Convert Windows Server 2003 to Workstation

Windows LogoThis is an extremely to-the-point tutorial on how to convert Windows Server 2003 into a useable workstation OS. If you want a more explanatory tutorial, I recommend this tutorial.

System Startup

  • When the system starts you should get the 'Manage Your Server' dialog, tick 'Don't display this page at logon'.
  • Click Start, right-click on My Computer and choose Manage.
  • Under 'Local Users and Groups', select 'Users'.
  • In the right pane, right-click on an empty space and select 'New User'.
  • Once the account is created, if you want it to be an Administrator account, right-click on it, choose 'Properties', on the 'Member Of' tab, select Add and type in 'Administrators' and press enter.
  • Administrators will now be shown in the list, select 'Users' and click Remove.
  • Keep the Computer Management window open and move onto the next section.

Enabling Services

  • Under 'Services and Applications' on the left, select 'Services'.
  • In the panel on the right double-click 'Windows Audio', set the 'Startup type' to automatic and click 'Start'. Click 'OK' to close the dialog.
  • Back in the services list, double click 'Themes', and again set the 'Startup type' to automatic and click on 'Start'. Click OK again to close the dialog.
  • Do the same again for 'IMAP CD-Burning COM Service' if you want Windows support for CD-writing. If you plan to use 3rd party software, you can leave this disabled.
  • Again, if you want support for cameras, webcams or scanners, double click on 'Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) and turn that on too.

Performance Settings

  • Click Start, right-click on My Computer and choose Properties.
  • On the Advanced tab, choose the 'Settings' button under performance.
  • Under the Visual Effects tab, select 'Adjust for best appearance'.
  • Under the Advanced tab, set 'Performance scheduling' and 'Memory usage' to Programs.
  • Adjust the size of the page file if required.
  • Click OK to return to the System Properties dialog.
  • Click the 'Error Reporting' button and disable it if desired.

Disable IE Enhanced Security

  • Click Start > Control Panel. Choose Add/Remove Programs.
  • Select 'Add Remove Windows Components' from the left.
  • Scroll to 'Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration' and untick it.
  • Click OK and OK again to return to Control Panel.

Shutdown Event Tracker

  • Click Start > Run and enter 'gpedit.msc'.
  • Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System.
  • In the right pane, double-click 'Display Shutdown Event Tracker' and set it to Disabled.
  • Click OK to close the Window.

DirectX, 3D & Sound Acceleration

  • Right-click on the desktop, select 'Properties', on the Settings tab, choose Advanced.
  • On the Troubleshoot tab, set 'Hardware acceleration' to full.
  • Click OK to close out of the dialogs.
  • Click Start > Run and enter 'dxdiag'. Press enter.
  • On the Display tab, click 'Enable' next to 'DirectDraw Acceleration'.
  • Make sure 'Direct3D Acceleration' is also enabled now.
  • If you graphics card supports it (it should), also make sure 'AGP Texture Acceleration' is enabled.
  • On the Sound tab, drag the 'Hardware Sound Acceleration Level' slider to the far right.

The tutorial mentioned at the beginning of this tutorial explains how to install a cracked UXThemes to allow custom skins, as well as covers installing Java VM, and DirectX. I've left these out of this tutorial as I consider them optional and not required to convert Server to a workstation.