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Building out Windows Server 2012

Last modified by Mitchell on August 17, 2014, 3:01 PM

Feb 14 2014

For what I'm building out, having a Windows Server installation (or two) can be quite useful.

As part of this process, I've found that one of the nice things they added back in Windows Server 2008 is a Server Core installation mode, which strips out almost the entire user interface, causing most of the interaction to occur via Computer Management and Windows PowerShell. An interesting development for an operating system that's been built up almost completely around its GUI.

Not surprisingly, they've had to add a couple of tools to make this work more smoothly. The two most useful ones are sconfig.cmd, designed to run on the host system for initial setup, and the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT), the most recent version of which only runs on Windows 8.1 (for Windows Server 2012 R2 support).

Oddly, though, the application for which most people would want to run Windows Server for, Microsoft Exchange, doesn't support running in Windows Server Core mode. From the system requirements documentation for Exchange 2013:

We don’t support the installation of Exchange 2013 on a computer that’s running in Windows Server Core mode. The computer must be running the full installation of Windows Server.

To compound matters, most management of Exchange 2013 is now performed via a web browser anyways... so why does Exchange require a full Windows Server installation? Hell if I know....

Edit: It's apparently because Exchange (mailbox role) requires the Windows Media Audio Voice Codec. This doesn't require just the GUI, it requires the Desktop Experience add-on. Microsoft really couldn't pull that dependency out separately...?

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Created by Mitchell on February 14, 2014, 1:28 AM

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