Windows 7 is not a server and the OS and priority of services and optmization is different. You probably can make it work if FileMaker isn't needing any of the missing services (Apache, PHP, Directory Services), but it would not be well optimized. Are you sure FM was not suggesting using Windows 7 to host a FileMaker client that is peer-to-peer sharing the FileMaker database instead of using the FileMaker Server?
I would ask the client how important the data is to them. If it is relatively unimportant, then maybe give it a go. But I would not recommend that for a production service with mission critical or confidential information. Servers are designed better for security and stability and that is why you buy them. But, yes, they do cost more and I am sure that is what the client is trying to do, save money.
Keep in mind that you can certainly buy and install Windows Server 2008 OS on an existing desktop machine.
While it is preferable (and I would certainly recommend) to buy top of the line server hardware when your budget permits, using a server OS is by far the most important factor in hosting an FM database. I hosted production databases on inexpensive desktop machines for years, using both Windows Server 2003 and Window Server 2008.
Of course you can also host a database on Windows 7. Far, far from optimum, but it works. Perhaps as a temporary solution until you can buy a server OS for your machine …
Peace, love & brown rice,
FileMaker + Web: Design, Develop & Deploy
Certifications: FileMaker 9, 10, 11 & 12
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One Part Harmony <http://www.onepartharmony.com/>
Austin, Texas • USA
They have been reassured by multiple FMI tech support people that the practice is acceptable. That's what I have been told.
I would put more trust in the KB article than in the spoken word of a low-tier tech support guy.
Besides it's not exactly a secret that desktop operating systems are tuned differently than server OSes. Also the issue is one of symptoms really: a client who does not understand the value of a stable deployment is not likely to buy decent hardware which is where the real issue is. For me the use of a desktop OS is just a red flag that the deplyment cost has not been properly considered as a vital part of the solution. A crappy deployment is just as likely to tarnish your reputation as sloppy development.
Disregard of course if the solution is not business critical and can sustain extended down-time.
The common consent appears to be don't go for Windows 7 to run FMS 12. If budget allows, then always err on the side of caution, which we would never argue against.
However, to try to add a bit of balance and at the risk of being shot down in flames, we treat a Windows 7 PC exactly as we would a Mac Mini and, from experience and assuming non-exceptional usage, would not hesitate to run FMS 12 on a dedicated branded Win 7 PC running good quality internals for a workgroup of 5 users or more. In fact, the addition of the new container fields in v12 makes it even more attractive, as we no longer have to set up Supercontainer or require mounted shares for references to stored files/images. Yes, we would prefer redundant everything and a server OS, but a good UPS and backup strategy will allow less substantial configurations give good service.
In our view there are always 3 answers when addressing suitability or compatibility:
The answer to cover the vendor legally
The answer to make support of their product easier
The answer that will work, but not necessarily recommended
The last one is not the one to choose if you expect to need regular support from the vendor.
Personally I would prefer to only drive Porches or Ferraris, and I should really only choose to drive a Volvo, as I am truly concerned for the safety of my family. However, our Nissan and Toyota do transport us very competently and are described as suitable for the job. Windows 7 Professional Edition SP1 32 and 64 bit are both described as suitable for the job in the FileMaker web site tech specs.
We often offer server and Win Pro 7 options to our smaller customers and, as long as they understand the differences, are happy to allow them to make the choice.
I mostly agree with Andy, and realize that some of these type situations may look at alternatives. The only other real alternative on the cheap without a server OS is to go the peer-to-peer sharing from a FileMaker client. Given the choice of peer-to-peer sharing from a FileMaker Pro client, I would go with Windows 7 and FMS. But still with the recommendation to go with a real server OS for mission critical data.
FYI, a Mac Mini may not be consumer hardware, but the Mac OS X Server is still is enterprise ready server OS. A Mac Mini Server on Mac OS X is a pretty good solution, especially when combined with a fast Thunderbolt hard drive system like the Pegasus. Many of my clients on the cheap go this route for a combination of Server OS and very fast disk speed with RAID redundancy. The drawbacks are that the hardware is consumer hardware and not redundant (e.g., one ethernet, one power supply, etc.). But it is a lot cheaper than enterprise level hardware if your client is on a budget.
Taylor, we are also huge fans of the Mac Mini and have had brilliant service from Minis booting from FireWire 800 caddies running server grade SATA hard disks linked to gigabit switches. Redundancy? Another Mini ready to go sat beside the active one!
Given the choice, we'd choose an entry level Mac OS computer rather than an entry level PC for the reasons you give. However, we still have many customers where Apple hardware would not be allowed through the door or cannot be supported internally. Our key is to ensure the hardware is of sufficient quality, ensure the specification exceeds the requirement and review the installation as business needs change.