Originally launched in 2017 as Project Honolulu, Windows Admin Center (WAC), or WAC as it became known, has got lots of features and functions to make it easier to manage your servers, clusters and Windows 10 computers.
WAC is a browser-based application that is downloaded and distributed locally, so no server is needed to use this tool. In many ways, it is a replacement for other in-box tools such as Server Manager and MMC. However, it is not intended to replace the System Center but only to complement that environment.
Windows Admin Center Features
Since this tool has been around for a while, what features does it have and what can you do with it to make system management easier? Although the list is long, there are some notable features:
- Configure local users and groups
- Manage storage
- Manage devices
- Failover Cluster Manager
- Manage Windows services, scheduled tasks, and network settings
Getting started with WAC
Usually, WAC is installed in one of two places ̵1; either on your local desktop for easy remote management or on a Windows Server (with desktop experience) itself.
First you need to download the Windows Admin Center from the Microsoft Evaluation Center (note, this is not an evaluation per se, it’s just that). This applies to both a Windows 10 system and a Windows Server system.
You may need to take a few additional steps both during the installation of MSI and depending on the operating system.
- Installed on port 6516 by default, you may need to open this in the Windows Firewall.
- If you are using Windows 10 in a workgroup or domain, you may need to make changes
TrustedHosts, used in WinRM.
- WAC is installed as a network service, which requires you to enter the port and an HTTPS certificate. The service can use a self-signed certificate or you can provide a thumbprint for a certificate that is already on your computer.
- Just like Windows 10, provided your server is in a workgroup or domain, you may need to change
TrustedHosts, used in WinRM.
So, what are some of the tasks you might want to do as an administrator? Let’s take a look at some of these scenarios and what options you have available. This is not an exhaustive list at all, but some of the most common tasks an administrator may want to deal with.
Configure local users and groups
It is often necessary to configure your users and groups. In this case, it is the local administrator who may or may not be managed by a group policy. As you can see from the following example, we have the ability to manage membership in an individual account (for example, add
LogonAsBatchRight, which often comes up as a problem), delete a user or change the user’s password. All of this helps in troubleshooting access to a system and reviewing which local users have access to your systems.
During daily operation, disk usage grows and can quickly run out if you are not careful to pay attention. Thankfully, the storage window not only lets you see what your options are but also resizes a disk if needed. Even more useful is the ability to remotely modify file resources, either to delete or edit a stock membership.
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 remotely update a driver.
Windows scheduled tasks
It is extremely useful to easily manage scheduled tasks remotely. Often you may need to make a change, such as disabling a task or changing its schedule, and you will not have time to remotely control the server. Although you can do this with PowerShell, WAC makes it very easy to manage remotely.
Finally, managing Windows Services is useful because many applications install a service that runs under different user rights. If this is the case, it will be very practical to be able to change the login type, reset and start mode. Especially if you change the password for the service user, it can quickly save a lot to be able to change this on several servers from one interface!
PowerShell and WAC
You may have noticed a small console icon in the upper right corner. A unique feature of WAC is that it gives you all the PowerShell code it uses to download and make changes remotely on servers. By clicking on the small icon, you can explore and use all the scripts that WAC uses.
How to expand WAC
Microsoft was thinking about the future when designing WAC. By building a SDK program (Software Development Kit), it makes it possible for everyone to build on add-ons and additional features to really expand how much WAC can do. Some examples of add-ons that have been written for WAC are linked here.
If you want to enter your own, you can visit Microsoft’s documentation and dive into what it can take to make WAC work for you.
How WAC works for you
It is difficult to manage a large number of servers remotely. Having a single box that can connect to and manage all of these servers remotely can be a great time saver. With the extra add-ons and the ability to see PowerShell used when managing these servers, you can quickly add WAC to your workflow.
With the launch of Windows Admin Center, a forward-looking and extensible framework became available to all IT administrators to access their systems. Microsoft has invested a lot of time and resources in this product and is truly the future of system management for easy and fast management of multiple systems.