Enabling the graphical user interface (GUI) in Windows Server 2012

Enabling the graphical user interface (GUI) in Windows Server 2012

This article provides information on enabling the graphical user interface in Windows Server 2012

The Windows Server Core concept, which centers on running Windows without a graphical user interface (GUI), has been around since Windows Server 2008, but Windows Server 2012 is the first version of Windows Server to offer the ability to add or remove the GUI without reinstalling the operating system. Only a reboot of the server is required.

Note: This article does not apply to Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012, a free hypervisor-only Windows operating system from Microsoft, which operates in Server Core mode only. Hyper-V Server 2012 may be managed from a remote machine using graphical management tools, however.

There are four user-interface levels in Windows Server 2012:

  • Server Core: No GUI features are enabled. Local operations can be performed via the command prompt, Server Configuration tool (Sconfig), and Windows PowerShell only.
  • Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure (also known as MinShell): Enables some GUI features. MMC, Server Manager, and some Control Panel applets are enabled, but Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer, the desktop, and the Start screen are not.
  • Server Graphical Shell: All normal Windows Server GUI features are enabled.
  • Desktop Experience: Provides some Windows 8 features, such as Windows Media Player and desktop themes.

The GUI can be enabled in Windows Server 2012 using Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) or Windows PowerShell.

To enable the Server Graphical Shell GUI using DISM on a Server Core machine:

  1. At the command prompt, type dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:server-gui-mgmt /featurename:server-gui-shell /featurename:servercore-fullserver.
  2. Type y when prompted to reboot the server.

To enable the Server Graphical Shell GUI using Windows PowerShell on a Server Core machine:

  1. At the command prompt, type powershell.
  2. At the Windows PowerShell prompt, type install-windowsfeature -name server-gui-mgmt-infra,server-gui-shell.

    Note: You may use the -path switch with the above cmdlet to supply a path (either a local or UNC path) to the binary files needed for the features if they are not available in the local server's side-by-side store and there is no connectivity to Windows Update.

    Example: If the Server 2012 installation media is present in the D: drive, the following cmdlet will use it as the source for the required binary files:

    install-windowsfeature -name server-gui-mgmt-infra,server-gui-shell -path D:\sources\sxs
  3. The feature installation may take a few minutes. When it is complete, type restart-computer to reboot the server.

In both of the above examples, omit the server-gui-shell feature to install only the Graphical Management Tools and Infrastructure (MinShell) limited GUI.

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Article ID: SLN156912

Last Date Modified: 10/22/2014 05:41 AM

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