Server Core & MinShell in Windows Server 2012 R2

Some of us are just used to one way of managing a server. Be it a Linux or Windows we still prefer the old command line to save time and effort (number of clicks) in a away. Microsoft has introduced Server Core and MinShell features for those who prefer having some transparency with command line while keeping GUIs at hand’s distance.

Server Core

This feature offers a command line management console like MS-DOS. It is ideal when you want reduce the resource consumption of your server. If you don’t use full GUI that means there are lesser number of patches that you need to worry about.

You can turn on/off Server Core at any time as well as switch back to Full GUI. Only thing that you need to have to do is install/uninstall a feature called “User Interfaces and Infrastructure” that provide the underlying GUI for windows server. You can do it via server manager or PowerShell the choice is up to you.

A complete guide can be found here from howtogeek.com

Keep in mind you’ll need a restart every time you switch back from either of these modes.

MinShell (Part GUI)

This one is same like server core but you can launch your favorite MMC snap-ins from command line. But there are some notable limitations on this one.

  • Common Dialog box is functional (except networking)
  • Any UI with dependencies on items implemented as Shell Namespace Extensions will fail
    • Certain CPLs are namespace extensions, e.g. Networking
  • Internet Explorer is not available when Server Graphical Shell is uninstalled.
    • Links in UI won’t work.
    • Help isn’t available – calls
  • Some file associations and protocol handlers broken
    • http://
    • file://
    • *.chm
  • Some DLL files not installed
    • Check for dependencies or delay loads might fail!
    • DUMPBIN (Windows SDK)
    • Dependency Walker (http://www.dependencywalker.com, freeware)
    • Test your applications on the Minimal Server Interface!
    • to HTML Help API will return NULL!

All you have to do is uninstall Server Graphical Shell sub feature from User Interfaces and Infrastructure feature. Just use below PowerShell cmdlet to do so.

Uninstall-Windowsfeature -name Server-GUI-Shell -Restart

If you want you can completely remove the binary installation files for above features as well. If you do so you’ll need acess to an installation media the next time you want to enable it. To completely remove a role or feature, use –Remove with the Uninstall-WindowsFeature cmdlet of Windows PowerShell.

It’s not rocket science but it is indeed worth having a look at.

Updates are on the way | Windows Phone 8.1

Couple days back at Build 2014 conference Microsoft has unveiled the newest update to it’s mobile OS Windows Phone 8.1. The beauty is everybody who owns a Nokia Lumia with Windows Phone 8 gets the new update (even poor people like me) with many cool new features. Lets take a look on what’s on the table with Windows Phone 8.1

Modern UI Experience

Windows Phone 8.1 offers more sexy start screen with additional columns for live tiles. This means it will look exactly the same as your desktop plus you can choose a custom background for your start screen. Shipped with a ton of new apps it offers Bing Health and Fitness app which will let you track your health through your smartphone.

Word Flow keyboard

Although Windows 8.1 borrowed many of its new features from other platforms,I think this one seems little more unique. This is a gesture based wipe keyboard which allows much more faster typing. Though still there are no third party keyboard apps are allowed in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Cortana | your own Digital Assistant

If you have ever played Halo you know who Cortana is. It is the female looking AI that support you through the game. Cortana in your phone makes your life easier. Unlike Apple’s Siri, Cortana is a digital assistant which adapts to the user overtime. It’s a hybrid of Google Now’s functionality and Siri’s personality. You can speak to her or type in what you need if you are in a meeting. She respects your schedule and reply with text output. Cortana can remind you to tell someone something when you are contacting him/her the next time. Doesn’t matter it’s an e-mail/call or text message it displays a reminder of what you have told her to mention.

We will be getting this update in a couple months’ time depending on our cellular carriers but developers will have a bite on this later April.

Here is the unveiling video by Joe Belfiore from Build 2014.