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Turning on the Desktop Experience feature in Windows Server 2012

October 15, 2012 2 comments

For certain video related features such as automatic generation of thumbnails in SharePoint Server 2013, it is required that the Desktop Experience feature be installed on Windows Server 2012. The Desktop Experience feature consists of such tools as Windows Media Player, AVI support for video playback etc. and it is likely that one or more of these is used in thumbnail generation although I have no way to say for sure. For a complete list of items included in the Desktop Experience feature, refer here.

In any case, I tried to go ahead and use Server Manager to add the feature like I used to do with Windows Server 2008 R2. What is surprising is that in Windows Server 2012, this feature is not listed among features that can be added through Server Manager.

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After digging around a little bit, I found that you can use the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool to achieve this. To do this run the command prompt as an administrative user on Windows Server 2012 and run the following:

dism /Online /Enable-Feature /FeatureName:DesktopExperience /All

The "Online" switch enables the tool to target the running instance of the operating system instead of an image. The "Enable-Feature" command is self-explanatory. The "FeatureName" parameter followed by a colon is to be followed with the name of the feature which is, "DesktopExperience". The "All" switch specifies that all parent features of this feature also be installed.

After installation, the tool will prompt to restart the server. This can be suppressed using the /NoRestart switch at the end of the above string but it is recommended if you want to use the features to complete the installation process through a restart.

Once restarted, the following additional tiles should appear on the start menu indicating that the installation was successful.

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