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Is Window Server going towards a GUI less OS?

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Honored Contributor

Window server 2019 version 1903 is core only, Windows server vNext is core only. I've read the related docs for the reason of it but is this Microsoft's plan to drop GUI from Windows servers?

right now only LTSB/C version of Windows server 2019 has GUI and if someone would want to use the new features in the 1903 version they would have to deal with a GUI less OS.

GUI is the only reason a big portion of people choose Windows servers over Linux servers. Not everyone want to deal with codes and command lines for every simple and big interaction and task.

WAC (Windows Admin Center) is still in its infancy period, too early to replace a full Windows server GUI and all of its features. I don't think WAC is gonna ever replace a full Windows server GUI (group policy, certificate service, OCSP and all of those little and big options in the server GUI), I mean i would love it to be able to do that but I'm not sure if Microsoft plans to do so.

if that ever happens then I'm ok with Windows server losing its GUI.

 

24 Replies
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You can read on here about semi-annual channel releases core only option.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/get-started-19/servicing-channels-19#why-do-semi-ann...

 

 

 

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Thanks I've seen it before.

I think Microsoft should offer GUI as an optional feature like in previous Windows server versions and still offer GUI in semi-annual Windows server versions.
why? because there are not huge differences in semi-annual releases so there won't be much difference in GUI and keeping it updated won't be too hard for them.

also as I said, WAC is not mature enough to be used instead of a GUI for a server core experience. WAC only covers 10% of the Windows server GUI, maybe even less, in its latest insider version, 1909.
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Sounds problematic per their release schedule but you can provide your feedback over here on uservoice.

https://windowsserver.uservoice.com/forums/295047-general-feedback

 

 

 

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I think they have the resources and time to pull it off. again, there are not huge differences in semi-annual releases so there won't be much difference in GUI and keeping it updated won't be too hard for them.
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I already saw the link when you posted it first time.
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Sounds good then.

 

 

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What does?
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Semi-Annual channels are mainly for mass hosting and container environments. It makes sense to have this on core to focus on development.

 

If you need a GUI, chances are that LTSC is good enough for you.

 

Windows Server won't be going towards GUI-less until all Microsoft products can run on Core versions. And even then, they won't be able to go GUI-less until all previous Microsoft products that rely on the GUI are out of service.

 

So my prediction is that the GUI will not go away until 2030.

 

On a personal note, you should definitely start learning Core. It's has incredible good boot times and requires less updates (no GUI updates/security updates). And for everything else you can still use the Admin Center or MMC snap-ins.

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Is there a list of the Microsoft products that can't run on Core version of Windows server?
I'm interested to know that, I know there are some Windows server roles and programs that only need GUI.

I understand but it's Not a good idea, least not for me.
my job is not about IT at all, neither is my field of study, I don't want to get too deep into that and learn every line of code for powershell and CMD. I know if I wanted to do it through codes I would need to learn it all or learn nothing in the first place, because right now with GUI, I know exactly what's happening and I'm in full control.
so I want to be able to use GUI for fast deployment, without need to learn all those codes.

after all we are humans, not machines. GUI is for humans, codes are for machines to interpret and execute. Windows is Windows today because of the great GUI.

you see Linux has been around for what, +20 years, right? now look where they are at in market share compared to Windows. literally nowhere. hundreds of Linux distros out there, each one worse that the other, trying to copy and mimic Windows GUI but failing Big time.

So yes, GUI is a BIG deal and getting rid of it is not good for anyone.

if you argue that it's good for security, then it's not the solution. fact is it's just the easy way out. Microsoft should be able to Maintain and Secure their OS with GUI, it's their job. their job is not to sacrifice the comfort of the users, take away their GUI and then say yes we have a secure OS now. well Linux have already had a secure OS for years.
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Yes, I meant to add this to my answer, actually. You find the list here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/get-started-19/app-compat-19

> I understand but it's Not a good idea, least not for me.

That's why Microsoft offers something for everybody at the moment. You can't install an edition meant for professionals and expect that they add a GUI that holds those back who have a business need for the semi-annual edition because of the features that ship only with Server 1903.

If you need a GUI, then you can install Server 2019, which is really the same at it's core, except a few feature that are intersting for mostly hosting providers or devops. You'll find the list of feature that are only available in 1903 here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/get-started-19/whats-new-in-windows-server-1903. I'd even argue that there is not a single feature in there that would be used by small and medium companies.

> you see Linux has been around for what, +20 years, right? now look where they are at in market share compared to Windows.

You're comparing apples with oranges. Yes, Windows on the Desktop has unarguably the biggest market share. But if you look on the server side, things look vastly different. Almost every web page runs on Linux. Most developer tools (building and test automation, code repositorys, and so one) run on Linux. Even Azure has more Linux servers running that Windows servers. And one personal experience: we are running 35 Windows Servers and 380 Linux servers in our company.

 

> So yes, GUI is a BIG deal and getting rid of it is not good for anyone.

 

And that's why they didn't remove the GUI from Server 2019. That's like complaining that the grapefruit you bought is sour and it should be sweet like an orange, while refusing to just buy an orange.


> if you argue that it's good for security, then it's not the solution. fact is it's just the easy way out.

No, it's just another focus with the added benefit of more security because of less code that could be compromised.

> their job is not to sacrifice the comfort of the users, take away their GUI and then say yes we have a secure OS now.

No, that's your expectation, but not the truth.

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Thanks for the list!

Yes i know, but I wasn't talking about "the moment". the nature of my post is about the future and what Microsoft plans moving forward. of course I know what is available "for the moment".


"You're comparing apples with oranges. Yes, Windows on the Desktop has unarguably the biggest market share. But if you look on the server side, things look vastly different. Almost every web page runs on Linux. Most developer tools (building and test automation, code repositorys, and so one) run on Linux. Even Azure has more Linux servers running that Windows servers. And one personal experience: we are running 35 Windows Servers and 380 Linux servers in our company."


I'mt not comparing apples to oranges. it was an example to show how important GUI is.
by the way, you're talking about it proudly as if it's a good thing that Microsoft Windows servers are falling behind Linux servers. Microsoft should start working on balancing servers market share.


"And that's why they didn't remove the GUI from Server 2019. That's like complaining that the grapefruit you bought is sour and it should be sweet like an orange, while refusing to just buy an orange."

again irrelevant. sorry but you confused it.


"No, it's just another focus with the added benefit of more security because of less code that could be compromised."

well that's your opinion. there Are ways to secure the GUI. it doesn't fit in the context of this topic but you can search for it on the Internet.
one way out of thousands would be to open source some parts of the OS, like the GUI.


"No, that's your expectation, but not the truth."

Nope, the truth is Microsoft is the leading tech giant and they have the power, means, and technology to safeguard their own OS.
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Between RSAT, WAC and MMC most of the server management I do with a GUI is done remotely anyway; I don't seem to need to log on to actual servers to do stuff nowadays and personally, the tools to manage server core via a GUI are adequate to me.

I personally can't see Microsoft ever ditching a GUI option for server and I wouldn't want them to. That said, I also don't believe that the GUI is necessary for a whole bunch of workloads that can be just as easily managed with the aforementioned tools. Less resource requirements and faster updates are great advantages when dealing with large server estates.

As for 1903/vNext being core only, I don't take that as a sign that Microsoft will be ditching a GUI for the next flavor of Windows at all. The semi-annual releases are aimed at a different audience, the features targeted more at DevOps/Datacentre improvements rather than long term stability and 'traditional' server roles so to me it makes sense that the channel that has relatively rapid development would not have the desktop experience because they'll want to keep the development as lean as possible, and taking GUI out of the equation simplifies and reduces potential bugs/issues. I think all of the new features get rolled up into the next LTSC release anyway.
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> again irrelevant. sorry but you confused it.

No, I don't. If you want the Desktop experience, then the semi-annual channel is not for you and Microsoft offers you the LTSC edition. Instead of using this, you're complaining that a product that isn't even targeted at your audience doesn't have something that you want.

> well that's your opinion. there Are ways to secure the GUI. it doesn't fit in the context of this topic but you can search for it on the Internet.


That's not an opinion, that's a fact. Backed by this statement: "By focusing on the Server Core installation option, we're able to dedicate more resources toward those new innovations" (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/get-started-19/servicing-channels-19#why-do-semi-ann...) And that less code means a smaller attack surface is a logic conclusion.

> there Are ways to secure the GUI

That statement is so absurd, I don't even know how to respond to this.
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"No, I don't. If you want the Desktop experience, then the semi-annual channel is not for you and Microsoft offers you the LTSC edition. Instead of using this, you're complaining that a product that isn't even targeted at your audience doesn't have something that you want."

 

I'm gonna the same terminology you used "Absurd" that's why I'm not going to respond to this.



"That's not an opinion, that's a fact. Backed by this statement: "By focusing on the Server Core installation option, we're able to dedicate more resources toward those new innovations""

there are not huge differences in semi-annual releases so there won't be much difference in GUI and keeping it updated won't be too hard for them.

"That statement is so absurd, I don't even know how to respond to this."

it's alright, you don't have to.

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Well those remote management tools are good, i hope WAC gets improved as well to be on par with RSAT. currently it lacks so many important items such as group policy.

there are however lots of settings that are neither included in RSAT, MMC nor WAC.
working with them require manual code typing.

there are also things like HGS that don't even have GUI in the normal Windows server
much less in the core version.

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Network Policy Server (NPS) is also among the items that can't be configured remotely via any GUI.
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Best Response confirmed by HotCakeX (Honored Contributor)
Solution

@HotCakeXUnfortunately Microsoft has apparently failed to have anyone on their team that have been around for more than a decade.  Apple hit it out of the park and took the world by storm and became a worldwide name for doing what? Making a GUI interface that everyone could use.  However it is interesting to hear the comments of, but resources for a GUI interface.  Last I checked computing power is exponentially better than when the GUI interface was created.  Then I hear comments, but some nerd in a closed calls it a Toy OS cause it is easy to use.  Great idea to make an OS based on someones EGO that someone else could do their job easier, really?  The idea that a GUI makes something more security vulnerable?  How, last I checked, with the exception of hacking the user, its harder to hack something with a GUI, there is no command line I can remotely run, and what the GUI does behind the scenes can be kept hidden....

 

Lets face it, 1) Microsoft is trying to compete with UNIX, however UNIX is free, so why if a company had the resources of IT professionals that have deep expertise with command line, would someone choose to go with Microsoft.  2) Microsoft is really trying to make it more difficult so that all businesses stop providing their own services and move it to the cloud with Microsoft where their data can be looted and held hostage by Microsoft.  The data is what matters, and Microsoft wants to charge you per month, not once for a piece of software.  Why would MS want to make a thousand dollars when they can make tens of thousands over years.

 

I am an IT expert and a programmer, and have been in this industry too long, but have the belief that when I want to make a small change to a system, I don't want to Google a powershell command, I want to see what my options are and check a box.  Exchange 2003 was easy to make basic changes too, for example, yet on newer MS Email servers I have to figure out the terminology that will help me find a command I am looking for to do simple changes.  Now take a small business that can't afford an IT guy, how can they setup a quick and easy file and email server?  They used to be able to, now if they want ease of use they have to give their intellectual property to Microsoft.

 

If Microsoft thinks going from a GUI to a Command Prompt is the right direction, how out next we go from a Command Prompt to a COMPILER.  Then you have way more flexibility and options than you would with a Command Prompt!

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I agree with every single word