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I would like to know if I can temporarily use Windows Server 2008 R2 as a workstation on my laptop?

My laptop is an ASUS M51Va

The reason for this is that I am attending on a Microsoft MCSA courses and I want to practice the trainings at home so that I can learn more.

By using it as a workstation I mean will it be possible to use it to watch movies or play games like I do on windows 7? Lets say for example can i install a media player like VLC or install Warcraft TFT?

share|improve this question – Andrew Lewis Jun 24 '11 at 17:41
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Windows Server 2008 R2 has the exact same kernel as Windows 7 x64 (note the x64 part, WS2008R2 doesn't have a x86 version), so it can run on all hardware supported by the corresponding desktop system; if Windows 7 x64 runs fine on your hardware, so will WS2008R2: the drivers to use are exactly the same ones.

In order to turn WS2008R2 into a full-fledged workstation, you'll have to enable the "Desktop Experience" feature from the "Add Features" menu in Server Manager; this will add desktop themes, media codecs and all other desktop-specific features to the system. If you want to use desktop themes (such as Aero) too, you'll also need to start the "Themes" service, which is disabled by default even after enabling Desktop Experience, and then change the desktop settings to use it instead of the basic one; when all of this is done, WS2008R2 will have the exact same look&feel as Windows 7 and the same media capabilities.

You'll also probably want to disable Internet Explorer's Enhanced Security Configuration, which is a special locked-down configuration for IE that is by default enabled on server OSes and effectively makes most websites unusable; this can be done from Server Manager, too.

Almost all software that can run on Windows 7 x64 can also run on WS2008R2; the only exceptions are some special softwares that by design don't support server OSes, such as some antivirus products or system utilities; Office doesn't have any problem at all, and the same should be true for games.

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thanks i will try this :) – RiXZ Jun 24 '11 at 12:51
"Office doesn't have any problem at all" - Unless you turn on the Terminal Services role, at which point it will refuse to install any version of Office except the volume license version. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Jun 24 '11 at 13:10
And 3D graphics will be a real pain if you turn on the Hyper-V role. And security settings will be quite different if you promote it to domain controller. And it will wreak havoc on your network if you enable the DHCP service. Of course there are many ways to make a server behave differently from a workstation... but if you don't do anything "strange", it will be a perfectly good one. – Massimo Jun 24 '11 at 13:15

You can run most programs that work on Windows 7 64-bit on Windows Server 2008 R2. Although, some programs prohibit you from installing "consumer" products on a server OS.

Considering it is a temporary solution, try using a Virtual Machine instead.

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For the most part you should be able to play games and watch movies, although some programes will not run on a server machine, for example, some anti-virus products will detect that you are running on a server and whine/refuse to install. You will also need to set up other services such as the Windows Audio and Search but overall you shoudln't have any problems. Also, consider a dual-boot setup, so Server 2008 plus your current OS, or take a look at VirtualBox for Virtualisation, as you mentioned it is only a tempoary setup.

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I would not do it that way at all. I don't know if you will be able to play your games, but there is the possibility you won't be able to. It is also likely that some drivers will not exist.

I would install either Virtual Box, or get VMWare workstation. Virtual Box is free, but VMWare workstation is a paid product. I would run Server 2008 as a virtual machine within your workstation. This will also give you much more flexibility as you study other products as you will not have to change your OS, you will just create a new VM. You can also run more than one VM at a time, so you can create more complex scenarios, like a domain with multiple servers and workstations (if you have enough CPU power and RAM on your laptop).

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