Windows Server 2016 GUI options

Server 2016 comes with 2 options:

  1. Windows Server 2016, and
  2. Windows Server 2016 (Desktop Experience)



The first option has no GUI. This was known as (Server Core Installation) in Server 2012.


The second option has a Graphical User Interface (GUI).

This is not just a change in labels. In Server 2012 R2, the GUI was just a set of features that can be uninstalled and reinstalled as needed. This appears not to be the case in Server 2016.

Here is a feature list from a physical Server 2012 R2 Data Center with GUI:


and here’s the same list from a physical Server 2016 Data Center with GUI:


Note that the following features appear not to exist anymore in Server 2016:

  • User-Interfaces-Infra
  • Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra
  • Server-Gui-Shell

In a Server 2016 Data Center (Core) installation, attempting to install the GUI from PowerShell fails. This portion of a PowerShell transcript shows the Server 2016 Edition:


After mounting the ISO


and identifying the image ID in the WIM file for Data Center edition


attempting to install GUI fails:


GUI options are not even available in a 2016 Core installation:



Unlike Server 2012, in Server 2016 it appears a Server Core installation cannot be turned into a GUI installation or vice versa.

4 responses

  1. Pingback: Upgrading Server 2012 R2 to Server 2016 | Sam's Corner

  2. Pingback: Upgrading Server 2012 R2 to Server 2016 and Storage Spaces | Sam's Corner

  3. Pingback: How do I add the Windows GUI to Windows 2016 Server Core? – Fixya Cloud

  4. Asking questions are really good thing if you are not understanding anything fully, however this post offers pleasant understanding even.

    April 21, 2020 at 1:30 pm

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