Curtis Johnstone

January 27, 2010

Enabling ‘Aero Glass’ Windows 7 Desktop in Windows 2008 R2

Here is how to enable the nice ‘Aero Glass’ visual effects on the desktop in Windows 2008 R2:

  1. In Server Manager, under Features, make sure you select and install the “Desktop Experience” feature. This installs some Windows Vista features such as Desktop Themes, Windows Media Player and Photo Management.
  2. Start the Windows Services Control Panel and change the “Themes” services from Disabled to Automatic.  Also Start the Themes service.
  3. You can now right-click anywhere on the Windows 2008 R2 desktop, select Personalize, and choose an Aero Theme (such as the default Windows 7 Aero Theme).
  4. You should now see the Aero Glass visual effects (color, style, and transparency). If you do not, your graphics card might not support the Aero Glass features, you will only have the basic Windows 7 or Vista theme, without some of the the visual effects of the Aero Glass like Transparency. If you do NOT see the screen shot below (Figure 1) under Personalize | Window Color and Appearance, Aero is not fully enabled, and you can try of the steps below:
  5. Your graphics card might be capable, but you just need an updated device driver for it. I have had success installing Vista and Windows 7 drivers on Windows 2008 – but be careful in driver-land (you can end up without video if you install the incorrect video driver). I successfully did this with a ATI Radeon HD 3470 graphics card (used an updated Windows 7 driver).
  6. Try going back into Personalize (right-click on the Desktop) and choosing a Windows Color Scheme in Appearance that is a “Windows Aero” scheme.

Figure 1: What the Personalize | Theme | Wind0w Color screen looks like when the Aero Glass visual effects are fully enabled:

Windows Aero Enabled

Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 947036 has good information on how to make enable the Windows Vista Features on a Windows 2008.

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