Convert Both Your Windows Server 2016 & 2019 to a Workstation

Welcome to Win2016Workstation & Win2019Workstation

This manual will guide you through the process of configuring your Windows Server 2016 & Windows Server 2019 installs so they can both be used as a day-to-day operating system. I am keeping the two guides together as Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019 are both based on the NT10.* kernel and most steps are identical. Windows Server 2019 has been created to keep in line with the current version of Windows 10 – meaning they are almost the same OS!
Both Windows Server 2016 and 2019 come into 2 different editions (Datacenter & Standard) – either of which can be used as a mainstream desktop. In this guide we will use the Standard edition, however all instructions are the same. Microsoft offer a 180 day evaluation ISO which can be downloaded via the Windows Server Download Page, you can obtain a license using a Microsoft Imagine (formerly Dreamspark) account and of course you can go and purchase it.  Please feel free to ask any questions or share ideas in our comments sections at the bottom of each page.

Table of Contents:

  1. InstallationOS LanguageComputer NameOwner Information and Default User Account Name
  2. Wireless Networking and Enable Sound
  3. Disable Ctrl+Alt+Del at LogonPassword Restrictions and Shutdown Event Tracker
  4. Disable IE Enhanced Security and Enable Adobe Flash Player in IE
  5. Performance for ApplicationsEnable Memory CompressionMissing App DLLs and Re-Enabling Windows Photo Viewer
  6. Visual Effects/ThumbnailsAdd Desktop Icons and Taskbar Grouping
  7. Disable DEP
Check out our Automation Project now for Windows Server 2016!
Carry out most of the steps automatically with our new Windows Server 2016 Converter Utility

Utilities will soon be published for Windows Server 2019!
Other Manuals:
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64 Responses

  1. TrialMacameau says:

    If you need Memory Compression enabled you need to launch Powershell and type in there : Enable-MMAgent -mc because Memory Compression is disabled by default

    Also for Flash Player in IE if you want to use other programs like XSplit you need to enable Flash Player for IE… To do this you need to launch CMD in Admin and type in there : dism /online /add-package /packagepath:”CWindowsservicingPackagesAdobe-Flash-For-Windows-Package~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~10.0.14393.0.mum”. Then reboot your computer and Get the Flash Player Update from Windows Update. Once this is done double check at the Adobe Flash Player website

    Those 2 things are mostly what was missed in the guide and could be pretty much useful in your Server Installation

  2. eduard says:

    How i can put windows shop in a 2016?
    Guide in 2012 say how install it but not this guide
    Please help

  3. Nick says:

    Link to download the converter is broken. Says you have no access to list contents in the directory.

  4. mark says:

    i’ve run all server versions as workstations and I find 2016 by far the easiest to configure and work with. only problem has been the store so far that would be uselell

  5. Lotusisrae says:

    I suggest to add to the guide enabling XPS viewer, Internet Printing Client and Fax Server (to get Windows Fax and Scan), in order to get as close as possible to the default features of Windows 10.

  6. Lotusisrael says:

    I suggest also setting to Automatic the service Computer Browser, to be able to get the zeroconf function in WS2016.

    • Pho says:

      Super useful advice, thanks. Just to be clear, this enables browsing computers on your local network (so that you can connect to shares they host, etc)

  7. Matthew says:

    Does anyone know the OS Code for Windows Server 2016 in order to modify the AMD MSI installers to include? Example Server 2008 R2 was WIN_2008_R2

    Or if anyone knows of another way to get the full AMD Cat suite v17 installed on 2016?

  8. M says:

    I had issues with bad game performance. It turns out that, even on desktop, a power saving profile is enabled by default. Setting it to high performance solved all issues for me.

  9. Brfootball says:

    Are you able to play games on Server 2016 with these modifications?

  10. Litriam says:

    How To Enable Hibernate in Windows Server 2016?

  11. Ryan says:

    I have an ISO that comes with some of these changes already applied, but includes classicshell. I’m wondering how to strip classicshell from the ISO?

  12. Ryan says:

    Is it possible to install Nvidia drivers for GeForce products on Server 2016? I have read elsewhere that this is not possible, which would make the OS useless for gaming.

  13. Paulo Silva says:

    I have installed Server 2016 Datacenter in my laptop. ( A Lenovo W540 with 32Gb of RAM and a 1T SSD ).
    Everything seems to be fine. All drivers from Lenovo work just fine and I even have Bluetooth working.
    There is still one thing I could not make work: System Restore Points. Do you know if there is a way to make System Restore Points to work in Server 2016 ?
    Thank you very much

  14. dragos says:

    Autologin: I am also using autologin:
    WIN+R -> to open Run
    netplwiz
    Look for the “Users” tab and uncheck the box next to “Users must enter a username and password to use this computer.”
    Press Apply and you will be asked to enter the password for the selected user, enter the password, press ok and restart to verify if Autologin works.

  15. Jeremy Porteous says:

    Sections 6.1-6.3 seem to be missing at present

  16. Jose says:

    Some links are dead

  17. Nikolay.Kapushka says:

    Hi
    I have install server 2016 on my Surface Pro 3, but touch screen not working. Pen knob are working – it opens InkWorkspace. In UEFI touch is working. Under windows 10 – working.

    • Alex Wording says:

      Please let us know if you can get the touch and stylus working properly on 2016. I want to switch to server but I use a portable stylus and touch screen display for drawing. This display is a chinese crowd funded device, uses the actual ms surface pen purchased separately, and the ms drivers. If you can get touch and stylus working on your surface pro 3, then I will know that it should be workable on my display too.

      If anyone else has any further insight on ms touch/stylus support in server 2016, please do tell.

  18. Holgi says:

    is it possible to get Bluetooth working in Windows Server 2016 (with gui). WLAN is enabled, but I have a not working item in my device Manager.
    BTH\MS_BTHPAN\7&1CF88BBD&0&2
    Bluetooth Symbol in the tray > Bluetooth is on, but don´t work

    BTW: I´m using Windows Server vnext (2019) Preview and Workstation Converter is working well! Thank you!!!

  19. Holger says:

    Hallo pauljrowland!
    I can´t get intouch with you, because [email protected] is rejected.

    I want to ask u for a little help.

    I´m writing a unattend.xml script for Windows Server 2016 (vnext) with gui and want absolutely no interaction (fully unattend).

    Therefore I have a “firstlogon-script” call in my unattend.xml:

    _________________________________________________________

    FirstLogonCommand
    1
    C:\Windows\Setup\Scripts\firstlogon.cmd
    false

    _______________________________________________________________

    the firstlogon.cmd look like this at the end:
    ___________________________________________
    Systeminfo | find /i “Microsoft Windows Server” >NUL

    set /a RC=%ERRORLEVEL%
    if %RC% == 0 goto Server
    if %RC% == 1 goto Desktop

    :Server
    powershell.exe -File “%~dp0Scripts\Wrapper.ps1″
    goto End

    :Desktop
    net start Wlansvc
    Netsh wlan add Profile filename=”%homepath%\Downloads\PortableAppz\WLAN\WLAN-Airport.xml”
    netsh wlan connect ssid=Airport name=Airport

    exit
    :End
    del /F /S /Q “%WINDIR%\Setup\*.*”
    _______________________________________________________

    so I´m am able to call your Wrapper script, which works fine so far.
    But as I mentioned above, I want a total unattend setup and so I don´t need
    a) a logfile
    b) a popup-box for manual or automatc installation (want automatic)
    c) a computer name change
    d) a owner-info change
    e) a admin account-name change
    f) a script complete information
    I´m not familar with powershell script language and so I don´t know which rows of the script are useless or to edit.
    Can you help me?
    Thanks in advance

  20. pleiades says:

    Hello,

    Thank you for the tutorial guide, I’m wondering if you could also post recommended hardware for doing this?
    can you use this for normal hardware you buy in computer stores?

    Thank you

  21. Macrohard says:

    Run a $1000 os as a desktop?

    Sure why not!

  22. James says:

    I would also recommend still grabbing the DirectX 9.0c SDK June 2010 Redistributable package and installing it to gain full support of XAudio2 and any possible missing DirectX files.

    You may also want to get the XBox360 or XBox One Controller Driver package as well, even if you have a controller that only supports DirectInput as it will install extra drivers that may be needed.

  23. Jim says:

    Hi,

    I just stumbled across this site and so far it seems to have some very good advice on how to setup 2016. I have been trying to setup 2016 in my tower for a few days now and I cant see to get past the WIFI and NIC not being seen or working. I have tried to add it through Powershell, but the install-windowsfeature command is not recognized for some reason. Other than that, 2016 seems to be working. I am using 2016 as a virtualization platform for modelling networks.The MOBO is an ASRock X370 Killer SLI AM4 ATX with an AMD Ryzen 7 1700 CPU and 64G of RAM, so it can handle Server 2016 just fine. And virtualization is turned on in BIOS/EFI. Any thoughts?

  24. Rabinson says:

    Hello.
    Do you have any comparison between Win7 and Win2016 Server in playing games ??
    Thank you.

  25. Dylan Taylor says:

    Is it possible to install the AMD Radeon R7 200 Series graphics driver on Server 2016/2019?

  26. Holgi says:

    to enable Flash in Windows Server 2019:
    dism /online /add-package /packagepath:”C:\Windows\Servicing\Packages\Adobe-Flash-For-Windows-Package~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~10.0.17763.1.mum” /NoRestart

  27. Holgi says:

    to enable Flash in Windows Server 2019:

    dism /online /add-package /packagepath:”C:\Windows\Servicing\Packages\Adobe-Flash-For-Windows-Package~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~10.0.17763.1.mum” /NoRestart

  28. Slavius says:

    In addition to MemoryCompression I also suggest to enable Page Combining and Prefetching by running:

    Enable-MMAgent -OperationAPI -PageCombining -MemoryCompression

    This resembles Desktop OS (Windows 10) more closely.

    If you have magnetic HDD or older/slower SSD (not NVME or SLC) you may benefit from enabling ApplicationLaunchPrefetching and ApplicationPreLaunch:

    Enable-MMAgent -ApplicationLaunchPrefetching -ApplicationPreLaunch

    If you have issues isntalling software complaining about being not compatible (with server OS or not detecting Windows 10) use AppVerifier from Windows 10 SDK https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/downloads/windows-10-sdk

    Then add The application and set it’s Compatibility –> HighVersionLie –> Product type to 1 (Desktop OS)

    You will be able to install e.g. Samsung NVME driver that refuses to install on Windows Server.

    Regarding Windows Store:

    I was not able to make Windows Store working, however installing UWP apps is possible.
    You have to register and use Microsoft Business Store https://businessstore.microsoft.com

    There you can download offline Appx packages you can then install.

    E.g. on my Windows Server 2019 I was lacking the “Snip & Sketch”. I downloaded the .Appxbundle, extracted files from it with 7zip (it’s a renamed .zip archive). I also downloaded recommended dependencies (required frameworks) Microsoft.VCLibs.140.00_14.0.26706.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe Appx in this case.

    Then from Powershell I run:

    Add-AppxPackage -Path C:\Users\Administrator\Downloads\Store\Microsoft.ScreenSketch_2018.1023.2326.0_neutral_~_8wekyb3d8bbwe\ScreenSketch_10.1809.2964.0_x64.appx -DependencyPath C:\Users\Administrator\Downloads\Store\Microsoft.VCLibs.140.00_14.0.26706.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe.Appx

    And now “Snip & Sketch” app is available from start menu.

  29. DrewBai says:

    Has Anyone run WS2016 Essentials SKU as a WS? I had probs with Edge and other things. Other Forums say this cannot be done (or should not) b/c it is a DC. Sounds like BS to me. In any case, I bought a copy of Windows essential and I am building a new high-performance machine and I am going back to WS2016.
    Glad I Found you, again!

  30. Markus says:

    anyone know how install antivirus software like BitDefender or Kaspersky on windows server of course, because the setup say that there incompatible, but i think it check windows version and stop installation!

  31. Frederick says:

    For those using Windows Defender you can opt to show Windows Security tray icon on the System tray using this reg file. You need to restart computer

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender Security Center\Systray]
    “HideSystray”=dword:00000000

  32. Holgi says:

    “Utilities will soon be published for Windows Server 2019!”
    Windows Server 2019 is out since 2018.
    The only difference between Server 2016 and Server 2019 I see is the Flash-Plugin. All other script-item work well.
    dism /online /add-package /packagepath:”C:\Windows\Servicing\Packages\Adobe-Flash-For-Windows-Package~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~10.0.17763.1.mum” /NoRestart
    is working here.
    So why does it take so long, to publish the new script?
    BTW: thank your for your work!

    • WindowsWorkstation.com says:

      The WindowsWorkstation.com project is something I do in my spare time as a project to being people together.
      I am an IT consultant travelling the country doing work for customers and time is always a constraint at the moment 🙁
      I have reached out to people to see if they want to get involved, so spread the word and feel free to join it!

  33. Holgi says:

    “Utilities will soon be published for Windows Server 2019!”
    Windows Server 2019 is out since 2018.
    The only difference between Server 2016 and Server 2019 I see is the Flash-Plugin. All other script-item work well.
    So why does it take so long, to publish the new script?
    BTW: thank your for your work!

  34. Nightwolf says:

    Does anyone know a way to install the holographics package (Mixed Reality Portal) for Server 2019? It is missing a dependency Parent: “Microsoft-Windows-Client-Features-Package~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~10.0.17763.1”
    Google is no help on this one, if I could manually install this Client-Feature-Package then I should be fine to add the Holographics but it seems impossible to find anything on this one.

  35. Keith says:

    Install Edge (New Chromium Edge) on Windows Server 2016 & 2019.

    https://www.microsoftedgeinsider.com/en-us/download/

  36. Fe0Guy says:

    Hello …. I have a dell laptop 7490 and installed WS2019 … But the touchpad will not work, and cannot locate the correct driver. Anything that needs to be done in BIOS or enable a feature?

  37. teethmarks says:

    FWIW YMMV Using a Microsoft Account (Live/Hotmail) as login into windows server 2016/2019:

    To enable Microsoft Accounts on a server just open the local security policy and go to the security option. You will find there an option “Accounts: Block Microsoft accounts” – Set this policy to disabled and you are able to add the MS accounts to your server. This is also working for server 2019.

    Credits:
    https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/e440b40c-5d77-4da9-8211-be79d05d5f78/how-do-i-enable-users-login-to-windows-server-2016-with-their-microsoft-accounts?prof=required
    User: RoyDanton1

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