A troublesome disk (a story for another time) has forced me to reinstall my MacBook Pro and review my Windows partition.
My Boot Camp partition was running Vista Ultimate x86 which felt sluggish, ignored the last 1GB and bugged me with UAC. One Windows update kept failing to install which also prevented SP1 from completing.
Apple’s Boot Camp doesn’t support 64-bit Windows (except on the Mac Pro) and my 64-bit experiences have been unpleasant so far (no Flash for IE x64, limited 64-bit shell extensions, Live! refusing to install, drivers etc.) The increased x64 memory consumption would also be an issue when running in a 1.5GB virtual machine via Parallels or VMware Fusion.
Windows XP was one option but losing IIS7 and DirectX 10 would see me reinstalling Vista within weeks so I decided to try Windows 2008 Server x86.
Boot Camp happily accepted the 2008 Server x86 CD where I chose the BOOTCAMP partition, formatting it as NTFS and electing for a standard installation. The Boot Camp drivers subsequently installed without complaint, all 4GB of RAM was accessible and there are no 64-bit compatibility issues.
Microsoft are giving away 1 year evaluation copies of Windows 2008 Enterprise Server x86 as part of their Heroes Happen Here launch program for Windows 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 if you don’t happen to have an MSDN subscription to hand. There are however a few tweaks you need to do to get a more desktop-like experience:
Install desktop features
Head into Server Manager and Add Features then choose Desktop Experience to install Windows Media Player, Aero etc.
Go into Services and set the Themes service to Automatic and Start it to make themes available and then choose Browse… from the Theme Settings in Personalisation to select %windir%\Resources\Themes\Aero.theme
Install wireless networking
This one had me stumped for a while as I thought my wireless card/drivers weren’t working. The reality is that 2008 Server has wireless networking removed by default so head into Server Manager > Add Features > Wireless LAN Service to install it.
Open a command prompt and enter:
powercfg.exe /hibernate on
Remove annoying shutdown
Head into the registry to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows NT\Reliability and change the ShutdownReasonOn DWORD key to 0.
Relaxing local password policy
A controversial change I’m sure but I’d rather choose something complex and unique that will last 90+ days than something memorable every 30. Head into Local Security Policy > Account Policies > Password Policy > Maximum password age and change it to something more reasonable.
A great guide with screen-shots on additional tweaks for a more workstation-like experience also exists – wish I known about that earlier!