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.


For more complete information about compiler optimizations, see our Optimization Notice.


anonymous's picture

sir that was really amazing :) it was my first time to run win 2008 and that was really usefull and really win 2008 rocks (Y)

anonymous's picture

Little ping back on the subject, adding more features to Windows Server 2008 to "look like" a Vista workstation.



anonymous's picture

This was a good tip thanks

anonymous's picture

Hey Arthur,

Actually yes, all the 64-bit drivers for the Vostro 1700 were found by using drivers from the Dell Precision Workstation M90 or M6300 notebooks.

In cases where the driver wasn't appropriate the installed told me so and so using those other drivers was safe.



anonymous's picture

I was wondering if you were able to get all the drivers setup right for your vostro 1700? Thanks

anonymous's picture

Changing the start value from 3 to 2 did not work for me. But after playing with it a while I think the following will work for all Windows Server 2k8 installs.

1. By default, 2k8 does not seem to create the C:\Windows\CSC folder, but all the other needed components are installed. If you do not have this folder, just create it manually before proceeding further.

2. Create/edit the following registry keys:

Key: KLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\CscService\Start
Value: 2

Key: KLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\CSC\Start
Value: 1

Key: KLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\CSC\Parameters\FormatDatabase
Value: 1

Key: KLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\CSC\Parameters\CacheLocation
Type: REG_SZ
Value: \??\c:\Windows\csc (yes, with the weird looking question mark stuff)

Note: The \Parameters key above may not exist, you will have to create it if it doesn't.

3. Reboot and offline files should be functional.

anonymous's picture

Hi.. For all of you trying to enable offline files.. I've did it :)
Regedit : HKLM/System/CurrentcontrolSet/Services/CscService change Start from 3 to 2 .

Best Regards!

anonymous's picture

Thank you for all those tips. One thing i coul't solve is how to share media files within Media Player, the option is gray and i coul't nerver find the solution.

Some here to help me?

anonymous's picture

Great Stuff.
For a complete move to full workstation with all the Vista bits and the annoying 2008 bits turned off check out this page its really comprehensive.

(name withheld)'s picture

In answer to Spen's question regarding DX 10.1 on Windows Server 2008 check out my post tonight entitled "Got DirectX 10.1" (


Add a Comment

Have a technical question? Visit our forums. Have site or software product issues? Contact support.