Running Windows Server 2008 R2 as a desktop OS does have it’s advantages. As a tester, Hyper V is key to my daily work. I love desktop gadgets though and have written some custom ones that really help me throughout the day. Gadgets aren’t available by default though, but they seem to work with a little effort. I should point out that I’m not on the Windows team, so I’m just an average user. Don’t take this as an official recommendation. I also didn’t invent this process. It’s cobbled together from posts here, here and here.

  1. Find a Windows 7 machine that matches your 2008 architecture. For me, that was 64 bit.
  2. Copy from Windows 7 C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar to the same location on your 2008 machine. The rest of the steps all happen from your 2008 machine.
  3. From an elevated command prompt in the “C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar” folder, run the following:
  4. regsvr32 atl.dll
    regsvr32 sbdrop.dll
    regsvr32 wlsrvc.dll
    sidebar.exe /RegServer

  5. Paste the following text into Notepad and save it as a .reg file. This will add necessary registry keys for sidebar.exe and also add a “Gadgets” entry to the context menu on your desktop.
  6. Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Sidebar]
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Sidebar\Compatibility]
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Sidebar\Settings]
    "SidebarDockedPartsOrder"="0x1,0x2,0x3,0x4
    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\Gadgets]
    "Position"="Bottom"
    "Icon"="C:\\Program Files\\Windows Sidebar\\sidebar.exe,-100"
    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\DesktopBackground\Shell\Gadgets\command]
    @="C:\\Program Files\\Windows Sidebar\\sidebar.exe /showGadgets"

  7. You should now be able to right click on your desktop and choose Gadgets to start adding gadgets. Installation happens the same way as your Windows 7 machine. You download a .gadget file and then double click it to install it. Note that the Windows Live Gallery is gone now so you’ll have to find your gadgets elsewhere. There are some good ones at addagadget.com or you can find one of my personal gadgets at http://cascadeskier.com/ under the Windows 7 section.