Survey Results – What percentage of your Windows APPLICATION servers run with MinShell or Core UI?

Another thank you, this time to the folks that answered  this second survey that focused on Windows Server application servers no matter if they were physical, virtual , on Hyper-V or anything else.

In this survey I asked:

What percentage of your APPLICATION servers run with MinShell or Core UI? Consultants: Please answer with the most common customer scenario.

  • 0% – All of my servers have a FULL UI
  • 1-20%
  • 20-40%
  • 40-60% – Around half of my servers have MinShell or Core UI
  • 60-80%
  • 80-100% – All of my servers have MinShell or Core UI

In other words, I wanted to know what was the market penetration like for non-Full UI installations of Windows Server. I had a gut feeling, but I wanted to know for sure.

The Sample

I was worried about survey fatigue, and sure enough we had a drop from the amazing 425 responses of the previous survey. But we did have 242 responses:


Once again, we saw a great breakdown from all around the world with the USA representing 25% of the responses.

Once again I recognize that the sample is skewed. Anyone, like you, who reads a blog like this, follows influencers on social media, or regularly attends something like a TechNet/Ignite/community IT pro events is not a regular IT pro. You are more educated and are not 100% representative of the wider audience. I suspect that more of you are using non-Full UI options (Hyper-V Server, MinShell or Core) than in the wider market.

The Results

Here we go:


So the vast majority of people are not using any installations of MinShell or Core for their application servers. Nearly 15% have a few Core or MinShell installations and then we get into tiny percentages for the rest of the market.


We can see quite clearly, that despite the evangelizing by Microsoft, the market prefers to deploy valuable servers with a UI that allows management and troubleshooting – not to mention support by Microsoft.

Is there a regional skewing of the data? Yes, to some extent. The USA (25% of responses) has opted to deploy a Full UI slightly less than the rest of the world:


You can see the difference when we compare this to a selection of EU countries including: Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Ireland, The Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Slovenia, France and Poland (53% of the survey).


FYI, the 4 responses that indicated that 80-100% of application servers were running MInShell or Core UI came from:

  • USA (2)
  • Germany (2)

My Opinion

I am slightly less hardline with Full VS Core/MinShell when it comes to application servers than I am with Hyper-V hosts. But, I am not in complete agreement with the Microsoft mantra of Core, Core, Core. I know that when it comes to most LOB apps, even large enterprises have loads of those awful single or dual server installations that right-minded admins dislike – if that’s what devs deploy then there’s little we can do about it. And those are exactly the machines that become sacred cows.

However, in large scale-out apps where servers can be stateless, I can see the benefits of using Core/MinShell … to a limited extent. To be honest, I think Nano would be better when it eventually makes it to a non-infrastructure role.

Your Opinion

What do you think? Post your comments below.

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4 thoughts on “Survey Results – What percentage of your Windows APPLICATION servers run with MinShell or Core UI?”

  1. Would you consider any of these “application” servers? I always use Core for these systems, but not much else:
    Domain Controllers
    DHCP Servers
    File Servers
    Print Servers

  2. These results I’m not surprised with. Most application vendors refuse to support core regardless if their application will technically work with it. Core/Powershell training costs currently outweigh the resources “wasted” by full UI.

    Also, Microsoft has visions of core being used large scale web applications but if my experience is anything, Linux is completely ruling this market and will continue to do so. Only way I see this changing is .Net development becoming cheaper, which it has with Visual Studio community, and free version of Windows Server with IIS being available.

  3. There’s something rather comfortable having a full GUI installed. If something goes really wrong there are a load of established tools with UIs from every software, hardware and component provider that will help. I’m sure there are admins/engineers who are just as effective using only minshell but it takes a lot of time and experience to be able to let go of the UI install. Perhaps most admins don’t have the time to go through that learning curve if they’ve got a constant work load to keep on top of. Or the advantages of going Core are viewed as relatively small and not worth it. At least there’s a choice.

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