Don't underestimate the Windows Server System. Sure, it may well cost you an arm and a leg, your first born child and 10% of your earnings for life afterwards, but with the wonder that is DreamSpark, students get it for free.
Take Windows Server 2003. It was fast, reliable; it was incredibly powerful; it worked. It took ages to configure as a server, but the average end-user who actually sat down to use the operating system wouldn't be using it as a server. At best, they'd be using it as an operating system virtualised to roll out across a mass network.
Now take Windows Server 2008. It's around 45x faster than it's predecessor, and once you fiddle around with it to get it looking like Vista, well, it looks like Vista. Obviously not everyone likes Vista because of the reasons as long as your arm. I have gone about trying to disprove this before, but knocked back with heavy criticism.
It doesn't mean you should automatically hate Windows Server 2008 though.
The main reason I converted to using Windows Server 2008 was:
- absolutely free through DreamSpark;
- repairs the file system if it detects an error, restructuring the tables;
- as with Windows Server 2003, parallel sessions when remoting in, sharing your computer whilst others are using it;
- incredibly powerful platform to develop onto, and to run applications from...
...and after all of that, I could make it just as much Vista as I could with Vista. How? I used a Workstation Converter.
With a few clicks of the mouse, you can set the basic settings which bring back "actual life" to your desktop; enabling the wireless service, turning on themes, sound and multimedia services, and enabling all of the other things you'd have on Vista.
For students using a server operating system as a client computer may make the user feel like their claws of a cougar, but at least in this case both parties can use each other without feeling like the other is being taken advantage of.
So even though it may seem clunky because it has "server core capabilities" like Active Directory, web server functionality, jazz like that, but it's really not.
Once you jump to the "server" side, you'll never go back.