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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...

Question

I know I've been reading on the internet about some trick where you

  1. install Windows 7 that will install correct drivers for your HW
  2. do something to get/backup either all Windows 7 drivers or just those installed
  3. 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.

Addendum

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?

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I guess I'm kind of lost...if the drivers have to be 'tricked' into installing properly, and it's not because you have to change some minor line of text in an inf file (@#% printers), then there's a decent chance that it'll lead to an unstable or wonky system. Why not use the desktop OS as the desktop OS and reboot to a Server OS or virtualize it for the instances where it's necessary to actually use it? I'm sure there's legit reason to do it the way you describe but the instances I've run into in real life seem to be for less than legit reasons. YMMV, though. –  Bart Silverstrim Jun 2 '10 at 13:06
    
@Bart: No no no. There's no trick in chaging drivers. You first install Windows 7 that installs correct drivers for your HW, then do something (which I called a trick) to either backup installed drivers or backup all Windows 7 drivers that are installed on the system disk AFAIK... Then reinstall your machine with Server OS and use those drivers... –  Robert Koritnik Jun 2 '10 at 13:13
    
@Bart: I've changed my question a bit in hopes it will clear things a little. –  Robert Koritnik Jun 2 '10 at 13:16
    
This should be on SuperUser.com, it's a question about installing improper drivers on a single Windows machine. –  Chris S Jun 2 '10 at 13:58
    
@Chris: Improper? Win7 drivers are compatible with WinSrv2k8R2 AFAIK, aren't they? BTW: It's on superuser already anyway. –  Robert Koritnik Jun 2 '10 at 14:27
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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

How I did it

  1. Installed Windows 7 x64
  2. Updated all drivers (automatic update)
  3. Backed up all drivers using DriverMax.
  4. Reinstalled the system with Windows Server 2008 R2
  5. Opened Device Manager and installed missing drivers from the backup location

The only problem was bluetooth drivers, but I've overcome them as well. I've first installed BT stack (instructions on this forum: http://www.win2008r2workstation.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=929). After that I just had to download and install Breadcom drivers and my bluetooth works the same as on Windows 7 installation.

Voila. Done.

Additional note

I've had "problems" with my bluetooth mouse (Microsoft Presenter Mouse 8000), bnecause it baird with my built in computer BT interface on Win7, but was unable to do the same in WinServer2008R2. I always had to use dongle.
Using this procedure I just described, donge is no longer needed. My mouse pairs with my notebook built-in bluetooth interface without any problems.

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If you are aware of the hardware i.e. the components of your machine you can use the article KB323166 and click on Step 1. You will then have to search for the component and the download the drivers.

Win 7 does the driver updates on it's own. I usually do the same. Know the H/W components and then look for the same on the site. Download and Install MS Certified drivers on my Windows Server 2008 R2 server.

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