In Windows Server 2008 we introduced you to the notion of a “Core” installation. The idea with Server Core was that you had a minimal installation of a server workhorse that didn’t contain any of the extra fluff. And when I say fluff, I mean GUI / UI / Windows Explorer / IE / multimedia.. stuff. Things that you don’t really need or want on a server if you want to get the best performance, plus the benefit of a reduced attack surface for the sake of security.
“I like the idea, Kevin.. but Server Core is hard to administer.”
Yeah.. but that greatly improved with Windows Server 2008 R2, and is even better now in Windows Server 2012. It’s so good, in fact, that the core installation is the default installation of Windows Server 2012.
“But if I install a Core of Server 2008 R2, I’m stuck with it. I’d really like to be able to add the GUI later. Or maybe install it as a Full installation, but then remove the GUI.”
You’re in luck. That’s what we’re allowing in Windows Server 2012. It is no longer a one-time decision when you’re doing the installation of the server. You can add or remove the UI features quite easily, either using the Add (or remove) Roles and Features wizard, or by using PowerShell.