What’s behind the Server Core technologies introduced in Windows Longhorn Server Operating System?


Server Core technology is a new installation introduced by Microsoft in its next generation of Operating System. Server Core runs only a command shell so that you can administer all the roles supported by servers from command line tools. Windows has been designed on modular architecture meaning its components and services are designed in a procedural way. They have small set of procedures created and these procedures were combined to make a complete Windows System.


Basically there are two shell supported by Windows – one is Command Line Shell (CMD.exe) and other one is GUI shell (explorer.exe). The main reasons to segregate these two shells are the following:


1.      You have better control on Windows

2.      Other or third party shells can be introduced and configured to run at the time of starting Windows.

3.      You can run third party or production applications without displaying Desktop to users.


After looking at Server Core technologies of Longhorn I assume that Microsoft has only replaced CMD.exe with Explorer.exe in registry at HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon in entry: Shell in the Right Pane. I’m really not sure about this one but when you replace Explorer.exe with CMD.exe, Windows launches CMD.exe (Command Prompt) rather than Desktop. This really confuses me sometimes – Has Microsoft only changed the entry in the registry to make it Server Core or they have done something more in it? I really don’t have answer to this and need to dig more.


Well, as far as I know, the Server Core technologies or installation makes Windows more secure. This eliminates the hacking and Server is not exposed to hacking anymore now. Server Core runs minimal codes and this gives less access to system thus providing a more secure platform.


I’m still waiting for someone to answer the following questions:


1.      What is so different about Server Core in Longhorn?

2.      Has Microsoft only replaced Shell entry in registry to make it Server Core or they have done something more?

3.      All the services and drivers are started before shell execution. This is already designed since Windows XP released then what’s new in Server Core part.


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