Switching between GUI and Server Core installation

servermanagerNo matter in what method you installed Windows Server 2012, you may want to switch to another mode.

There will be 2 scenarios, each with 2 solutions:

Scenario 1: Switching from GUI to Server Core

Solution 1: Follow these steps:

  1. Press Win key+R, then type servermanager, and enter. Server Manager window opens
  2. Under Configure this local server, click Add roles and features
  3. Click Start the Remove Roles and Features Wizard, and Next
  4. Select destination server, and press Next
  5. Click on Features, and collapse the User Interfaces and Infrastructure menu
  6. Uncheck Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure and Server Graphical Shell
  7. A prompt says to remove PowerShell ISE, no problem hit Remove Features
  8. Click Next, then on confirm removal selections, click Remove
  9. After some while, click Close and restart the Server

Solution 2: PowerShell

  1. Click Windows PowerShell icon on Taskbar, PowerShell console opens
  2. Run this command: Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra –restart
  3. It starts GUI removal, after finishing, it restarts the Server

Scenario 2: Switching from Server Core to GUI

Solution 1: Do unlike removing GUI mode

  1. Connect remotely to the Server by RSAT
  2. Go to Server Manager
  3. Add these features:
  • Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure
  • Server Graphical Shell
  • PowerShell ISE

4.   Restart the Server


Solution 2: PowerShell

  1. Type powershell at Command Prompt
  2. Run this command: Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-Gui-Shell –Restart
  3. Server needs to be restarted

Windows Server 2012 Server Core installation

sconfigIn previous post, I described the GUI Server installation of Windows Server 2012.

In this post, I’ll explain the Server Core installation. But what is the Server Core installation? And how does it differ from the GUI one?

The Server Core installation, as it’s name implies, has just the most fundamental features of Windows Server 2012, such as Active Directory, DNS and DHCP. It does not offer either the GUI interface nor desktop, start menu or taskbar.

Most installation steps are alike of the GUI installation, but first at choosing the Server version, you should select the Server Core installation of your Server 2012 edition.

Then other steps are the same except the final step that when you log on to the Server, you won’t see any graphical interface ! Instead you will encounter the command prompt, which from this traditional place, you can manage your Server. Then type sconfig (Server configuration) at the command prompt and enter. A new menu will appear.

Now you can rename the Server, join to domain, change the network configurations and more.

Another question arises, how can I add roles to a server without GUI ? The answer is simple, you have the opportunity to manage the Server remotely by RSAT (Remote Server Administration Tools) from a client. So,

Download RSAT for Windows 7 SP1 or for Windows 8.

After downloading and installing the RSAT, connect remotely to the new Windows Server 2012 and add the desired roles and features.

Installing Windows Server 2012

After downloading the evaluation ISO file of Windows Server 2012,

its time to install it. But before, know the system requirements :

  • CPU : minimum 1.4GHz 64-bit
  • RAM : minimum 512 MB
  • Disk space : minimum 32 GB

Then follow these procedures:

  1. Burn the ISO image to a DVD and boot from it.
  2. Choose your Windows Server 2012 edition:
  • Foundation : good for up to 15 users
  • Essentials : good for up to 25 users
  • Standard : good for most enterprise environments
  • Datacenter : good for virtualized and cloud environments

Want to know more about editions? Go to this.

* Note that for every edition, you can choose between the GUI or the Server Core installation.

3.    Choose the Upgrade or a Custom installation option. If choose Custom, you can repartition and install a fresh  Windows.

4.    Wait for the installation to be completed. Then the system will reboot.

5.    Set a username and password (a complex one please !)

6.    Click Finish and hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete to login.

7.    You will be presented with a new Server Manager screen, that simplifies administration of the new server.


You might have noticed that installation of Windows Server 2012 is a bit like Windows 8 installation. Also the visual interfaces and tiles are  somehow the same. Damn ! again NO START MENU key for Windows Server 2012, the same as Windows 8.

Download Windows Server 2012 evaluation

ImageI start blogging by putting the download link of the latest Microsoft Windows Server, Server 2012 AKA Server Cloud.

Microsoft says: "Windows Server 2012 redefines the server category, delivering hundreds of new features and enhancements spanning virtualization, networking, storage, user experience, cloud computing, automation, and more."

You can download and use the evaluation; full-feature version for 180 days.

Download link

You can also get the data sheet from here, and if interested in familiarizing yourself in details, download the free e-book Introducing Windows Server 2012 by Microsoft press.

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