What's New in the Server Core Installation Option

What are the major changes?

The Server Core installation option of Windows Server® 2008 R2 includes support for additional server roles and features. Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 R2 now use the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool to install and uninstall server roles.

The following changes are available in Windows Server 2008 R2:

  • In addition to the server roles available in Server Core installations of Windows Server® 2008, the following are available:

    • The Active Directory® Certificate Services (AD CS) role

    • The File Server Resource Manager component of the File Services role

    • A subset of ASP.NET in the Web Server role

  • In addition to the Windows features available in Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008, the following features are available:

    • .NET Framework

      • A subset of .NET Framework 2.0

      • A subset of .NET Framework 3.0, including Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Workflow Foundation (WF)

      • A subset of .NET Framework 3.5, including WF additions from .NET Framework 3.5 and .NET Language-Integrated Query (LINQ)

    • Windows PowerShell, including cmdlets for Server Manager and the Best Practices Analyzer

    • Windows-on-Windows 64-bit (WoW64)

  • The Removable Storage feature has been removed.

  • You can remotely configure a server running a Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008 R2 by using Server Manager.

Who will be interested in this feature?

The Server Core installation option provides a minimal environment for running specific server roles. Because it installs only the subset of binary files that are required by the supported server roles, this installation option reduces the maintenance and management requirements, as well as the attack surface for those server roles.

The following groups might be interested in these changes:

  • IT planners, analysts, and designers

  • IT professionals who are managing any of the supported server roles

  • Developers and persons who design, develop, and host Web servers

Are there any special considerations?

As in Windows® 7 and full installations of Windows Server 2008 R2, Setup no longer prompts you to enter a product key. You should enter the product key at a command prompt before activating the installation.

What settings have been added or changed?

The following registry setting is new for Windows Server 2008 R2.

Setting name Location Previous default value (if applicable) Default value Possible values

Installation type


Not applicable

Server Core

Client, Server

Which editions include this feature?

The Server Core installation option is available for all editions of Windows Server 2008 R2 except Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium-Based Systems.

Additional references

For more information about installing, configuring, and managing Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008, see the step-by-step guide (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=68556).

A downloadable, printable job aid which includes the most commonly used commands and procedures for administering Server Core installations is available at https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=151984.