Windows 2012 Core Survival Guide – Changing the GUI type

Learn about my 2012 Core Survival Guide here.

Changing the GUI type

Windows Server 2012 has three different GUI installations, Core, Minimal, and Full GUI.  I am going to assume in this blog you installed Core and wish to temporarily install one of the other two GUIs.  More information about the installation types can be found at: 

When deploying server core you may want to consider installing the full GUI during your installation and removing as part of your deployment process.  This will allow you to add and remove the GUI later if needed without having to have access to the source files.

How to install the Minimal Server Interface

The Minimal Server Interface provides you with access to Server Manager, the MMC, PowerShell and the command windows.  I use the Install-WindowsFeature cmdlet to install the GUI.

PowerShell Command:

Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra –Restart

This command will require a reboot to complete. 


After the installation of the Minimal interface and rebooting you still come up in an command prompt.  In order to launch Server Manager you must type ServerManager like in the below screen shot.  The same holds true for the MMC.


How to install the Full Gui Interface

The Full GUI Server Interface provides you with the full GUI of Windows Server 2012.

PowerShell Command:

Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra, Server-Gui-Shell –Restart

This command too requires a reboot.


How to remove the GUI

To return your Server back to a Core installation you can remove the GUI interface by using the command below.

PowerShell Command:

Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra -restart

This command will require a reboot.


GUI installation when source media is required

If you try to install the GUI and receive the following error.  It simply means you do not have access to the source files.  You have two options at this point.  Locate a copy of the installation CD or use a cached copy that is on your network.


Once you have access to the source files you need to determine the index number for an Image with Windows Server 2012 GUI.

PowerShell Command:

Get-WindowsImage -ImagePath d:\sources\install.wim

The command below list the different images store in the source directory.  You will need to note which index number to use in the following command. 


Now that we know the index number we can modify our installation command to include the source directory and index.

PowerShell Command:

Run Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra, Server-Gui-Shell –Restart –Source wim:D:\source\install.wim:4

The command below shows a successful installation using the source directory and index


I hope you found this useful. Please leave me a comment