There is a myth that the only difference between Windows NT Workstation and Windows NT Server is a pair of registry entries.

This is a myth.

The difference between Windows NT 3.51 Workstation and Windows NT 3.51 Server is a single registry entry, located at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\ProductOptions\ProductType. The value of that key can be either Winnt (for Workstation), Servernt (for Server), or Lanmannt (for Advanced Server).

Windows NT 3.51 is a piece of shit and anyone still using it that desperately wants to have the server version of it deserves the server version of it.

Windows NT 4 has a few more differences. If the two CDs are compared, there is a difference of/in about two hundred files. About one hundred of those files are on the Server CD but not the Workstation CD, and about ten are on the Workstation CD but not the Server CD. The files on the Server CD that aren't present on the Workstation CD deal with DHCP, DNS, JET database integration, license management, log viewing, Macintosh volume management, network client administration, NetWare migration, remote-system policy management, remote boot management, domain user management, and domain configuration management. The Workstation files not on the Server CD concern local machine user management, different Disk Manager help files, and the logon bitmaps. The other ninety files have different content for each platform mostly relating to INF files.

Windows NT 4 also uses the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\ProductOptions\ProductType key to determine what version the operating system is, and another key that both stores the operating system expiration date and a value that corresponds to the ProductType value. If you change the value of ProductType, and the second key is not set correctly also, restarting the system in hopes of upgrading your copy of Workstation to Server results in a blue screen of death with the stop error of "SYSTEM_LICENSE_VIOLATION." Go ahead, give it a shot.

In addition, if the two values in question are changed they're overwritten with the original values automatically. On top of that, trying to change the ProductType key gives an alert box stating the user is trying to violate the license agreement. In other words, attempting to do the above to reproduce the BSoD is likely not going to work, however; one could write a small script that would change the value of the key and remove write permissions from the key from everyone to give it a go.

Aside from that, the file differences on the CDs and the two registry entries, Windows NT Workstation and Windows NT Server are identical. The system makes a large number of changes to its configuration, though, based on whether it is a Workstation or Server. Essentially, though, all these changes amount to is whether the system should be configured to act as a network and file server or as an interactive workstation; the threading and memory management are at the heart of this.

Windows NT Workstation and Windows NT Server are a lot alike, but one thing to bear in mind is this: Microsoft decided to integrate the features of Server into the code of Workstation. The end result is instead of having to maintain and support two different versions of one file (and patch two different versions of one file when necessary), only one file needs to be maintained. Imagine the extra work involved if a particular bug is found in one version of one file: both versions need to have the code examined so a patch can be applied. If both have the bug, then two patches must be sent out and two service packs must be updated. In other words, NT Workstation has most NT Server functionality, but it has been disabled, not the other way around.

Many thanks to the ever helpful and Windows 2000 Magazine (
Keeping in mind that in Windows 2000, Workstation is Professional, and Server is Server, Advanced Server, and Datacenter Server; a few other differences:

That is a huge part of it. Basically, Workstation is very limited in what it can do, i think mainly because of licensing. The myth behind the two registry keys is quite obviously false.

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