Bruce Adamczak

I have spent years working in perfmon, so I thought I would share some tips and tricks on the tool!

Windows 2012 Core Survival Guide – Changing the GUI type

Windows 2012 Core Survival Guide – Changing the GUI type

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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




  • Thanks for post, just a remarks the right path is D:/Sources with 's'.

  • thank you.

  • Very helpful, thank you!

  • Run Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra, Server-Gui-Shell –Restart –Source wim:D:\source\install.wim:4 this doesn't work unless you have a working network connection that allows you to connect to Windows Update!!! It ignores the path in the source parameter and checks WU servers anyway. Event than, it may require tremendous amounts of time to run and to download everything it needs. Lots of time wasted here.

  • Bruce, thanks a bunch! Great job it works awesome. Just like the original poster said, the correct source path is D:\SourceS with an S.

  • i was confused, but this article helped me a lot..also looking out job for server admin

  • Thanks all I have updated "s" In the post.

  • Still not updated, but most will work it out.

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

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

    Great guide though! Thanks

  • Thanks a lot, great Post! This save al lot of my time

  • Arrived here because I tried to enable the DfsMgmt feature (hoping this gives me the PowerShell DFSR module) on a Server Core 2012 R2 install. The attempt failed, indicating "a required parent feature may not be enabled." Near the end of that message, it mysteriously has the list: Server-Gui-Mgmt, ServerCore-FullServer.
    So I tried enabling Server-Gui-Mgmt per this post. Got the red-text error in the screenshot above and tried your workaround to specify my Server 2012 R2 "DVD" (mounted .iso) as the source. No joy. It persists, "The source files could not be downloaded." Yes, I'm using the correct path to install.wim.
    Maybe I don't need DfsMgmt to install/enable the DFSR module for PowerShell?

    Thank you!

  • Oh boy, never mind. I was, in fact, NOT using the correct path. I was using 'source' instead of 'sources'. Not even sure how/why as the post had long been corrected. Guess I just mis-typed.
    Server-Gui-Mgmt and DfsMgmt specifically pulled in the DFSR module for PowerShell... Strange there doesn't seem to be a way to have the module with only Server Core.

  • many thanks and keep going

  • Thanks,it help me a lot

  • Great Bruce...

  • Very useful article. Thank you.

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