Running Windows Server 2008 R2 on a Laptop?

Robert has a good post up for folks wanting to run Windows Server 2008 R2 on their laptops. A lot of us do that so that we can run Hyper-V for demos or development purposes. If you enable the Desktop Experience feature along with Wireless LAN and a few other things, you effectively get a Windows 7-like desktop and the ability to run Hyper-V.

One of the challenges of this setup is that for some of the hardware in your laptop, Windows Server 2008 R2 may not detect drivers for it whereas if you were running Windows 7, the hardware would be detected and appropriate drivers downloaded from Windows Update. Robert’s post describes installing Windows 7 into another partition on the laptop and letting Windows Update detect and download the drivers into the Windows 7 install. Then you can boot into Windows Server 2008 R2, go into device manager and search the DriverStore on the Windows 7 partition to find the drivers.

If you know specifically all the hardware in your notebook, either via the Vendor’s website or by taking a screenshot of Device Manager before you upgrade, another way to approach this without doing a separate install of Windows 7 is to search the Microsoft Update Catalog. This KB article talks about how to do that but basically you can search the catalog and download the driver packages directly without Windows Update having to detect your hardware. In my example, I have a Dell D820 with an NVIDIA Quadro NVS 120 display adapter. Sometimes Windows Server 2008 and R2 don’t detect this. Since I know exactly what card I have, I can go to the catalog, search for that adapter, and find then download the Windows 7 driver and install that. The screenshot below shows what the catalog looks like. You can search and add multiple drivers to the download basket then download them all.

Bottom line, if you don’t know all the hardware in your machine, use Robert’s method of installing Windows 7 in another partition to identify all the hardware and use the drivers you download there. If you know your hardware, give the update catalog a try.


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Comments (5)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Дошли руки на выходных обновить систему до Windows Server 2008 R2. У меня скоро важная презентация на…

  2. DavidZie says:

    I’m not quite clear from your description whether your issue is getting the driver to install or getting Wireless up and running once the driver is installed. Did you add the "Wireless LAN Service" feature in Server Manager –> Features –> Add Features? In Win7 if a wirless NIC is deteced the WLAN AutoConfig service starts automatically so that may be why it works in 7 but not R2 since the featue needs to be added.

    I’ve been testing some other OS builds on my machine so can’t take a look now but I believe the driver from the catalog worked for me and once I added the "Wireless LAN Service" feature everything worked. I’ll be rebuilding this setup again this week and will doublecheck.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Дошли руки на выходных обновить систему до Windows Server 2008 R2. У меня ско

  4. John Holliday says:

    I also have a Dell D820, but I can’t seem to get Windows Server 2008 to recognize the wireless adapater.  I have a second drive with Windows 7 installed, and it runs fine, so I know this is possible.  However, using the technique of downloading the driver from the update catalog did not work.  How were you able to get your wireless card to work?

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