Server core is a new minimal server installation option for Windows Server 2008. A server core installation provides a minimal environment for running specific server roles, reducing the servicing and management requirements and the attack surface for those server roles
Only a clean installation is supported, there is no way to upgrade from a previous version of the Windows Server to a server core installation and there is no way to upgrade from Windows Server 2008 to a server core installation.
If you need the Windows user interface or a server role that is not supported on server core, you will need to install Windows Server 2008
Because a server core installation does not include the Windows user interface, you must manually complete the configuration using the command-line tools.
The server core installation of Windows Server 2008 supports the following server roles:
Ø DHCP server
Ø File Server
Ø Active Directory
The server core installation of Windows Server "Longhorn" supports the following optional features:
Ø Microsoft Failover Cluster
Ø Network Load Balancing
Ø Subsystem for UNIX-based applications
Ø Multipath IO
Ø Removable Storage Management
Ø Bitlocker Drive Encryption
Ø Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)
A server core installation can only be managed in the following ways:
Ø Locally and remotely via the Command Prompt. Using the Windows command line tools at the command prompt, you can manage servers running a server core installation.
Ø Remotely via Terminal Server. Using another computer running Windows, you can use the Terminal Server client to connect to the server running the server core installation and manage it remotely. The shell in the Terminal Server session will be the command prompt.
Ø Remotely via Windows Remote Shell. Using another computer running Windows Vista or Windows Server "Longhorn", you can use Windows Remote Shell to run command line tools and scripts on the server core-based server.
Ø Remotely via MMC. Using an MMC snap-in, you can connect to a server running a server core installation as you would any other computer running Windows.
Since no managed code can be run on server core that means that server core cannot be used as an application server or web server. A Server Core installation can only be used to run the supported server roles and management tools.