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.

Services

Themes

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

Personalization

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.

AeroServer2008

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41 comments

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anonymous's picture

Thanks for your reply

I have seen your dualboot post, and that could be a possibility it i don't find a way to enable offline files.

But it could be nice to stay in the same OS all the time. I will continuer searching for an answer, i let you know if i find any.

By the way thanks for a nice blog.

anonymous's picture

What about DirectX 10,1 on Win2k8? Is it possible?

(name withheld)'s picture

Hey Adam, I'm not sure although you could consider dual booting Vista and Server 2008 on your notebook which is what I plan to do once my second hard disk ships from Dell. Otherwise I guess you'll just need a large primary disk and consider partitioning the disk for both operating systems. If you plan on going that way then check out another of my blog posts where I discuss dual booting Vista and Server 2008: http://software.intel.com/en-us/blogs/2008/02/26/dual-boot-windows-vista-and-windows-server-2008/ I'll let you know though if I find out how to enable offline files within Windows Server 2008 and will post another blog post on that subject. Thanks, Doug

anonymous's picture

I love windows server 2008 on my laptop, but i really misses 'offline files', any suggestions of how to enable it. I found the 'offline files' services but when i try to enable it i get an error...

Please help, hate to go back to Vista, curse of this little problem.

(name withheld)'s picture

Hey Howard, Maybe I shouldn't have said I "upgraded" because what I meant was that I formatted the drive and started a clean OS install. The end result was that I upgraded, the process by which I got there though was not an "OS" upgrade. Thanks, Doug

anonymous's picture

How did you manage to upgrade from Vista Business? I just tried and that option was not available.

anonymous's picture

Thanks James, that is a good suggestion.

- Doug

anonymous's picture

There is a bit more to configure still. Windows Server, by design, runs most processes as backgroud services. You should go to Control Panel>System>Advanced System Settings>Advanced>Performance>Settings>Advanced>Processor Scheduling: Adjust for best performance of: and select "Programs". (Background services is selected by default.)

anonymous's picture

Thank you!

anonymous's picture

Agreed Alek, ... should have spell checked the post first :)

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