Each option has its own pluses and minuses and each has its own share of proponents who swear by it. It really comes down to what you'll be using the server for and how much experience you and your staff have with the server's given OS, especially if you choose a dedicated Windows or Linux hosting option where you will be in charge of the day to day operating and maintenance of the server. Here is a summary of where each of these popular OS options excels.
Companies have a lot of things to consider when choosing hosting options. Shared versus dedicated hosting, hosting provider and server operating system are the ones that are usually the hardest to figure out. Hosting companies typically offer two web server operating system options, which are Windows or Linux hosting.
Better Performance: Windows is more resource-intensive than Linux. What this means on the server side is that, with Windows, the operating system itself is consuming system resources. These resources are then unavailable to sites and their apps. Since Linux is far more lightweight an OS, it can devote more memory, processor and other resources to the sites it hosts.
Lower Price: Red Hat Linux, the most commonly-used enterprise edition of Linux, costs far less than typical Windows licensing does. Another way that Linux is more affordable is in administration costs. Linux is usually less buggy and crash-prone than Windows, so it needs fewer maintenance visits.
More Stable: Linux just works. It is very lightweight and runs fine for a very long time with no need for maintenance. Unlike Windows, Linux has no need for regularly-scheduled reboots to stay in tip-top shape. While Windows is getting better at this, it's just not there yet.
Server Uptime: Windows does crash from time to time. This is especially true in a shared hosting environment, where various client websites are competing with each other and with the OS for resources. Crashes in Linux are rare, so site owners will experience fewer site outages with Linux hosting.
Familiarity: This aspect of Windows server hosting is especially important in virtual private hosting and dedicated physical server hosting environments where a client is expected to administer their own server. Knowledgeable Windows technicians greatly outnumber Linux admins in the IT world, so it's likely your existing staff is ready to go if you choose Windows hosting. This is a better option than training staff in a new operating system or hiring new Linux experts for support.
Windows-specific Technology: Some site owners are tied to technology that only works in Windows or just works better on a Windows server platform. Applications and technology platforms that fall into one of these categories are .Net framework, .ASP, FrontPage, Interdev and other Windows development programs. If any of these apps are needed, Windows hosting is the way to go.
OS Support: Linux is an open source operating system and, depending on which Linux distribution you choose, the availability and quality of support varies. Linux is supported by a peer community of online experts who can be found on Linux message boards and other online hangouts. They mean well but have no vested interest in fixing your problem. On the other hand, companies who purchase Windows also have the option of purchasing 24/7 support from Microsoft.
Updates and Security: A common misconception is that Windows is less secure. It is true that, due to its widespread use, more hackers and creators of malware focus their efforts on Windows on the desktop level. On the server side, this just isn't the case. The truth is that Linux's prevalence in the server marketplace makes it actually more prone to web-based attacks. Combine this with the fact that Windows addresses exploits and security issues with patches on a regular schedule and Microsoft may edge Linux in the security arena.