Mary Jo Foley has an article on
bringing back creating Windows Workstation 2008 (Part I) and proposing the idea that in the past there was a “server” version of NT4 and Windows 2000 and a “workstation” version that was the same product with limits on concurrent usage when running IIS, etc. She says that since Windows Server 2008 is the best version of Windows Server ever by a wide margin, why not capitalize on that an offer a “workstation” version.
Some people, especially in the consulting field or who are consulting ITPros, have long run a Server OS as their “workstation” often on laptops as well. I decided to give Windows Server 2008 a shot myself, especially after getting some guidance from the blog of Vijayshinva Karnure, (Part II) a Microsoft employee who wrote a great blog post on how he adapted Windows Server 2008 for his use as a workstation (on a laptop to boot).
I followed Vijay’s instructions for the most part. I started by enabling only the things I needed step-by-step in order to keep as much of the speed savings as possible. It only stands to reason that if you turn on every bell and whistle you find in Vista, you haven't gained very much. There is a debate in the comments of Vijay’s post about how the kernel is identical between Vista SP1 and W2K8. I believe this is true. However, W2K8 flies, were Vista SP1 merely jogged along. Don't get me wrong, Vista SP1 is a big improvement over Vista RTM, but W2K8 is even better.
Of course, there are a couple of things you have to give up. I didn't get the Hyper-V version as my Dell Latitude D620 doesn't have hardware virtualization. I am just running 32–bit Standard without Hyper-V. I turned on Themes and the Themes service so I can use Aero. That hasn't slowed it down yet. I also turned on the WLAN Auto Config service as I need wireless on the laptop. That one took me a second to figure out. Networking showed the adapter as lit up and seeing a signal, but disabled. Easy enough I thought: Just right-click and enable. I did this several times to no avail.
Another PITA is the IE ESC (Enhanced Security Configuration). In W2K3 you went in to Add\Remove Programs and Add\Remove System Components to remove it for administrators. In W2K8 you need to go to Server Manager (which is nice enough to present itself to you every time you log in) and then down to Security and click on IE ESC Configuration.
For some reason I also cannot burn DVD’s with my DVDRW drive. I can read them but it will not burn files from the shell. I haven't had time to try a third party tool yet.
And the final bummer is that no Windows Live components (like Live Writer) will install. I had to go back to BlogJet for this post.
However, I am still quite happy with the speed that this installation is performing at. My boot time, logon time and overall responsiveness is much improved. Let’s see how it looks two weeks from now!