Turning Windows Server 2012 Into A Windows 8 Desktop

Even though it doesn’t make much sense of doing so, it’s fun knowing how to make it. Windows Server 2012 R2, by default, doesn’t have the desktop experience feature enabled when it’s installed. You don’t get those Personalize settings like Windows 8 does. Hence, you don’t get all the fun stuff if you really want to use the Server 2012 as a Windows 8 desktop.

Server 2012 R2 - desktop

Since I don’t see the Desktop Experience as a feature component that I can add through Control Panel on Server 20012, can I actually enable it in other way?

Fortunately, the answer is yes, and it can be enabled through the powerful PowerShell. Here is the cmdlet for this purpose.

Add-WindowsFeature -Name Desktop-Experience

Server 2012 R2 - enable desktop experiece in powershell

After you reboot it and go back in, you will be redirected to the Start screen by default, like Windows 8. And you can see the Personalize setting available again on desktop.

Server 2012 R2 - desktop experience enabled

And that’s it.

If you want to remove the Desktop Experience feature later on, you can use the following PowerShell cmdlet to do so.

Remove-WindowsFeature -Name Desktop-Experience

Windows Server 2012 R2 x64 - VMware Workstation - 2013-11-20 13_33_44

And again, after the computer restarts, it backs to the day without the Personalize settings.

Kent Chen

Microsoft MVP, IT Professional, Developer, Geek, and the co-founder of Next of Windows.

Last updated: 08/04/2014

Posted in: Tips & Tricks
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