The Windows Server 2012 R2 Desktop Experience

 Nov 21, 2014

Where are the goodies on Windows Server 2012 R2? That may seem like a silly question for an Advanced Operating System like Windows Server 2012 R2, but let’s break it down. After really working hard on that PowerPoint presentation for my class on Sunday night, I am happy and satisfied that the slides as well as the video media I want to use works great. But while doing a trial run in the classroom, I quickly realise that there’s a bunch of stuff missing from Windows Server 2012 R2 on the trainer computer such as:
  • Windows Media Player
  • Video for Windows (AVI support)
  • Windows SideShow
  • Disk Cleanup
  • Sync Center
  • Sound Recorder
  • Character Map
  • Snipping Tool
  • Support for desktop apps
  • Windows Store
  • PC settings (adds Change PC settings to the Settings charm)
  • The ability to play a slide show on your lock screen
  • Integrated search (searches through the Search charm integrate results from the local computer and the Internet through Bing)
Now that’s a bunch of stuff I would most likely need!! I would need to install a feature called Desktop Experience to achieve a similar experience to my Windows 8.1 layout. Of course, the staunch hard loyalist would say "It’s a Server, for crying out loud!!" But there are situations where you want things like Media Player and the Snipping Tool available, and this is it! One thing to mention, when you install Desktop Experience in Windows Server 2012 R2, the integrated search is on by default. This feature sends information to Microsoft. You can turn off the integrated search feature with the following steps:
  1. Open the Windows charm bar (Windows+C).
  2. Click 'Settings' then click 'Change PC Settings' and then click 'Search & Apps.'
  3. In the 'Use Bing to search online section,' move the slider to 'Off.' Alternatively, in the 'Your Search Experience' section, select 'Don’t get personalised results from Bing.'
So what are the steps?
  1. Launch the 'Server Manager' and select 'Add roles and features.' ws-desktop-experience-1
  2. Select the 'Features' menu on the left and expand the 'User Interfaces and Infrastructure' option. The 'Desktop Experience can be found below.  Tick the check box and click 'Next', then 'Install.' ws-desktop-experience-23. Run through the rest of the installer. Once completed a reboot will be required.

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About the Author:

Barend Koekemoer  

Barend is one of New Horizon's highly experience IT Technical trainers with over 15 years of practical IT experience as well as experience in administrating, planning and executing projects and automation systems. He began his career in IT working for a South African government organisation and has since become a Microsoft Certified Trainer, Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate, Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist and a Microsoft Certified IT Professional.

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