Windows Server 2008 as Workstation

For years I've been working with windows server editions as my main development environments, the reasons are plenty and among of them you can find the stability and the lose of useless services at workstations versions.

Last week I've decided that enough it enough and I cannot stand Vista anymore and decided to downgrade to XP just before going through the downgrade I've received a notification from the Windows Server Beta that they finally made Windows Server 2008 RTM so I've decided to give it a try AND I LOVE IT !

The installation of Windows 2008 Server went much faster then i expected.

After the installation I've started modifying the base install and adapting the server for a high end workstation.

For anyone who might want to move like me here is my WIN2008Workstation list:

  1. Disable shutdown event tracker
    Start->Run->"gpedit.msc" -> Administrative tools->System-> Display Shutdown event tracked -> Disable
  2. Disable IE Security
    Start->Server Manager->Configure IE Sec->Off both options.
  3. Enable Wireless Support
    Start->Server Manager->Features->Add Feature->Wireless LAN Services
  4. Enable Audio support
    Start->Run->"Service.msc"->Windows Audio -> Automatic
    Start->Run->Services.msc"->Windows Audio Endpoint Builder->Automatic
  5. Install hardware drivers
    I am using ThinkPad t60p so my driver list is here
    Note that mobility center is missing from windows 2008 server so there is no need to install it.
    IBM Network access connection will crash on you if you will not enable the wireless support (Look above)
  6. Enable Vista Experience (look & feel including Aero, Media Player etc.) 
    Start->Server Manager->Features->Add Feature->Desktop Experience

    More info including how to enable sleep support on windows 2008 server you may find over this kb:
  7. Enable Themes
  8. Enable .NET 3.0
    Start->Server Manager->Features->Add Feature->.NET Framework 3.0 Features
  9. Enable Windows Search (for searching outlook emails)
    Start->Server Manager->Roles->Add Roles->File Services->Windows Search
  10. Enable SuperFetch

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters

    Add a new DWORD by the name of EnablePrefetcher and assign is the value of 3
    Add a new DWORD by the name of EnableSuperfetch and assign is the value of 3

  11. Install Messenger
    Latest Live Messenger will not install on Windows 2008 Server, you should install a former version (8.1 and not 8.5) and then you may copy the Live Messenger folder from a working machine and work with it.
  12. Install Skype
    Latest Skype version will crash 2 seconds after login, you need to install a former skype version Skype works great.
  13. Install Office 2007
  14. Install Visual Studio 2008
  15. Setting Processor Scheduling
    Start->Control Panel ->System ->Advanced system settings-> Advanced -> Performance -> Settings->Advanced->Adjust best performance->Programs
  16. Changing DEP Mode
    Start->Control Panel ->System ->Advanced system settings-> Advanced -> Performance -> Settings-> Data Execution Prevention-> Turn On DEP for essential Windows programs and services.
  17. Fixing ASP.NET Development Server
    After installing visual studio you might want to start working with Casini, the dev server but it seems that the ie cant find it.
    Edit the hosts file located at: C:/windows/system32/drivers/etc

    comment the following line :
    ::1             localhost
    by replacing it with:

    (the "::1" is use for the localhost for ipv6)


  • Regarding the point 12 - Skype, I had same problem and newer version (comparing to you mentioned) is working great too.
    Thanks for "Disable IE Security", very useful for me!

  • Why have you had enough of Vista?

    I have been using Vista for a while and dont have any problems (until the network guys pissed about with WSUS!).

    I dont get the hatred!

  • Um, you do know that Vista and Windows Server 2008, unlike previous client/server releases, are based on the same code base, right?

    Seems like a lot of work just to get back to a Vista experience.

  • What's the advantage of running Windows Server 2008 RTM over Vista SP 1?

  • Why i've decided to downgrade, well i've been working with vista from the earliest beta on a high end laptop and it was just too slow for me.

    Why configure win2008 which is the same code base of vista and work with it, well because it comes with lots of vista services turned off and is tuned for performance it just runs much much much more quickly !

  • As was a beta tester of vista sp1, it does improve vista's experiance but i can't even compared how fast and smooth my laptop is currently running then with vista sp1.

  • I think one important thing is missing on the list - setting Processor scheduling to 'Programs' instead of 'Background Services', which is default on server system.
    Can be found under System Properties -> Advanced -> Performance [Settings] -> Advanced.

  • Actually much more interesting pricing...

    Windows Server 2008 Standard is $999
    at the same time
    Windows Vista Ultimate - $400
    Windows Vista Business - $300

    I do not think that $700 is reasonable here...

  • Joe Chung:
    The advantage may be you can develop/test your software on "real" environment on which application will be deployed, in case of web apps for example without need of virtual machine.
    Same applies for WSS which you cannot install on non-server version of OS.
    I think some others also can be found, anyone ? :)

  • Very helpful, thanks.

  • Mike Chaliy:
    You can access Microsoft ISV (or another partner program/MSDN subscription) and get all MS software for development for few hundred dollars or so...

  • Indeed Windows Server 2008 cost much more then vista but well... i do own an MSDN Premium so the $$$ diff. does not play much for me.

    Regarding why... well i do like as a developer to have all my options open, for example if i want to simulate working with active directory or develop server side service and be sure it will work as it should i find it very usefull to develop it on the operating systems that will run it by the end.

    If you are looking at secure developments, which is another issue, by developing on the target platform i can be sure that i will not need to elevate the application permission when it comes to deployment as i will be facing most of the problems ahead while developing the service.

  • Ahh - I did the same thing when the Windows 2008 RC came round, then went back to Vista once I had SP1. Have to say - I much prefer Windows Server 2008 - as a workstation - it ROCKS! - and that was the RC - now it's released, I'm sure it's improved.

    One thing - how do I install LiveWriter on it? LiveWriter is one of the more excellent products to come out of Redmond recently, so I would really like to continue using it.

  • I used live writter to post this blog... instead of installing it just copy its dir from a working machine and run it.

  • Great - I'll do that - but can't we get MS to provide a real workstation SKU?

    Interesting that I always used the server product as a workstation - untill the release of XP which I thought was 'good enough'

    Now I feel myself wanting to go back to the server product...

  • O - and is it worth running 64 bit with Hyper-V?

  • The Toshiba bluetooth stack seems to run just fine on my W2K8 laptop

  • Damn, I did exactly what you did on my MacBook. Love it!!!!

    Vista -> XP SP3 RC -> Windows Server 2008 RTM

  • Great job. You saved me a lot of time.

  • Thank you very much for this list.
    Looks like everything is working out for me..

  • Tried RTM Trial 32 bit on My DELL Latitude D630. All works just fine. It just like everyone says, it the best windows ever.

  • Do you know what antivirus software will work with Windows 2008 x64?

  • Any thoughts about changing the DEP mode from Level 2 (server default to scan all processes) to Level 1 (XP SP2 and Vista default to scan only OS essential processes resulting in better performance). It is a security / performance tradeoff, but it will match to the client default for a performance gain.

  • dstoker - Yep i did change the DEP but forgot to update the list, thanks.

    Dmitri - NOD works fine.

  • I have moved from Vista64 to Server 2008 and I am very happy but I have noticed that the option to change hardware acceleration - do you know how I get change it - it is disabled for me

  • Ok, but what about burning dvd/cd.
    Now i can't do it. System doesn't detect by burner.
    I can read files from it but not write.

  • I installed Windows Live Writer by copying from my Vista. It works without problems. This trick doesn't work for Live Messenger.

  • My SONY Handycam DCR-HC26 connected by firewire is automatically detected and installed with Vista and Vista SP1.

    However, switching the computer over to Server 2008 and it doesn't even know there's a camcorder attached. I did try with USB [instead of Firewire] and Server detects that's there's hardware there [and the even name] but doesn't install any drivers.

    I lost my SONY install disk ages ago and SONY charges 30 bucks for the replacement CD - not including handling - which makes it awkward.

    Seems like I will be switching the machine to Vista SP1. Oh well, because I liked Server 2008 as a workstation right off the bat.

    BTW has anyone had success with camcorders and Server 2008?

  • Leon - The trick for installing msgr is installing the former version and then using a copy of the new version which works great.

    Saucy - What you can try is have Vista installed somewhere, connect the CAM and check for the windwos\drivers for oem1.inf ... oem2.inf... oemX.inf till you find the right inf file, look at the inf which is a text file for what drivers it is using and where it puts them and you'll be able to move them to the windows 2008 server, most of the drivers for vista will work simlessly with windows 2008 server.

    Darek - i've installed dvd burner software without a prob. you may check my former advise about the inf files and see if it helps you.

  • Saucy - you may want to try getting the XP driver from here and try it :

  • Sorry, I don't know if my last comment was sendend because I wasn't logged in.

    I have 2 questions:
    - How to activate the use of offline folders ?
    - How to activate de hibernate modes ?

    Thanks in advance. Regards.

  • Thanks for all the great advice above. The only remaining problem I am running into is loading the Exchange 2003 management tools. Microsoft apparently does not support this, and I have seen several hacks for getting it to work on vista.

    Does anyone have any advice on getting the Exchange 2003 management pack installed and working on Server 2008? I'm mainly looking for the snapins for ADUC.

  • Offline Files in 2k8:

    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
    Type: REG_DWORD
    Value: 2

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

    Key: KLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\CSC\Parameters\FormatDatabase
    Type: REG_DWORD
    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.

  • Anyone know how to get DVDs to play in WMP. Downloaded the Cyberlink DVD codec. I get Video but no audio. DVDs play well in Cyberlink power dvd premium. Also cant get any audio in DVR-MS files. I can however play them with VLC Media Player.

  • Great post and I appreciate the tips. However I have still been unable to figure out how to get the driver for the wireless nic in my Latitude D830 setup on server 2K8.

  • Just a note regarding "Offline Files in 2k8" post above.
    All the tweaking steps can be reduced to:
    1. Go to Control Panel -> Offline Files and click "Enable Offline Files" button.
    2. Reboot.

  • Can someone help with cinepak cvid (cinepak by supermac)?
    Copying of dll and editing of register does not work.

  • Hi,

    Perhaps you could help me with W2K8 Dialup networking:

    1. What is the simplest way of dialing up my ISP by using the old fashioned RAS?

    2. Where are the phone numbers storred used for dialup in W2K8.

    3. Can I just use my old phonebook entries from W2K3?


  • Too many unknowns, when you have problems you're not sure if it's 2008 or something else, drivers not always functional, devices not recognized, graphics slower in some situations. Back to Vista Ultimate for Me... I wouldn't notice a difference except Hyper-V management from remote.

  • I just moved from Vista Ultimate to Server 2008, and following the various threads on the topic regarding optimizing the OS for a desktop experience have found Windows Server 2008 to be just about the best experience I have had on an MS OS to date (at least since Server 2003 anyways). Development tools seem snappier, the driver support is excellent (I used all my Vista drivers) and I have the luxury of running basic AD stuff in the background for a small home network. It's cool!

  • How were you able to get sleep functionality enabled on the Dell D630? I haven't been able to get the option enabled, despite the fact that it worked great in Vista, and all of my device drivers appear to be up to date.

  • I love these mods. I've got two of my systems, previously running Vista, converted. This really is what Vista should have been.

  • Hi guys,
    I installed Win2008 x64 on my HP Laptop and installed the Vista drivers for all devices.
    It works great!!! (Even the fingerprint reader...)

  • Yes, I got opportunity to use Windows 2008 and its an experience, it surely helps the System Administrators and definitely soon companies would upgrade them to 2008,

  • New version of Skype released It works with Server 2008.

  • MSN Messanger won't install as standard, however the beta version 9 works and installs fine.

    I can confirm that DreamScenes can also be made to work.

  • Is there any web cam works under Win2008?

  • Looks like Skype 4 beta works with Win2008 x64

  • I've created a fairly complete guide on how to get Win2k8 running on Dell's XPS M1330 including Wireless LAN, full 3D video and audio support, working Bluetooth stack and much more. You're all invited to have a look.


  • Using Server 2008 since a few month as a workstation... and it runs as fast as on the first day.

  • Latest version of Skype works OK now...

  • I have successfully installed W2K8 on my Lenovo 3000 Laptop. Was still using XP/Kubuntu dualboot. Vista was running dreadfully slow. W2K8 rock !!!
    But I still have 3 unknown devices in DM...tried all the triks to find drivers ...but invain :(
    Thanks to Ohad for sharing his experience.

  • Atlast Windows 2008 comes with Hyper - V . Lets hope the security features in Win 2008 address the loopholes in win 2003

  • Hello.
    :) The natural photo of the new arrival, taken by Emma Tallulah's dad,

  • I have a Dell Dimension E520 with 4GB RAM and an Dell OEM (64) version of Server 2008.

    I decided to strip out all of my PCI devices and the video card first to test out the OS with a "basic" system, eg., one that would present few driver issues, and then integrate each PCI devices one at a time.

    The advantage of paring the OEM verions with manufactured PC is that the BIOS has a SLIC table entry and I don't have to register the OEM version. That was truely a bonus.

    The installation was smooth as glass. All the drivers on a basic Dell platform are either part of the OEM OS or downloaded on update. I didn't need to go to the Dell site once, not that they currently offer any help for Windows 2008 Server drivers.

    I did have some problems with virus scanners and tried a trick with AVG posted on the net, but in the end I purchased a 2-user server license for $79.

    My experience after tweeking around (see above) is that Windows 2008 Server rocks. I've been an avid user of Vista Ultimate 64 for over a year and I understand how to tweak the heck out of Vista. But I could never tweak it to perform like Windows 2008 Server.

    I use Hyper-V and have Linux, Windows XP, and Vista Business 32 Virtual Machines running on a 1TB drive.

    So my vote is Windows 2008 Server as a Workstation, tweaked without cracks. No slow downs, excellent performance and for me the ultimate workstation OS.

    Hardware drivers are still a pain in native OS, but the other VM Servers pick up the PCI devices without a problem.

  • Vista & Srv 2008 same thing after release Vista SP1 RTM, lot of time to nowere.

  • Is it compulsory to set "Setting Processor Scheduling "???

    Thanks for great help


  • Everything works smooth with Windows Server 2008 and much awaited Hyper-V Harware Virtualization that is included in Windows Server 2008.


    Shane Phillips

  • Question for the author of this blog and/or anyone else:

    Has anyone experienced issues with running Live Messenger (latest version) on Windows Server 2008 after applying Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2?

    I can no longer get the application (Live Messenger) to launch, where as before I had no issues...

    Anyone experience this after installing SP2 for W2K8?

  • For No.7, it should be
    Enable Themes
    Start->Run->"Services.msc", not "Service.msc"

    And thanks for sharing. Great article.

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