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Server Core for Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012

Server Core for Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012


Server Core is a minimal server installation option for computers running on the operating system. Server Core provides a low-maintenance server environment with limited functionality.

As in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 offer Full Server and Server Core installation options. Starting with Windows Server 2012, it is possible to transition between Full Server and Server Core without reinstalling the operating system.

Where applicable

Server Core is an installation option that is capable of the following server roles.

  • Active Directory (AD)
  • Active Directory Certificate Services
  • Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (ADLDS)
  • BITS Server
  • BranchCache
  • DHCP Server
  • DirectAccess
  • DNS Server
  • File Services
  • HyperV
  • IIS
  • iSCSI
  • Load Balancing
  • MPIO
  • Printing Services
  • qWave
  • Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS)
  • Streaming Media Services
  • Telnet
  • Unix Migration

The following table lists the benefits of Server Core.

Reduced ServicingBecause Server Core installs only what is required for a manageable DHCP, File, DNS, Media Services, and Active Directory server, less servicing is required.
Reduced ManagementBecause less is installed on a Server Core-based server, less management is required.
Reduced attack surfaceBecause there is less running on the server, there is less attack surface.


The minimal nature of Server Core creates limitations:

  • There is no Windows shell and very limited GUI functionality. The Server Core interface is a command prompt with PowerShell support.
  • There is limited MSI support (unattended mode only).

Developer audience

Server Core is designed for use by network and file service infrastructure developers, server management tool and utility developers, and IT planners.

Run-time requirements

Server Core requires Windows Server 2008 or later. This documentation describes Server Core as implemented on Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012.

In this section


About Server Core

General information about Server Core.

Using Server Core

Information about using Server Core.

Server Core Reference

Reference documentation for Server Core.


Related topics

Server Core Blog



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