Run small Windows software program on AWS - where?


Hello there,

A Beginner

I am an AWS (and cloud) beginner and have an AWS 1-year free trial. I have done the Practitioner exam... but I'm finding now that I am trying to play practically a few weeks later I don't know that much at all. I have the below need. I have read through documentation and also asked Amazon Q... but I would be much more comfortable on being guided by a seasoned AWS expert. (Apologies if I have posted this in the wrong group, I wasn't sure if it ought to be in compute or containers).


I have software that I need to run on a windows machine within AWS. Ordinarily I would just use VMWare on my laptop and create a virtual windows machine. But my old windows laptop has broken (hence trying this on AWS).

  • It is only for my own use
  • it is not compute intensive (runs fine on an old windows laptop)
  • It is not critical to my work in terms of availability (could do spot pricing)
  • The software creates project files which must persist (a couple of megabytes each)
  • I don't have a Windows server licence (and I don't want to buy one)
  • Question: What are my options for installing and running a windows program on AWS? I would prefer the simplest, easiest solution.

ANSWERS I GOT FROM Q (just for interest - feel free to skip)

I have software that I need to run on a windows machine. It is not compute intensive and is not critical to my work in terms of availability. What are my options for installing and run this in aws?

Amazon Q answered: Here are some options for installing and running your non-critical Windows software on AWS: You could launch a Windows virtual machine on Amazon EC2. EC2 provides scalable compute capacity in the cloud and you pay only for what you use. You would install your software on the EC2 instance like you would on a physical machine. EC2 offers a variety of Windows instance types to choose from based on your compute and memory requirements.

For a low cost option, you could use Amazon Lightsail. Lightsail provides virtual private servers that make it easy to launch and manage Windows instances with just a browser. It offers preconfigured instances that are ready to go which could be suitable for your non-critical workload. Another option is Amazon FSx for Windows File Server which provides fully managed Windows file storage that you can access over the SMB protocol from your EC2 instances. This could be useful if your software needs access to shared files or storage. FSx takes care of the underlying infrastructure so you don't have to.

You should also consider AWS tools for monitoring and management like AWS Systems Manager or AWS Cost Explorer. These services can help you optimize costs and resources for your Windows workload running on AWS.

Are any of your container services suitable?

Amazon Q answered: Yes, some of AWS's container services could be suitable options for your needs. A few possibilities to consider:

  • AWS Fargate provides a serverless compute engine specifically for containers. With Fargate, you don't have to provision or manage servers - it handles all the infrastructure for you. This could work well for a non-critical workload that doesn't have strict availability requirements.
  • Amazon ECS allows you to run and scale containerized applications using simple APIs. With ECS you can use Fargate as the backend infrastructure so you don't have to manage servers. ECS also supports using EC2 instances if you need more control over the infrastructure.
  • Amazon EKS is a managed Kubernetes service that lets you benefit from the Kubernetes ecosystem. With EKS and Fargate together, you get the portability and operational benefits of Kubernetes without having to manage the underlying Kubernetes control plane infrastructure.
  • AWS App Runner is a fully managed service that makes it easy to deploy containerized web applications. It automatically scales your app and handles load balancing. This could be a good option if your software is a web application.

Are any of your container services suitable, that is they have a windows machine and I can install my windows software?

Amazon Q answered: Yes, some of AWS's container services would be suitable for running your Windows software, as they support running Windows containers. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Amazon ECS supports running Windows containers on both EC2 instances and Fargate. You can launch an ECS cluster with Windows Server EC2 instances, or use Fargate which handles the infrastructure for you. Then deploy your Windows container image to ECS.
  • EKS also supports running Windows containers alongside Linux containers. You can create an EKS cluster and deploy Windows container workloads to it. EKS with Fargate would allow running Windows containers without managing any servers.
  • Lightsail offers virtual private servers that have Windows images pre-installed. You could deploy your containerized Windows application to a Lightsail instance.
  • App Runner is fully managed and automatically scales your app. It may be suitable if your software is packaged as a web application container.

Some things to keep in mind are licensing requirements for running Windows in containers, using Windows Server Core images to optimize costs, and monitoring resource usage with services like CloudWatch. The AWS documentation has guides on deploying and managing Windows containers with ECS, EKS and other services.

1 Answer
Accepted Answer


If you use a Windows image prepared by AWS with EC2 or Lightsail, you can use it with a license included.

EC2 and Lightsail have free tiers, so I think it would be a good idea to try using them first.
Please note that Lightsail is free for 3 months after creating an account.*all&awsf.Free%20Tier%20Categories=*all

If you don't have much knowledge about networks such as VPC, I think it's a good idea to start using Lightsail.

The differences between EC2 and Lightsail are summarized in the document below, so I think it's a good idea to refer to it when considering using it.

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  • Hello Riku, thank you so much for your very useful reply! Best wishes.

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