Live on Longhorn at last

I've blogged before about how I use Windows Server 2003 x64 as my day to day desktop operating system.

Well, not any more!

I have finally made the switch to using Windows Server 2008 (a.k.a.Longhorn) x64 beta 3 instead!

I've wanted to do this for some time but the show stopper for me had been hardware related. Because I run with four monitors I have two display adapters in my machine, one ATI and one nVidia. However what I quickly found out when I first installed Longhorn was that it uses the Windows (Vista) Display Driver Model (WDDM) and WDDM does not allow heterogeneous display adapters.  Well, that is not quite wholly accurate. It does allow you to mix adapters but only if you revert to using Windows XP Display Driver Model (XDDM). Not only does this prevent you using some of the snazzier new graphics features of WDDM (not that that really affects me as I do not have snazzy graphics hardware and I don't produce any particularly snazzy graphics) but it also mean you have to track down x64 XDDM drivers from two different manufacturers that not only work well under Vista/Longhorn but that also  work well together.

Many a BSOD later I gave up and went for the next obvious solution (which I should have thought of sooner) and scrounged around some colleagues and managed to get an identical second nVidia card (thanks Susanne!). After some further experimenting and tweaking I was finally up and running with all four screens again.

Since then I have been slowly trying to adapt to my new environment. As with any clean install of an OS for your main working environment you quickly realise how many things you use all the time you had previously installed and no longer have or had tweaked in a certain way some years ago and now have to figure out again how to tweak back the way you like.  Throw into that mix a brand new beta operating system and you have a whole load of adapting and "getting used to" to do. However I am getting there, slowly. I hope to post some tips in this area, especially getting used to IIS7, in future.

One thing I realised I was missing (once I had actually managed to track down a working audio driver -I ended up using the XP x64 one via the Dell support web site [which now appears to have got a little easier to navigate, thank you Dell]) was Windows Media Player. Hmm, how was I going to blot out all those annoying distractions of nearby teams having loud conference calls or listening to online training without headphones?

Of course, there was an answer. As with almost everything else in Longhorn, the feature I needed was not installed by default. A quick visit to the "Add Feature" wizard which you access from the Features node in Server Manager revealed something called "Desktop Experience" and sure enough the description includes "Windows Media Player". Hurrah!


A few minutes and a reboot later and my system was music aware again.

Now I just need to track down which feature includes Solitaire :-)

Anyway back to work...