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Server Core is ideal for hosting your Web application on Windows Server 2008 R2. You manage IIS and your application through a command line interface. The biggest advantage is a reduced attack surface, but your customers are able to deploy applications using command line or PowerShell scripts. And with Windows Server 2008 R2, you now get .NET Framework and ASP.NET.
Server Core is where you run Windows Server without the graphical user interface. Think of Server Core as an application server. It means a smaller footprint and is idea in datacenters. Your customers want to deploy your server applications into Server Core both on the bare metal, and in virtualized environments. Now with Windows Server 2008 R2, you can now run ASP.NET applications from within Server Core.
Windows Server 2008 R2 Server Core includes subsets of the 2.0/3.0/3.5 .NET Framework. The Framework makes it possible to run an almost full-featured version of ASP.NET. But you don’t get MMC-Snap-ins, No System.Web.Mail Namespace, and no Web Application Tool (WAT). If you can live with those limitations, you’ll want to support Server Core both in your development, for customer deployment, and for your own hosting.
The Server Core is an installation option for installing Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 that provides a minimal environment for running specific server roles. Server Core reduces the maintenance and management requirements and the attack surface for those server roles.
When configured, Server Core can be managed locally and remotely using Windows PowerShell, by using a terminal server connection from a command line, as well as remotely, by using the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) or command line tools that support remote usage.
Server Core installation option installs only what is required to have a manageable server for the supported roles, less maintenance is required than on a full installation of Windows Server 2008. Because Server Core installations are minimal, there are fewer applications running on the server, which decreases the attack surface. Because fewer applications and services are installed on a server running the Server Core installation, there is less to manage. A Server Core installation requires only about 3.5 gigabytes (GB) of disk space to install and approximately 3 GB for operations after the installation.
A step by step guide to Server Core is available on TechNet. It includes the new Windows Server 2008 R2 commands. You can read the guide online or as a Word document.
For more information on how to host your application using Server Core under Windows Server 2008 R2, see How To Get Started with ASP.NET Applications on Server Core.
For more information on the Channel9 and Code Gallery "5 Minute Concept" series about on Server Core application development, see Channel9 and Code Gallery.
But the big question for developers is how to debug. To learn how, see How to Debug .NET Server Core Applications on Channel 9.
For more information about why Server Core is interesting to your customers, see Why Is Server Core Useful?.