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Windows Server 2012 – Install and Turn on GUI from Command Line

Windows Server 2012 – Install and Turn on GUI from Command Line

by Patrick KennedySeptember 17, 2012

What happens if you install Windows Server 2012 without the GUI features and then realize that you want to turn on the GUI? For those who are used to GUI based Windows Server administration, seeing a command line interface can be daunting. This guide will help you to go from the command line interface, using PowerShell, to installing and turning on the GUI.

Install the GUI on Windows Server 2012

The first step in this is to enter the PowerShell. At the command line prompt, just enter PowerShell and you will see something like the below:

Windows Server 2012 - Turn on GUI - PowerShell

Windows Server 2012 – Turn on GUI – PowerShell

The next step is to type Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell, Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra in order to get the

Windows Server 2012 - Turn on GUI - Install WindowsFeature

Windows Server 2012 – Turn on GUI – Install GUI

You will see a text based installer. This part of the Windows Server 2012 GUI installation is rather easy and there is plenty of time to grab a drink.

Windows Server 2012 - Turn on GUI - Grab a Drink During Install

Windows Server 2012 – Turn on GUI – Grab a Drink During Install

Once this is complete, you do need to reboot the server before the GUI will be turned on. Unless you have something else going on that you need to shutdown first, you can shutdown  and reboot immediately with shutdown -r -t 0 as seen below:

Windows Server 2012 - Turn on GUI - Reboot

Windows Server 2012 – Turn on GUI – Reboot

The system will then reboot and go through the Windows Server 2012 configuration changes.

Windows Server 2012 - Turn on GUI - Configuring Features

Windows Server 2012 – Turn on GUI – Configuring Features

When the system boots, you will see that the GUI is turned on. The Server Manager dashboard is present on login and everything works.

Windows Server 2012 - Turn on GUI - Installation Successful

Windows Server 2012 – Turn on GUI – Installation Successful


If you are accustomed to the Windows Server 2012 GUI, you may be a bit nervous seeing a command line only interface. Fear not, the guide above uses less than 90 characters of typing to install and turn on the GUI. In total this took me only a few minutes to do the run-through. Also, this guide assumed one has a command line only installation. If you already have the GUI installed, you can use SConfig to turn on the GUI easily.

About The Author
Patrick Kennedy
Patrick has been running ServeTheHome since 2009 and covers a wide variety of home and small business IT topics. For his day job, Patrick is a management consultant focused in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about basic server building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.
  • Rads
    September 17, 2012 at 3:48 am

    I’m just a day to early, ended up re-installing yesterday before your article.

    Anyhow, the big question is how do you enable WinRM sucesfully so you can actually administer the damn server from a remote W2K12 machine?

    Running W2K12 inside a VM and want to adminsiter it from the W2K12 Hypervisor server admin, it can see the remote W2K12 server but “WinRM negotiation errors” are preventing me from doing anything with it!

  • zicoz
    September 18, 2012 at 1:55 am

    Which version of WS2k12 should I use? Standard, Essentials, Foundation of Storage Server?

    I plan to only use it as a fileserver.

  • Stephen
    September 27, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Along these lines, the following is from the release notes:

    If you upgrade from a Full installation of Windows Server® 2008 or Windows Server® 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2012 in Server with a GUI mode, and then switch Windows Server 2012 to Server Core mode, conversion back to Server with a GUI mode will fail.

    To avoid this, delete these registry keys with the following commands:

    reg delete HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WINEVT\Publishers\{bc2eeeec-b77a-4a52-b6a4-dffb1b1370cb}

    reg delete HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WINEVT\Publishers\{57e0b31d-de8c-4181-bcd1-f70e880b49fc}

    reg delete HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WINEVT\Publishers\{8c9dd1ad-e6e5-4b07-b455-684a9d879900}

    After running these commands, restart the upgrade

  • Hurricane Sandy
    October 30, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Stephen thx for that. Saw this and helped me.

  • Ryan
    November 13, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I keep getting error: the system was unable to find the specific registry key.

  • December 10, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Hey it has been stuck on 68% for about 30 minutes is this meant to happen?


  • Nathaniel
    December 10, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Don’t worry it did it 🙂 Thanks anyway

  • Stuart
    January 23, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    For servers not connected to the internet, what is the syntax for specifying a source (the cd).
    The above only works for me if the server has an internet connection.
    Thanks very much…

  • Alex Richards
    February 11, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Hi Stuart, to specify the server 2012 disc you need to add ” -source wim:d:\sources\install.wim:4″ assuming your disc drive is the d: drive.

    So it should look like this:
    install-windowsfeature server-gui-shell, server-gui-mgmt-infra -source wim:d:\sources\install.wim:4

    • Hat's Hatim
      March 14, 2013 at 12:47 am

      Thanks Alex… teh CMS Line is very usefull… i have assume the Disc drive as E and its work well…

  • OD
    February 22, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Hi , there its really helpfull for beginers, tnx again GJ

  • Andy
    April 25, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Just as a note you will need an internet connection otherwise you will get this error:

    Install-WindowsFeature : The request to add or remove features on the specified server failed.

  • Abdulla
    June 16, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Thanks a lot, it worked for me and every time i install it i brows to this form and complete the installation

  • gerryf
    July 27, 2013 at 5:54 am

    Stephen – thanks for the tip regarding the reg tweak, sorted this problem for me.

  • subaram
    September 12, 2013 at 12:34 am

    i getting error_cbs_download_failure

  • Krishhna
    October 8, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Thank You … It was really helpful to me…Had to wait for an hour before the setup completed…

  • Ryan
    November 11, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Thanks for the article. This was quite helpful.

  • Darwish
    December 5, 2013 at 12:14 am

    I received this error during the installation, any help?

    Install-WindowsFeature : The request to add or remove features on the
    specified server failed.
    Installation of one or more roles, role services, or features failed.
    The source files could not be downloaded.
    Use the “source” option to specify the location of the files that are required
    to restore the feature. For more information on specifying a source location,
    see Error: 0x800f0906
    At line:1 char:1
    + Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell, Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra
    + ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    + CategoryInfo : InvalidOperation: (@{Vhd=; Credent…Name=localh
    ost}:PSObject) [Install-WindowsFeature], Exception
    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : DISMAPI_Error__Cbs_Download_Failure,Microsoft.Wi

    Success Restart Needed Exit Code Feature Result
    ——- ————– ——— ————–
    False No Failed {}

  • Ahmet KAÇMAZ
    December 10, 2013 at 4:17 am

    Thanks for the article. This was quite helpful!

  • David Graham
    January 2, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    What the Core version was loaded from the trial version iso file, named
    9200.16384.WIN8_RTM.120725-1247_X64FRE_SERVER_EVAL_EN-US-HRM_SSS_X64FREE_EN-US_DV5 (1).ISO

  • palsaniya
    October 27, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    thanks for providing online server trouble shooting in various platform of server.
    sir tell me how to upadte RAD Hat linux F Secure antivirus update m,annuly which is not on intenet.

  • Hemanth
    August 19, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks alott for your valuable info…!!

  • Chandran
    October 27, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    Do we needed cd installation while this process running?.

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