Windows Server 2008 R2 Glass Aero Theme

Windows Server 2008 R2 Glass Aero Theme   Windows Server 2008 R2 Glass Aero Theme

Our mission is to display the Windows Server 2008 R2 Aero themes.  (Windows 7 style)

Topics Windows Server 2008 R2 Aero


The Problem: You Upgrade to R2, But Have No Aero Menus or TaskbarWindows Server 2008 R2 Aero

The problem is that the Windows Aero Theme is missing.  All that you have is the old Windows Server 2008 / Vista Taskbar.  There is no sign of Microsoft’s aero graphics; you get no Start orb and no see-through title bars or menus.

What you want to see is Microsoft’s wonderful glass aero theme with their glowing graphics.  The very same graphics that you see in Windows 7.

Short Instructions for a Solutions

  • Add Feature: Desktop Experience.
  • Start an operating service called: Themes.
  • Personalize your Theme.

Stage 1 – Add Feature, Desktop ExperienceAdd Feature - Desktop Experience Server 2008

Open the Administrative Tools,
Call for the Server Manager:
Features, +Add Features

Now select (tick) Desktop Experience.  See screenshot.

Stage 2 – Start the Services

Again, open the Administrative Tools, select Services

Scroll down to the ‘T’s.  We want a service called ‘Themes’.

Change the Startup Type for Themes from Disabled to Automatic.

Stage 3 – Personalize

The easiest way to Personalize the Aero Themes is to right-click the Desktop and select Personalize. 

Plan B, Launch the Control Panel and navigate to Appearance and Personalization.

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What To Do Once You Have Configured the Aero Graphics

  • Check the Taskbar.  right-click, Properties. Taskbar
  • Activate ‘Jump Lists’.  Right-click Properties.  Check: ‘Store and display recently opened items in the Start menu and taskbar.
  • Choose which programs to Pin to Start Menu. 
  • Review your Theme.

Windows Server 2008 R2 Taskbar – A New Way of Working

The word radical maybe a bit strong, but the W2K8 R2 (Windows 7) taskbar clearly exhibits different behaviour when accessing programs compared with W2K3 or Vista or XP.  Perhaps the change is like switching from a car with a shift change gearbox to an automatic.  Some people hanker for the control of manual gear selection, while others accept the efficiency of automatic changes.

The new taskbar philosophy is based around the program icon, it helps to think of any individual documents as being combined with that main icon.  Observe in the screenshot below how the Word for Windows icon appears to be glowing, this is because the taskbar is trying to tell us that this program has open files.  Furthermore, you can just about make out 3 shadows to the right of the Word icon.  When you click on the this icon up comes a Jump List confirming that there are indeed 3 Microsoft Word files in use, in this example: Tips, Shopping now and Finance.

Review Windows Server 2008 R2 Taskbar

If you hover over a program icon which has open files then you can see a preview, this is designed to save time when searching for one of your many open documents.  To get the most from this new way of working embrace the Winkey +Tab technique, and use Flip 3-D to cycle through a preview of each open program.  As usual Microsoft provides at least 3 ways of doing everything, and as usual, it’s easy, satisfying and fun to learn about these new features simply by exploring on your own.

Pin to
To get the most out of the new W2K8 R2 taskbar embrace the concepts of: ‘Pin to ….’ and ‘Jump List’.  Thus when you find one of your old favorite programs, just right-click its executable and choose ‘Pin to taskbar’.  As for Jump List, if you click on any non-glowing icon in the taskbar you get a ‘Jump List’ with a ‘Recent’ or ‘Frequent’ menu showing you the last files that you used.  Incidentally, one reason why the new taskbar behavior does not give me any problems is that I still use Alt + Tab to check my open files (See screenshot above right). 

Fine-tuning the Taskbar
Returning to the taskbar, the secret of success is to fine tune the icons behavior; thus right-click the taskbar and select ‘Properties’.  For instance, I prefer Small Icons, while Luddites like ‘Mad’ Mick choose the ‘Taskbar button’ option, which allows them to ‘Never Combine’ documents with their parent program.  I call them Luddites because they want to revert to the old Vista ways of individual documents in the taskbar rather than embracing the new look and feel of the W2K8 R2, but hey, it’s a free country at least as far as the W2K8 R2 taskbar is concerned.

Tip: If the taskbar does not exhibit the behavior you expect, then right-click and select, ‘Lock the taskbar’, alternatively, try removing the tick.

Tip: Widen the W2K8 R2 Taskbar.  Providing there is no tick next to ‘Lock the taskbar’, you can widen the band by dragging the top upwards.  However, you have to be firm, this does not seem to work at first, but persevere. One reason would be you want the clock to display the day of the week.

Deleting the Taskbar: My old friend ‘Mad’ Mick has been experimenting with various alternative shells that effectively remove or hide the W2K8 R2 taskbar.  The default shell is explorer.exe but you could change it (not recommended) with regedit.  If you are going to do this then it’s best to get a third-party alternative shell.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\shell
Or for just one user here (you may need to add a Reg_SZ called shell): 
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

In summary: W W2K8 R2’s new taskbar technology displays a combination of the executable icon together with any files that you launch from that program.  If an icon glows it means that program has open files, while if it does not appear highlighted then the executable is inactive.  Microsoft’s mantra is to keep both the taskbar and the notification area clear of clutter, and they regard Vista’s arrangement with one icon for the program and another for its files as unnecessary.

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How to Amend Your Aero Glass Theme

  • Find the Personalize Menu.  The long way is to click on the Start orb, select Control Panel, then navigate to Appearance and Personalization.
  • Click on the theme to change.
  • You can change the background, click Desktop Background, select the check box for the image that you want to use, and then click Save changes.
  • Adjust the color of window borders.  Click Window Color, click the color that you want to use, adjust the intensity, and then click Save changes.
  • Even modify the the sounds for your the theme.  Click Sounds, click an item in the Sound Schemes list, and then click OK.
  • Add or change your screen saver, click Screen Saver, click an item in the Screen saver list, change any settings that you want to change, and then click OK.
  • Please note: your modified theme will appear under My Themes as an unsaved theme.
  • Footnote: As usual there is online support and ideas for custom themes.

Troubleshooting The Aero Graphics Desktop Experience

  • Call for the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor.  My idea is to check if your graphics card supports Aero Graphics.


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Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Topics:

Server 2008 Home   • Overview   • What’s New?   • Migration Advice   • Editions

Features   •Resource Manager   • Add Aero Themes   • GP Preferences

 • Network Performance Monitor   • Upgrade W2k8 R2   • Windows Server 2012