i have no experience with either win2k3 or 2k8 except for the last few days experimenting around on a vds. i use firedaemon on all my game servers, and have for a couple years. my observations as to the differences between the two are as follows (with the caveat that this is only what i have seen on initial install, which means there may be a way to change it).
Don't worry about it. It's like riding a bike as if it were in Windows XP Classic Mode.
task manager on win2k8 shows the actual physical memory, where 2k3 shows that plus the paging file. therefore 2k8 is easier to see how much memory im using at any point in time.
You can also look at the performance monitor instead of task manager. Task manager is never really accurate. Then again.. nothing ever is to the full extent.
session 0; is a pain on either system, but easier to get into on win2k8. to get into session 0 on 2k3 i have to either open a cmd prompt in my desktop machine, or remote into session 0 from the vds using the same cmd prompt. in 2k8 i just need to click on the window telling me there are hidden command windows.
eh, don't have much to say about that one.
the console/game windows launched in session 0 are not scrollable in 2k8, where they are in 2k3. not a big deal, but helps with troubleshooting things. i can get around this temporarily by launching them directly.
I have to say it's quite a good feature.
remote desktop; win2k8 actually remembers the credentials, and logs in the next time without any further intervention. win2k3 forces me to re enter the admin/pw each time i log in, a pain if you just want to quickly look at something.
Wrong there. If you're running Windows 7 on your home computer, it will allow you to save the credentials. You just have to do it manually. I'm running win2k3 x86 on my server.
memory usage; i dont really see much difference, with each system taking almost 500mb after i install firedaemon and a couple other management programs; ie without launching a single server instance. so they both eat a lot of memory.
I would have to say win2k8 takes up more memory on a base install rather than win2k3.
performance; i dont see much difference. im ping boosting both, with reasonable frame rates (depending on the game up to 500fps, thats about it; i dont see any improvement after that so havent tried to go faster).
It depends. Both Operating Systems provide stability, but when it comes to game servers, they vary on performance.
so i guess the question is; what am i missing? everything i read says win2k3 is better for gaming, as it runs smoother, but never details what that means. i have also seen some references to less memory, but again, no details. but that i can believe because i have never seen microsoft decrease memory on a new product.
Exactly. With win2k3, because the performance is at a strict halt in a various amount of cases, you'll actually be able to run more programs/applications/services than you would on win2k8.
Personally, with the rest of the posts aside, I've battled between every OS in every server scenario. I would highly NOT recommend win2k8 for a VDS/VPS. If you're running a I don't know.. X3460 w/ 4GB RAM, I say go for win2k8. But other than that, definitely a no go for me, just my personal opinion. I'm about performance, yet diversity, and that's why I choose win2k3. (Currently own a 3 core VDS with 9 KF servers, 1 CSS (1 more coming), 3 TF2, 1 Minecraft, and 1 TS3. WAMP Server will also be installed.) It's really nothing short of a miracle. But, with win2k3, with 9 KF servers running, my RAM usage is still under 2GB, and my CPU usage on all cores total stays below 20%.