Microsoft provides different versions of Windows Server 2008 R2, structured in tiers of feature availability. Each edition is designed to meet the needs of different applications. Below is a general overview of the features and highlights of each Windows Server 2008 edition.
Windows Web Server 2008 R2 Edition is designed to be used as a single purpose public-facing Web server. It is fully integrated with IIS 7.0, ASP.NET, and the Microsoft .NET Framework, and provides easy configuration tools for the setup of databases, nameservers, and other Web server components. Although designed to provide a basic platform for Web-facing deployments, Web Edition is not limited in its capacity to run other applications, and can facilitate the same range of applications that could be used on a standard desktop Windows environment (e.g. Windows 7 Professional).
+ Ready-to-go with IIS, ASP.NET, and Microsoft .NET+ Supports all standard Windows applications+ Up to 50 Network Access Service Connections (RRAS)+ Up to 250 Terminal Server Connections+ Includes Basic Media Server Functionality
Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter Edition provides the highest level of scalability. It is optimized for large-scale virtualization platforms, and for workloads that require maximum reliability and availability to support large, mission-critical applications. Datacenter Edition provides unlimited virtualization use rights and a hypervisor-based virtualization technology, as well as tools necessary to manage the memory and processing needs of large-scale, business-critical workloads such as ERP, databases, server consolidations, and custom applications. It can perform identically to Web, Standard, and Enterprise editions, while going beyond to guarantee the highest possible level of stability.
+ Supports all standard Windows applications+ Support for Unlimited Virtual Images+ Hot-swapping CPU and Memory hardware+ Node Failover Clustering+ Cross-file RDC+ Fault Tolerant Memory Synchronization+ Advanced Identity Management Features+ Unlimited Network Access Service Connections (RRAS)+ Unlimited Terminal Server Connections+ Includes Full Media Server Functionality
Standard Edition features enhanced Web server capabilities, and also includes Mincrosoft Hyper-V virtualization functionality, which is excluded from Web Edition. With expanded tools and greater capacity for certain server components, Standard Edition is designed to economically increase the flexibility and extensibility of a server by providing tools to streamline configuration and management tasks. Standard Edition includes a robust feature set suitable for most applications, but may not include the upper limits of Enterprise and Datacenter editions that some services require.
+ Supports all standard Windows applications+ Support for Host + 1 VM Hyper-V Deployments+ Support for a wider range of Web software configurations+ Up to 250 Network Access Service Connections (RRAS)+ Up to 250 Terminal Server Connections+ Includes Basic Media Server Functionality
Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise includes the same functionality of Standard Edition, while also providing high availability services for mission-critical applications such as databases, email systems, and file and print services. Enterprise includes extra features as failover clustering, the Server Core installation option, and advanced Hyper-V virtualization options.
+ Supports all standard Windows applications+ Support for Host + 4 VM Hyper-V Deployments+ Hot-swapping CPU and Memory hardware+ Node Failover Clustering+ Fault Tolerant Memory Synchronization+ Cross-file RDC+ Advanced Identity Management Features+ Unlimited Network Access Service Connections (RRAS)+ Unlimited Terminal Server Connections+ Includes Full Media Server Functionality
For most basic applications and uses, Web Edition will be adequate. If you require advanced management and capacity for Server Roles and Features, the Standard or Enterprise editions may be more appropriate. It’s worthwhile to note that many dedicated server hosts offer Datacenter edition at a lower price than Standard or Enterprise, and that choosing Datacenter edition over the others will not result in any loss of functionality or compatibility. Datacenter Edition is the most fully-featured, and will include access to all Windows Servers features without limitations, plus extra functionality designed for high-performance, high uptime production servers.
If you are unsure which edition will provide the best feature set for you application, ask your Windows dedicated server host. They will be able to recommend the best track to deployment while considering your needs and their capabilities.