Galin Iliev's blog

Software Architecture & Development

How to turn Windows Server 2008 R2 into workstation with Aero

After I was using Windows Server 2008 as a workstation for a while I decided to move to R2.

Having the option to boot form VHD it was a nice idea- I could have as many OS-es as I want and they fully utilize the hardware. But one question remained: How I can turn Windows Server 2008 R2 into workstation and having all goodies of workstation including Aero interface.

The default installation seems to have following notable features:

  • Only x64 editions
  • Less driver support than Windows 7
  • No audio
  • Wireless disabled by default (after installing the driver)
  • Cannot select Windows 7 theme even after video driver selection.

So let’s nail those one by one:

Only x64 editions

Well… nothing can be done here. Time to move to x64 bit platform. Fortunately my laptop’s CPU was Intel Core2 Duo and can do it.

Less driver support than Windows 7

Luckily Windows 7 drivers work – as long as they support x64 bit. I had a hard time to find some for my Dell machine though… Note: Windows Vista x64 drivers worked for me as well…

No Audio

This was easy. The drivers were in place (with installation) and only had to play with some services:

  • Windows Audio
  • Windows Audio Endpoint Builder


I just started the first one and there was sound J

Wireless disabled by default

This was tough one (for me). I installed correct drivers. Everything seemed normal except I couldn’t enable the adapter. It was constantly disabled.


After every attempt to enable it remained disabled. In Event viewer I saw the following message:

Application popup: BCMWLTRY.EXE - System Error : The program can't start because Wlanapi.dll is missing from your computer. Try reinstalling the program to fix this problem.

The solution was to add the feature “Wireless LAN Service”


Just go to “Server Manager”, select Features from the tree on the left and select “Add Features”


Enable Aero theme.

This one was tough as well… I had to do several steps:

  1. Install video driver
  2. Add “Desktop experience” feature (together with .NET Framework 3.5.1)
  3. Start “Theme” Windows service.

4. Select performance options from System applet in Control Panel

5. Select theme from “Personalization” window


Happy binging! :)

Comments (2) -

  • Blondie

    10/17/2010 5:44:16 PM | Reply

    lots of thanks for this post
    i was fooling around about wireless for 3 months but finally you saved me.

  • Robert Spencer

    8/14/2011 11:22:36 AM | Reply

    Thank you for posting this - it solved my problem.  Fortunately, I found your site after only about an hour of screwing around with it.  But who has anytime to waste.

    Thanks again!!