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Windows 2012 : Converting a Full (GUI version) To Server Core and Vice Versa

August 9, 2012 6 comments

For Windows 2012 servers with a full operating system (GUI version) as the base installation:

  • To convert a full operating system installation to a server core installation:
    • By using DISM cmdlets:

 c:\>Dism /online /disable-feature /featurename:ServerCore-FullServer

  • By using Powershell  (run as Administrator):

PS c:\>Import-Module DISM

PS c:\>Disable-WindowsOptionalFeature -online -Featurename Servercore-Fullserver

  • To convert a server core installation back to a full operating system installation (GUI version)
    • By using DISM cmdlets:

c:\>Dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:Server-Gui-Mgmt /featurename:Server-Gui-Shell /featurename:ServerCore-FullServer

  • By using Powershell  (run as Administrator):

PS c:\>Import-Module DISM 

PS c:\>Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -online -Featurename Servercore-FullServer,Server-Gui-shell,Server-Gui-Mgmt

For servers with server core as the base installation:

  • To convert a server core installation  to a full operating system installation (GUI version)

1. Create an folder called C:\w2012\image

mkdir C:\w2012\image

2. Insert the Windows 2012 media into the optical drive and copy install.wim from

copy D:\sources\install.wim  C:\w2012\image

3.  Run the following command to retrieve the name or index number of the image:

Dism /Get-ImageInfo /ImageFile:C:\w2012\image\install.wim

4. Create an folder called  C:\w2012\MountPoint

mkdir C:\w2012\MountPoint

5. Run the following command to mount the offline Windows image (Note: index:2 = Standard Edition index:4 = Datacenter Edition) :

Dism /Mount-Image /ImageFile:C:\w2012\image\install.wim /index:4 /MountDir:C:\w2012\MountPoint  /ReadOnly

6. Upgrade the operating system by running the command:

          c:\>Dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:Server-Gui-Mgmt /featurename:Server-Gui-Shell /featurename:ServerCore-FullServer /source:c:\w2012\MountPoint\windows\winsxs  

         or by using Powershell:

PS c:\>Import-Module DISM

PS c:\>Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-Gui-Shell –Restart –Source c:\w2012\MountPoint\windows\winsxs

  • To convert a full operating system installation (GUI version) back to a server core installation

 c:\>Dism /online /disable-feature /featurename:ServerCore-FullServer

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