As mentioned before, Windows 2012R2 allows System Administrators to run their OS in a stripped down Core mode with no UI what so ever and only access to PowerShell and Command Prompt, or with the full UI, which includes File Explorer, System Task Bar, Internet Explorer and so on. There is a middle ground between the two, that is Minimal UI. I won’t get into the specifics in this post, but this essentially allows SysAdmins to have UI access to applications such as Event Viewer, Hyper-V, Failover Manager, Window Services, Administrative Tools etc., but at the same time running their OS in a much more refined, less resource intensive environment, thus a smaller footprint.
Windows 2012R2 UI Options:
- GUI (traditional experience)
- Core (stripped down, no Server Manager, only PowerShell and Command Prompt)
- Minimal UI (Server Graphical Shell removed)
What’s my point? Well, as Microsoft releases patches every month, this typically applies to machines with security vulnerabilities, and that starts usually with applications and their UI’s, ie. Internet Explorer. Since the Windows 2012R2 Minimal UI is not running your typical applications such as IE (Internet Explorer) and a System Task bar there are far less patches to be applied to the OS with Minimal UI, and especially Core.
Today, I was patching some servers, and getting them up to date for February, and the results speaks for themselves. Not only is the server with Minimal UI faster and more snappy but take a look at the number of patches needed this month for the server with the full UI versus the server with the Minimal UI.
Windows 2012R2 with full UI
Windows 2012R2 with Minimal UI
I hope this is enough incentive for you to consider using Minimal UI or even Core if you are that comfortable with PowerShell and Command Prompt.
Also, as you can see in the Minimal UI screenshot above, SysAdmins still have access to tools like Hyper-V manager, etc.