Converting free 'Windows 7' Server into a workstation

Converting free 'Windows 7' Server into a workstation

Summary: Students can download Windows Server 2008 R2 for free. Turn it into 'Windows 7' in only a few steps.


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  • You will need to restart your computer a few times during this setup process. It's annoying and you may feel like you need to do it more than you would have to on Windows 7, but once you're all set up, your new server operating system is designed not to actually shut down - even though you can. So, in the long run you'll end up having to restart/shutdown less than you would have done.

    When this Shutdown Event Tracker pops up (we'll fix this later on), select a random option such as Other (Planned) and mash the keyboard with a random comment in the Comment box. Provided the OK box lights up, that's all you need to worry about.

    To read more about this, head on over to the ZDNet iGeneration blog.
  • The features are incredibly important, unlike the roles which are not. These features will include some of the basic Windows 7 functionality that you would have had, but are not installed by standard because those using a server operating system rarely need them.

    In the Initial Configuration Tasks window, select the Add features option and make sure you select the following: .NET Framework 3.5.1, BranchCache, Desktop Experience, Ink and Handwriting Services (only if you have a tablet/touch PC), Internet Printing Client, Peer Name Resolution Protocol, Quality Windows Audio Video Experience, Simple TCP/IP Services, Windows Biometric Framework (only if you have a fingerprint reader), Windows Server Backup Features, Wireless LAN Service and XPS Viewer.

    Please note: any feature you install which attemps to install a role (it will say so), make sure that you do not accept this. You may have to do this a couple of times, but you will end up with what you need without anything unnecessary churning up your precious computer memory in the long run.

    To read more about this, head on over to the ZDNet iGeneration blog.
  • Once you've restarted and the Initial Configuration Tasks window appears, make sure that the features enabled under the heading are there. The above roles should be non-existent if possible. In this screenshot, it was necessary to install File Services but this won't have a significant impact on the overall performance or memory usage of the computer, as the file server aspect simply won't be used.

    To read more about this, head on over to the ZDNet iGeneration blog.

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

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  • I give MS one day to shut this site down..

    Sad, but true...
    • Sadly...

      @amasys<br><br>...Microsoft has been running this site for quite some time. Thanks to Dreamspark, I'm able to run Server 2008 as Vista Workstation (which was a popular mod back when Server was released).<br><br>I doubt that MS will shut down a site because one random person discovered its existence and declared it too good to be true.<br><br>So, the only one sad about things here is, well... you.
      • RE: Converting free 'Windows 7' Server into a workstation

        @RoyalKnight@... I agree. I just think it's a shame that other software companies like Adobe don't have similar programs to enable students to engage with their products. I think CS5 comes to mind... seeing as so many of my multimedia tech/CS friends download the trial then crack it because they can't afford the ridiculous prices.
    • RE: Converting free 'Windows 7' Server into a workstation


      Most college students in computer-related fields get MS Windows 7 Pro for free anyways through MSDN Academic Alliance. So I don't think MS will make a big deal out of this.
    • They won't do it...

      @amasys I don't think so, Microsoft don't want people hearing bad thoughts about them, especially if those came from sites like ZDNet.
  • RE: Converting free 'Windows 7' Server into a workstation

    Beside that a lot of programs will require a "server edition" ...
    • Yep.


      Of course, there are other alternatives that you can install and use, but, yes, running a Server OS does end up limiting your selection of common desktop software, especially security software. AVG comes to mind.
  • RE: Converting free 'Windows 7' Server into a workstation

    @RoyalKnight - Adobe offers discounts to students all of the time. CS5 goes for $99.00 shipped, no tax. DreamSpark offerings are unbelievable. I would say nearly all of the high end software companies offer sweet deals to students; if a student is receiving the discounts, the his/her IT Department isn't doing its job. They, the IT guys, have to make a call, fill out a short form, and put an institution on a list for the discounts.
    • RE: Converting free 'Windows 7' Server into a workstation


      MSDNAA has also been a valuable student resource.
  • RE: Converting free 'Windows 7' Server into a workstation

    The only thing now left is bluetooth...
  • RE: Converting free 'Windows 7' Server into a workstation

    In the US the site provides discounted software to students. There might be something similar on your side of the Atlantic.