Windows Server 2008: Install Desktop Experience to Utilize Vista Theme

If you are tired of using the Windows Classic theme on your Server 2008, you can install Desktop Experience so that you can enjoy the eye candy goodness of the Vista theme. Desktop Experience will also install Windows Media Player, Windows Sidebar and photo gallery. Follow these steps to install Desktop Experience and liven up your server:


1. Click Start and select Server Manager

2. When the Server Manager window appears, go to the left pane and select Features.

3. On the right, click the Add Features link.

4. Check the Desktop Experience checkbox

5. Click Next.

6. Click Install

7. When the installation is complete, Windows will notify you that you must restart your server to complete the process.

After you have rebooted, go to Services and make sure that the Themes service is started and set to Automatically Start (thanks DTron!). After that, you are ready to change the theme on your server.

1. Right-click the desktop and select Personalize.

2. Select Theme.

3. From the Theme Settings window, use the Theme dropdown and select the Windows Vista theme.

4. Click OK.

So you go from a boring look like this:

To a much better visual experience:

 

About Rob Rogers

Once a prolific author here on Tech-Recipes, Rob has moved on to greener pastures.
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The Conversation

Follow the reactions below and share your own thoughts.

  • vishal

    thanx

    • rayson

      doesn’t seem to work on mine

      • The Pervert

        Because your’re and idiot.hehe …mine worked

  • MulberryTree

    To find Services: Under the Server Manger:
    Configure>Services>Themes>Properties
    Yeah, I’m sure most of you are thinking duh, but I had trouble finding it.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah. You can open services in most Windows operating systems by WIN+R -> services.msc

  • JJ

    UGH, I prefer windows classic. If you are in the biz, ie, a software developer, you might. But the way you make it sound, it’s a no-brainer, and in my opinion, I’ll stick with classic.

  • TGP1994

    I love the aero themes. I’m not much of a developer like the poster who I think will be above me in this post, but I’m a sucker for shiny aero icons :P

    Oh, and I love the fact that Server 2008 is free to students :)

  • pankaj mourya

    this is a best themes
    please send me themes for me free

    • Concoctclicks

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  • raj

    nice site

  • Anonymous

    thanks for this nice post

  • Anonymous

    hi,
    am getting this error message

    ” the theme could not be loaded because the theme service is not running”

    even after starting the theme service.Can anyone help me out.

    • Anonymous

      run: services.msc
      start service called “Themes”

      • guest

        I’m pretty sure he said “EVEN AFTER STARTING THE THEME SERVICE…”

        I’m having this same issue…

  • Anonymous

    it good sugetion

  • Anonymous

    i want a somethink defferent look of server
    thats why i m want somethink defferent thems

  • http://www.facebook.com/dennis.okai Dennis Nii Atuquaye Okai

    well this kinda cool cos it is really helping me as a server administrator

  • http://www.senthil.name/ Senthil

    thanks for the help.
    really helped.

    Senthil.

  • balaji

    Really helped and cool tip

  • Anonymous

    Dear shamanstears,

    When I open Server Manger the left pane does not inlcude “features”.
    It only lists:
    - System tools
    - Storage
    - Services and Aplications.

    What should I do to fix this?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Anonymous

      Are you sure you didn’t open Computer Management instead of Server Management

  • Anonymous

    I don’t have Server manager on my start up… is there another way to download?

  • Anonymous

    Thanx

  • Anonymous

    Am I the only one that wants to disable the Vista theme? I always pick one of the simpler ones as I don’t want the theme to be one of the factors that make my computer slow.
    Sandra Millhouse @ Virtual servers UK

  • Pallab_server

    i love this

  • Encee
  • jamil

    i added features..
    then i opened themes from personalize…
    but there is no option for vista themes….

  • jamil

    i just found the sol

  • Soren Fog

    I had the same problem as Jamil above. I installed the Desktop Experience and enabled the Themes service. But I also saw no selectable “Vista” theme in the Themes dropdown listbox.

    So I started Googling and ended here. I followed the link in the first reply above, and the last (expandable) link on that page states basically that “not all video cards support Aero”. My server 2008 runs in a Virtual PC under Win7, and Win7 Virtual PC emulates a S3 Trio, which probably doesn’t support Aero. But it could at least support the Vista Basic theme. It seems the conclusion is that it is not possible to use anything but Windows Classic in a virtual Server 2008.

    I buy top notch hardware both in my company and at my home (test) set up. My PCs and network can cope with the demanding graphics, even in a virtual PC or as a remote desktop (I know when to disable features due to bandwidth limitations). I use various themes and coloring to distinguish the VPCs we use in my company, both for my own and my colleagues’ benefit. With every other Windows system we can set themes up easily, it’s only with Server 2008 we got this silly issue (we are not using ANY Vistas, but lots of old XPs, some server 2003s and many new Win7 coming in now). At the same time we wanted to move the 2003 servers to 2008, but sorely missing this option of using themes to distinguish servers.

    Any way around this problem? Can I somehow override the default behaviour and force a Vista Basic or Aero theme on Server 2008 despite the (virtualized) hardware limitations?

  • Electeh Muktsar

    I had the same problems. I installed the Desktop Experience ans enable the theme service. There is no selectable vista theme in thesettings

    • pingping

      you have to open “personalize >> theme >> browse”
      then choose “My computer >> :C >> Windows >> Resources >> Theme >> aero(theme).
      And if you have an error message you have to open “run” in start menu and type “services.msc”, click “OK” and changes “Startup type into manual” and “click start in Service status title” then click “OK”.
      And now you can see “Window Vista” in “personalize >> theme” settings.

  • http://javaandfriends.blogspot.com Clydedoris

    me too. i couldn’t find the vista themes even after enabling the desktop themes.

  • stumbler

    You may have to load the theme
    Go to “Browse…”
    Navigate to C:WindowsResourcesThemes and select aero.theme
    That gets Vista into the themes, but I still have the problem getting the error “theme could not be loaded because the theme service is not running”
    Even after stopping and starting the service
    But this is with RDC and it seems that remote may not support this…

  • Karthik Be06

    I am not able to enable Desktop experience in Window 2008 standard R2 chinese simplyfied, could any one help me on this

  • Jobyjoseph777

    thanks …

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  • http://masterielts.blogfa.com hadi

    thank u and i am really great to see ur website

  • http://mexist.webege.com Mancharagopan

    Must Start the theme service before apply the theme.

  • Blake

    I can’t get this to work, the only option that becomes available is Windows 7 Aero theme… It won’t allow me to click this.

  • kimi

    Its works
    thanks

  • Mikeb

    Dos not werk with windows server2008r2 dont wast yor time just stick with vista ulimate or 7 ultimate

  • salman

    thanx mate,… it works great ;)

  • Guilherme Alves

    mano depois que fiz isso, meu CPU foi pra 100%!!!