Understand the differences between Windows NT Server platforms

Have you forgotten the differences between the various Windows NT Server platforms? Brien Posey's here to fill you in.

If you’re a little confused about the differences between the various versions of Windows NT Server, you’re not alone. Our readers frequently ask us to clarify version differences. In this article, we’ll discuss which versions of Windows NT Server are available and examine the differences between them.

Windows NT Server
Windows NT Server is the basic 32-bit Windows server platform. It offers a robust security structure along with basic file and print services. It’s also designed to accommodate the various members of the BackOffice suite of server software. Windows NT Server is the basis of Windows NT Server Enterprise Edition and Terminal Server Edition.

Windows NT Server Enterprise Edition
While Windows NT Server is intended for small to midsize businesses, Windows NT Server Enterprise Edition is intended for large corporations. The advantage of Enterprise Edition is that it’s designed to allow clustering. Clustering is a technology that enables multiple servers to work together as one, so they can distribute the workload.

For example, suppose you have a Web site running on a single server. That server could easily become congested if too many people are visiting the site. However, if you’re hosting the same site on a group of clustered servers, a congested server could simply pass off some of its workload to another server that’s not as busy.

Another benefit of clustering is that you can perform maintenance without interfering with production. You can easily remove a single server from a cluster group, perform maintenance, and add it back to the group. While it’s out of the cluster, the other servers will pick up the slack.

This capability is also handy from a fault tolerance standpoint. If any server in a cluster group has a hardware failure, the other servers are smart enough to detect the problem and take over for the failing server.

Windows NT Server Terminal Server Edition
Windows NT Server Terminal Server Edition is intended to allow computers that aren’t capable of running 32-bit Windows operating systems to do so. This is done through terminal emulation. The legacy computers run a thin client that allows them to connect to the terminal server. Once connected, all software actually runs on the server. The client PC merely receives screen refreshes. Terminal Server Edition works similarly to the way that a mainframe works. All of the software runs on the mainframe, but screen updates are passed to each dumb terminal that’s connected.
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