Server Core App Compatibility – Feature on Demand (FOD)
The Server Core App Compatibility Feature on Demand is an optional feature package that can be added to Windows Server 2019 Server Core installations, or Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel, at any time.
What ist the App Compatibility Feature on Demand and why install it?
App Compatibility, a Feature on Demand for Server Core, significantly improves the app compatibility of the Windows Server Core installation option by including a subset of binaries and packages from Windows Server with Desktop Experience, without adding the Windows Server Desktop Experience graphical environment. This optional package is available on a separate ISO, or from Windows Update, but can only be added to Windows Server Core installations and images.
The two primary values the App Compatibility Feature on Demand provides are:
Increases the compatibility of Server Core for server applications that are already in market or have already been developed by organizations and deployed.
Assists with providing OS components and increased app compatibility of software tools used in acute troubleshooting and debugging scenarios.
Which operating system components are available as part of the Server Core App Compatibility Feature on Demand?
Microsoft Management Console (mmc.exe)
Event Viewer (Eventvwr.msc)
Performance Monitor (PerfMon.exe)
Resource Monitor (Resmon.exe)
Device Manager (Devmgmt.msc)
File Explorer (Explorer.exe)
Windows PowerShell ISE (Powershell_ISE.exe)
Disk Management (Diskmgmt.msc)
Failover Cluster Manager (CluAdmin.msc) This requires the addition of the Failover Clustering Windows Server feature first. To do that, start an elevated PowerShell session and type the following:
Servers running Windows Server version 1903 and later will also support the following components (when using the same version of the App Compatibility Feature on Demand):
Hyper-V Manager (virtmgmt.msc)
Task Scheduler (taskschd.msc)
How to install the App Compatibility Feature on Demand
As already said, the App Compatibility Feature on Demand can only be installed on Server Core. Don’t attempt to add the Server Core App Compatibility Feature on Demand to a Windows Server installation of Windows Server with Desktop Experience. You can use the same ISO for Windows Server 2019 Server Core and Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel installations.
If your server can connect to Windows Update, all you have to do is run the following command from an elevated PowerShell session and then restart Windows Server after the command finishes:
At the Server Configuration (sconfig), exit to the Command Line by typing 15 and Enter
Type powershell.exe to start the elevated PowerShell session
Type the command to install the App Compatibility Feature on Demand
After the command has finished, restart your Server
If your server cannot connect to Windows Update, you can download the Feature on Demand optional packages ISO and copy the ISO to a shared folder on your local network:
With a volume license you can download the Feature on Demand ISO image from the same portal where the Operating System ISO image file is obtained: Volume Licensing Service Center
Sign in with an administrator account to the Server Core that you want to add the Feature on Demand
Use net use, or some other method to connect to the location of the Feature on Demand ISO
Copy the Feature on Demand ISO to a local folder of your Server Core
Mount the Feature on Demand ISO by using the following command in an elevated PowerShell session:
Run the following command:
After the progress bar completes, restart the operating system.
This was all you have to do, now you have access to the App Compatibility Features on Demand on your Server Core.
Hope that helped to get more familiar with the Server Core.
PS: It is also possible to add Internet Explorer 11 to Server Core – but who wants to have still Internet Explorer 11?