Windows Server Versions List: A Comprehensive Guide for Devs

Hey Dev, are you in search of a detailed guide on Windows Server versions? Well, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into every version of Windows Server and their features. We’ll also discuss the differences between them and help you choose the right version for your needs. So, let’s begin!

Introduction to Windows Server

Windows Server is a server operating system developed by Microsoft Corporation. It is used to manage, control, and secure network resources, applications, and services. The first version of Windows Server was released in 1993, named Windows NT 3.1. Since then, Microsoft has released several versions of Windows Server, each with improved features and capabilities.

What is an Operating System?

Before we go any further, let’s first understand what an operating system is. An operating system is software that manages computer hardware and software resources, controls and monitors computer operations, and provides services for computer programs. Simply put, it is the backbone of a computer system.

What is a Server Operating System?

A server operating system is a specialized operating system that is designed to manage and run server hardware, applications, and services. It provides features such as file sharing, remote access, directory services, and web hosting. A server OS is optimized for running on server-class hardware and can handle a large number of users and applications simultaneously.

List of Windows Server Versions

Let’s take a look at the different versions of Windows Server that Microsoft has released over the years:

Version
Release Date
End of Support
Windows NT 3.1
July 1993
December 31, 2000
Windows NT 3.5
September 1994
December 31, 2000
Windows NT 3.51
May 1995
December 31, 2000
Windows NT 4.0
July 1996
June 30, 2004
Windows 2000 Server
February 2000
July 13, 2010
Windows Server 2003
April 2003
July 14, 2015
Windows Server 2008
February 2008
January 14, 2020
Windows Server 2008 R2
July 2009
January 14, 2020
Windows Server 2012
September 2012
October 10, 2023
Windows Server 2012 R2
October 2013
October 10, 2023
Windows Server 2016
September 2016
January 11, 2022
Windows Server 2019
October 2018
January 9, 2024

Windows NT 3.1

Windows NT 3.1 was the first version of Windows Server. It was released in July 1993 and was designed for workstations and servers. It introduced the concept of an object-oriented operating system with an integrated development environment. It also had features such as preemptive multitasking, support for up to 4GB of RAM, and support for 32-bit applications.

Although Windows NT 3.1 is no longer supported, it was a significant milestone in the evolution of server operating systems.

Windows NT 3.5

Windows NT 3.5 was released in September 1994, just over a year after the release of NT 3.1. It had several new features such as support for the PowerPC architecture, improved hardware support, and improved performance. It also introduced the concept of a domain-based network, which allowed administrators to manage resources and users more efficiently.

Windows NT 3.5 was a significant step forward for server operating systems and laid the foundation for future versions of Windows Server.

Windows NT 3.51

Windows NT 3.51 was released in May 1995 and was an incremental update to NT 3.5. It had several new features such as support for Plug and Play hardware, support for 64-bit file systems, and improved performance. It also introduced Microsoft’s first web server, Internet Information Server (IIS) 1.0.

Windows NT 3.51 was a significant improvement over its predecessors and paved the way for the development of web servers and other internet-based technologies.

Windows NT 4.0

Windows NT 4.0 was released in July 1996 and was designed to be the first fully 32-bit version of Windows Server. It had many new features such as support for Plug and Play hardware, support for FAT32 file systems, and improved performance. It also introduced Microsoft’s first Active Directory service, which allowed administrators to manage resources and users more easily.

Windows NT 4.0 was a significant milestone in the evolution of server operating systems and laid the foundation for future versions of Windows Server.

Windows 2000 Server

Windows 2000 Server was released in February 2000 and was a major upgrade from Windows NT 4.0. It had many new features such as improved Active Directory services, support for Kerberos authentication, and support for Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) networking. It also introduced the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), which made it easier for administrators to manage resources.

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Windows 2000 Server was a significant improvement over its predecessors and was one of the most popular versions of Windows Server.

Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2003 was released in April 2003 and was a major upgrade from Windows 2000 Server. It had many new features such as improved Active Directory services, support for IPv6 networking, and support for Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS). It also introduced the Security Configuration Wizard (SCW), which made it easier for administrators to secure their servers.

Windows Server 2003 was a significant improvement over its predecessors and was widely used in enterprise environments.

Windows Server 2008

Windows Server 2008 was released in February 2008 and was a major upgrade from Windows Server 2003. It had many new features such as improved Active Directory services, support for Server Core installations, and support for Network Access Protection (NAP). It also introduced the Windows PowerShell command-line interface, which made it easier for administrators to automate tasks.

Windows Server 2008 was a significant improvement over its predecessors and was widely used in enterprise environments.

Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows Server 2008 R2 was released in July 2009 and was an incremental update to Windows Server 2008. It had several new features such as support for RemoteFX, support for DirectAccess, and support for Dynamic Memory. It also introduced the Active Directory Recycle Bin, which made it easier for administrators to recover deleted objects.

Windows Server 2008 R2 was a significant improvement over its predecessors and was widely used in enterprise environments.

Windows Server 2012

Windows Server 2012 was released in September 2012 and was a major upgrade from Windows Server 2008 R2. It had many new features such as improved Hyper-V virtualization, support for Storage Spaces, and support for RemoteFX over WAN. It also introduced the Server Manager Dashboard, which made it easier for administrators to manage their servers.

Windows Server 2012 was a significant improvement over its predecessors and was widely used in enterprise environments.

Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows Server 2012 R2 was released in October 2013 and was an incremental update to Windows Server 2012. It had several new features such as support for Work Folders, support for Automatic Virtual Machine Activation (AVMA), and support for Tiered Storage Spaces. It also introduced the Start screen, which made it easier for administrators to navigate and manage their servers.

Windows Server 2012 R2 was a significant improvement over its predecessors and was widely used in enterprise environments.

Windows Server 2016

Windows Server 2016 was released in September 2016 and was a major upgrade from Windows Server 2012 R2. It had many new features such as improved security, support for containers, and support for Nano Server installations. It also introduced the Windows Subsystem for Linux, which allowed administrators to run Linux applications natively on Windows Server.

Windows Server 2016 was a significant improvement over its predecessors and was widely used in enterprise environments.

Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 was released in October 2018 and was a major upgrade from Windows Server 2016. It had many new features such as improved security, support for hybrid cloud deployments, and support for Kubernetes orchestration. It also introduced the Windows Admin Center, which made it easier for administrators to manage their servers.

Windows Server 2019 was a significant improvement over its predecessors and is widely used in enterprise environments.

Choosing the Right Version of Windows Server

Choosing the right version of Windows Server depends on your organization’s needs and budget. Some factors to consider include:

Number of Users

The number of users you need to support will dictate the version of Windows Server you need. If you have a small business with a few users, Windows Server Essentials may be sufficient. However, if you have a large enterprise with many users, Windows Server Datacenter may be necessary.

Virtualization Needs

If you plan to use virtualization extensively, you’ll need a version of Windows Server that supports it. Windows Server Standard and Datacenter both support Hyper-V virtualization, while Windows Server Essentials does not.

Security Requirements

If you have strict security requirements, you’ll need a version of Windows Server that supports the latest security features. Windows Server 2019 has significant improvements over older versions in terms of security.

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Hardware Requirements

The hardware requirements for each version of Windows Server vary. Make sure you check the hardware requirements before choosing a version.

FAQ

1. What is the difference between Windows Server Standard and Datacenter?

The main difference between Windows Server Standard and Datacenter is the number of virtual machines you can run. Windows Server Standard allows for two virtual machines, while Windows Server Datacenter allows for an unlimited number of virtual machines.

2. Can I upgrade from Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2019?

No, you can’t upgrade directly from Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2019. You’ll have to upgrade to a newer version of Windows Server first, such as 2012 or 2016, before upgrading to 2019.

3. What is the end of support date for Windows Server 2012?

The end of support date for Windows Server 2012 is October 10, 2023.

4. What is the Windows Admin Center?

The Windows Admin Center is a web-based tool that allows administrators to manage their Windows Server environment from a single console. It provides features such as server management, Hyper-V management, and storage management.

Conclusion

Windows Server has come a long way since the release of Windows NT 3.1 over 27 years ago. With each new version, Microsoft has introduced new features and capabilities to meet the evolving needs of organizations. Whether you’re running a small business or a large enterprise, there is a version of Windows Server that will fit your needs. We hope this guide has been helpful in understanding the different versions of Windows Server and their features.