Install the Vista Sidebar in Server 2008

So you’ve set up your slick workstation build of Server 2008 (see Part I and Part II) and are wondering which widget software to install.  Here are a couple options:

  1. Yahoo Widgets
  2. Google Desktop

Those are the standard options, but I find each to be a little too intrusive – Google desktop’s consistent desire to search my computer and email along with searching the web – you can turn it off, but it’s only one example of how it goes beyond a basic widget engine. Not to mention Yahoo’s strange widget dock that doesn’t actually dock widgets – Instead, it functions more like a shortcut bar with icons linked to your widgets on your desktop… redundant.

I really just need a clock, and meters showing how full my hard drives are, in a small memory foot print.  So the Vista sidebar is perfect for my diminutive widget requirements.  But it doesn’t come standard with Server 2008.  So, let’s Install it.

Installing Sidebar in Server 2008

Before we begin, please note that I am assuming your Server 2008 install is on the C:\ drive, if for some reason it is not, please adjust the letter in every run command below.

1.  Get ahold of the sidebar files.

The easiest (and most legal) place to acquire these is from a vista disc or installation that you currently own.  If you don’t have that kind of access, you can find the needed files at most any file sharing website, rapidshare, megaupload, etc.  Google is a good place to start.  Be wary, however, of downloading from sources you cannot verify as virus free.

If you are having trouble finding the files, these are few locations (I found from googling) where you can find them [We cannot verify the contents, safety, or legality of these files, download at your own risk and of your own volition.]

[ does not condone piracy, or the breaking of Microsoft EULA]:







2.  Move the files to a system directory.

Okay, so you got the files.  They should be zipped [unless you got them from a vista installation].  In rare cases, they will have the 7z extension. If this is the case, you will need a great little program called 7-zip to extract them.  Don’t worry, it’s free and fantastic.

Decompress [or  copy] them to the location:  C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\ [Your Files Go Here]*

*You probably have to create the directory “Windows Sidebar”

3.  Now to install the program.

Hit up the Start Menu → Run and type in (including the “Quotes”):

"C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\sidebar.exe" /RegServer

4.  Register the necessary libraries for handling widgets (regular and custom).

Open Start Menu → Run and paste in these next 2 lines, one at a time.

regsvr32 "C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\sbdrop.dll"

regsvr32 "C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\wlsrvc.dll"

5.  Now to start the program.

Either double-click on the sidebar.exe file in “C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\”  or, if you still have a handy Run box open, just run:

C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\sidebar.exe

6.  Make it run at Startup.

Just so you don’t have to do Step 5 every time your computer starts, just right-click the icon on the task bar for sidebar and select properties.

Tick the check box for Start Sidebar when Windows Starts.

7.  Address and Permission Issues. If you are not running as Administrator, you will receive a security warning, asking permission to run the file at Windows start up.  If you do have this problem, it’s easy to fix.

Navigate back to C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\ and right-click on sidebar.exe. Go to Properties.

Under the General Tab, click Unblock. Apply.

In some rare cases, this won’t handle the permission issue, and you will have to go under the Compatibility Tab and tick the check box for Run as Administrator, just like you have to do with a lot of gaming software.

8.  Yay.

Now you have Vista Sidebar running in Server 2008. Enjoy!

5 thoughts on “Install the Vista Sidebar in Server 2008

  1. Hey, Great tutorials on Windows Server 2008, they really do the trick.
    While following this one I ran in to some trouble though. when everything is installed and I start the sidebar nothing shows up, except for the system tray icon, that disappears as soon as you put the mose over it. I’m running the x64 version, and have taken the sidebar folder from a vista installation on another hard drive (also x64). Do you have any suggestions?
    Thanx in advance,

  2. hey, I managed to make it work, seems my vista sidebar is somehow faulty. I used one from your links, and it worked! however, it wont let me install new gadgets for some reason. Well, i can install, but nothing shows up in the gadget selection panel 🙁

    1. Open the Command Prompt with administrator level and from the root directory (C:\) past the line command it will register the .dll’s.

      Hope this helps you.

  3. Thanks for the post. I’ve been wanting to setup some gadgets on my server to make monitoring easier.

    I had the same problem as oliver. I tried to re-regiser the dlls and also set up an association with Sidebar.exe to .gadget files to no avail.

    I did figure out a work-around though:
    1. Download the .gadget file.
    2. Rename the file to .zip extension.
    3. Extract the file to the directory c:\program files\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets\.
    4. Add .Gadget to the directory filename, like the other folders in that directory. 5. It should then show up in the Gadget Gallery, and you can add it from there.

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