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How to install Windows Server 2019 as Server Core

In this blogpost, I’ll show how to install Windows Server 2019 as Server Core.
These steps can be used to create a reference installation for use on your organization’s virtualization platform, to speed up Windows Server deployments.

Microsoft released Windows Server 2019 in early October 2018, but retracted the Operating System a few days later due to quality issues. On November 2nd, 2018, Microsoft rereleased Windows Server 2019 build 10.0.17763.1 to Volume License customers and MSDN subscribers.

Windows Server 2019 is the operating system that bridges on-premises environments with Azure services enabling hybrid scenarios and maximizing existing investments. Windows Server 2019 was designed to enable Developers and IT Pros to create cloud native and modernize their traditional apps using containers and micro-services. Windows Server 2019 comes with two installation options, the full Desktop Experience, and the Server Core option that omits the GUI for a smaller OS footprint.

Installation consists of four steps:

  1. Download the media
  2. Create installation media
  3. Start the installation
  4. Login for the first time

 

Download the media

The first step is to download the bits. You have the choice between downloading the Windows Server ISO file for production use, or downloading the Windows Server ISO file for test and evaluation use.

Production use

For production use, this step requires you to log in with a subscriber account with an active MSDN subscription on msdn.microsoft.com or with an account to the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) website. Signing in can be done in the top right corner of the website. When logged in, use the Downloads and Product Keys link in the Subscriptions side panel.

You can download the RTM bits, or download installation files that have been updated alongside the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) releases with the corresponding Windows Server cumulative update. At this point in time, there are installation files available that have been updated in March 2019 and August 2019, corresponding to the Windows Server version 1903 and Windows Server version 1909 releases.

Note:
Updated versions of Windows Server 2019 do not offer the new functionality offered in the SAC releases of Windows Server.

Test and Evaluation use

Windows Server 2019 is available in the Microsoft Evaluation Center as an evaluation version that is functional for 180 days.

Note:
When you complete your evaluation, you can convert your evaluation versions to retail.

Follow these steps to download the installation media:

    1. In the Start your evaluation file type: dialog, select ISO.
    2. Click Continue.
    3. Enter the required information; First name, last name, company name, company size, job title, work email address, work phone number and country. These are all required fields.
    4. The Yes option to receive information, tips and offers about Microsoft products and services is enabled, by default. You are not required to do so, and you can uncheck this option if you want to.
    5. Click Continue.
    6. In the Please select your language: dialog, select the language you’d want to evaluate Windows Server 2019 in. Your choices are Chinese (Simplified), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.
    7. Click Download.

Clicking one of the Download buttons will trigger the download of the installation file. Your download will safely come down from the download server and all you have to do is wait a little while. (or a little longer, when you have limited network bandwidth…)

In addition to the installation files, you can download new Feature on Demand (FoD) media for Server Core installations; the App Compatibility FoD. This FoD contains additional features from the Desktop Experience to improve the compatibility of Server Core for apps and tools used for troubleshooting and debugging.

 

Create installation media

After you’ve completed the download, you end up with an *.iso file. This is the standard file format for CD and DVD media.

Creating a Bootable DVD

To convert the ISO file into a bootable DVD, you need to burn the ISO file to a blank DVD-R or DVD-RW. If the box you’ve downloaded the Developer Preview on, is running Windows XP or Windows Vista, you’ll need a tool to burn. In Windows 7, Windows 8.x and Windows 10, the ability to burn the ISO file to a blank DVD-R or DVD-RW is built into the Operating System. Follow these steps:

  1. Insert an empty DVD-R or DVD-RW disk in the drive
  2. Select the downloaded *.iso file
  3. Right-click the file and select Burn disc image from the context menu.
    The Windows Disc Image Burner window opens.
  4. Select the correct drive letter from the Disc burner: drop-down menu.
  5. Click the Burn button.

When the installation media is complete, the DVD will eject from the drive and the Status description will read The disc image has been successfully burned to disc.

Creating a Bootable USB drive

You can use the ISO file of Windows Server 2019 to create a bootable USB drive too.

For this scenario you need to create a bootable DVD first or mount the ISO file. As Server Core installations require quite a bit of tinkering on the command line, let’s make ourselves comfortable with it and create a bootable USB drive on the command line, too. Simply type the following commands on a system with the image mounted or physical DVD copy in the drive and the USB device plugged in:

diskpart.exe

DISKPART> list disk

Select the USB device from the list and substitute the disk number below when necessary

DISKPART> select disk 1
DISKPART>
clean
DISKPART>
create partition primary
DISKPART>
select partition 1
DISKPART>
active
DISKPART>
format fs=fat32
DISKPART>
assign
DISKPART> exit

X:

cd boot

bootsect /nt60 Y:

xcopy X:\*.* /s/e/fY:\

Where X:\ is your mounted image or physical DVD and Y:\ is your USB device.

exit

           

Start the installation

Now all you need to do is plug the USB drive into your target box’ USB slot or your DVD disc in your DVD drive and boot the box.

Note:
The target system will need to be able to boot from DVD or USB devices to perform an installation.

The system on which you want to install Windows Server 2019 needs to meet the following requirements:

  • At least one 1.4 GHz x64 processor (or higher speed), that supports NX, DEP, CMPXCHG16b, LAHF/SAHF, PrefetchW and Second Level Address Translation (EPT or NPT).
  • At least 512 MB RAM
  • At least 32GB of available disk space
  • At least one Ethernet adapter capable of at least gigabit throughput

After you’ve booted from the installation media, the Windows Setup wizard appears:

Windows Setup - Language to install, Time and currency format, Keyboard or input method

The first screen you’ll notice, features some Regional Settings. You can change the Time and currency format and the Keyboard or input method settings. Press Next when done to advance to the next screen of the Windows Setup wizard.

Windows Setup - Install Now

If you feel like testing your RAM you could choose to Repair your computer in this screen. If you trust the hardware and feel like you have nothing to lose, click the Install now button.

Windows Setup - Activate Windows

When using ‘retail’ media to install Windows Server 2019, you may encounter the above Activate Windows screen. Enter the product key and click Next, or click the I don’t have a product key link to advance to the next screen.

Windows Setup - Select the operating system you want to install

On the Select the operating system you want to install screen, you select how you want to install Windows Server 2019. This is a pivotal choice. The four options are:

  1. Windows Server 2019 Standard
  2. Windows Server 2019 Standard with Desktop Experience
  3. Windows Server 2019 Datacenter
  4. Windows Server 2019 Datacenter with Desktop Experience

The Datacenter edition is the most complete edition and includes the new Datacenter-specific features (Shielded Virtual Machines, Storage Spaces Direct, and Software-Defined Networking) in addition to unlimited server virtualization. However, it is more costly to license.

When done, press Next to advance to the next screen.

Windows Setup - Applicable notices and license terms

To continue installing, you need to accept the license terms on the Applicable notices and license terms screen. Nothing too fancy, when you’re fluent in Legalese. When you’re not (like most people) you can just check the I accept the license terms option and press Next to advance to the next screen of the Windows Setup wizard.

Windows Setup - Which type of installation do you want?

On the Which type of installation do you want? screen, select Custom: Install Windows only (advanced). This will advance you to the next screen, without upgrading any previously available Windows or Windows Server installation.

Windows Setup - Where do you want to install Windows?

On the Where do you want to install Windows? screen, press Next to accept the default disk lay-out scenario in which Windows Setup will create basic volumes in the selected available Unallocated Space, format the volumes with NTFS and install Windows Server 2019.

When the storage in the box isn’t available, use the Load driver dialog to supply Windows Setup with the driver of the storage controller. Then, make the appropriate choices.

Use the New, Delete, Extend, and Format options to create a custom disk lay-out that is appropriate for the role of the Server Core installation. For instance, for a Server Core Domain Controller, reserve a disk mirror to store the Active Directory database, transaction logs and System Volume (SYSVOL).

Pres Next, when done.

Windows Setup - Installing Windows

Windows Server 2019 will now be installed. The box will reboot twice.

 

Login for the first time

After installation, Windows Server 2019 boots into the Server Core logon screen:

Server Core - The user's password must be changed before signing in.

Note:
If you wait for longer than 5 minutes on the above screen, you will need to press the Ctrl, Alt  and Del keys on the keyboard simultaneously to get to the above screen.

Press Enter to enter a password for the built-in Administrator account on the Server Core installation.

As the built-in Administrator account is the only available account on the Windows Server installation, its password will need to be set. It cannot be left blank. The password you enter must meet the complexity requirements.

Server Core - Your password has been changed.

When the password meets the complexity requirements, it will be set.

Note:
The password for the built-in Administrator account will expire automatically after 42 days, at which time the password will need to be changed.

Server Core

Windows Server 2019 is now successfully installed and you have successfully signed in as the built-in Administrator.

 

Concluding

The Windows Server installation can now be used to provide business value to your organization.

Windows Server 2016’s June 2019 Update fixes a Server Core-specific issue

It’s uncommon for Microsoft updates to include a Server Core-specific fix, but the June 11, 2019 Quality update for Windows Server 2016 included one.

So let’s take a look.

 

About Windows Server 2016 Updates

Microsoft issues two major updates each month for Windows Server 2016. This was outlined in the Patching with Windows Server 2016 blogpost.
On the second Tuesday of each month (Patch Tuesday), Microsoft issues a cumulative update that includes security and quality fixes for Windows Server 2016. Being cumulative, this update includes all the previously released security and quality fixes.
In the second half of each month (generally the 3rd week of the month) Microsoft releases a non-security / quality update for Windows Server 2016. This update, too, is cumulative and includes all quality and security fixes shipped prior to this release.

This, however, no longer applies to Nano Server installations of Windows Server 2016. This specific installation option reached end of service on October 9, 2018.

 

About the June 11, 2019 update for Windows Server 2016

The June 11, 2019 Quality update for Windows Server 2016 (accompanied by KB4503267 and bringing the OS version to 14393.3025) includes many fixes. It includes fixes that address a serious Bluetooth vulnerability, a PXE issue and security updates to Edge, Scripting Engine, Internet Explorer, Windows App Platform and Frameworks, Windows Input and Composition, Windows Media, Windows Shell, Windows Server, Windows Authentication, Windows Datacenter Networking, Windows Storage and Filesystems, Windows Virtualization, Internet Information Services, and the JET Database Engine.

It also mentions Server Core specifically:

Addresses an issue that may cause authentication to fail when using Windows Hello for Business on Windows Server 2016 with the Server Core option installed.

 

Concluding

This is the first time, a Windows Server 2016 Server Core-specific issue is addressed (and named) for an update.

If this sounds like an issue in your environment, than KB4503267 may solve it.

Further reading

Windows Hello for Business Frequently Asked Questions
June 11, 2019—KB4503267 (OS Build 14393.3025)

Hyper-V Server 2019 is now available

Hyper-V Server 2019 Installation

Hyper-V Server 2019 is now (finally) available for download, installation and activation.

 

How to get it

The x86-64 ISO for Hyper-V Server 2019 is available for free at the Microsoft Evaluation Center.

It is available in Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian and Spanish.

Upon installation you will be prompted to activate. A product key is not required.

 

About Hyper-V Server

Microsoft’s Hyper-V Server is a free version and further optimized Server Core edition of Windows Server 2019, that delivers virtualization.

Companying Windows Server 2008 with its preview of Hyper-V, Hyper-V Server 2008 marked the birth of Hyper-V Server. It also came with HvConfig; a command-line tool to manage Hyper-V Server installations. HvConfig could also be copied to Server Core and Full Installations of Windows Server. Later, Microsoft adopted this process and included SConfig with all Server Core installations.

The Windows hypervisor technology in Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2019 is the same as what’s in the Microsoft Hyper-V role on Windows Server 2019. It is a stand-alone product that contains only the Windows hypervisor, a Windows Server driver model, and virtualization components. It provides a simple and reliable virtualization solution. However, containers are not supported in Hyper-V server 2019.

 

The Windows Server 2019 disaster

During the Microsoft Ignite event in Orlando in September 2018, Microsoft announced Windows Server 2019. It was released for two short days, until reported problems lead to the conclusion at Microsoft that the quality of the Operating Systems was sub-par. Several upgrades led to data loss. Windows Server 2019 was recalled. It took Microsoft roughly a month to investigate and remediate the problem, then go through the regular validation and release processes. Windows Server 2019 was successfully re-released on November 13, 2018.

Hyper-V Server took a while longer, through. An additional problem was reported: Remote Desktop wasn’t working, non-bootable installation media, etc. These issues have been addressed in the new release. If admins installed the ‘October release’ of Windows Server 2019, a Remote Desktop fix was available with KB4482887 since mid-March.

After the validation and release processes, Hyper-V Server is now also available. Six months behind Windows Server 2019. Eight months behind the original schedule.

More information:

 

What’s New

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2019 provides new and enhanced features. However, when looking at the new features for Windows Server 2019, and Windows Server 2019 Pricing, it becomes obvious that many of the improvements in Hyper-V are related to features only available in Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Edition:

  • Software-defined Networking
  • Shielded Virtual Machines
  • Storage Spaces Direct

However, you might benefit from Windows Admin Center.

 

Tell us!

Are you transferring to Hyper-V Server 2019 for other compelling reasons? Let us know in the comments.

 

Add Task Scheduler and Hyper-V Manager to Server Core installations

Microsoft recommends using the Server Core installation option when using Windows Server, Semi-Annual Channel in production. However, Server Core by default omits a number of useful management tools. You can add many of the most commonly used tools by installing the App Compatibility feature, but there have still been some missing tools.

Based on customer feedback, Microsoft added two more tools to the App Compatibility feature in Windows Server, version 1903:

  1. Task Scheduler (taskschd.msc)
  2. Hyper-V Manager (virtmgmt.msc)

 

About the App Compatibility feature

The App Compatibility feature in Server Core installations of Windows is a Feature on Demand. It is an optional feature package that can be added to Windows Server 2019 Server Core installations, or Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel, at any time.

For more information, see last year’s blogpost on New in Windows Server 2019: Server Core app compatibility feature on demand.

Print commands are no longer installed by default

When migrating or transitioning a Server Core-based Print Server from Windows Server 2016 to Windows Server 2019, you might be in for a surprise.

 

Managing Printers in Server Core

A couple of years ago, I wrote a series of articles on 4Sysops, detailing how to configure a Server Core Print Server.

In that article, I detailed three ways to configure printers:

  1. Use the (old) Printing Admin scripts.
  2. Use the Print Server-related PowerShell cmdlets.
  3. Use the Graphical User Interface (GUI) with printui.exe /il.

 

What has been going on?

In the following Windows Server versions, the Printing Admin scripts were made available after installing the Print Server role:

  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2

However, in Windows Server 2016, the Printing Admin scripts were available, by default, as part of Server Core installations.

For Server Core installations of Windows Server 2019, Microsoft returned to the previous model: The Printing Admin scripts are no longer installed, by default.

 

Consequences

There are a couple of consequences for organizations migrating and/or transitioning from Windows Server 2016 to Windows Server 2019:

  • By default, there is no C:\Windows\System32\Printing_Admin_Scripts folder.
  • By default, scripts and admin actions using the following commands will fail:
    • Prncnfg.vbs
    • Prndrvr.vbs
    • Prnjobs.vbs
    • Prnmngr.vbs
    • Prnport.vbs
    • Prnqctl.vbs
    • Pubprn.vbs

 

How to resolve these issues

To get the Printing Admin scripts, and the Print Server features, install the Print Server Role.

Use the following lines of Windows PowerShell to accomplish this goal:

Import-Module ServerManager

Install-WindowsFeature Print-Server

 

Further reading

Install and manage a Print Server in Server Core
Features removed or planned for replacement starting Windows Server 2019
What’s new in Windows Server 2019
Pricing and licensing for Windows Server 2019
Windows Server 2019 System Requirements

ServerCore.Net in 2018

Goodbye 2018.

Throughout 2018, ServerCore.Net saw 299.722 pageviews. This is a new record for this little blog.

You liked the content. So here’s our Top 5 for 2018:

  1. How to disable the Windows Firewall on Server Core installations of Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V Server 2012 (14816 views)
  2. How to disable Password complexity on Server Core installations (6399 views)
  3. How to install a Server Core R2 Domain Controller (2644 views)
  4. Windows Server 2016 no longer offers to add or remove GUI Layers (2338 views)
  5. How is Nano Server different from Server Core? (1610 views)

I’d like to thank you, my readers, for appreciating the content, for your visits, replies, helpful comments and your likes and retweets on Twitter.

I wish you all the best and a good start into 2019.

Thank you.

New in Windows Server 2019: Server Core app compatibility feature on demand

Microsoft has released Windows Server 2019, so it’s time to look at Microsoft’s latest and greatest.
One of the most exciting features Microsoft added to Windows Server 2019 is the ability to add additional app compatibility to Server Core installations.

 

About App Compatibility on Server Core

One of the biggest challenges with embracing Server Core as an administrator is that not many software vendors have specifically written their products for Server Core installations of Windows Server, or have tested their products on Server Core installations of Windows Server. As you might expect, just like desktop software, these products are tested on Windows Server installations with the Desktop Experience (formerly known as Full Installations), with administrative privileges.
Unfortunately, the challenge isn’t limited to software packages or agents. In the past, this resulted in cases where Server Core wasn’t installed on HP-branded servers, simply because the tools to team the built-in networking adapters was only available as graphical tools. They couldn’t be used…

Windows Server’s ability to temporarily run with the Desktop Experience to install and configure parts of the Operating System, software packages and agents, has eased the process of embracing Server Core. In the end, though, the conclusion from many admins was that it was not worth their time to go this route, because when they removed the GUI layers, eventually things still broke.

 

App Compatibility on Windows Server 2019

In Windows Server 2019, GUI layers can’t be removed. You could do this in Server Core installations of Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2. However, since Windows Server 2016 you can no longer do this. It is expected to remain this way for long-term servicing branch/channel (LTSB/LTSC) versions of Windows Server. The choice between Server Core installation and Windows Server with the Desktop Experience is to be made during installation and will remain this way until reinstallation of Windows Server or decommissioning of the server.

App Compatibility Feature on Demand (FoD)

To ease this pain, and to improve the adoption of Server Core installations on Windows Server for good reasons, Microsoft introduces the Server Core App Compatibility feature on demand feature in Windows Server 2019. This feature significantly improves the app compatibility of Windows Server Core installations, by including a subset of binaries and components from Windows Server with the Desktop Experience, without adding the Windows Server Desktop Experience graphical user interface (GUI) itself.

Specifically, the App Compatibility feature adds:

  • Microsoft Management Console (mmc.exe)
  • Event Viewer (Eventvwr.msc)
  • Performance Monitor (PerfMon.exe)
  • Resource Monitor (Resmon.exe)
  • Device Manager (Devmgmt.msc)
  • File Explorer (Explorer.exe)
  • Windows PowerShell (Powershell_ISE.exe)
  • Failover Cluster Manager (CluAdmin.msc)

 

This way, the functionality and compatibility of Server Core is increased, while keeping it as lean as possible.

As you can see, many of the tips and tricks that were provided on working with Server Core evolve around absent tools that can now (temporarily) be added.

 

Getting started with the App Compatibility Feature on Demand

This optional feature on demand is available on a separate ISO and can be added to Windows Server Core installations and images only, using DISM.exe.

Download the ISO

First, download the Windows Server 2019 Features on Demand ISO image file is available on the Microsoft Evaluation Center. For MSDN subscribers and current Microsoft volume licensing customers, the Features on Demand (FoD) image file is also available in their respective download centers.

This downloads is called en_windows_server_2019_features_on_demand_x64_dvd_c6194375.iso and weighs 335 MB.

Add the App Compatibility feature

Sign into the Server Core installation with local administrator rights, mount the ISO-file or insert is as removable media, and execute the following command:

dism.exe /Online /Add-Capability /CapabilityName: “ServerCore.AppCompatibility~~~~0.0.1.0” /Source: E: /LimitAccess

After the command completes, restart the Server Core installation.

Exchange Server 2019 is coming to Server Core

Last week, the Microsoft Exchange Product Group announced the release of the Exchange Server 2019 public preview! They also lifted the veil on some of the new features/capabilities etc. of this new major build of Exchange Server. To say that I’m excited about this release is an understatement… I feel this Exchange Server version is groundbreaking due to one of its new features, touted by the team as making Exchange Server 2019 the safest Exchange Server yet.

 

Of course, you’ll think I drank too much of the Kool-Aid and simply bought the same line the team has been marketing for the last couple of years for many Microsoft products, including Windows. This time it’s different. This time, it’s not really an Exchange Server feature, but more a platform support feature:

Exchange Server 2019 is coming to Server Core.

 

Yes!

It will be finally possible to install Exchange Server 2019 on Server Core installations of Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019. The Product Group mentions that they consider this the best deployment option. It means there isn’t really a need for a desktop experience. However, it remains an option.

Preview

Exchange Server 2019 and Windows Server 2019 is still in preview, but you can download the Windows Server Insider Preview here (after signup) and the Exchange Server 2019 Preview here. As both versions are still in preview, anything in the above text might still change before either of these products reach Release to Manufacturers (RTM)…

Remote Desktop Connection Broker and Remote Desktop Virtualization Host will no longer be available on Server Core installations

Reading through the Features removed or planned for replacement starting with Windows Server, version 1803, something caught my eye:

Remote Desktop Connection Broker and Remote Desktop Virtualization Host in a Server Core installation

Most Remote Desktop Services deployments have these roles co-located with the Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH), which requires Server with Desktop Experience; to be consistent with RDSH we’re changing these roles to also require Server with Desktop Experience. We’re no longer developing these RDS roles for use in a Server Core installation. If you need to deploy these roles as part of your Remote Desktop infrastructure, you can install them on Windows Server 2016 with Desktop Experience.

 

To be honest, I was dumbfondled by this message, but I guess Microsoft knows what they’re doing.

 

Remote Desktop Services Architecture

Looking at Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Services architecture, several roles exist:

  • Remote Desktop Gateway (RD Gateway, RDGW)
    The Remote Desktop Gateway (RD Gateway) component enables people on their client devices on the public Internet to securely access Windows desktops and applications.
  • Remote Desktop Web Access (RD Web)
    The Remote Desktop Web Access (RD Web Access) component allows the tenant’s employees to have a single website where they can authenticate and then access Windows desktops and applications.
  • Remote Desktop Connection Broker (RDCB)
    Remote Desktop Connection Broker (RD Connection Broker) manages incoming remote desktop connections to the servers in Remote Desktop Session Host (RD Session Host) server farms, known as collections.
  • Remote Desktop Licensing Server (RDLS)
    Each Remote Desktop Services environment includes an Remote Desktop Licensing server to allow users to connect to the Remote Desktop Session Host (RD Session Host) servers that host the desktops and applications. The licensing server may be configured in “per user” mode or in “per device”  mode.
  • Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH)
    The Remote Desktop Session Host (RD Session Host) component provides people with session-based desktops and RemoteApp programs.
  • Remote Desktop Virtualization Host (RDVH)
    In contrast to a Remote Desktop Session Host, that offers session virtualization by allowing multiple people to log on interactively to a Windows Server installation, a Remote Desktop Virtualization host (RDVH) offers desktop virtualization where people log onto their own virtualized Windows instance, running on top of a hyper-virtualization platform. This platform is the Remote Desktop Virtualization Host.

In this architecture, typically, multiple Remote Desktop Session Hosts perform the heavy lifting: actually running the applications and/or offering Windows desktops. One (virtual) machine runs the  Remote Desktop Connection Broker (RDCB) and Remote Desktop Licensing Server (RDLS), so people land on the right Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) when they are properly licensed. Another (virtual) machine running the Remote Desktop Gateway (RD Gateway, RDGW) and Remote Desktop Web Access (RD Web) roles offer outside connections to the infrastructure. All components can be made highly-available. The infrastructure requires Active Directory Domain Services or Azure AD Domain Services, as well as a Microsoft SQL Server or Azure SQL database (in highly-available scenarios).

Many variants of the above best practices architecture exist, but all of them avoid placing any of the RDS infrastructure role services (RD Gateway, RD Web, RD Connection Broker or RD Licensing) on Remote Desktop Session Hosts or Remote Desktop Virtualization Hosts.

 

… in the real life, though…

Now, when you read closely, Microsoft states that organizations are not following its guidance. Instead, they install the Remote Desktop Connection Broker (RDCB) on one or more of the Remote Desktop Session Hosts.

This has led to the decision to remove the two features from Server Core installations in the following Windows Server releases:

  1. Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) releases: Windows Server, version 1803, and beyond
  2. Long-term Servicing Channel (LTSC) releases: Windows Server 2019, and beyond

Looking at the list of available roles and features for Server Core installations, the Remote Desktop Licensing Server is the only Remote Desktop Services (RDS) role still viable to run on Server Core installations in the near future.

 

Install Windows Server with Desktop Experience

Starting with Windows Server, version 1803 and Windows Server 2019, when you want to run any of the below Remote Desktop Services role services, install a Windows Server with Desktop Experience, instead of a Server Core installation of Windows Server:

  • Remote Desktop Gateway (RD Gateway)
  • Remote Desktop Web Access (RD Web)
  • Remote Desktop Connection Broker (RDCB) *
  • Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH)
  • Remote Desktop Virtualization Host (RDVH) *

 

Concluding

Thanks to people not following Microsoft’s best practices architecture, we’re now getting screwed out of Server Core for two more RDS Infrastructure roles… or is there something else at play?

 

Windows Admin Center is here

Ever since the first incarnations of Server Core in Windows Server, people have looked at ways to manage ‘Windows Server without GUI’ with a GUI. Today, the newest method of managing Windows Server, dubbed ‘Windows Admin Center’ was released and it promises an entirely new way to manage Windows Server, both ‘Installations with a GUI’ and ‘Server Core installations’.

Let’s take a look!

 

Our strange obsession…

Quoting ‘Graphical is for women’ doesn’t even begin covering admins’ strange obsession with graphical management tools to manage all aspects of Windows Server. We’ve seen tools like CoreConfigurator pop up early on in the Server Core lifecycle, but being capitalized on by Smart-X. We also saw other tools, and I even provided instructions on how to run hvconfig on Server Core installations, before sconfig came to Server Core installations.

However, the industry has mostly moved on. Drivers and other tools no longer rely on having a GUI present to allow installation or configuration. Even Microsoft’s own Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) have moved on, although some notable exception apply, like AD FS Management and driver management.

 

Windows Admin Center

Microsoft now offers a brand new toolset, that has been available for the last year as private previews and public previews, codenamed Project Honolulu: the Windows Admin Center.

In contrast to other tools out there, Windows Admin Center offers its experience in full HTML5, so it’s usable in any of the popular browsers admins use today. Windows Admin Center is a locally deployed and can be used to manage servers, clusters, hyper-converged infrastructure, and Windows 10 PCs. It comes at no additional cost beyond Windows and is ready to use in production.

Download Windows Admin Center now.

 

Concluding

While you could use any 3rd party tool to remotely manage your Server Core installations, but wouldn’t you rather use this free tool from Microsoft?