Microsoft Windows Server Core is the non-GUI version of Windows Server. Because it lacks all the desktop experience extras, Windows Server Core offers several advantages over the full desktop experience version. These advantages include:

  • Greater Stability
  • Simplified Management
  • Reduced Maintenance
  • Reduces system requirements (disk, memory)
  • Reduced attack surface

However, using Windows server core can seem tricky at times. One of those times can be when you have to upgrade it. However, upgrading the Server core is really surprisingly easy.

In this example, I have Windows Server 2019 Core running as a virtual server in Microsoft Hyper-V. In my case, the first step is to add a virtual DVD drive to my server’s settings in Hyper-V. I tend to remove the DVD drive from my virtual machines just to add to the simplification of the configuration.

Open Hyper-V Settings for the virtual server to prepare to add a DVD drive.
Add DVD Drive
Add the DVD drive under SCSI Controller menu.
Once the DVD drive has been added the next step is to select the Image file and browse to attach Windows 2022 ISO file.
Next, connect to the virtual server.
Login to server.
Change to the D: drive in the command window.
I ran a dir command to check that I was connected to the ISO file. I can see that I am indeed connected because I can see the setup.exe file. Run setup.exe to start to install.
The install of Windows Server 2022 starts.
Select whether you want to participate to help make the installation better for Microsoft.
The installer will automatically check for updates.
Once the installer installs the updates it will warn that it needs to restart for the updates to work.
The installer now checks your server to ensure that it can safely install Windows Server 2022.
You have to enter a valid product key to proceed.
This screen is very important. Since I am upgrading Windows Server 2019 Core I made sure that I selected the first option in the list. This option does not include the ‘desktop experience’ GUI files. So, this will be a core install.
Accept all the Legal stuff.
Another very important screen! My install is an upgrade and I definitely want to keep all my files, settings, and apps for this upgrade.
Progress dialogue.
Another progress dialogue.
Once you click Install on this window the installation will start in ernest.
Installation Starts
After install, the server will restart and continue to work on updates.
After the installation finishes, I logged into the server. The first thing you will notice, if you are familiar with the previous versions of Server Core, is that the Sconfig dialogue will start automatically upon login to Windows Server 2022 Core. If you would rather that Sconfig not start automatically and want to have the server start with a PowerShell window you can enter the following at a Powershell prompt.
Set-SConfig -AutoLaunch $false

All done! Windows Server Core is now upgraded.

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