Windows 7 x64 comes with all sorts of signed drivers so there's high probability that all drivers for your machine will be installed during system setup.
On the other hand Windows Server 2008 R2 doesn't. Event though it's practically the same OS when it comes to drivers. I know there's a very good reason for this difference. It's a server product, not a desktop one. But the thing is that many power users and developers use server OS on their workstations which are usually desktop machines (a bit more powerful though) and would benefit from the whole driver spectrum that Windows 7 offers...
I know I've been reading on the internet about some trick where you
- install Windows 7 that will install correct drivers for your HW
- do something to get/backup either all Windows 7 drivers or just those installed
- re-install your machine with Windows Server 2008 R2 and drivers from step 2.
The thing is I can't find these instructions on the internet any more. If anybody knows where they are please provide the link for the rest of us.
What's the purpose of all this?
My purpose is to spend less time searching for appropriate drivers which in the end don't work as expected. My notebook is my main development machine because I'm moving around quite a bit. I reinstall it from the bottom up every time I start developing a new major project. I used Windows Server 2008 R2 for months but some drivers never worked as they should. When I installed Windows 7 few weeks ago, everything just worked. Without a single problem. And I doubt these drivers were as huge as manufacturer's are (ATI graphics for instance).
Just one simple example: I never managed my Microsoft Presenter Mouse 8000 to work without the provided Bluetooth dongle on server OS even though my notebook has a built-in Bluetooth device. On Windows 7 I can. I just paired it directly. No dongle needed. On server OS pairing without keys or similar doesn't work at all. At least not with provided manufacturer's drivers, they don't.
Since this is a notebook where my resources are limited (even though I maxed them out) I also like to avoid virtualisation. Right now (Windows 7 x64) I have a separate VM with Windows Server 2008 R2 Server Core act as DC/DNS/AD because I need it for the development project I'm working on. Having installed Windows Server 2008 R2 I could avoid this easily and install everything on one real machine. It's true that my server core has min. memory requirements (512MB RAM) but still.
My purpose is therefore not spending more time with installation/maintenance, but less because I know Microsoft provides exactly what's needed for my notebook. I could just backup al the drivers I have now, reinstall server OS and use them. No time spent searching and trying whether they work or not. I often have to try drivers out, because server drivers are usually not provided by manufacturer since this is a notebook.
I've found that software DriverMax would do the trick of backing up all the drivers on my Windows 7 machine and I could easily install them on the Windows Server 2008 R2. Has anybody done something like this? Does it work as expected?