Switching to Windows Server 2012 R2 Core to Standard

Hello everyone,

I hope you are having a wonderful day.

its been awhile since I posted here, been busy lately. But I finally found some extra time to squeeze in this post.


Okay, you’ve heard the news and know benefits of Windows Server 2012 R2 Core, finally you installed Windows Server 2012 R2 Core, but to your surprise you are unable or not comfortable enough to configure Server Core. You then decided to go back to Server 2012 R2 Standard, configure everything and then switch back to core to minimize attack surface on your server.

When you issued the command

Install-WindowsFeature –Name server-gui-mgmt-infra,server-gui-shell

you then see the progress (like the one below)


you then left your server to finish the setup but when you got back, your screen display like this..


You then try it again, but same thing happens. Now what?


Well, as you may already know, the Server 2012 versions have features on demand, when you have decided to install Server Core on you machine you should know that the assemblies (features payload) or the actual bits of some features are not existing on the disk. If you try to issue a command

Get-WindowsFeature –Name Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-Gui-Shell | FT DisplayName, Name, InstallState

from a newly installed Server 2012 Core, you will notice that the installstate of the features for the Server-Gui-* features are removed. There are 3 possible states of a feature in Server Core.

  • Available – This means that you can install this feature using the install-windowsfeature without to have to refer to a source.
  • Removed – This mean that the assemblies (or payloads) are not present on the system, if you want to install this feature you will have to refer to the “source” parameter when issuing Install-WindowsFeature
  • Installed – This means that this feature is installed on the server and should be accessible via Server Manager.

So if you want to install Server 2012 Standard or the UI version of Windows Server 2012, you will need to specify the –source parameter in the Install-WindowsFeature cmdlet.

  1. Locate a copy of the install.wim file, you can find this from the installation media of Windows Server 2012.
  2. Then issue the command “Get-WindowsImage –imagePath “pathtothe_WIM_file.wim”
    Select the destination of the version you want to convert to, however, if you have installed Standard Core, you can only concert to Server Standard, vice versa and Server Datacenter Core to Server Datacenter and vice versa.
  3. In my installation i have Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard Core so my command should be
    Install-WindowsFeature –Name Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-Gui-Shell –Source:wim:d:\sources\install.wim

Well thats pretty much it, it should take a minute or two for the feature to install and then reboot your server, you then now have the GUI version of Windows Server 2012 R2.


Applies To: Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2