Paul Gregory | 18 July 2012
Windows Server Core, introduced in Windows Server 2008, had a number of barriers that have hindered its adoption. With Windows Server 2012 Microsoft are trying to remove a lot of those barriers. The first of these dramatically improves the administration experience.
Windows Server 2012 allows the graphical user interface to be enabled and disabled. When Windows Server 2012 is installed the default option in the installer is Windows Server Core not Windows Server Full as it was in previous releases. However if the full GUI version is installed the GUI can be removed after deployment. Windows Server now has four interface experiences:
The Server Minimal interface is new and provides Server Core with graphical administration tools only, this includes Server Manager. However there is no Metro, Internet Explorer or Other common Windows GUI user tools.
Windows Server 2008 & 2008 R2 have allowed the installation and removal of the desktop experience for use in Remote Desktop Services environments, but the full GUI can be installed and removed at will (requiring a system reboot).
When installing the GUI components access to either the installation media for the full GUI version is required or if not available the system will contact the Windows Update site to download the components. When removing GUI components the source files can either be left in place or removed. To install the full experience from the Windows Update site execute the following PowerShell command:
Install-windowsfeature server-gui-mgmt-infra, server-gui-shell
If a local source was to be specified a -Source parameter could be add to the end. To remove the command would be:
uninstall-windowsfeature server-gui-mgmt-infra, server-gui-shell
If the server-gui-shell option is not used this would install the interface to the minimal server level.