How to Enable Aero Glass on Windows Server 2008 and R2

Sunday, February 15, 2009
Some of us geeks like to use Windows Server 2008 or R2 as our desktop operating system. It's rock solid and offers more features and better perfomance than Windows Vista.

If you're missing the Vista Aero Glass interface on your Windows Server 2008, here's how to enable all that eye candy goodness.

First, you need to install the Desktop Experience feature using Server Manager, or with the following command line:

ServerManagerCmd -i Desktop-Experience

This will install the Windows Aero and other desktop themes, along with a lot of other programs that go into Vista by default (Windows Media Player, Windows Photo Gallery, etc.).

Next, you need to set the Themes service to Automatic and start it.

If you're running Windows Server 2008 (not Windows Server 2008 R2):
  • Click Control Panel > Personalization
  • Click Windows Color and Appearance and select the Windows Aero color scheme
  • (To turn Aero off, click Theme and select the Windows Classic theme)
For Windows Server 2008 R2:
  • Click Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization
  • Click Personalization and select the Aero Theme


  1. Yes it work very well ! But i haven't the transparent ( glass ) effect !!!!

  2. Don't forget to set the computer's performance settings to best appearance! Otherwise the installed Theme will remain disabled.

  3. I see nothing for Windows Photo Gallery for R2. Any ideas?

  4. thanks! this is the first post I've found that tells you the extra step required to get flip 3d working. I had followed other instructions about browsing for the theme but couldn't get aero glass (and 3d flip) working until I read your post.

    I know - I should have figured it out but it's late and I've been trying to get windows update on this server 2008 machine to get its updartes from its own wsus and i'm tired....

    Just goes to show how useful even the simplest of tips can be. Thanks for posting it!

  5. Aero Glass not working in server 2008 R2 even after following above steps - Desktop Experience, Themes Service, etc.

  6. For me this is also not working , the aero theme is displayed as an Disabled in the personalisation control panel.

  7. (Sorry for my english, i'm spanish)

    I forgot to check "Accelerate 3D graphics" on WMWare Workstation settings (Hardware tab/Display).
    Now it works!

    Alberto Tostado

  8. Don't forget to start Themes service and re-login.

  9. I'm a little late for the party but thanks! This was all that was holding me back from installing Server 2008R2 as my desktop OS.

  10. "...and re-login..." :)

    too bad it's on the end of all comments :D

    Thank you for this tip!

  11. You can just restart explorer.exe instead of relogin

  12. Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.

  13. HI, Can anyone tell me regarding remoteapp and new style.It works on remoreapp, too?

    Best regrads,

  14. beautiful staff ! thanx for sharing !!!


Thank you for your comment! It is my hope that you find the information here useful. Let others know if this post helped you out, or if you have a comment or further information.