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Windows Server 2012 – How to Add Desktop Experience Feature

If you are stumbling around trying to find the Desktop Experience Feature within the Server Manager of Windows Server 2012, then look no further!

Desktop Experience enables a few handy tools like:

  • Windows Media Player
  • Desktop themes
  • Video for Windows (AVI support)
  • Windows SideShow
  • Windows Defender
  • Disk Cleanup
  • Sync Center
  • Sound Recorder
  • Character Map
  • Snipping Tool

Steps to enable the Desktop Experience on Windows Server 2012 (Note: A restart will be required to complete install):

  1. Launch Server Manager
  2. Select Add roles and features
  3. Within the Add Roles and Features Wizard, select Features from the left hand menu
  4. Within the Add Roles and Features Wizard,Β  expand the optionΒ  User Interfaces and Infrastructure (Installed)
  5. Select Desktop Experience
  6. Click Add Features (on the next dialog window)
  7. Click Next
  8. Click Install
  9. Click Close (When complete) Note: A restart will be required to complete install

Below are the screenshots displayed during this process.


Desktop Experience

Desktop Experience - Features


Installation In Progress

Hope that helps!

Greg Olsen

  1. Mark
    September 18, 2013 at 2:40 am

    Thank you

  2. Sammy
    January 27, 2015 at 6:19 am

    I asked my support for how to activate the Flash Player. The answer was: “You first have to install the Feature Desktop experience in the Server Manager.”
    So started to look for it and didn’t find anything!…After an hour I searched the Internet and found You’re descrption.
    I am so happy now, I can’t tell You!!
    Thank You so much Sir, with Your help I finished my problem in two minutes!
    Thank You very much πŸ™‚

  3. John
    August 19, 2015 at 2:16 am

    Thanks Greg. Currently doing this now. Any idea how long it takes to install as I’ve been stuck on the install screen for an hour now with no change on the progress bar!

    By the way it appears some of the time you need this when converting old projects to Visual studio 2013 particularly with projects with MVC 2.0 and 3.0 to 4.0 and to .NET Framework 4.5 / Windows Phone Silverlight 8 respectively.

    When doing the conversion it will then ask you to register a Windows Server 2012 license, it can’t find it, then it says you need the developer expereince to do this.

  4. June 24, 2016 at 9:53 am

    Thanks! Shame on the Windows 2012 team for hiding these tools even when trying to install features. It is ridiculous that we have to dig through every option in my case to find “Media Feature Pack”. User Experience is not their forte!

  5. Becky
    August 12, 2016 at 2:13 am

    Help lots – thank you.

  6. Kelvin
    January 31, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Cheers, didn’t realise they had moved this feature and couldn’t work out why I couldn’t find it.

  7. April 13, 2018 at 12:42 am

    Thank you sir, you made my day..

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