Windows Workstation 2008 R2: An even better OS for a laptop

Some time ago I repaved my laptop with Windows 2008, 64 bit. The main reason was Hyper V providing such a good support for virtual machines. I dedicated quite a post on all the details of setting up that system. The machine has served it’s purpose quite well being a very powerful mobile workstation with a crisp response including any virtual server I need for the particular project. The only downsides were it’s relatively long booting time and the lack of power management options like hibernating to compensate for that.

Having heard such good things about Server 2008 R2 (only available in 64 bits version) I decided to upgrade. The process itself is very simple

  • Shut down all virtual machines
  • Uninstall Hyper V
  • Run setup and upgrade
  • Switch on the Hyper V role
  • Recreate the virtual networks and machines, using the existing virtual hard disks. Those are (by default) found in the public documents folder.

The last step may seem like a lot of work but it’s just another no brainer.

The result is a machine

  • Which boots a lot faster
  • Operates even smoother. Graphics are really better, using the default Windows driver
  • Has the Windows 7 UI, with nice docking and the Aero shake


Makes me feel happy. In case you’re running Workstation 2008 as well I can only advice you to upgrade this very moment.

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  • pvanooijen

    I’m not quite sure what you are aiming at. 2008 does have the compatibility tab. You can even suggest you app is running W95 :)
    What are we missing ?

  • Steven A. Ealy

    Really the only thing that sets Server 2008 R2 aside from Windows 7 is dependencies. Some software checks for which version of NT you are running and some do not. Its a hit or miss. I think its a shame that software fully capable of supporting the Windows Server platform refuses to run. At the very least just prompt a message saying “unsupported OS: do you wish to proceed?” developers would love to test software on the same machine but these software designers are making it hard to this dream to come true.

  • pvanooijen

    With Hyper-V installed the possibility to hibernate is disabled. No way to get that to work. As a compensation I would like a faster boot. R2 gives me just that.

  • doug bennett

    Did you figure out a way to get hibernate to work? That was one of your main reasons to upgrade correct? While I like Server 2008 R2 as a workstation OS on my laptop, I have accidentally shoved my laptop into the case while running. I was lucky I didn’t burn it up. You know how when meetings run over and there are people waiting on you to shut down the OS. That sucks! I don’t see why Microsoft can’t get Hyper-V to hibernate. Seems like it would be as simple as save to disk and then hibernate the OS as usual.

  • Dmitri Nesteruk

    I went the same road, installing 2008R2. However, as soon as I went 64-bit, I realized that lots of my C++ code has to be redone :)

  • mob

    Yeah, I installed the wireless feature, that works great. Didn’t seem to effect BT though.

  • sean kearon

    R2 looks good, but as I’ve switched to from HyperV to VMWare Workstation so I’m going to upgrade my workstation 2008 to Win7 and see how that goes. If there are any other reasons than HyperV to stay with 2008 over W7 then please shout! I’ve been running workstation 2008 for the last year or so and it’s been a really sweet experience. I’m hoping for good things from W7 and am looking forward to again working with an OS that my users will be using.

  • Greg Strockine

    sorry, I didn’t mean to be so negative with my last post. Its one big world and we all have to live together. Please take it as a different perspective.
    – Greg

  • pvanooijen

    @mob : The Wifi works allright, on the laptop it’s sharing hardware with BT. But you’ll have to switch on the wirelesse feature. Perhaps that feature influences BT as well ?

    @Remco : don’t know.. The defaulkt graphics driver is better than the specific nVidea for R1

    @Greg: OT

  • Greg Strockine

    the window managers on MS products blow. Coming from a Linux back ground, I can’t set the mouse focus and window behavior as a power user would.

    Also I love eye candy and nothing compares to Compiz. MS window managers have no work spaces mapped to a rotating cube. I once showed this to an MS weenie and he couldn’t even understand he was seeing separate work spaces. He thought he was looking at a rotating jpg.

  • Remco Ros

    Has the issue with High-end graphic cards (especially NVidia) and Hyper-V been fixed in R2 ?

    This isn’t much an issue on Server machines.

    But on workstations which also need 3D / video / graphic editing (and WPF!!!) it really is.

    That’s the only reason I currently use Vista on my notebook and not 2008.

  • mob

    I’ll second that, been running a server OS on my notebook (With the apps you mentioned) since server 03 and have had no issues (Except the one below). I find it to run much faster (Except boot up as you pointed out. But boot up is now quite fast in R2). Plus a few mods will get you the workstation UI and functionality.

    One thing I will note about R2 that is a problem is with bluetooth. In 08 there was a work around for this but it appears that the work around doesn’t work on R2. So my BT mouse works but thats about it. From what I can tell, looking on the internets, the full windows BT stack is not part of the R2 dist. If you could figure out how to manually install it then it would probably work. I guess M$ decided for all of us that BT on a server OS was not important.

    Also, I’ve tried to get the Widcomm BT stack installed (If you have a Widcomm chipset on your radio) and the installer will only work on workstation class OS’s. You can get around this and install the “sub installer” but things still dont work and you get a couple of errors. So no luck there either.

  • pvanooijen

    No limitations. I’m running VS, R#, SVN, Wifi, IE, Firefox, soem legacy stuff, no problem at all. It took setting some settings (see post1).

    Perhaps the MS emp was talking about the licence, I have MSDN. Buying a “real” licence could be quite expensive.

  • Enrique Ramirez

    Interesting. I could have sworn I heard a podcast about 2008R2 where the MS rep stated that we wouldn’t be able to use it as a workstation (as we tend to do with our dev machines). He also stated “that’s what Win7 is for”.

    Any limitations you have encountered?

  • pvanooijen


  • Rik Hemsley

    What are the advantages over running W7?