How to enable Aero Themes in Windows Server 2008 R2

I recently got a 64 Bit Machine with i5Processor to start learning Windows Server 2008 R2 features. After installing the OS, I was expecting the Windows 7 Like GUI and Aero Glass features to be available by default but was disappointed when I saw the interface which was similar to old Windows Server.

Windows Server 2008 R2 Aero Glass


Basically Server OS aren’t supposed to be doing the Jazzy features. They are for a different need, but that does not mean that you cannot have it. So if, you have ample of  memory, you can enable Windows 7 features in Windows Server 2008 R2 by using what is called as Features.

Features are software programs that, although they are not directly parts of roles, can support or augment the functionality of one or more roles, or improve the functionality of the server, regardless of which roles are installed.

Steps to Enable Windows 7 Like features in Windows Server 2008 R2

  • Go to Server Manager icon, which is already, available in the TaskBar or you can type in start search menu and it will show up.
  • Go to Features > Add Features > Check Desktop Experience.
Enable Desktop Experience Features in Windows Server 2008 R2
Enable Desktop Experience Features in Windows Server 2008 R2
  • As soon as you select this a pop will ask you to enable required features like Ink and Handwriting Services, Ink Support and Handwirting recognition. Good thing about this is you can Add those features to get enabled along with Desktop experience right from there. Click on the button which says “Add Required Features”
Required Features for Desktop Experience
Required Features for Desktop Experience
  • Click Next to start Installing the Features. This will need  to reboot of the server machine Twice to complete the installation.
Restart Server after installing feature
Restart Server after installing feature
  • Done that you will be still disappointed when you see the Gray Looks of the sever which is not as expected, but what happens is when you install the feature it adds a service in the server called as “Themes” which is disabled by default.
  • So now go to Services > Themes and set it to Automatic so you don’t miss this from any boot or reboot.

Enabling Themes in Windows Server 2008 R2

  • Next right-click on desktop > Personalize and Change theme to Windows 7 under Aero from Windows Classic ( Now I know why it was so Windows 95 )

Aero Theme in Windows Server 2008 R2

  • Anytime you want to remove this Aero Looks just change theme back to Windows Classic and dont start uninstalling the feature etc.

Desktop Experience includes the following Windows 7 components and features:

  • Windows Media Player
  • Desktop themes
  • Video for Windows (AVI support)
  • Windows SideShow
  • Windows Defender
  • Disk Cleanup
  • Sync Center
  • Sound Recorder
  • Character Map
  • Snipping Tool

That’s it, Now you can happily enjoy the Aero Glass Feature in Windows Server 2008 R2 Machine and have all those fun of look and feel. Good Luck.


  1. Hi All.

    How do I enable the snipping tool feature??

    I miss this soo much and really need it on my server 🙂

  2. Hi and thanks a lot for the step by step tutorials

    But I have a computer with win server 2008 r2 and GTX480 and the latest drivers installed (256.98) but still I could not enable aero and it shows me the basic theme.

    I would be glad if anyone can help

    a million thanks in advance
    Nima Nouri


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