Windows Server offers a great all-around solution for almost any server need
Updated April 23, 2021

Windows Server offers a great all-around solution for almost any server need

Geoff Johnson | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with Windows Server

We use Windows Server for our primary server operating system. It's primary used for our hypervisor as well as VM's. We use various Windows Server roles and functions such as AD, DNS, DHCP, file server, printing, web, and more. This allows us to have an easy to manage operating system that is centrally managed.
  • Hypervisor
  • Active Directory
  • DHCP
  • Ease of Deployment
  • Security Updates
  • Lengthy update times
  • DoH DNS Forwarders
  • More thorough update vetting
  • Security
  • Reliability
  • Longevity / Long End of Support Cycle
  • Hypervisor
  • AD DS
  • Ease of deploying new servers
  • Easy management of Windows workstations
  • Painless hypervisor cluster failover
We were comparing Windows Server with Hyper-V to VMware ESXi, and decided on Windows Server as we are primarily a Windows server/workstation shop, and the familiarity allowed us to spin up new Hyper-V servers quickly without much additional training required. We also have a Microsoft agreement and this allowed us to set up new hypervisors without needing to make additional purchasing of a different product.

Do you think Windows Server delivers good value for the price?

Yes

Are you happy with Windows Server's feature set?

Yes

Did Windows Server live up to sales and marketing promises?

Yes

Did implementation of Windows Server go as expected?

Yes

Would you buy Windows Server again?

Yes

If you're a Windows shop, or heavily use O365 and Office, Windows Server fits in nicely with its ability to manage Windows clients using Active Directory. Likewise, Active Directory and Exchange integrate well with O365. If you are primarily a Mac client enterprise, Windows Server is less appropriate. Using Windows Server as a hypervisor, regardless of workstation OS, is also a great use case.

Using Windows Server

750 - Primarily users use Windows Server due to their workstations being bound to Active Directory, use Windows DNS and DHCP, and security policies through GPOs. The majority of our users also use it for Windows file sharing for network shares and home directories. We have a smaller subset of users that use Windows Remote Desktop Gateway for various accounting platforms.
1 - I am the sole systems administrator for our organization. We have additional technicians who use their technical skills and knowledge of Active Directory, DNS, and DHCP to do occasional AD DS work like resetting passwords. For me, I have a thorough understanding of systems administration, multiple roles and features, and networking knowledge.
  • Workstation Management
  • DHCP
  • DNS
  • NPS
  • File deduplication
  • Powershell Commands
  • Improved NPS Customization
  • Remote Desktop Gateway for future applications
  • VPN Server
Windows Server is unbeatable in the features it offers, the ease of deploying new roles and features, and the seamless integration between multiple servers and their roles and features. We primarily use Windows workstations which work best with Windows Server for management as well.

Evaluating Windows Server and Competitors

  • Price
  • Product Features
  • Product Usability
Product features was the most important factor for us. We are a small IT department with a lot of devices and end users, and need a server OS platform that is robust, reliable, secure, and easy to manage. Windows Servers offers a platform for all of our server needs.
While we would look more closely at Linux OS's, I don't see ourselves seriously considering any other platform or vendor for our server operating systems other than a select few use cases. Windows Server has worked very well for us, and many of our evaluation criteria's were only matched by Windows Server.

Windows Server Implementation

Make sure that you have detailed processes in place for every server instance you plan to install/upgrade, if possible get the base OS loaded and Windows Updates applied ahead of time, and if using a VM take a snapshot prior to installing each role, as well as along the way.
Change management was minimal - I learned that a slow migration is better than trying to rush and get everything migrated all in one go. Many factors took significantly longer than anticipated, included the amount of time it takes to install the latest updates, how long it takes to install certain roles and features, and when something doesn't work it often led to us having to start from scratch.
  • Long update process
  • Long role and feature install time
  • Inability to quickly revert after installing a role

Windows Server Training

Windows Server was relatively easy to learn and use without official training. Microsoft has a vast expanse of tech articles and guides, along with thousands of other websites and blogs documenting how processes are done. Using both these resources, I was able to learn and implement everything I needed to.

Configuring Windows Server

I believe the configurability for Windows Server is just right. Windows Server offers a vast array of configuration options for most roles and features, and has a very robust PowerShell/CLI library to do almost anything you could need. For more advanced enterprises, there may be some limiting factors that other platforms offer, but that is not the case in our organization.
Review Microsoft's security and best practices guides and articles before configuring roles and features for Windows Server. Make sure you're reading up to date guides, as these change frequently.
No - we have not done any customization to the interface
No - we have not done any custom code
We have not done any additional customization or configuration.

Windows Server Support

Microsoft has poor support when you need something that can't be found online. For most issues, their knowledge base, tech net forum, etc. offer solutions to most problems. However if you have a specific situation that needs tech support, getting a hold of a knowledgeable rep is very difficult.
ProsCons
Kept well informed
Slow Resolution
Less knowledgeable
Escalation required
Difficult to get immediate help
Need to explain problems multiple times
Support doesn't seem to care
Slow Initial Response
We did not, as the price was too expensive for our historical needs for premium support. We can typically get our issues resolved using Microsoft knowledge base articles and Tech Net forum posts.

Using Windows Server

Microsoft does a great job at making their interface, roles, and features very use friendly. They have guides as you're setting up new roles, as well as when you are trying to configure roles for the first time. The interface is very intuitive and very little needs to be done via command line or other hidden means of configuration.
ProsCons
Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Well integrated
Consistent
Quick to learn
Convenient
Feel confident using
None
  • DHCP
  • DNS
  • Active Directory
  • AD FS
  • NPS
  • DFS-R / DFS-N
  • Group Policy