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Microsoft Releases Windows Admin Center 1904

The latest release of Windows Admin Center, version 1904, reached the "general availability" (GA) milestone last week, although some of its included features are still marked as previews.

The Web portal for carrying out management tasks is now 1-year-old, having been first launched as version 1804. The download link to get version 1904 can be found at this page.

Windows Admin Center was formerly known as "Project Honolulu" and was described as Microsoft's next step beyond its venerable Server Manager and Microsoft Management Console tools. It contains tools for managing Windows 10 clients, servers, clusters and hybrid environments, along with a bunch of Azure cloud management tooling. Windows Admin Center isn't conceived as a replacement for Microsoft Intune mobile management and System Center administrative tools. It's more of an ad hoc tool that lets IT pros drill down into the details.

Microsoft is planning to talk more about Windows Admin Center on May 22 during its Windows Server Summit 2019 Web event. It'll be possible to sign up for the event on April 17.

30-Day Notice
Microsoft's Friday announcement recommended that Windows Admin Center users upgrade to version 1904 "within 30 days." The product follows Microsoft's Modern Lifecycle Policy, which requires that users keep the product updated. Also under the policy, users get a "minimum 30 days' notification" on when they'll need to take action to avoid "significant degradation."

One reason to upgrade Windows Admin Center is that some Azure APIs that worked with earlier versions of the product are getting deprecated. "Upgrading is especially important for customers using Azure Site Recovery, Azure Update Management, or Azure Monitor," Microsoft noted.

New Tools
Microsoft's announcement described plenty of new Windows Admin Center features added with version 1904. Of the core tools, users have a Containers tool that's at the GA stage. A Power configuration tab, found under server settings, lets IT pros specify a power profile to use with Hyper-V hosts. It's possible to create Virtual Machines that can use Server Message Block file shares for storage.

There are added hyperconverged infrastructure tools. Users get diagnostics and troubleshooting for Storage Spaces Direct, as well as improvements for Cluster Aware Updating.

On the Azure tooling side, there's now an Azure hybrid services tool for managing hybrid or "on-premises" server environments. Microsoft added portal improvements to the Azure Backup service, adding "real-time monitoring of backup jobs." The Azure Storage Migration Service is included for moving Windows or Linux server workloads into an Azure virtual machine. It's also possible to use the Azure File Sync service with the Storage Migration Service to move older Windows Server workloads to Windows Server 2019. However, the Azure File Sync feature is currently at the preview stage. Also at preview is Azure Monitor within the portal, but Microsoft contends that the free 5GB of data per month allowance is sufficient to try it out.

A few core tools at preview include an Active Directory tool, a DNS tool and a DHCP tool. The Active Directory tool shows domain details. It lets IT pros "create and manage users and groups" and reset passwords. They can search for and remove "user and computer objects." The Active Directory preview is available from the Extensions manager in Windows Admin Center.

Microsoft also described three partner extensions that work with Windows Admin Center version 1904. Lenovo added its XClarity Integrator tool for viewing the health status of Lenovo servers. A QCT Management Suite supports QCT servers. The NEC ESMPRO extension supports NEC Express5800 series servers.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.