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3 min read

Windows Admin Center unleashes Server Core adoption

Since the general availability of Windows Server 2019, we have seen the fastest adoption rate of Windows Server Core in history. If you haven’t heard of Windows Server Core, then you’re really missing out! Windows Server Core is the lightest deployment option of Windows Server Standard or Windows Server Datacenter editions.

Why are customers choosing to deploy Windows Server Core now? It’s Windows Admin Center. This new server management tool delivers many of the benefits of the Desktop Experience and is a free download that comes with your Windows Server license. Admins love the intuitive, graphical user interface and the ability to manage your virtual machines from any Windows 10 device. It can be used to log in and manage Windows Server running anywhere. This is a great management option for Windows Server Core because the graphical interface runs locally on your client device and not on your servers. This reduces the size of the operating system that you deploy to support your server workloads.

The benefit of Windows Server Core is that it’s a minimal server installation option with fewer server components. This option creates a smaller OS footprint and is ideal for cases where you run virtual machines at scale. Because Windows Server Core does not include a traditional Windows desktop GUI, admins manage Windows Server Core with a command-line interface (CLI) such as PowerShell, which offers scaled automation and lowers server management costs.

Microsoft Office 365 realized the benefits of Windows Server Core. Exchange Online is a core part of Office 365 and has standardized with Windows Server Core across its entire fleet of cloud infrastructure servers. This is because Windows Server Core enables Office 365 to be more operationally efficient and secure by only deploying and managing the capabilities of Windows Server that it needs.

Customers are choosing the Windows Server Core installation option for Windows Server 2019 installed as the host OS on bare metal hardware at three times the rate than that of Windows Server Core for Windows Server 2016. This installation is great for hyper-converged infrastructure, Hyper-V, and storage technologies like Storage Spaces Direct. It is also an important infrastructure choice for hybrid cloud deployments. As mentioned, Windows Admin Center, the centralized management tool for Windows Server on-premises and in the cloud, has made Windows Server Core even more manageable than ever.

Windows Server 2019 application compatibility for Windows Server Core

As a customer of Windows Server with Desktop Experience, you might be wondering whether the application you’re running is compatible with Windows Server Core. With the release of Windows Server 2019, we published a list of compatible Microsoft enterprise server applications. In the list, you can see the growing number of applications that are compatible with Windows Server Core. Exchange Server 2019 is the most recent addition to the list that we recommend using on Windows Server Core.  The Windows Server Core App Compatibility feature on demand (FOD) was introduced to give customers the opportunity to add more support for apps they would normally run on Windows Server with Desktop Experience.

The two benefits that App Compatibility FOD include are:

  • Increase in the compatibility of Windows Server Core for server applications that are already in market or have already been developed by organizations and deployed.
  • Assistance with providing OS components and increased app compatibility of software tools used in acute troubleshooting and debugging scenarios.

If you’re curious about whether you should go with Windows Server Core or Windows Server with Desktop, find out which one is best for you in this Server Core and Server with Desktop blog. There are a number of operating system components that are available as part of the Windows Server Core App Compatibility FOD. Below you’ll find screenshots of Windows Server Core with the App Compatibility FOD installed, including Windows Event Viewer and SQL Server with SQL Management Studio, two FOD’s that customers really appreciate.

Windows Event Viewer:

SQL Server with SQL Server Management Studio:

Thank you for using Windows Server 2019. We will continue to listen and improve. Please let us know on Insider forums or User Voice if your app does not work on Server Core with the App Compatibility FOD installed, or if you have any other feedback on Windows Server.