Windows Server Core was first introduced with Windows 2008 to allow organizations to deploy a low footprint low image size servers for all those scenarios that did not require a full GUI like an Hyper-V host, a branch office domain controller and so on.
While at the time I was really excited and fond of server core my enthusiasm was somehow blocked by the harsh reality as Windows Server Core on Windows 2008 did lack management tools and, biggest weakness among all, if you wanted to convert a full GUI server to Windows Server Core you needed to reinstall the OS thankfully with Windows 2012 this changed and can be managed via standard PowerShell cmdlets, let’s see how.
Windows Server Core – How to install
When you start the OS installation you are given the option to install in either Full GUI or in Windows Server Core mode, when I need to deploy a Windows Server Core
What I usually do is just install the OS with a full GUI so that I have a convenient way to configure parameters like domain join, IP address and so on, once the OS is fully configured andupdated the server can converted to Windows Server Core, this is achieved through the new Install-WindowsFeature and Uninstall-WindowsFeature cmdlets like the following example:
# Convert from full GUI to Windows Server Core Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-Gui-Shell -Restart
Once the server is restarted you will be looking at the Windows Server Core interface (or lack of depending on how you look at it).
If later on you need to restore the full GUI interface you will just perform the opposite operation with the following commands:
# Convert Windows Server Core to full GUI Server Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-Gui-Shell -Restart