Using Windows Server 2016 as a Workstation OS

Server 2016 as a Workstation

My workstation came with the abhorred beloved Windows 10, beset with ads from the Windows store, invasive data mining software (in my opinion) known as Cortana, and annoying pop-ups questioning if you REALLY want to use a browser other than Edge as the default. I have to be honest, Windows 10 seemed great when it first released, but with every update, it seemed to get more and more controlling, invasive, and resource hungry. I really don't see Windows 10 as a business/workstation OS. Even the Professional version has Windows Store Ads for Candy Crush and junk like that. When I, being a technophile, heard about Windows server 2016, I had to try it. I tested out the beta for it quite a while ago, then downloaded the technical preview when Microsoft threw that online. I have set up a couple servers on it, and have been pleasantly surprised by the lack of the annoyances like Cortana, Edge, and the Windows Store. THIS is what I wanted Windows 10 to be!

So I decided to throw it on a VM to test it out as a workstation OS. I tested it out that way for a few weeks and it seemed to run everything I wanted it to run, just fine. This is when I decided to dual boot it right along side Windows 10. I figured I could make a tutorial of this, but most people reading this site would probably already know how to do that, instead I'll just give a rundown of the free tools I used. Fist of all, we need to shrink some partitions. For this I used the free version of MiniTool Partition Wizard to get some unallocated space. You may be able to use the built in Windows Disk manager, but that can sometimes be ineffective. I then booted with the Server 2016 installer USB drive. I selected the unallocated space to install Server 2016 in and there it went. When I booted it up after the install, I assumed Windows would give me the option to boot into either Windows 10 or Server 2016, but it just went straight into Server 2016. Fixing the BCD (boot configuration data) can be a pain with bcdedit in the command line, so I use EasyBCD to fix the BCD.

There are a few things right off the bat you'll want to enable if you do this. And starting with the easiest is the audio. It's pretty simple, just set the Windows Audio service in services.msc to automatic startup and hit the start button. Next you might think of the WiFi. By default, if you have a WLAN NIC in the PC, the driver won't even install correctly. First there is a feature that you need to enable by going into the Server Manager > Add Roles and Features > hit Next until you get to Features and scroll all the way to the bottom of the list where it says Wireless LAN Service. Check the box next to that and hit install. After that, check to make sure the WLAN AutoConfig service is started. You might need to restart to pull up the menu to see wireless networks around. If you like the Windows Photo Viewer, reference the brief tutorial to enable this here.

After using Windows Server 2016 as a workstation OS for a couple weeks, I have to say, I am very satisfied. It seems way more responsive than Windows 10, and has fewer annoying notifications. I've even tried to run Steam on it to see if Counter Strike: Global Offensive will run, and it does! One thing to mention about that, is that on my setup, I am running an Intel GPU. I am curious to know if Nvidia GeForce Drivers will run on Server 2016. I will be testing this out on my main rig in the next couple weeks, so soon I should have an answer to that. Check back in a week or so for more updates to this article! And please write me in the comments below!