Getting Started with the Windows Admin Center

Originally launched in 2017 under the name of Project Honolulu, Windows Admin Center (WAC) or WAC as it has become known, has acquired many features and functionality to make managing your Windows 10 servers, clusters and PCs much more easy.

WAC is a browser-based application that is downloaded and deployed locally, so no server is required to use this tool. In many ways, it replaces other built-in tools such as Server Manager and MMC. However, it is not intended to replace System Center, but simply to complement this environment.

Windows admin center features

Since this tool has been around for a while, what are all the features it offers and what can you do with it to make the system easier to manage? Although the list is long, some notable features are:

Configure local users and groups
Manage storage
Manage devices
Failover Cluster Manager
Managing Windows Services, Scheduled Tasks, and Network Settings

Getting started with WAC

Usually, WAC is installed in one of two places: either on your local desktop to easily manage remote systems, or on a Windows server (with desktop experience) itself.

Download

First of all, you must Download Microsoft Assessment Center Windows Admin Center (note that this is not an assessment per se, it is just a name). This applies to both a Windows 10 system and a Windows Server system.

Installation

You may need to perform a few additional steps both when installing MSI and depending on the operating system.

Windows 10

Installed on port 6516 by default, you may need to open it in Windows Firewall.
If you are using Windows 10 in a workgroup or domain, you may need to change the TrustedHosts, which are used in WinRM.

Windows server

WAC installs as a network service, which requires you to specify the port and a certificate for HTTPS. The service can use a self-signed certificate or you can provide a fingerprint of a certificate already on the computer.
Just like Windows 10, assuming your server is in a workgroup or domain, you might need to change the TrustedHosts, which are used in WinRM.

Common scenarios

So what are some of the things you might want to do as an administrator? Let’s take a look at a few of these scenarios and the options you have. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but some of the most common tasks that an administrator might want to undertake.

Configure local users and groups

Often it is necessary to configure your users and groups. In this case, this is the local administrator, which may or may not be managed by Group Policy. As you can see in the following example, we have the option to manage individual account membership (like adding LogonAsBatchRight, which is often a problem), remove a user, or change the password. of a user. All of this makes it much easier to troubleshoot access to a system and to audit what local users have access to your systems.

Manage local users and groups that have access to them.

Manage storage space

During daily operations, disk usage increases and can quickly run out if left unchecked. Fortunately, the storage pane not only lets you see what your options are, but also resizes a drive if necessary. Even more useful is the ability to remotely edit file shares, whether to remove or change share membership.

Change the disk space in the storage.

Manage devices

Disabling remote devices or updating drivers on remote servers can be very important. If you do not have the correct drivers or updated drivers, you may experience stability and performance issues. What is very useful is the ability to update a driver remotely.

You can disable remote devices or update drivers on remote servers.

Windows Scheduled Tasks

Easily managing scheduled tasks remotely is extremely useful. Often times, you may need to make a change, such as deactivating a task or changing its schedule, and you will not have time to connect to the server remotely. While you can do this with PowerShell, WAC makes it easy to manage remotely.

Remote management of programmed outlets by window.

Windows services

Finally, managing Windows services is useful because many applications install a service that runs under different user rights. If so, the ability to remotely change connection type, recovery, and boot mode settings becomes very convenient. Especially if you are changing the password of the service user, being able to quickly change it on multiple servers from one interface can save you a lot of time!

Remotely change connection type, recovery, and startup mode settings in services.

PowerShell and the WAC

You may have noticed in the upper right corner a small console icon. A unique ability of WAC is that it gives you all the PowerShell code it uses to fetch and make changes to servers remotely. By clicking on this small icon, you can explore and use all the scripts used by the WAC.

Explore and use all the scripts used by the WAC.

How to extend the WAC

Microsoft was thinking of the future when designing the WAC. By integrating a software development kit (SDK), it allows anyone to rely on extensions and additional features to really develop whatever the WAC can do. Some examples of extensions that were written for the WAC are linked here.

If you want to write your own, you can visit Microsoft’s site Documentation and immerse yourself in what it would take to make WAC work for you.

How WAC works for you

Remotely managing a large number of servers is difficult. Having a single pane that can connect and manage all of those servers remotely can be a huge time saver. With the extensions added and the ability to see the PowerShell used when managing these servers, you can quickly add the WAC to your management workflow.

With the release of Windows Admin Center, a cutting-edge and extensible framework became available for any IT administrator to take control of their systems. Microsoft has invested a lot of time and resources in this product and is certainly the future of systems management for quick and easy management of multiple systems.

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