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Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) vs Windows Server comparison

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Comparison Buyer's Guide
Executive Summary
Updated on March 14, 2022

We performed a comparison between Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Windows Server based on our users’ reviews in four categories. After reading all of the collected data, you can find our conclusion below.

  • Ease of Deployment: Users of Red Hat Enterprise Linux feel that deploying it is relatively easy and straightforward. Reviewers write that Red Hat Enterprise Linux has features that speed up the ability of users to deploy it. Windows Server is viewed similarly.
  • Features: Red Hat Enterprise Linux users find it to be stable and point out that it has many valuable features, including its robust integration capabilities and its powerful security software. However, reviewers say that it could be much more user-friendly.

    Users of Windows Server 2016 feel that it is a very user-friendly solution. Furthermore, they note that its active              directory feature is highly valuable. They also note that it is highly scalable. However, many users feel that its                security capabilities could be greatly improved. They also feel that the graphical interface could be better.

  • Pricing: Users of both solutions note that they are expensive to use. However, users also note that a free version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux does exist.
  • Service and Support: Users of both solutions note that, for the most part, they are supported by excellent technological support teams.

Comparison of Results: Based on the parameters we compared, Red Hat Enterprise Linux seems to be a slightly superior solution. All other things being more or less equal, our reviewers found Windows Server 2016 rather expensive to purchase and not as secure as it should be.

To learn more, read our detailed Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) vs. Windows Server report (Updated: September 2022).
633,952 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Featured Review
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
"I like the fact that most of the system configuration is Namespace so it's easy to get to and easy to configure, and most of it still uses text documents. Not all of it's a menu-driven-type entry. I also like the fact that it's a very standard file system layout so it's easy to navigate.""One of the most important features is the package manager. It provides the ability to very easily roll back transactions when something has gone wrong. It is an easy-to-use tool that helps me in situations where something unexpected has happened. I found that this was one of the solution's major advantages over other distributions.""RHEL enables us to deploy applications and emerging workloads across bare-metal and virtualized environments and I find those workloads to be extremely reliable. The reliability is so good that I rarely find myself calling Red Hat support any longer. Support is the first benefit of using RHEL, but the second thing is that the platform is so stable that the need to use support is negligible.""This is a very robust product that doesn't require a lot of handling. It just works.""The security features are better than many other solutions offer.""The biggest benefit is from a security standpoint. As the product progresses and they come up with new versions, the new security features are addressing vulnerabilities. From that perspective, it has worked well.""We find the Red Hat Satellite deployments very useful. It integrates well with other solutions.""We use this product's built-in tracing and monitoring tools such as syslog and SAR (system activity reporter) to provide us with greater insight and visibility into what's going on."

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"The solution is very user-friendly.""We haven't had any issues with the server whatsoever. It's been very reliable.""We use this solution for hosting applications on the server.""The solution is stable.""The scalability is okay.""Most applications are compatible with this operating system.""The features that I like the most are that it's easy to use and the integration.""From the very beginning, I have been using a Windows-based OS so for me, it's very easy because it's GUI compared to command line or something Linux-based."

More Windows Server Pros →

"Red Hat can be tricky at times, but all operating systems are. The moves to systemd and NetworkManager haven't made the product more user-friendly. Let's put it that way. The network management they had before was easier and somewhat more reliable than NetworkManager, which Red Hat forces us to use now.""Linux overall needs improvement. They cannot go much beyond what Linus Torvalds's kernel implementation can do. I come from AIX, and there were very cool things in AIX that I am missing dearly, e.g., being able to support not only adding, but also reducing memory and number of processors. That is not supported on Linux right now, and it is the same for the mainstream file systems supported by Red Hat. There is no way of reducing a file system or logical volume. Whereas, in AIX, it was a shoo-in. These are the little things where we can say, "Ah, we are missing AIX for that."""The accessibility to the resources could be more widespread. We have to put a lot of effort into finding indigenous information on the site. For example, the license information is convoluted. This information should be easier for customers to access.""I would like to see improvements made to the subscriptions and management of them.""An area for improvement in RHEL has to do with security policies. I know they are doing something about this in RHEL 9, but I haven't worked with that version yet. When it comes to security policies in RHEL 8, it is a bit behind. It would be better if we could just enforce a certain security policy such as CIS Level 1. That was not available, out-of-the-box, in RHEL 8.""The Authselect tool needs improvement. This tool is used to connect your system to an identity provider or directory service, e.g., openLDAP. There is documentation and descriptions. While there are a few use cases and examples described, it is sometimes hard to use these tools to set up the configuration that we need for our specific environment. I would like it if there was more general information about the tool, not just describing a use case. For example, here is how to do it and how to connect to some kind of openLDAP service as well as more information about when you need to configure certificate services and mutual authentication.""The vulnerability assessment part should also be improved. We do a lot of patching regularly. They try to fix an issue very quickly, and we also end up facing bugs that are not properly documented. When releasing the general availability for a particular solution, they need to do a lot more work on their side.""In the past and with older versions, you couldn't expand the root file system without rebooting the server or restarting the operating system. That is something that they have actually corrected now, which is great. They corrected that issue somewhere around RHEL 7."

More Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) Cons →

"Security is the main feature that needs improvement""The solution needs to be more stable and secure.""Security and vulnerabilities could improve.""It would be nice if the solution was a bit cheaper. The product is a little pricey.""The stability needs to be improved.""It could be more secure. We can't compare it to other products because they have their own security and all those things. When it comes to email security, there are issues. Microsoft products used to get hacked all the time, but we're still comfortable with that.""The solution could be more secure.""Could use more features and more functionality."

More Windows Server Cons →

Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "Red Hat Linux is inexpensive. Linux solutions are generally inexpensive."
  • "RHEL is expensive."
  • "Because it is a subscription, you can go elastic. This means you can buy a year, then you can skip a year. It is not like when you buy something. You don't buy it. You are paying for the support on something, and if you don't pay for the support on something, there is no shame because there are no upfront costs. It changes the equation. However, we have such growth right now on the Linux platform that we are reusing and scavenging these licenses. From a business standpoint, not having to buy, but just having to pay for maintenance, changes a lot of the calculations."
  • "We have a site license on a yearly basis. Generally, we're okay with its price, but everything could be cheaper."
  • "The licensing with Red Hat is on par with other organizations like Microsoft. We have a site license, which gives us a certain number of servers, perhaps 25,000, for the type of license that we have. That works really well for us."
  • "We are an educational institution and as such, what we pay is less than the average company."
  • "It is more expensive than other vendors in terms of pricing and licensing, but because of its stability, I have to go with it."
  • "If you don't buy the Red Hat subscription, you don't get technical support, and you don't have all the updates. To have everything working like a charm, the cost that you pay for it is worth it. In Bolivia, we don't have the best internet connection. Therefore, we have a local service with all the packages, repositories, etc. We manage them locally, and because we have a subscription, we can update them. So, we have local repositories with all the packages and other things to make it easy for us to update all the servers. Without the Red Hat subscription, we cannot update anything."
  • More Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "Microsoft is relatively inexpensive compared to other database platforms."
  • "This is not an expensive product."
  • "It is an expensive product."
  • "In our case, we primarily use Microsoft, so the cost is a lot less. But some of our customers have spent approximately $12,000 a year on the operating system license."
  • "The license model needs improvement."
  • "Our current license is an enterprise license agreement which gives you a whole lot of possibility, especially when you go through an R&D process. For example, you can provision everything, spread the service use over six months, and then wrap it up. It gives you a lot of flexibility."
  • "The Windows Server standard edition is affordable."
  • "We pay yearly for a license. If you ask any vendor they will tell you that it could be cheaper."
  • More Windows Server Pricing and Cost Advice →

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    Questions from the Community
    Top Answer:Red Hat Enterprise Linux is fantastic. It is an inexpensive solution that has excellent security, performance, and stability, and also lots of features. I specifically like that the solution has… more »
    Top Answer:The integrated solution approach reduces our TCO tremendously because we are able to focus on innovation instead of operations.
    Top Answer:RHEL is a great place to go. They have a great thing that is not very well-known, which is called the Learning Subscription, which is a one-year all-you-can-drink access to all of their online… more »
    Top Answer:It could be more secure. We don't like it because if you compare it to Linux, Linux is better.
    Top Answer:We have the product that my team works on and we need to, for example, deploy the solution on running servers. That way, the client can access it and the QAs in our team could test it. Also, we have… more »
    Average Words per Review
    Average Words per Review
    Also Known As
    Red Hat Enterprise Linux, RHEL
    Learn More

    To put your enterprise in a position to win, you have to break down the barriers that hold you back. With Red Hat Enterprise Linux, a platform with unparalleled stability and flexibility, you can reallocate your resources toward meeting the next challenges instead of just maintaining the status quo.

    For SAP workloads, Red Hat Enterprise Linux for SAP Solutions combines the reliability, scalability, and performance of Linux with technologies that meet the specific requirements of SAP workloads. It’s certified for integration with SAP S/4HANA and built on the same foundation as the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux.  For more information on Red Hat's portfolio of solutions for SAP workloads visit

    Windows Server is an operating system that is designed to run on servers and service networked applications. It includes technology that was inspired from their experiences in the public cloud. When compared to earlier Microsoft products, Windows Server 2016 is greatly improved in terms of its security, software-defined infrastructure, and technologies. It enables developers to build modern microservice-based applications in the cloud or on premises.

    Windows Server has many features that make it a most effective product. Included in these are a wealth of security features that enable administrators to both protect their networks from attack and limit the potential damage if malware does enter their system. It has a feature called the Local Security Authority, which protects user credentials from being stolen and exploited. All credentials are authenticated in a digital space that is kept separate from the rest of the system. This virtual space prevents any code not belonging to the Local Security Authority from running. It also has security tools that identify, isolate, and limit any potential system damage should an intrusion take place.

    Benefits of Windows Server

    Some of the benefits of using Windows Server include:

    • A wide array of security features that allow administrators to both secure themselves against digital intrusions and limit the damage should a breach occur. The Device Guard allows administrators to dictate what types of applications can run on their servers. This ensures that only applications that are trusted will be active in their systems. However, should a breach take place, administrators can use features like the Distributed Firewall to isolate the problematic software and prevent it from infecting the rest of the system.
    • Windows Server 2016 allows you to automate various server management tasks. The PowerShell feature enables administrators to turn over some of the more routine server management operations to this software so that they can focus their attention and resources on more complex and pressing tasks.
    • The ability to engage in innovation without having to compromise your security and efficiency. Application and software creators are able to run their software on the server without first having to modify it. In addition, any business looking to run proprietary software has a place where they can safely conduct their business.

    Reviews from Real Users

    There are a number of characteristics that make Windows Server an extremely effective solution. Two major ones are its inherent flexibility and its user-friendly nature.

    PeerSpot user Antonio D., a sales manager at INFOSEC, takes note of Windows Server 2016’s flexibility when he writes, “The product is a good operating system. The features fit our needs very well. For example, with Windows Server, you can use a machine for printing, accessing the internet, or using some applications. You can do it all with one server. You don't need several servers. One is enough.”

    Himanshu T., a system administrator and DevOps engineer at a tech-services company, takes note of the various way in which Windows Server 2016 is easy to use when he writes, “This solution is very user friendly, easy to use for any system administrator, simple to deploy applications, has a wide range of applications available, great UI, and takes less technical skills to operate than some other competitors. Additionally, the active directory has great functionality; if we want to integrate any assets, then we can easily do it.”

    Learn more about Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)
    Learn more about Windows Server
    Sample Customers
    Travel Channel, Mohawk Industries, Hilti, Molecular Health, Exolgan, Hotelplan Group, Emory University, BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, HCA Healthcare, Paychex, UPS, Intermountain Healthcare, Brinker International, TransUnion, Union Bank, CA Technologies
    Rakuten, Rackspace, Tyco
    Top Industries
    Financial Services Firm19%
    Comms Service Provider14%
    Computer Software Company10%
    Comms Service Provider17%
    Computer Software Company16%
    Financial Services Firm8%
    Computer Software Company13%
    Comms Service Provider13%
    Financial Services Firm12%
    Manufacturing Company10%
    Comms Service Provider30%
    Computer Software Company15%
    Educational Organization6%
    Company Size
    Small Business38%
    Midsize Enterprise13%
    Large Enterprise50%
    Small Business18%
    Midsize Enterprise15%
    Large Enterprise68%
    Small Business40%
    Midsize Enterprise20%
    Large Enterprise40%
    Small Business21%
    Midsize Enterprise19%
    Large Enterprise60%
    Buyer's Guide
    Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) vs. Windows Server
    September 2022
    Find out what your peers are saying about Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) vs. Windows Server and other solutions. Updated: September 2022.
    633,952 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is ranked 1st in Operating Systems (OS) for Business with 26 reviews while Windows Server is ranked 4th in Operating Systems (OS) for Business with 137 reviews. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is rated 9.0, while Windows Server is rated 8.0. The top reviewer of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) writes "Feature-rich, good integration, stable, easy to deploy, and the security is kept up to date". On the other hand, the top reviewer of Windows Server writes "Easy to use, simple to set up, and scales well". Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is most compared with Ubuntu Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise, Oracle Linux, Windows 10 and Oracle Solaris, whereas Windows Server is most compared with Windows 10, Ubuntu Linux, Oracle Linux, CentOS and SUSE Linux Enterprise. See our Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) vs. Windows Server report.

    See our list of best Operating Systems (OS) for Business vendors.

    We monitor all Operating Systems (OS) for Business reviews to prevent fraudulent reviews and keep review quality high. We do not post reviews by company employees or direct competitors. We validate each review for authenticity via cross-reference with LinkedIn, and personal follow-up with the reviewer when necessary.