Office 2007 or Office 2003 on Windows 'workstation' 2008

Once you have Windows Server 2008 running as a workstation you can install Microsoft Office 2007 or Microsoft Office 2003 with only a few tweaks. We show you the steps …

Once you have Windows Server 2008 running as a workstation you can install Microsoft Office 2007 or Microsoft Office 2003 with only a few tweaks.

Why do it?

Windows Server 2008 uses the same core system technologies as Windows Vista but without the overhead of ‘junk’ that you either don’t want or need.

As we’ve already noted, Vista installs almost every feature and enables it when you install the operating system, which can’t help overall performance. Windows Server 2008 only installs what you need at your request, this makes the operating system more efficient but adds to your initial setup needs.

Vista Service Pack 1 addresses some of the peripheral problems but the fundamental performance issues remain. Windows Server 2008 shows that Microsoft can produce a stable and efficient operating system when it suits them to do so. For ‘power’ users Windows ‘workstation’ 2008 is a marked improvement on any flavor of Vista, even with Service Pack 1.

The MS Office users who would most benefit from Windows ‘Workstation’ 2008 are those of us with large worksheets or databases. These uses take up a lot of memory and system resources so will benefit from an operating system which is more stable and manages heavy demands more efficiently.

There are advantages for applications that require multiple Office apps to be open at the same time and communicating with each other. Of course, developers of Office applications might also appreciate having a better platform to run Visual Studio plus all the Office applications.

Some users of Microsoft Office would like to have extra memory but Vista 32-bit incarnations are capped at 4GB. Windows Server 2008 does not have that somewhat arbitrary 4GB memory limit on 32-bit systems. This means you can add more memory to your existing 32-bit computer instead of switching to a 64-bit computer with all the difficulties that can bring. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Windows Server 2008 manages memory loads better than Vista even at the 4GB mark.

How to install Microsoft Office in ‘Workstation 2008’

Either Office 2007 or Office 2003 can be installed on Windows ‘workstation’ 2008 in the usual way. If you are logged into a standard user account you’ll be prompted for the Administrators password.

Outlook 2007 and OneNote 2007 both make heavy use of Windows Search which is installed and run by default on Windows Vista but has to be enabled on Windows Server 2008.

Enabling Windows Search on Windows Server 2008

Go to Server Manager | Add Roles and select the ‘File Services’ role. You’ll be presented with a series of options:

Windows Server 2008 Role Services - add Windows Search image from Office 2007 or Office 2003 on Windows


The one to choose is ‘Windows Search Service’ – this is option used by Outlook 2007 and Onenote 2007 for ‘fast’ searches.

‘Indexing Service’ is the old version of Microsoft’s search technology and can’t be installed if you’re already using ‘Windows Search’. Unless you have a specific need you don’t want ‘indexing service’ at all.

While we are on this screen, there are some other interesting options:

  • File Server is usually left on but doesn’t have to be. If you turn it off then other computers won’t be able to access files on that computer’s network shares though the computer can still access other permitted shares on the network. That’s an intriguing security option, the file access equivalent of “I can see you, but you can’t see me” but could have unexpected consequences if you’re testing network access of applications.
  • Distributed File System (DFS) is a wonderful trick that’s already available in Windows Server 2003 and Small Business Server 2003. In its simplest form DFS lets you create consistent network share links which can be re-directed as need.

Office related programs

The Vista ‘Fax and Scan’ application is not available on Windows Server 2008, but some smarty may work out how to migrate it from Vista. Most people use the software than came with their scanner instead of the basic Vista substitute or can use the Scan, OCR and Imaging support supplied with Office 2003 and Office 2007.

We’ve tested both Google Desktop Search and Copernic Desktop Search under Windows Server 2008 – both install and run without a hitch. Google Desktop Search comes with the optional Google Gadgets which can act as a replacement for Windows Sidebar which is MIA from Windows Server 2008.

Make sure you’ve enabled Superfetch (which requires some registry entries and a service start) and tweaked Windows Server 2008 to prefer application performance over background services.