The other day I had the occasion where I wanted to add back the Windows Server 2012 R2 GUI to a server core installation. This was a test environment, and for what I was testing I felt the GUI provided a more streamlined experience. Server core certainly has its places, and is great as a hypervisor, appliance, or in high security environments. Installing the GUI, while not difficult, it look quite a bit of Googling and trial and error to find a command that actually worked.
1. RDP into your Core install or use your server’s IPMI/VM console feature, and a command prompt should open. Type powershell.
2. From your original install ISO, copy the \sources\install.wim to your core server.
3. Type the following command and wait several minutes for the install to complete. Include the full path to where you copied your install.wim file.
install-windowsfeature -name server-gui-shell -includemanagementtools -source:wim:c:\install.wim:2
4. After the installation is complete, reboot the server. The reboot process will be quite slow, as it will be configuring the new features for several minutes. Be patient.