve any problems).
And you practically have to go with a Windows-based server if you want to run some serious ASP.NET applications. The ASP.NET language, created by Microsoft developers, is much more robust and also faster than PHP, Java and other web scripting languages. It’s used by a lot of professional sites, and in conjunction with MSSQL, delivers a lightning fast performance.
Also, another good reason for choosing Windows Server 2008 R2 over a Linux distribution is the Remote Desktop utility, which allows you to connect to and control your server as if it was right in front of you, and a 6Mbit download and 1Mbit upload speed is all you need for a perfect connection. This can be debated, as there are RDP tools for Linux, too, but they’re infinitely harder to set up for an average web master.
One more thing I have to say is please do not fall into the trap of getting Windows Server 2008 (without the R2 label). That is a completely bad server OS that eats resources and is slow as hell. The R2 is perfect, and eve 2003 is much better than the simple Server 2008 – it’s important that you know that difference.
Windows Server 2008 R2 is a great OS, and many hosting providers charge something like a $15 premium for a Windows installation as opposed to a Linux distribution, which isn’t that much considering what you get.