Server 2016 comes with 2 options:
- Windows Server 2016, and
- 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:
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.