Windows Server 2008 "Aero Enabled" Workstation Edition

Last week Dell shipped me a new Vostro 1700 notebook which I promptly upgraded from Windows Vista Business edition to Windows Server 2008. In this blog post I'll show you how to setup Windows Server 2008 in a Workstation configuration.

Windows Server 2008 installed without an issue although I could not find out how to install Windows Media Player 11 and attempting to download the player referred me to a download for Windows XP 64-bit instead. To install Windows Media Player 11 within Windows Server 2008 you simply have to go to the Server Manager and install the Desktop Experience. Included with the Desktop Experiance feature is the Windows Media Player 11, desktop themes, and photo management tools from Windows Vista.

Desktop Experiance

The following screen shot shows the Desktop Experiance option within the Add Features Wizard. By default however some of these features are not enabled and you must manually enable them. Windows Vista included the new Aero Theme which I must admit I really like and so I began looking at how I could enable this theme within Windows Server 2008. To enable Aero you must first enable the Themes Service within the Windows Services control panel applet, changing its startup setting from Disabled to Automatic.



Once the Windows Themes service is running you can right click on the desktop and select Personalize, and then choose the Theme link.


Theme Settings

You'll notice however that the graphics are set at this point Windows Vista Basic without the Aero Glass support that is enabled by default within Windows Vista on appropriate graphics hardware. If you have an appropriate graphics card within the machine you can enable Aero Glass within Windows Server 2008 by again right clicking on the desktop and select Personalize, and then choose the Windows Color and Appearance link and then change the Color scheme to Windows Aero.

Appearance Settings

When selecting the Windows Color and Appearance link again you'll see the updated version of this form from Windows Vista.

Aero Appearance Settings

With all of these changes in place you'll now have the visual effects from Windows Vista enabled within Windows Server 2008 as the following screen shot shows.


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anonymous's picture

thank u a lot

anonymous's picture

I have been doing the same with a Vostro 1400, but I failed in getting a driver for the WIFI connection.
Everything else works, but I need WIFI. In XP I use Broadcom driver
anny suggestions, welcomed

anonymous's picture


It didn't work for me.

I can't select the themes after following all the steps .

Has anyone has an idear how to solve this?

anonymous's picture

Thank you!

(name withheld)'s picture

According to Rafael Rivera of the Within Windows blog, “The games will need patching to remove the SKU licensing checks ;)” I'll e-mail some folks on the Windows team and see what can be done about releasing them as an additional feature pack for Windows Server 2008 R2. It is unlikely to be a high priority though :( - Doug

(name withheld)'s picture

Ah, in that case I'm not sure but I'll try and find out ... watch this space. - Doug

anonymous's picture

I was actually refering to the game pak that came with Vista, solitare, freecell, etc...
thanks for your replies.

(name withheld)'s picture

Actually many games for Vista do run on Windows Server 2008 and will likely also run on Windows Server 2008 R2 also. I have personally used Microsoft Flight Simulator X on Windows Server without any issues. Assuming you can get an appropriate driver for your graphics card, sound card, etc. then you shouldn't have any issues. Windows Server 2008 has DX10 or DX10.1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 has support for DX11. Regards, Doug

anonymous's picture

I know this is backwards, but is there a way to run the Vista games on Win2k8? Just wondering out loud.

anonymous's picture

Thanks for the tips. Works great!


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