windows NT & IIS 4.0 has the ability of processing an ms access driven application, without having to install access.
You might want to make sure you have the latest MDAC applied for IIS 4 (www.microsoft.com/data/) but that's the only other thing you'll need to worry about besides the 81,281 IIS 4.0 and NT 4 vulnerabilities.
I would recommend you start with windows 2000 and IIS 5.0 though..... otherwise you'll be in the stone age right off the bat.
(and yes win2k / iis5 has the same ability to process access-driven applications out of the box)
You can host a site off Win2k Pro, certainly.
You'll need to install personal web server. You might want to do some research on that at microsoft's site as I am not sure as to the limitations (i'm sure there definitely will be quite a few)
But if you find a solution that works with win2k pro, that would be by far the cheapest solution.
don't forget about linux/apache, you can get MyODBC drivers on a linux box so you can interact with an access db
for the ULTIMATE cheapest option
I am planning to use it to host Visual Auction software from beyondsolutions.com. From the software requirements, it supports Windows NT 4.0 or better and Cold Fusion 4.0 or better.
I'll have to ask them if I can use linux server to host the auction software.
I'm not sure if Windows2000 Pro (OS) would work with this auction software.
Recommend MySQL over MS Access?
Yes, yes a thousand times yes.
MS Access is not made for a production website / server environment. On a webserver, if you use ms access for anything more than rigorous testing, you are bound for performance problems. Microsoft itself eludes to this on its site.
MySQL is perfectly suited for a webhosting environment, and can range up to some fairly large solutions, while handling the small to medium range applications with ease. Obviously if you are getting into something gigantic w/ load balancing , etc, you'll want to delve into Oracle. Oracle isn't free though.
As far as hard drives, definitely DEFINITELY grab a western digital drive, if you are talking about an IDE standalone drive here.