Windows Server 2008 as workstation OS?

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Looking at websites with appealing names like there seem to be (home) users that want to convert Windows Server 2008 to the workstation Operating System Windows Vista should have been.

About is a Dutch hosted website, that aims to provide information on installing Microsoft Windows Server 2008 on desktop hardware and configuring it so you can use it as a workstation.


My 2 pence

I really don't think Windows Server 2008 is a good alternative in home environments to Windows Vista with SP1. Running an Operating System on unsupported hardware and installing applications in unsupported ways in my book simply doesn't constitute sanity. Windows Server 2008 may be an alternative to Windows Vista in one role, one purpose scenarios, but that's where Windows Server 2008 is aimed at anyway.


The performance gap between Windows Vista (with SP1) and Windows Server 2008 has been researched on many sites.

I found the comparison from exo-blog the most thought through. Their conclusion is the gap between Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is somewhere between 11 and 17 percent in favor of Windows Server 2008.

Please note though: Much of the performance comparison between Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 is old. From the text of some of the comparisons it doesn't become clear whether it was tested with a pre-release version of Windows Vista Service Pack 1. In the mean while Microsoft released several updates, addressing the reliability and performance on Windows Vista SP1-based computers. I guess it's time for a new series of comparisons?

Another thing that strikes me is the use of synthetic benchmarks, contrasting with users experience of the performance and reliability of the system. In the real world you wouldn't notice a single frame per second increase anyway.


Microsoft used to work with a Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) and now works with the Windows Server Catalog to inform people what hardware can be used with Windows Server. When scrolling through the lists of Certified hardware you won't find much consumer hardware…

Microsoft included some of the Windows Vista functionality in Windows Server 2008 for Terminal Services purposes. A consistent user experience is appreciated, which resulted in the availability of Aero and Flip3D within the Desktop Experience feature. Functionality in Windows Vista deemed for home usage are typically excluded from Windows Server 2008. Windows Media Sharing, Windows Sidebar, Windows Media Center, Windows Live are mere samples of this stripped functionality.

Some of the tricks on instruct you to download zip files from the Internet with specially crafted programs, features from Beta builds of Windows Server 2008 and registry modification files. I'm surprised no-one with less fresh intentions hasn't exploited this trust yet and leaks haven't made public yet in the (beta) code. The effect could be wildly interesting!

Windows 7

Randall C. Kennedy of Infoworld fame goes as far as suggesting Microsoft takes a good look at what they're doing and implementing some of Windows Server 2008 characteristics in Windows 7, the next version of the Windows Operating System.

This reminds me of a nice urban myth surrounding Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe.
In this myth the two meet and Marilyn suggests the two have children. Inheriting her looks and his intellectual capacity these children would rule the world. Albert Einsteins reply was to mention the possibility of their children inheriting his looks and her intellectual capacity…

I don't know whether Microsoft watches people reducing their Windows Server 2008 installations to mere workstations. When they do I hope they don't drop the Terminal Services functionality, nipping these frivolous conversion attempts in the bud. I also hope the Windows Server 2008 $999 price tag (Standard Edition) doesn't find its way to the Windows client Operating System.



Using Windows Server 2008 as a day-to-day workstation to me seems like a waste of time, money and resources. Try getting certified on Windows Server 2008 dudes!

Investigating the possibility of unlocking Vista User Interface (UI) features for Terminal Services usage is noteworthy, but this doesn't seem to be the goal of these people.

Anyway, real men don't care much for a User Interface (UI).
Try using Server Core as your day-to-day workstation, eh. [H]

Further reading

Windows Server 2008 as a Workstation OS.
Why I switched to Windows Server 2008 on My Workstation
Windows "Workstation" 2008 – Vista Done Right?
Windows "Workstation" 2008: One week later
"Workstation" 2008 – four months later
Using Windows Server 2008 as a SUPER workstation OS
Replacing Vista with Server08
Windows Server 2008 as desktop/laptop OS
Windows Server 2008 is 20% faster than Vista
Windows Server 2008 as Workstation
Use Windows Server 2008 as a workstation

Author: Sander Berkouwer

Sander Berkouwer is the author of the Active Directory Administration Cookbook, speaker and blogger at and He is awarded Microsoft MVP, Veeam Vanguard and VMware vExpert. Since 2009, Microsoft has awarded Sander with the Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award. Since 2016, Veeam has awarded Sander with the Veeam Vanguard award.