Windows Server Core – How to have PowerShell automatically start when logging onto the session.

In my environment, I have a Windows Server (2019) Core edition server installed with Exchange 2019. Most of the time, I have to get on the server to run PowerShell commands for maintenance purposes, etc…

Well, by default, Windows Server Core opens the command prompt when you logon and then I have to manually open PowerShell from there to run cmdlets, etc…

However, if you would like to change the default cmd to PowerShell, you can change it by changing the Registry value.

The Registry that I’m talking is located under the following location:

Change the Shell Value in the Registry

The easiest way I see to change the value is to use the Set-ItemProperty cmdlet within PowerShell.

Open Windows PowerShell within Server Core command prompt. You can type “PowerShell” on your command prompt.

Then, enter the following command on PowerShell console and hit enter:

Once completed, you will need to reboot the computer from PowerShell:

When the computer has rebooted and you have logged on, PowerShell should load by default instead of Command Prompt.


Now, since I have an Exchange Server installed on this server, there is a Command in the $bin directory called LaunchEMS.cmd that will load the Exchange Management Shell for you. So instead of loading just PowerShell, I tell WinLogon to load Exchange Management Shell so that I do not have to do any additional typing or searching for EMS on the box. Remember, Server Core has no GUI!

I run the same commands as above, but just change the value to LaunchEMS.cmd

Then Restart the Computer:

Once Rebooted, you can logon and EMS will be the only window prompt that loads in the shell!

Exchange Management Shell loads when you logon

NOTE: You can always run cmd from the prompt to open Command Prompt and also run PowerShell.exe to open regular PowerShell from the EMS Session Window.


Windows Server Core: How to start PowerShell by Default

Adding Windows Capability to Server Core to add features needed for Application Compatibility

I’ve been working on installing Windows Server 2019 Core into my network to be able to look at new features for Windows Administration and learning how Server Core works. I was able to install a virtual machine with Server Core and get it activated. I then wanted to place my custom PowerShell script for loading PowerShell into the Server Core Environment.

So, I added the Server Core Server to the Windows Admin Center and copied my custom scripts for PowerShell into the proper directory:

Windows Admin Center
Windows Admin Center

I then logged on remotely to the server and started PowerShell. When I did that, I got this error with the script load:

Error that IE First Run has not been completed
Error that IE First Run has not been completed

At first, I tried using the -UseBasicParsing as a switch to see if that would repair the issue in the script. It did not because, IE is not installed by default on the default installation of Server Core. That is so there is less of a footprint that can be attacked by a hacker. I needed this installed though so that the Invoke-WebRequest cmdlet would load my script parameters properly.

I started looking for answers to how to install IE onto the Server Core box and found the following article. I had to run the Add-WindowsCapability cmdlet on the server to install the optional components. When I did, I received an error:

Error when adding the Windows Capability
Error when adding the Windows Capability

So I found out that there is a block that WSUS does keeping the cmdlet from going to the online source to download the software package and producing this error. After researching, I found this article. I setup a Group Policy to make sure this setting is propagated to my Server Core machine. I also setup in the same policy the ability to turn off the First-Run for IE so that you do not get that message and have to open IE to “set it up”

Group Policy Setting with Path to Templates Specified
Group Policy Setting with Path to Templates Specified

I then ran a gpupdate /force on the Server and was able to download the components for IE and App Compatibility.

Successful Installation of Windows Capability
Successful Installation of Windows Capability

I then rebooted the server and now my PowerShell loads successfully:

Successful PowerShell Load
Successful PowerShell Load

I learned a few different new things here and was able to get Server Core working more the way that I like it. I will keep posting updates when I run into issues with this type of installation. I would definitely give the Windows Admin Center a try as it has more robust features than Server Manager has, especially for Server 2019 and Server Core.


RSAT Tools Installation Error 0x800f0954 – Windows 10 1809
Server Core App Compatibility Feature on Demand (FOD)
“Set Up Internet Explorer 11” Bypass with GPO or Registry