One of the features found in Server 2012 is the ability to switch between Server Core and GUI. In Server 2008, you used either one or the other, but in Server 2012 you can switch back and forth!

Having a core installation improves performance, requires less maintenance, has better memory utilization and reduces the attack surface, but unless you are half Vulcan, it’s hard to prefer PowerShell over a GUI when configuring a server.

In Server 2012, you can configure the OS and its roles using the GUI then switch to Server Core. You can reverse and switch from server core back to GUI and vice versa as often as you like! You can finally have your cake and eat it too! This great new feature allows you to easily and quickly configure your server using the GUI then switch to Server Core to reduce the attack surface and improve performance.

There are three related PowerShell Command I am going to show:

Uninstall –WindowsFeature Server-GUI-Mgmt-Infra –Restart This command switches from GUI to Core Install

Install-WindowsFeature Server-GUI-Mgmt-Infra, Server-GUI-Shell –Restart This command switches from Core Install to full GUI

Install-Windowsfeature Server-GUI-Mgmt-Infra This command switches from Core Install to partial GUI (Minimal Server Interface). It allows you to run the Microsoft Management Console from PowerShell by executing the following command: MMC.exe.

In order for switching to work seamlessly, you must have initially installed the server using the GUI install.

Server 2012: How to Switch from GUI to Server Core

To switch from GUI to server core, open PowerShell and execute the following command:

Uninstall–WindowsFeature Server-GUI-Mgmt-Infra –Restart

The GUI removal process will begin.


Once the process is finished, your server will restart.

Server 2012: How to Switch from Server Core to GUI

To switch from Server Core to GUI, run PowerShell and execute the following command:

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



The installer will begin adding the features… Once finished, it will restart.

Troubleshooting Server Core to GUI Conversion

Error: install-windowsfeature: The request to add or remove features on the specified server failed. The source files could not be downloaded.

These errors can occur if you performed the initial installation using server core and this is the first time converting to GUI. Windows needs to connect to the internet to download the installation file. Please make sure that the Core server has access to the Internet.

To configure your NIC using PowerShell, follow these instructions.

Alternatively, you can use a WIM file instead of the Internet to retrieve the files. To do so, follow these instructions.


Error: Start Installation Stuck at 68% or 24%

The installer is downloading the necessary files to complete the installation. This may take a while depending on the connection speed

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