Convert student-free Windows Server 2008 R2 into Windows 7

Convert student-free Windows Server 2008 R2 into Windows 7

Summary: Students users with access to DreamSpark can download and install Windows Server 2008 R2 - and within minutes convert it to a fully functioning (including themes!) copy of what is basically Windows 7.

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Have a look at this image. It's Windows 7, right?

Well, no. It's actually Windows Server 2008 R2, the server edition based on Windows 7 with additional features to support hundreds of client machines.

But they look the same and they work in the same way. Windows Server 2008 R2 is the latest operating system that Microsoft have developed. It's pretty much brand new.

Oh - did I not mention that it's completely free to download, use and install for students?

DreamSpark is actually now available in 135 countries, with thousands of colleges, schools and universities signed up for it. This extends to up to 170 million students worldwide, to cut down on their upgrading to Windows 7 costs.

Then again, those with access to MSDNAA through their academic program already may have access to Windows 7, so no need to do anything!

But admittedly, you might need to spend the first 10 minutes tweaking it or so, but this photo gallery will guide you through it - start to finish.

Gallery To see the full screenshot gallery, guiding you step-by-step through downloading, installing and configuring Windows Server 2008 R2 into acting, looking and working like Windows 7, head on over here.

Windows 7's equivalent is Windows Server 2008 R2, but the problem here is that it only runs as a x64 operating system. Though many x64 processors are available on the market, if you have an older machine then it may not be x64; it will be x86. You can run an x86 operating system on an x86 or x64 processor, but you cannot run an x64 operating system on an x86 processor.

The two are identical in theme, user interface, programs and applications and usage. The only exception is that Windows Server is designed for the enterprise, but it's free for students. So why not 'convert' it instead of paying through your ears for a legitimate copy of Windows?

Any comments or questions? Feel free to shoot.

Topics: Operating Systems, Hardware, Servers, Software, Windows

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24 comments
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  • And does Zack have a free, competent AV in mind...

    that is allowed to be installed on Server Operating Systems?
    iravgupta
    • How about Comodo?

      If the x64 version won't install try my suggestion at:
      http://www.zdnet.com/tb/1-85522-1620779?tag=talkback-river;1_85522_1620779
      ... or whatever AV you like best.
      jacksonjohn
      • Sorry...

        @johnfenjackson@... but I don't want to mess around with my security software. For the rest of the apps, it might be a good workaround though.
        iravgupta
    • RE: Convert student-free Windows Server 2008 R2 into Windows 7

      @ravi16aug Yeah - actually I do, but speaking to in that condescending way gives me no reason to tell you. Google it.
      zwhittaker
      • Instead of admitting ...

        @zwhittaker that you did forget to include this essential detail in an otherwise excellent tutorial, you are questioning my tone. AVs are different as vendors place restrictions on server OSs. Come on, how low can you go? A few days back you were comparing Camtasia to Windows Live Movie Maker. Is everything alright?
        iravgupta
      • You can go indefinitely.

        @ravi16aug: [i]AVs are different as vendors place restrictions on server OSs. Come on, how low can you go?[/i]

        I've been using my Windows systems without any form of anti-malware software since Windows NT 3.51. Never had any problems.

        And I agree with Zack. You weren't looking for an answer.
        ye
    • RE: Convert student-free Windows Server 2008 R2 into Windows 7

      @ravi16aug

      "And does Zack have a free, competent AV in mind..."

      "but I don't want to mess around with my security software."

      Make up your mind, please. Either you want something, or you don't.

      I smell troll.
      CobraA1
      • RE: Convert student-free Windows Server 2008 R2 into Windows 7

        @CobraA1 Are you a retard? When I said I don't want to mess around with my security software, I was referring to the guy who proposed a workaround for installing software that is not permitted to be run on server OS.
        And when I asked Zack a question, it was a legitimate one. Instead of answering it, he sulked like a baby. Well, so much for quality journalism.
        iravgupta
  • Application Compatibility Workaround

    While Server R2 won't object to applications in general ... application installers may say "I'm not designed to run on THIS operating system!", expecting a client OS instead.<br><br>To work around this one can use the tip from:<br><a href="http://forums.adobe.com/thread/372513" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://forums.adobe.com/thread/372513</a><br><br>and install Microsoft's Application Verifier:<br><a href="http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=C4A25AB9-649D-4A1B-B4A7-C9D8B095DF18&displaylang=en" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=C4A25AB9-649D-4A1B-B4A7-C9D8B095DF18&displaylang=en</a><br><br>This essentially fools the installer into thinking it's working with an OS of one's choice.<br><br>Indeed I've tried this and successfully installed Photoshop CS3 on Windows 7, so the tactic can potentially be used to install old software on new OS's as well.
    jacksonjohn
  • RE: Convert student-free Windows Server 2008 R2 into Windows 7

    Zack,
    What was your reason for disabling Windows Defender service?
    StillLearnin
    • RE: Convert student-free Windows Server 2008 R2 into Windows 7

      @StillLearnin It's rubbish - basically. Defender only protects against spyware and similar threats. Calling it an "anti-virus" or even an "anti-malware program" is like... well it's not, basically.
      zwhittaker
    • Turn that crap off

      @StillLearnin

      If you want something more effective use MSE, It's Windows Defender on steroids :)
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: Convert student-free Windows Server 2008 R2 into Windows 7

        @NStalnecker Totally agree. Works a treat.
        zwhittaker
  • RE: Convert student-free Windows Server 2008 R2 into Windows 7

    The "tweaks" aren't "slight", first W2K8 R2 won't download video card drivers from Windows Update, you'll need to go to the video card manufacturer's website and download/install the drivers from there.

    Second, you have to add the "desktop experience pack" to get most of the "client desktop" experience.

    Third, even if you do all of this, unless you're logged in as "localsystem\administrator", you still can't use the optical disc burners as recording devices unless you either run Explorer elevated or turn off UAC.

    I don't understand why people insist on taking a server configured operating system and trying to use it as a desktop client when you can get a Windows desktop client computer for $350 from Dell.
    PollyProteus
  • RE: Convert student-free Windows Server 2008 R2 into Windows 7

    To be honest - converting server to client seems like a waste. It's simple enough for most students to just get Windows 7.
    CobraA1
    • RE: Convert student-free Windows Server 2008 R2 into Windows 7

      @CobraA1 Simple enough - yes. Cheap? No. Windows Server 2008 R2 is absolutely free, and frankly if it already saves the ordinary skint student a couple of hundred bucks, then where's the problem exactly?
      zwhittaker
      • RE: Convert student-free Windows Server 2008 R2 into Windows 7

        @zwhittaker Cheap? Certainly. Education gets some pretty steep discounts on Microsoft products. If you're in the right programs, you can sometimes even get it free.
        CobraA1
  • RE: Convert student-free Windows Server 2008 R2 into Windows 7

    Because free beats $350 when you already have your own computer any day, especially if you do tend to serve files off said computer, as I do.
    RenoT35
    • RE: Convert student-free Windows Server 2008 R2 into Windows 7

      @RenoT35 I wish I could +1 or 'like' these comments. I totally agree with what you say. Free always beats paid for, especially when they're the same thing just labelled differently.
      zwhittaker
      • RE: Convert student-free Windows Server 2008 R2 into Windows 7

        @zwhittaker Thank you. ^_^. I'm taking Computer Systems Specialist courses at my local tech school, and having the ability to actually PLAY with the server OS is a dream come true for me ANYWAY. To be able to do it free, even better. I have XP and 7 dual booted on my desktop now, but the MSDN copy I got of 7 is hated by WGA, so I need to format. This will be nice as Hell to do it with.
        RenoT35