Software Center on Windows Server Core

This post will present a PowerShell script that brings the functions of installing software and updates from SCCM to Server Core. Server Core is a version of Windows Server first introduced with Server 2008 R2 that does not have a GUI. When a user logs into the server, they are presented with a command prompt, and that is it. This version of Windows has many advantages, with a smaller footprint (i.e. requires fewer resources) and attack surface. Core installations also do not require as many monthly patches, and even fewer reboots for these patches. Always check with software vendors to ensure that their software is compatible with Server Core.

Software Center Issues

First of all, I could not get Software Center to even load on Server 2008 R2 Core. I would try to launch it, and would get a generic .NET error. Research on the Internet yielded the fact that some administrators were able to get it to load, but I was not. That meant that I could write a script, or rely on automatic deployments of software and updates from SCCM. I still wanted the Software Center functionality of actually selecting software and updates for installation.

Software Center launches fine on 2012 R2 Core. I have all of the same functionality. But, however, Software Center requires Silverlight to function correctly. I did not want Silverlight on my Core servers because it defeats the purpose of the smaller footprint and attack surface. Also note that this PowerShell script will work on GUI installations of Server.

I elected to use two command-line parameters when installing the SCCM client so that neither Software Center nor Silverlight are installed. Here is an example install command:

ccmsetup.exe / /skipprereq:Silverlight.exe /excludefeatures:ClientUI

PowerShell Script

The script itself over 200 lines long, so I will not go into detail about every line. I will give a general overview of the important stuff.

First, I have the script split into two functions – software and updates. When you launch the script, you are presented with this:


If you type “S”, the software function launches. If you type “U”, the update function launches. From there, it is a series of WMI queries, IF statements, and ForEach loops that controls what happens.

For software, the script primarily uses the CCM_Application WMI class from the ClientSDK namespace. I get the available applications and install them from this class and namespace. It’s worth noting that the software installation function ONLY works with the application model. It will NOT work with packages.

Once you click “S” on the first prompt, you are given a list of applications to install. You simply type the number corresponding to the application, and it gets installed.


The script performs a test at the end, and will tell you if the application failed to install.

For updates, we are using the same ClientSDK namespace, as well as the CCM_SoftwareUpdate and CCM_SoftwareUpdateManager WMI classes. The CCM_SoftwareUpdate class details all of the information about the updates, while the CCM_SoftwareUpdateManager class does the installation. There are some limits for the update function. For instance, the function can only install about 30 updates at a time before the PowerShell memory space fills up and crashes. This should be fine for patch Tuesday’s, but I would recommend using the built-in Windows update vbscript when first installing the OS.

Just as with software, when you click “U”, you will be presented a list of updates. From here, you can type in individual update numbers separated by commas, or type “all” to install all available.\


As with software, the script performs a check and alerts you if an update failed. It will also tell you if an update requires a reboot.


Here is the script. As I said, it’s over 200 lines long, so I would encourage you to copy it to PowerShell ISE or Notepad for review. It will also be posted to the script section of this website. Check back next week for a post about how to integrate this into the sconfig console on Server Core.

function UPDATES {

write-host “” # line break

# define install updates function
function install_updates {

# get missing updates
$updates = Get-WmiObject -Class CCM_SoftwareUpdate -Namespace root\CCM\ClientSDK | Where-Object -FilterScript { $_.EvaluationState -eq “0” }

# exit script if no updates are found
If ( $updates -eq $null ) {
write-host “No updates found.” -foregroundcolor green
break }

write-host “” # line break
write-host “Available Updates:” -ForegroundColor Green

# display numbered list of update names
$display_updates = $updates | Select-Object Name
$f_display_updates = @()
# set numbers to 0
$up_num = 0
ForEach ( $display_update in $display_updates ) { $f_display_updates += $display_update.Name }
ForEach ( $f_display_update in $f_display_updates ) {
$up_num = $up_num + 1 # increment numbered list
write-host $up_num ” ” $f_display_update # display number and app name (ex. 1 Firefox)

write-host “” # line break

# allow for end user input of update number
write-host ‘Which update(s) would you like to install? (seperate with comma “,”)’ -foregroundcolor green
write-host ‘To install all updates, type “All”.’ -foregroundcolor green
$up_sel = Read-Host

If ( $up_sel -eq “All” ) { $sel_updates = $updates } # assigns all updates for installation
# assigns selected updates for installation
Else {
$f_up_sels = $up_sel.split(“,”) # splits string of update numbers
# assign selected application for installation
$sel_updates = @()
ForEach ( $f_up_sel in $f_up_sels ) {
$f_up_sel_sub = $f_up_sel – 1
$sel_updates += $updates[$f_up_sel_sub]

# captures and formats update names for later use
$update_names = $sel_updates | Select-Object Name
$f_update_names = @()
ForEach ( $update_name in $update_names ) {
$s_update_name = “$update_name”
$f_update_names += $s_update_name.substring(7).trim(“}”)

write-host “” # separate update list and installation prompt
write-host “”

write-host “Beginning Installation” -foregroundcolor green # shows that updates have started
write-host “” # line break

# declare array for failed updates
$failed_updates = @()

# formats updates by just getting those that are required (ComplianceState=0). Converts updates to WMI so that they can be installed.
ForEach ( $sel_update in $sel_updates ) {
$f_update = @($sel_update | ForEach-Object {if($_.ComplianceState -eq 0){[WMI]$_.__PATH}})
$install_name = $sel_update | Select-Object Name
# Installs updates
$u_wmi_output = “”
$u_wmi_output = ([wmiclass]’ROOT\ccm\ClientSdk:CCM_SoftwareUpdatesManager’).InstallUpdates($f_update)

# wait until update process is seen, then disappears
Do {
$up_check = “”
$up_check = get-process | Where-Object -filterscript { $_.ProcessName -eq “wuauclt” }
Until ( $up_check -ne $null )
wait-process -name wuauclt

sleep -s 2
# write result
$s_install_name = “$install_name”
$f_install_name = $s_install_name.substring(7).trim(“}”)
$eval_state = “”
$eval_state = (Get-WmiObject -Class CCM_SoftwareUpdate -Namespace root\CCM\ClientSDK | Where-Object -filterscript { $_.Name -like “*$f_install_name*” }).EvaluationState
If ( $eval_state -eq “13”) {
$failed_updates += $f_install_name }
Else { write-host “Success – $f_install_name” -foregroundcolor green }

If ( $failed_updates -ne $null ) {
write-host “”
write-host “Failed Updates:” -foregroundcolor red
ForEach ($failed_update in $failed_updates) {
write-host $failed_update -foregroundcolor red }

write-host “” # line break

# determine if there is a pending reboot
$u_reboot = [wmiclass]”\\localhost\root\ccm\ClientSDK:CCM_ClientUtilities”
$u_result = $u_reboot.DetermineIfRebootPending() | Select-Object RebootPending
$u_p_reboot = $u_result.RebootPending

# does check for any pending reboots (eval state 8) and alerts if they are required
If ( $u_p_reboot -eq “true” )
{ write-host “Reboot Required.” -foregroundcolor red
write-host ‘Do you want to reboot now? If yes, type “Yes”. If no, type “No”.’ -foregroundcolor red
$reboot_sel = Read-Host
If ($reboot_sel -eq “Yes”) { restart-computer }
If ($reboot_sel -eq “No”) { }
Else { write-host “Reboot not Required.” -foregroundcolor green }

} # end of install_updates function

# determine if there is a pending reboot
$reboot = [wmiclass]”\\localhost\root\ccm\ClientSDK:CCM_ClientUtilities”
$result = $reboot.DetermineIfRebootPending() | Select-Object RebootPending
$p_reboot = $result.RebootPending

If ( $p_reboot -eq “true” ) {
# presents confirmation screen to apply updates
$message = “Reboot Pending. Do you want to continue installing updates?”
$yes = New-Object System.Management.Automation.Host.ChoiceDescription “&Yes”, `
“Installs all available updates.”
$no = New-Object System.Management.Automation.Host.ChoiceDescription “&No”, `
“Exits script.”
$options = [System.Management.Automation.Host.ChoiceDescription[]]($yes, $no)
$result = $host.ui.PromptForChoice($title, $message, $options, 0)
switch ($result)
1 { break } # stops script if NO
0 {
write-host “” # line break
install_updates }
Else {
write-host “” # line break
} # end of UPDATES function

function SOFTWARE {
# get available applications that are not already installed
$av_apps = get-wmiobject -class CCM_Application -namespace “root\ccm\clientsdk” | Where-Object -FilterScript { $_.ApplicabilityState -eq “Applicable” } |
Where-Object -FilterScript { $_.InstallState -eq “NotInstalled” -OR $_.InstallState -eq “Error” }

# define application name
$app_names = $av_apps | Select-Object Name

# set numbers to 0
$app_num = 0

write-host “” # line break
write-host “Available Applications:” -ForegroundColor Green

# display numbered list of application names
ForEach ( $app_name in $app_names ) {
$s_app_name = “$app_name”
$f_app_name = $s_app_name.substring(7).trim(“}”)
$app_num = $app_num + 1 # increment numbered list
write-host $app_num ” ” $f_app_name # display number and app name (ex. 1 Firefox)

write-host “” # line break

# allow for end user input of application number
write-host “Which application would you like to install?” -ForegroundColor Green
$app_sel = Read-Host

# assign selected application for installation
If ( $av_apps.count -eq $null ) { $f_app_sel = $av_apps } # works if only one application is available
# works if multiple applications are available
Else {
$f_app_sel_sub = $app_sel – 1
$f_app_sel = $av_apps[$f_app_sel_sub]

# capture relevant data from array item
$scopeid = ($f_app_sel | Select-Object ID).ID # ID of application – used in installation step
$rev_num = ($f_app_sel | Select-Object Revision).Revision # revision number of application – used in installation step
$sel_app_name = ($f_app_sel | Select-Object Name).Name # application name – used in final successful message

# install application
write-host “” #line break
write-host “Installing $sel_app_name” -foregroundcolor green
$s_wmi_output = ([wmiclass]’ROOT\ccm\ClientSdk:CCM_Application’).Install($scopeid, $rev_num, $True, 0, ‘Normal’, $False)

# wait until InstallState is changed to either Installed or Error
Do {
start-sleep -s 5
$check_install = (get-wmiobject -class CCM_Application -namespace “root\ccm\clientsdk” | Where-Object -FilterScript { $_.ID -eq $scopeid }).InstallState
Until ( $check_install -eq “Installed” -or $check_install -eq “Error”)

write-host “” # line break

# display message of success of failure
If ( $check_install -eq “Installed” ) { write-host “$sel_app_name successfully installed” -ForegroundColor Green }
Else { write-host “$sel_app_name installation failed” -ForegroundColor red }
} # end of SOFTWARE function

# allow for end user input to select Software or Updates
write-host ‘Do you want to install software or updates?’ -foregroundcolor green
write-host ‘Type “S” for Software or “U” for updates.’ -foregroundcolor green
$selection = Read-Host

If ( $selection -eq “S” ) { SOFTWARE }
If ( $selection -eq “U” ) { UPDATES }
If ( ($selection -ne “S”) -AND ($selection -ne “U”) ) { write-host “Unexpected input. Please relaunch script.” -foregroundcolor red }


All content provided on this blog is for information purposes only. Windows Management Experts, Inc makes no representation as to accuracy or completeness of any information on this site. Windows Management Experts, Inc will not be liable for any errors or omission in this information nor for the availability of this information. It is highly recommended that you consult one of our technical consultants, should you need any further assistant.



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