Windows Admin Center New Active Directory Extension

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Remember the Active Directory Administrative Center? If you are like me, you didn’t really see many across the enterprise make use of the “next-generation” of Active Directory management. However, there is a new Active Directory Administrative Center that I would like to predict will be the next-generation of managing Active Directory domain resources and that is the Windows Admin Center New Active Directory Extension that is available for Preview in Windows Admin Center. Additionally, if you are looking for Active Directory Administrative Center Windows 10, this is the tool that most likely, will fill this need. Let’s take a look at the Windows Admin Center New Active Directory Extension and see how this new Active Directory extension is installed and used.

Windows Admin Center New Active Directory Extension

As you know, Windows Admin Center can be installed and used on Windows 10 as well as Windows Server operating systems. In fact, you can connect to and have access to many powerful tools in Windows Admin Center on your Windows 10 administrative workstation.

How do you access the Windows Admin Center Active Directory module?

Installing Windows Admin Center New Active Directory Extension

Be sure you are running the latest and greatest Windows Admin Center (1910 at the time of this writing). You can download it here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud-platform/windows-admin-center

Once you have the latest Windows Admin Center, navigate to the Settings > Extensions screen. Under the Available extensions, you will see the Active Directory (Preview) listed. Highlight it, and then click the Install button.

Installing-the-Windows-Admin-Center-Active-Directory-extension Windows Admin Center New Active Directory Extension
Installing the Windows Admin Center Active Directory extension

Once installed, Windows Admin Center will quickly reload the browser session. Then you will need to connect to a domain controller in your environment to manage. The Active Directory Domain Services only shows up in the context of managing a domain controller with Windows Admin Center. After connecting to a DC, you will see the Active Directory menu listed underneath Tools.

There are several things that stand out here. For one, the large search field allows easily finding objects.

Windows-Admin-Center-Active-Directory-extension-is-installed Windows Admin Center New Active Directory Extension
Windows Admin Center Active Directory extension is installed

Zooming in a bit further, when we look at the various actions that can be performed, you will see under the Create menu, you can create users, groups, and OUs. Additionally, you have the ability to Disable, Remove, and Reset Password.

Actions-that-can-be-performed-on-Active-Directory-objects Windows Admin Center New Active Directory Extension
Actions that can be performed on Active Directory objects

Under the More menu, you will notice two options – Properties and Locate.

Active-Directory-Administrative-Center-Windows-10-properties-and-locate Windows Admin Center New Active Directory Extension
Active Directory Administrative Center Windows 10 properties and locate

For one, I love the locate option. How many times have you performed a search in Active Directory Users and Computers and even though the search in ADUC returns the object you are looking for, you may need to see it where it is located. This is not achievable in the default ADUC tools. It is great to see an easy locate feature for any object so you can quickly be taken to the location where the object is housed.

Locating-an-object-with-Windows-Admin-Center-Active-Directory-locate-feature Windows Admin Center New Active Directory Extension
Locating an object with Windows Admin Center Active Directory locate feature

Additionally, if you look at the Properties screen, you will see a good bit of functionality here. You get the basic properties of the user that can be modified such as the typical name, SAMaccountname, UPN suffix, password options, account expiration and others.

Viewing-account-properties-and-group-membership-in-WAC-Active-Directory-extension Windows Admin Center New Active Directory Extension
Viewing account properties and group membership in WAC Active Directory extension

Also, if you look at the Membership menu, you will quickly get to see which groups the user object is a member of. Additionally, I really like the search menu that is found on these pages that allows quickly filtering down to see the exact object you are looking forward. Instead of having to scroll through a list of groups in the user properties like ADUC, you can quickly use the search menu and determine if the user is a member of a particular group or not.

Search-field-allows-easy-filtering-in-all-Active-Directory-screens Windows Admin Center New Active Directory Extension
Search field allows easy filtering in all Active Directory screens

Still in Preview

The Windows Admin Center New Active Directory Extension is a great new extension to be found for use with Windows Admin Center. Keep in mind this extension is still in Preview form as are many other Windows Admin Center extensions. Why should you still get excited about this new extension if you are an Active Directory administrator?

As you have no doubt noticed, Microsoft is going “all in” on Windows Admin Center and I can say that it has kept me pleasantly surprised. I think it is turning out to be great platform that has been introduced at the right time. It will certainly be the one tool that Microsoft settles on for day-to-day management of Windows Server environments, including Active Directory.

The seeming lack of features at this stage should not be alarming. It is not close to ADUC or other tools in its current form, however, you can expect to see this new Active Directory extension rapidly gain new features. I suspect Microsoft will also bring in the functionality of other consoles like Active Directory Domains and Trusts as well as Sites and Services eventually.

Concluding Thoughts

The Windows Admin Center New Active Directory Extension is certainly the new active directory administrative center with great new features no doubt to come. It is most definitely worth downloading and getting familiar with.

Expect it to rapidly gain features and functionality as Microsoft ramps up all of the Windows Admin Center tools to become viable replacements for all the legacy management consoles we have used for the past decade.