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How to Install the Windows Admin Center in Server Core

Russell Smith


In this Ask the Admin, I’ll show you how to install Windows Admin Center in Windows Server 2019 Server Core.



Microsoft recently announced the general availability of the Windows Admin Center (WAC), previously Project Honolulu. Windows Admin Center is a web-based application for managing Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012, and Windows 10. Additionally, it can manage Hyper-V Server, Azure VMs, Azure Backup, highly-converged infrastructures (HCI), and more.

WAC gateways host a website that provides a server management GUI. The gateway can manage the local server and remote servers using PowerShell Remoting and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) over WinRM. WAC can be installed on Windows Server 2016, Windows Server version 1709, Windows Server 2019, or Windows 10.

In this article, I want to show you how to install WAC on a Hyper-V virtual machine running Windows Server 2019 Server Core. Although, the method I’m going to show you can also be used to install WAC in the full GUI version of Windows Server. If you don’t already have the Windows Server 2019 preview, you can download build 17639 from Microsoft’s website if you are a registered business Insider. For more information on registering for the Windows Insider Program, see Microsoft’s website here. If you need instructions for installing an operating system in Hyper-V, take a look at Manually Install a Guest OS in a Hyper-V Virtual Machine on Petri.

Installing the Windows Admin Center

First, you’ll need to download the latest version of WAC, which at the time of writing, is version 1804. You can grab the .msi installer from Microsoft here. Once downloaded, transfer the .msi file to the Windows Server virtual machine. The easiest way to do that is using the Copy-VMFile PowerShell cmdlet. But before you can run Copy-VMFile, make sure that guest services are enabled for the VM. You can check the status of guest services for your Windows Server 2019 VM using the Get-VMIntegrationService cmdlet.

Open a PowerShell prompt in the Hyper-V host OS and run the command shown below, replacing Server2019 with the name of your VM as it is displayed in Hyper-V manager.

Get-VMIntegrationService -name Guest* -VMName Server2019

If guest services aren’t enabled for the VM, enable them using Enable-VMIntegrationService as shown below, again replacing Server2019 with the name of your virtual machine:

Enable-VMIntegrationService -name Guest* -VMName Server2019 -Passthru

Check that guest services are enabled for the Windows Server VM (Image Credit: Russell Smith)

Check that Guest Services Are Enabled for the Windows Server VM (Image Credit: Russell Smith)

Now we’re ready to copy the WAC installer file to Windows Server 2019. Using the command line below, replace Server2019 with the name of your virtual machine as you see it in the Hyper-V management console. The -SourcePath parameter should be the full path to the .msi file on the host OS and -DestinationPath where you want to transfer it to in the guest OS.

Copy-VMFile “Server2019” -SourcePath “C:\Users\User\Downloads\WindowsAdminCenter1804.msi” -DestinationPath “C:\temp\WindowsAdminCenter1804.msi” -CreateFullPath -FileSource Host

The final step is to run the WAC installer file silently on Server Core. If you haven’t already logged in to Windows Server 2019, log in using a local administrator account. In a command prompt window, run the following command.

msiexec /i c:\temp\WindowsAdminCenter1804.msi /qn /L*v log.txt SME_PORT=443 SSL_CERTIFICATE_OPTION=generate

SME_PORT sets the port on which users will connect to the WAC gateway. In this test environment, we don’t have our own certificate to use with WAC, so the SSL_CERTIFICATE_OPTION is used to generate a certificate for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Before closing the command prompt, type ipconfig and press ENTER. Make a note of the VM’s IP address.

Bypass the security warning in Microsoft Edge (Image Credit: Russell Smith)

Bypass the Security Warning in Microsoft Edge (Image Credit: Russell Smith)

Once WAC is installed, which takes just a few seconds, connect to WAC from the Hyper-V host OS or other device that has network connectivity to the Windows Server 2019 VM. WAC supports Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome, although it might work in other browsers. Open a browser, type in the address bar, and press ENTER, replacing with the IP address of your Windows Server 2019 VM. You’ll get a warning that the site is not secure because the browser doesn’t trust the certificate that was generated when WAC was installed. In our test environment, that’s OK. I’m using Edge, so to continue I need to click Details on the warning page and then Go on to the web page (Not recommended).

Connect to Windows Server Core using the Windows Admin Center (Image Credit: Russell Smith)

Connect to Windows Server Core Using the Windows Admin Center (Image Credit: Russell Smith)

You should now be prompted to log in to the gateway. Enter a username and password, in this case the administrator account in Windows Server 2019, and click OK. Click Skip Tour on the welcome screen. Under All Connections, you should see your Windows Server 2019 VM. Click on the server, enter the local administrator account for your Windows Server again in the Specify your credentials panel and click Continue. Now you have access to the WAC tools page for your Windows Server!

Follow Russell on Twitter @smithrussell.


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