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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys !


Just curious. Since I am learning about Windows Server at school right now, I would like to try out Windows 2003 Server as an HTPC OS too. Would it be working better or worse than XP for DVD/media playback etc. on a fairly quick machine (P4/2.8GHz) ?


The networking capabilities would not be of great interest momentarily since I do not have a network yet but who know what else I might do in the future ?


I would not have come up with this idea if a friend who does pro audio woudln´t have told me that Windows 2003 Server gave him better performance ( processor and harddisk ) in Cubase SX than Windows XP did. I wonder if Windows 2003 is also a better, optimised workstation system than Windows XP besides being a server OS.


Maybe someone can comment on this ( those guys from Microsoft too please, if you see read this ! ) ?


Also ... does Windows 2003 server include SR1 for Windows XP already ?

I wonder if there is a trial version for Windows 2003 available on the MS site. Gonna look for it.


Ah ... one more thing, you Microsoft guys: Please !!! I would have bought one of those extremely cool smart displays ( like airboard etc. ) already IF they would allow me to be logged on to my main machine and remotely AT THE SAME TIME. Why do you prevent this ? It´s such a nonsense to get locked out on my main machines as soon as I log on remotely using Remote desktop. There is no logic behind this at all !


If one could turn this "feature" ( I would call it a bug ) off I could do all kinds of great stuff with a second machine ! It is working great with Windows 2000 Terminal Server so why is it crippled in Windows XP ? Will it work in Windows 2003 Terminal Server ?


Maybe someone has a few answers ...

Thanks,

Alex
 

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I use Windows 2000 Server for my HTPC and it works great! Very stable with TheaterTek (and ffdshow), Revolution 7.1, ATI 9000 Pro, and a Toshiba DVD Player.


Since I have the HTPC in the theater on the network I can do almost everything (outside of viewing DVDs) via Terminal Server from my den (which saves hours on my projector's bulb). Also, I can share my Internet connection over the network to load drivers and such. All and all it might be a bit of overkill but I'm happy.
 

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Why would you use server. There is no point, plus performance will suffer. Server versions of Windows run many services that a normal OS does not need - so in essense you are penalized because you will not need to run all of these services. You could turn the unused services off - but what would the point be, you might as well just run 2000/XP.
 

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Running 2003 Server would be gross overkill. I would just use XP Home or Pro.


also..


"IF they would allow me to be logged on to my main machine and remotely AT THE SAME TIME. Why do you prevent this ? It´s such a nonsense to get locked out on my main machines as soon as I log on remotely using Remote desktop. There is no logic behind this at all !"


Actually the thought behind it is two fold.


1. To secure your system. Imagine if you will you are working from home and log in to do something. If that was sensitive would you want people to be able to see what you're doing or cause problems with it? Probably not.


2. The license you have with XP is for ONE installation. If you could connect someone through RD and have someone using the system at the keyboard you could effectively be using 2 copies of XP while only paying for one.


So basically unless you are planning on running a FTP, Web or Email server on your HTPC (not recommended) I wouldn't bother with Server 2003.
 

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Unless you are going to hook up lots (more than 5) client PC's, you won't gain anything and will probably see some disadvantages as described above to running Windows Server 2003 for an HTPC.


Also, I understand that the newer versions of Smartdisplay (the tablet type remote desktop item you're talkin' about here) will allow concurrent sessions on the local machine AND the smart display both, so stay tuned...
 

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Running W2003 server is not too bad.


Both Windows 2000 and 2003 server will allow concurrent local and remote access.


You can disable the unwanted services in the server editions if you want too.


The real problem is the drivers. Some (possibly more than anyone realizes) drivers don't work on W2003 server that work on XP or W2k.


I tried installing Windows 2003 Server as my HTPC a while ago, but the lack of reliable drivers for some of my components stopped that project dead in its tracks. That was a RC version though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi guys,


thanks for your comments. I know that Server installations install services that I might not need outside a network. Still, how do you explain those performance differences my friend experienced ? I have read numerous articles covering Windows 2003´s speed tuneups compared to Windows 2000 Server. Maybe it is programmed more efficiently ? Who knows ?

Quote:
2. The license you have with XP is for ONE installation. If you could connect someone through RD and have someone using the system at the keyboard you could effectively be using 2 copies of XP while only paying for one.
Sorry, this is exactly why some people might hate Microsoft. I buy a Windows XP license for my home PC and I buy a second one if I buy a smart display or any other PC that has RDP capabilities. This would be the most "mainstream" situation I guess. Microsoft is being paranoid if they block this feature just because someone MIGHT be able to work on a Windows XP system without a second license. This is sooo lame ... and it hurts sales of smart displays. I have read quite a few reviews criticising this behaviour. It is also totally against the idea of a smart display.

Quote:
To secure your system. Imagine if you will you are working from home and log in to do something. If that was sensitive would you want people to be able to see what you're doing or cause problems with it? Probably not.
This is also not true. Unlike VNC, Windows terminal server will not let you see what you are doing remotely sitting at your desktop. The desktop and the remote user have 2 different desktops so one does not see what the other does. At least thats the way I learned it a few days ago. I may be wrong though ... ;)

Quote:
Also, I understand that the newer versions of Smartdisplay (the tablet type remote desktop item you're talkin' about here) will allow concurrent sessions on the local machine AND the smart display both, so stay tuned...
Faustus: What products are you talking about ? Are they out yet ? How will I differentiate between those new and the currently available ones like airboard etc. ?


Best wishes,

Alex
 

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Actually, if you take a look using Task Manager once the server has been up for several months you will see that "all of those other services" do not take up any CPU time. As long as they all fit into RAM (avoiding swaps) they won't effect performance at all. And you can tell the server's performance to lean toward desktop applications.
 

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I`m using 2k3 server atm.

IT works fine, although i do have a problem, where the overlay becomes b/w at times. A reboot fixes this usually. (same on two diff machines)


Dscaler/zoomplayer/powerstrip etcetc all work fine - infact i`ve yet to find anything that wont run.


If the overlay problem would go away for me I wouldnt have any complaints! (ati mobility radeon 9000 and a 8500)


If you follow the w2k3 as a workstation guide from neowin.net it becomes just as snappy as XP, if not faster.


XP SP2 is rumored to have concurrent RDP connections enabled...
 

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The most significant tweaks in WS 2003 involve file system and kernel processing speed improvements, and they show significant speed gains for raw processing. MS has started cutting back on, or at least discouraging multimedia features in this product though, which makes sense in a server.


Keep in mind that the concurrent connections on WS 2003 will not run smart displays however, you have to have the actual smart display bits in addition to the remote desktop functinality for these devices; versions of smart display that allow concurrent sessions on XP should be available soon.
 

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Quote:
Faustus: What products are you talking about ? Are they out yet ? How will I differentiate between those new and the currently available ones like airboard etc. ?
Sorry, I don't have any more details, but it's been publicly mentioned a few times that this is one of the biggest gripes about the smartdisplays, that you can't use the tablet thingie and the host pc at the same time, so it's already been announced that they will allow it in the next version. Prolly a change to the "server" service in XP (which in XP takes the form of the Remote Desktop Connection feature). Haven't heard if they intend to install it as a SP, patch or feature in the smartdisplay software.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Quote:
Keep in mind that the concurrent connections on WS 2003 will not run smart displays however, you have to have the actual smart display bits in addition to the remote desktop functinality for these devices
Hi Faustus,


thanks for your explanations. I do not understand the above though. What are you saying ? That current smart panels like the airboard won´t work with terminal server in Window 2003 ? What do you mean by "smart display bits"


Ciao,

midiboy
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by midiboy


This is also not true. Unlike VNC, Windows terminal server will not let you see what you are doing remotely sitting at your desktop. The desktop and the remote user have 2 different desktops so one does not see what the other does. At least thats the way I learned it a few days ago. I may be wrong though ... ;)
Windows 2003 includes a new feature that will let you Terminal Server to the "console" i.e. what you would see if you were at the keyboard/monitor locally. This is new in Windows 2003, your statement was correct in Windows 2000 Server (you would only be able to connect to a "virtual" session of the desktop).

Quote:
Originally posted by irwincur


Why would you use server. There is no point, plus performance will suffer. Server versions of Windows run many services that a normal OS does not need - so in essense you are penalized because you will not need to run all of these services. You could turn the unused services off - but what would the point be, you might as well just run 2000/XP.
Actually Windows Server 2003 was specifically designed that out of the box no services run whatsoever. In fact, after the default installation of Windows 2003, it does practically nothing.


Microsoft realized a while ago that the more things you turn on by default, the more chance of getting hacked by one of those unneccessary services. So now you have to "turn stuff on" instead of "turning it off".


After you install 2003 it launches a wizard in which you choose what you want your server to do (be it a DHCP, DNS, Domain Controller, Web, Application, SQL, etc).



Sorry folks just had to jump in since I've been reading up quite a bit on Win03 :)
 

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djdementia is correct about the features and default settings in Win2K3, there is the ability to log into the console remotely now...you have been doin' your homework!


midiboy, all I was trying to indicate is that the smart display software is needed in addition to the server service that allows remote connections. smart display is very different from airboard or other cordless mouse/keyboard devices, the smart display actually displays a remote desktop session on the remote device, it's not just a pointing device/text entry/IR remote device. with smart display you can actually run stuff on the host machine, browse the web, etc., from the remote screen. just keep in mind that (at least in current form) it uses 802.11b and is limited to that kind of bandwidth.


airboard and such should work with Win2K3 as long as drivers are available, they really function as regular keyboard/mouse would. no idea if smart display SW will run on it, haven't tried that yet.


hope this helps


btw, I believe there are eval versions of Win2K3 available, don't have a URL handy atm. server OS'es are expensive, and last I looked DX9 is not available for Win2K3 (I may be mixed up on versions here, though).
 

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Doesn't the Win2K 2003 lack DirectX support? That would basically eliminate it as an option for a HTPC OS.
 

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It just has DX 8.1 in it, I'm not sure if it will update to DX9.
 

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Goi -- Win2K3 has DX support ... you just have to turn it on with dxdiag. Once it is "on" you can upgrade it to 9.0a.


And yes I can verify the statement made by Magsy, that if you follow the instructions (or if you just know what to turn off yourself) at neowin.net that it is faster than XP. It takes some time but in the end you will have nutered(sic) 2K3 server down to 2K3 workstation ;-)


--Brian
 
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