When Amazon first launched the Lightsail service, it only allowed users to spin up Linux virtual private servers. These were perfectly fine for most web hosting needs.
Earlier this month, however, the company introduced Windows VPS into the mix.
Of course, depending on what you want to achieve on Lightsail, you can use either platform, as there is a significant overlap in software and services that are available for both the Linux and Windows operating systems.
But there are significant differences too, which we shall go over below.
The primary difference between the two platforms is, obviously, their very nature. Linux is open source, and has a vibrant community behind it that provides you with free software, with complete freedom to use, modify, improve and redistribute these apps. Windows, meanwhile, is a platform developed and maintained by Microsoft, and this not only brings additional licensing costs, but also limitations in the type and variety of software that is available for it.
You will have to opt for a Windows VPS in case your website is built using Microsoft technologies, those under the .Net banner — ASP.NET and VB.NET, for example. You will also need to make use of Microsoft Access or MS SQL database, which runs exclusively on the Windows platform.
Another point worth a mention is that while the reliability of the Windows operating platform has improved massively over the years, it still does not offer as good an uptime as having a Linux server would. Linux powered servers can also be connected with server management software like cPanel, which work smoothly with these servers. Managing a Windows server, VPS or otherwise, require you to deep dive and do things manually.
But the real use of signing up for Windows VPS on Amazon Lightsail is beyond web hosting. You can build, deploy, scale and manage Microsoft and other Windows software applications here more securely, easily and cost effectively.
In particular, corporate IT applications like SharePoint, Dynamics, and Exchange, as well as database services that run on Microsoft SQL Server. In short, this type of VPS hosting is ideal for running web, mobile and custom business applications that have been designed with the Microsoft operating platform in mind.
Lightsail allows you to create instances based on either Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2016.
The monthly plans are, expectedly, higher than the Linux ones, for the reason that these VPS make use of different architectures, and there are licensing fees involved as well. But once you spin up a virtual private server running Windows, you open up a whole world of possibilities of hosting not just your website, but also your regular Windows desktop programs.
Programs like virtual desktops, file servers, mail servers, web servers, developments servers, database servers are one thing, but a Window VPS also allows you to fire up Microsoft Office applications, host online games, and run all your programs and applications using remote desktop in a highly familiar environment.