Can you run Windows Server 2016 at home?

We had a customer in the store the other day asking if he could run Windows Server 2016 at home. He got a free copy from someone he worked with and wanted to use it on his home computer. It was a legit copy and cheaper than buying a Windows 10 license. So can he use it?

The short answer is yes if the license is legit. The longer answer is that you will go without certain quality of life features in Windows 10 if you do. We tried it here at Dave’s Computers in New Jersey when Windows 10 first came out and got most things working but it did take a lot of configuring to do it.

Windows Home Server

If you want to run Windows Server 2016 and are fortunate enough to have a license, it installs the same as Windows 10, looks very similar and will have a similar feel too. There the similarities end. Windows Server 2016 is designed for use as a server and not a desktop. You will need to load the Server Desktop version and learn now to use server roles.

You will also need to enable things like WiFi if you have it and some audio and graphics features. Server Manager within Windows Server 2016 can help with this.

As drivers have matured, most will now work with Windows Server 2016. That means your graphics driver, audio driver, network card driver, motherboard driver and so on should work. If they have Windows 10 versions, those same versions should work with Server.

However, some programs and many games will not work, or will not work flawlessly on Windows Server 2016. Some programs will not work with the server OS while others won’t work properly. Not all games will correctly recognize Windows Server 2016 and not work either.

If you’re not a gamer and use basic programs, you should be fine. As long as you familiarize yourself with Server Manager and server roles, you could be up and running in a short space of time. Windows Server 2016 uses less disk space and fewer resources than Windows 10 but doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the latter. If you can live without those, you should be fine!

One final thing about running Windows Server 2016 at home. You may be used to automatic updates, apps that update themselves, Cortana and easy downloads and updates. All these things will be slightly more difficult with Windows Server 2016. It is regularly updated but not as often as Windows 10. It needs to be configured for automatic updates too. There is no Cortana, although that might be a good thing and you have to authorize and manually enable the ability to download from the internet.

If you can live with those too, you can use Windows Server 2016 at home.