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I'm currently running Windows 7 RC and I'm ready to pave and reinstall on my laptop.

Are there features in Windows 7 I won't have access to if I install Server 2008 R2?

Are there applications or drivers that won't work?

I'm primarily interested in running a Server OS to support SharePoint development. (Yes, I am aware of the hackaround to install it on Win7.)

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Wil brought up a good point. Server 2008 is based on the vista counterpart. Windows 7 is windows 7. – Troggy Aug 14 '09 at 20:49
@Troggy: Are you sure about that? I'm pretty sure 2008R2 is based on NT kernel 6.1, just like Windows 7. See also: – arathorn Aug 14 '09 at 20:53
My understanding is that Server 2008 R2 is essentially Windows 7 Server – Hafthor Aug 14 '09 at 20:53
@Hafthor: That is correct. Windows Server 2008 R2 is based on Windows 7's kernel, while Windows Server 2008 is based on Vista's kernel. – Sasha Chedygov Aug 14 '09 at 20:58
By the way, I asked a different but slightly related question that may help:… – Sasha Chedygov Aug 14 '09 at 21:00
up vote 5 down vote accepted

You're pretty likely to come across apps that, for good reason or no, will be uninstallable or at least unsupported on the Server versions of Windows. Carbonite, Mozy, LiveMesh, Acronis's home products, all come to mind right off the bat. I haven't seen too much the other way around (i.e., requiring Windows Server).

I'd say put Windows Server in a VM for working with anything that will actually need it.

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Running Windows Server in a VM is a bit more complicated than it used to be given that it is x64 only now. Can't use the built-in virtualization. – Hafthor Aug 24 '09 at 6:30

Should work rather well either way. One note though, if you use many free software packages. Many of them are free to home and non-commercial use. One way they check is to make sure it is not being installed on server operating systems. One example is AVG free edition. So just a word of caution there.

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Personally, there isn't really any downsides (apart from the additional cost).

The downsides are things that everyone is aware of - themes, sounds, aero e.t.c, however you can install the windows desktop experience feature.

Also, remember Windows 7 is, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 (I think even R2, but I could be wrong) is built on the Vista kernel (Mind you, there are people who say Windows 7 is just a service pack to Vista!)

Personally, if I was you, I would install Windows 7 and just use Windows Server 2008 in a VM - especially as you are using Sharepoint for developer stuff, it would mean that you can't mess anything up and can take snapshots e.t.c.!

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Windows 2008 R2 is based on NT kernel 6.1, just like Windows 7. See also: – arathorn Aug 14 '09 at 20:54
Thanks for the link – William Hilsum Aug 15 '09 at 3:46

All the same drivers for Windows 7 will work with Windows Server 2008 R2. One thing you may want to keep in mind is that Windows Server does not have Windows Media Center. So if you use Media Center, then you'll want to stick with Windows 7 Ultimate or Home Premium.

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The only real downsides are cost (which doesn't seem to affect you?) and incompatibility with applications, as others have mentioned. I would also list the time it takes to enable all of Windows 7's features as a drawback, but if you aren't put off by that (or aren't interested in things like themes), and you don't have any incompatible programs, go for it. If the OS is mainly going to be used as a server, it makes sense to install Windows Server, right? ;)

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server is good for virtualization also. You can install the r2 server and then install additional oses using hypervisor. its one of the pluses. btw you can now install the virtual oses in a VHD file. VHD file is a virtual harddisk and load it in the hypervisor.

-->But now here is the great thing!! you can prep your VHD file in such a way that it can also boot outside the R2 servers virtual environment. essentially the VHD can be run as virtual and native mode(win7/2008R2 os only atm) also.

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Go with Windows Server 2008 R2. It is all I run on my desktops and Laptops. It will run everything that Windows 7 Runs, with one Caveat. Certain Software such as Anti Virus etc, check to see whether you are on Client or Server OS. Some will not install. Otherwise you will be faster and better able to do your development. There is not anything that you cannot configure. Themes, personalization, desktops, aero, gadgets, etc, as well as media center. All can be enabled and/or installed on Server 2008 R2.

There are those who are hardcore and run Server OS'es, and then there is everyone else. You won't regret it.

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