Running Windows Server 2008 on a Laptop

I've been running WS08 x64 on my laptop (HP 8710p, T7500 CPU, 4GB, 100GB 7200RPM SATA) for the last couple of months, and I have to say that I am loving it. WS08 is fast, reliable, looks cool with Aero, and does everything I need and want it to do. Oh, yeah and I run Hyper-V on it as well, which is truly excellent. I used Vista for a little while, and my impression is that WS08 is quite a bit faster, but that's just an impression; I didn't bother to try to measure it.

WS08 doesn't work so well as a laptop OS out of the box; I had to fiddle with it some to get it to work the way I wanted. In particular, getting Bluetooth to work took some serious effort. But the results are totally worth it.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Install WS08 (I used Standard)
  2. Complete ICT (timezone, networking, etc.)
  3. Setup hardware
    1. Install all hardware drivers for the laptop (the HP Vista x64 drivers all seemed to work properly).
    2. Install and enable Wireless LAN Service (this is available as a feature in Server Manager).
    3. Enable Windows Audio Service (I didn't enable Quality Windows Audio-Visual Experience, Q-Wave. That deals with QOS networking, and I don't have that going on AFAIK).
    4. Install MSFT Bluetooth stack. This was a major hassle; see my earlier post. Note that the hardware drivers from HP worked fine, it was just that Windows would not install the rest of the Bluetooth stack to go along with them.
    5. In the system BIOS, enable Data Execution Prevention and Virtualization Technology. Hyper-V needs these.
  4. Use Server Manager to add roles:
    1. File Services (with Windows Search Service, not the Indexing service)
    2. Hyper-V (RC1 is very nice, BTW)
  5. Use Server Manager to add features
    1. .Net Framework 3.0 (which requires IIS and Windows Process Activation service)
    2. Desktop Experience
    3. Remote Server Administration tools
    4. Windows PowerShell
    5. Windows Process Activation Service
    6. Windows Server Backup
  6. Configure other Windows bits
    1. In Server Manager, disable IE enhanced security.
    2. In Service Manager, enable Themes service.
    3. In Service Manager, enable SuperFetch service.
    4. In Group Policy, disable Shutdown Event Tracking.
    5. From the desktop, Personalize Appearance and Sounds, enable the Aero UI features (yes, I know, it's just eye-candy. But it's so shiny.... :).
    6. From Control Panel, configure power management settings. Note: I've read in a couple of places where Hyper-V does something bad with power management settings. I need to find out more about that.
    7. Add Windows Sidebar (I got the Vista x64 sidebar bits from a friend of mine at MSFT, but you can get them from other places as well).
  7. Install applications

The only application that I've had trouble installing so far is the Windows Live apps: Live Messenger, Live Writer, etc. The code runs fine, but the installer seems to be written to specifically exclude WS08. I downloaded the MSIs separately from someplace (I don't recall where from, but you should be able to Google it), and they installed fine.

I've left out the detailed step-by-step because, well, frankly it's all pretty straightforward, except for the Bluetooth stuff. If you need more detailed instructions, here are several links to help you with the details:

If you decide to use WS08 for your workstation/laptop, please post a comment regarding your experience. I'm curious.