The Server Core option in Windows Server has been available since Windows Server 2008 and provides smaller install option with a reduced attack surface. Now with Windows Server 2008 R2 the Server Core option has gotten much better and is a great platform for running a .NET Application host. But before I get into what’s new it’s important to understand which versions of Windows Server supports the Server Core option. So Server Core is in the following Windows Server Editions:
The two main things that a Server Core deployment provides is a Reduced Attack Surface and Reduced Management and Patching requirements. This is due to that fact that we simply don’t install as much as the full version and we don’t have a GUI at all.
But with Windows Server 2008 R2 Server Core we’ve added some really cool features. First you can run subsets of the 2.0/3.0/3.5 .NET Framework. This extends the role of Server Core deployments to not only enterprise network service hosting but also to application hosting. By adding support for the .NET Framework it now makes it possible to host the The Web Platform including ASP.NET web applications. Secondly we’ve added support for Windows PowerShell which makes scripting, remote management and automation easier on Server Core deployments.
To find out he latest make sure you check out the Server Core Team Blog and the video tour of Server Core application development on Channel 9 as well as detailed samples on the MSDN Code Gallery.