Windows Server Core is designed to eliminate any services and other features that are not essential for the support of certain commonly used server roles.
The most common thing for Windows Server core is that there's no desktop! That is, there is no Windows Explorer shell, with its Start menu, Taskbar, and the other features you may be used to seeing. All you have is a command prompt, which means that you have to do most of the work of configuring a Server Core installation either by typing commands one at a time, which is slow, or by using scripts and batch files, which can help you speed up and simplify your configuration tasks by automating them. You can also perform some initial configuration tasks using answer files when you perform an unattended installation of Server Core.
- Greater stability. Because a Server Core installation has fewer running processes and services than a Full installation, the overall stability of Server Core is greater. Fewer things can go wrong, and fewer settings can be configured incorrectly.
- Simplified management. Since there are fewer things to manage on a Server Core installation, it's easier to configure and support a Server Core installation than a Full one.
- Reduced maintenance. Because Server Core has fewer binaries than a Full installation, there's less to maintain.
- Reduced memory and disk requirements. A Server Core installation on x86 architecture, with no roles or optional components installed and running at idle, has a memory footprint of about 180 megabytes (MB), compared to about 310 MB for a similarly equipped Full installation of the same edition. Disk space needs differ even more—a base Server Core installation needs only about 1.6 gigabytes (GB) of disk space compared to 7.6 GB for an equivalent Full installation.
- Reduced attack surface. Because Server Core has fewer system services running on it than a Full installation does, there's less attack surface (that is, fewer possible vectors for malicious attacks on the server). This means that a Server Core installation is more secure than a similarly configured Full installation.