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Windows Server 2016 Essentials vs Standard: A Comprehensive Comparison

Introduction:

Significant improvements in cloud integration and simplified management for hybrid settings were brought about by the release of Windows Server 2016. This article compares the Windows Server 2016 Essentials and Standard editions out of the three available editions (Essentials, Standard, and Datacenter). We hope to assist you in selecting the ideal edition for your particular context by exploring their features, restrictions, and important distinctions.

Windows Server 2016: A Summing Up

On October 12, 2016, Microsoft unveiled Windows Server 2016, a version of their operating system designed specifically for cloud computing. While offering cutting-edge server capability to accommodate shifting business demands, it makes the migration of on-premises workloads to the cloud simpler. With a variety of features and editions to meet different demands, this release makes it possible to create secure, high-performance, and adaptable production environments.

Changes to Licensing in Windows Server 2016:

The switch from processor-based licensing to core-based licensing in Windows Server 2016 is one notable change. This change supports mixed installations and enables more uniform licensing across settings. Options for licensing include:

licensing each of the server’s actual cores.
licensing a minimum of 16 physical cores on each physical server.
licensing a minimum of 8 physical cores on each physical processor.
access to core licenses in a 2-pack for further flexibility.
Upgraded and new features:

Several updated and new features are included in Windows Server 2016 including:

Nano Server for deployments that are lightweight.
Containers for Windows Server to isolate applications effectively.
For directory management, use Active Directory Domain Services.
Identity management with Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS).
Operating System Environments (OSEs) for virtualization using Hyper-V containers.
Storage Rooms For extensive storage capabilities, use Direct and Storage Replica.
For automation and scripting, use PowerShell 5.0.
Virtual machines with shields for increased security.

Windows Server 2016 hardware requirements are as follows:

Understanding the minimal hardware requirements for installing Windows Server 2016 is crucial before comparing the editions. 

A 1.4GHz 64-bit processor, 512MB of RAM for Server Core mode or 2GB for GUI mode, 32GB of disk space, a 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Adapter, and a DVD drive for OS installation from media are the specifications that apply to all editions. Additionally required is a display with a resolution of at least Super VGA (1024 x 768).

A Detailed Comparison of Windows Server 2016 Essentials and Standard:

Let’s now compare the Windows Server 2016 Essentials and Standard editions specifically. These editions offer unique features and restrictions that appeal to certain user circumstances.

 Windows Server 2016 Essentials :

Small businesses are the target audience for Windows Server 2016 Essentials, which offers a practical option. It can support up to 25 users and 50 devices, making it perfect for environments with light production workloads. This edition provides extensive features without the hassle of Client Access Licenses (CALs), acting as the first or main server for SMBs.

FeatureWindows Server 2016 Essentials
Virtualization rightsZero, 1 physical or 1 virtual installation
LicensingCPU-based
CALsCALs not required (up to 25 users and 50 devices)
RAM limit64 GB
CPU limitMaximum 2 CPUs
PricingStarting at $501 (actual customer prices may vary)

Windows Server 2016 Standard :

Small to medium-sized businesses can benefit from the full-featured server OS offered by Windows Server 2016 Standard version. It serves as a platform for server programs like Exchange Server or SQL Server (needs separate purchase) and can be deployed for physically deployed or minimally virtualized server environments.

FeatureWindows Server 2016 Standard
Virtualization rights2 Operating System Environments (OSEs) or 2 Hyper-V Containers
LicensingCore-based
CALsCALs required for every user or device
RAM limit24 TB
CPU limitUp to 512 Cores
PricingStarting at $882 (actual customer prices may vary)

Additionally, as shown in the table below, distinct server roles are offered by Windows Server 2016 Essentials vs. Standard editions.

Server RoleWindows Server 2016 EssentialsWindows Server 2016 Standard
Active Directory ServicesAutomatically installedAutomatically installed
Active Directory Domain ServicesAutomatically installedAutomatically installed
Fax ServerAutomatically installedAutomatically installed
Remote AccessAutomatically installedAutomatically installed
Network Policy & Access ServicesAutomatically installedAutomatically installed
Web Server (IIS)Automatically installedAutomatically installed
Active Directory Federation ServicesIncludedIncluded
Active Directory Lightweight Directory ServicesIncludedIncluded
Active Directory Rights Management ServicesIncludedIncluded
Application ServerIncludedIncluded
DHCP ServerIncludedIncluded
DNS ServerIncludedIncluded
Files ServicesIncludedIncluded
Hyper-VNot includedIncluded
Print & Document ServicesIncludedIncluded
Remote Desktop ServicesNot includedIncluded
UDDI ServicesIncludedIncluded
Windows Deployment ServicesIncludedIncluded
Windows Server Update ServicesNot includedNot included
 Keep in mind that Windows Server 2016 Essentials automatically installs some server roles. In Windows Server 2016 Standard and Datacenter versions, such server roles must be manually setup. In addition, because the necessary server roles are not included in Windows Server 2016 Essentials, there may be compatibility difficulties with specific applications (Hyper-V, Data Deduplication, Failover Clustering, and Windows Server Update Services).
 

Conclusion:

In conclusion, Windows Server 2016 Essentials is designed for small organizations with minimal user and device requirements and offers necessary server functionalities at a reasonable cost without CALs. The Windows Server 2016 Standard version, on the other hand, is appropriate for a larger range of businesses since it offers cutting-edge features, increased scalability, and support for a number of server roles, including virtualization capabilities with Hyper-V.

Consider your organization’s size, workload requirements, budget, and the need for sophisticated server roles when deciding which edition to choose, making sure it meets your unique needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ 1: What is Windows Server 2016 Essentials?

Windows Server 2016 Essentials is a server operating system designed for small businesses. It provides advanced features and serves as a cost-effective solution for environments with limited user and device requirements.

FAQ 2: What is Windows Server 2016 Standard?

Windows Server 2016 Standard is a full-featured server operating system suitable for small to medium-sized organizations. It offers scalability and support for various server roles.

FAQ 3: What are the main differences between Essentials and Standard editions?

The main differences include user/device limits, virtualization rights, licensing, and pricing. Essentials has limited users/devices and virtualization rights, while Standard offers more flexibility and scalability.

FAQ 4: Can I use Windows Server 2016 Essentials for larger businesses?

Windows Server 2016 Essentials is designed for small businesses and is suitable for environments with up to 25 users and 50 devices. It may not be the best choice for larger businesses with higher user/device demands.

FAQ 5: Which edition is more suitable for virtualization?

Windows Server 2016 Standard is better suited for virtualization, as it offers virtualization rights for up to 2 Operating System Environments (OSEs) or 2 Hyper-V Containers.

FAQ 6: Are Client Access Licenses (CALs) required for Essentials?

No, CALs are not required for Essentials. This edition supports up to 25 users and 50 devices without the need for additional CALs.

FAQ 7: What are the RAM and CPU limits for each edition?

Windows Server 2016 Essentials supports up to 64 GB of RAM and a maximum of 2 CPUs. In contrast, the Standard edition can handle up to 24 TB of RAM and up to 512 Cores.

FAQ 8: What is the pricing difference between Essentials and Standard?

The starting price for Windows Server 2016 Essentials is around $501, while the Standard edition starts at approximately $882. Actual prices may vary based on factors such as licensing and region.

FAQ 9: Can I use Windows Server 2016 Essentials as a primary server?

Yes, Windows Server 2016 Essentials can be deployed as a primary server for small businesses. It provides advanced features for such environments without the complexity of CALs.

FAQ 10: Is Hyper-V included in Windows Server 2016 Essentials?

No, Hyper-V is not included in Windows Server 2016 Essentials. Hyper-V is available in the Standard edition, making it a better choice for virtualization needs.

FAQ 11: Can I install Remote Desktop Services on both editions?

Remote Desktop Services is not included in Windows Server 2016 Essentials. However, it is available in the Standard edition, allowing you to enable remote desktop capabilities.

FAQ 12: Which edition is recommended for Exchange Server or SQL Server?

Windows Server 2016 Standard is recommended if you plan to use server applications like Exchange Server or SQL Server. These applications should be purchased separately and run on the Standard edition.

FAQ 13: Does Windows Server 2016 Essentials offer hybrid cloud capabilities?

Yes, Windows Server 2016 Essentials provides hybrid cloud capabilities. It enables seamless integration with Azure Backup, Office 365, and Azure Virtual Network, allowing businesses to extend their operations to the cloud.

FAQ 14: Are there compatibility issues with certain applications in Essentials?

Yes, there might be compatibility issues with certain applications in Windows Server 2016 Essentials. Hyper-V, Data Deduplication, Failover Clustering, and Windows Server Update Services are not included in this edition, potentially causing compatibility challenges for those applications.

FAQ 15: What are the remote access capabilities in Windows Server 2016 Essentials?

Windows Server 2016 Essentials supports remote access features, including remote web access, secure file access, and easy VPN setup. These capabilities enhance remote work and collaboration for businesses.

FAQ 16: What Active Directory services are available in Essentials and Standard?

Both Windows Server 2016 Essentials and Standard support Active Directory Domain Services and Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services. Additionally, the Standard edition includes support for Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS).

FAQ 17: Can I upgrade from Essentials to Standard edition?

Yes, you can upgrade from Windows Server 2016 Essentials to the Standard edition. However, there are considerations to be aware of, such as potential data loss and application compatibility.

FAQ 18: What advanced server roles are available in each edition?

Windows Server 2016 Essentials includes automatically installed server roles like Active Directory Services, Active Directory Domain Services, Fax Server, Remote Access, and Network Policy & Access Services. Windows Server 2016 Standard includes these roles as well as additional ones like Active Directory Federation Services, Application Server, DHCP Server, DNS Server, and more.

FAQ 19: Is Windows Server 2016 Essentials compatible with multi-server environments?

Yes, Windows Server 2016 Essentials is compatible with multi-server environments. It can be used as the first server or primary server in a multi-server setup for small and medium-sized businesses.

FAQ 20: How do I choose between Windows Server 2016 Essentials and Standard?

Choosing between Essentials and Standard depends on your organization’s size, needs, and budget. Essentials is ideal for small businesses, while Standard offers more scalability and features for medium-sized organizations with diverse server requirements.

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