Desktop Experience for Windows Server 2012

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Desktop Experience for Windows Server 2012

December 11, 2015 | Article | No Comments

Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 are like twins. They have the same core technology but then differs in advance utilization. Windows Server is used for server purpose, however we can still experience Windows 8 on Windows Server 2012. The thing we need to know is Desktop Experience, a feature added by Microsoft for doing so.

In this article we will install additional desktop applications and add several GUI improvements.

After installation, we will have following effects:

  • Application added to the Start Screen:
    • Windows Store
    • Default Programs
    • Windows Media Player
    • Character Map
    • Disk Cleanup
    • Snipping Tool
    • Sound Recorder
    • Math Input Panel
  • Start screen will automatically appear instead of the classic desktop
  • Charms bar (bar on the right side of the screen) with buttons ‘Search’, ‘Start’, ‘Settings’, ‘Share’, and ‘Device’
  • The Settings option of the Charms bar will also have the ‘Change PC Settings’ option which is a Windows 8 version of the Control Panel.
  • The context menu of the classic desktop will have the ‘Personalize’ option added.
  • Applications: Windows Mail, Windows Photo Viewer
  • Services: ActiveX Installer, Offline Files, Windows Image Acquisition (WIA), System Events Broker, Time Broker, WebClient, Still Image Acquisition Events, Microsoft Account Sign-in Assistant
  • Miscelanous: Various screensavers, Ability to burn .iso’s from Windows Explorer, Sync Center in Control Panel, Adobe Flash Player


Open “Server Manager” and make sure you are on “Dasboard” tab. Click on “Add roles and features”


Skip the information page by clicking “Next”

Select “Role-based or feature-based installation” as installation type and then click “Next”


We want to install Desktop Experience feature on local server which is also selected by default so choose “Next”


Desktop Experience is not a Role so click “Next” to bring ourselves to “Features” page.

Here expand “User Interfaces and Infrastructure” and check the “Desktop Experience”. You will be asked for installation of features required by Desktop Experience so just agreed with it.



At the confirmation page, optionally check the “Restart the destination server automatically if required” checkbox as the Desktop Experience feature will need a restart to complete. You can also manually restart the server after the wizard completed.


Once your machine restarted (either you choose automatically or restart it manually) you will see your desktop now has more applications.

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