Server Core in Windows Server 2012

The Windows Server blog introduced many of the changes we have made for Windows Server 2012 for Server Core, the new Minimal Server Interface, and Features on Demand in this posting: We will be using the Server Core blog to discuss all of these in more depth and welcome you to post any comments and questions you might have regarding these changes.

Today I’m going to start by discussing some of the ways you can take advantage of the ability to move between Server Core and Server with a GUI in Windows Server 2012.

Changing server requirements – If you have deployed Server Core and then there is a change in what needs to run on the server that requires either Minimal Server Interface or Server with a GUI you can now convert up without having to reinstall and rebuild the server.

Troubleshooting or configuration – If there are any issues that you need to trouble shoot or configuration changes you want to make and find it easier to do either with the local GUI tools, you can convert to either Minimal Server Interface or Server with a GUI.

Initial configuration – You can install Server with a GUI, configure the server as desired for your environment, and then convert to Server Core for production and get all the servicing and reboot reduction benefits of Server Core.

Single master image – With the ability to switch between Server Core and Server with a GUI you can create a single master image for deployment. Once installed on a new server it can then be converted to Server Core if that is the planned  configuration for the server. There is no longer a need to create and maintain two Windows Server images.

For steps on how to convert between Server Core and Server with a GUI, see the Installation Options topic for the beta release: We’ll cover the ways to convert in more detail in a future posting, as well as Minimal Server Interface, and Features on Demand.

Comments (13)
  1. This is one of the features I have been waiting for – some of the less experienced admins – seem terrified with a core installation. I think the mouse has become the modern day "comfort blanky"

  2. @Shahid – Exchange 2010 doesn't support Server Core due to various dependencies that aren't available. However, we're moving in this direction as you can see.

    @tonyr – Yes, Server Core does require fewer reboots than Server with a Gui. As we'll explain in some upcoming blog posts, you'd have (by default) at least a 50% reduction in reboots due to patching. That roughly equates to one reboot every two months.

  3. Shahid Roofi says:

    Wonderful achievemnt wihtout doubt. Now we can really think of installing Exchange on server core without issues.

    I remeber stuck on the last depency of exchagne 2010 i-e rpc over https component which is not ever available on windows 2008 / r2 core …. due to which exchange never was possible to install on server core.

    Well done server team !

  4. @tonyr, we are committed to reducing reboots and continually work with the update teams to make sure that we can deliver the best experience possible to our users with the fewest number of reboots possible. Are you referring to the current (Beta) release? If so, please note that due to the pre-release nature of the product there may be more patches than would usually be expected in the final release. We are analyzing our patches, however, and we're always trying to improve. Thanks for your feedback!


  5. @Evan, thanks for the feedback. Reducing reboots is something we are continually working on and hopefully you can see that we're moving in the right direction with a finer-grained componentization (which means finer-grained patching) and fewer reboots on Server Core.

  6. tonyr says:

    does core really have less reboot requirements?  think not, it might have less patches attributed to it but I doubt that its missed a month without needing reboot.

  7. tonyr says:

    I really hope you are correct about needing fewer reboots because the current version of core may have less patches needing to be applied but it still needs to be rebooted monthly.


  8. Jason geek says:

    The addition of minimal sever interface is a good addition to the server core family.

    I found a very good writeup on it @

  9. Evan R says:

    I'm with Tony.  Love using server in a business environment, but sure would be nice if Server was more like Ubuntu Server…almost never need to reboot that thing after patches!   Scheduling downtime to do a reboot sucks, and is a tough decision between waiting to apply patches and bringing a box down all the time for reboots due to patching.

  10. brett says:

    do you know if it's possible to upgrade hyper-v server core 2012 to server 2012 standard without losing any settings?

  11. James Stephan says:

    This is a project I created at (microsoft's open source code website). It is a free powershell scripted project that is semi-GUI and meant to be ran from the vhost console. It takes up where sconfig and corefig have left off. It allows you to configure the vhosts virtual paths, create vswitches, even has an advanced function to create NIC teams (written by Eric Siron). Then it walks you through creating a VM, connecting to that VM and editing the VM if needed. It has built a reporting and inventory feature. Check it out and see if it is something you could write about. I threw in some useful freeware to make working from the very lack luster core console easier.  This is aimed at the single stand alone Free Core Server 2012 segment, who do not want or need to learn powershell.

    My blog is

    I am not a professional coder so my scripts are rough but they work.

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