Windows

How to perform four common tasks in Windows Server 2012

Windows Server 2012 is different enough that are new ways to perform some of the most basic tasks. Scott Lowe goes over four of them in this tip.

Although Windows Server 2012 is a great leap forward in server operating systems with dozens of new and enhanced features, administrators will continue to need to perform some of the routine tasks that have always been performed. As you might expect, these tasks might be performed a little differently in Windows Server 2012 than they were in older versions of the operating system.

Change server name or join a domain

Most servers are members of a domain and administrators often rename servers in order to comply with local naming conventions in use in the organization. To do this, open the charms bar by mousing to one of the corners on the right side of your screen. From the charms bar, choose Settings | Server Info. This will open the familiar window that you see in Figure A below.

Figure A

System information (click to enlarge images)
Click the Change Settings link in this window to open the System Properties window and, in that window, click Change to edit computer name and domain information. This is shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Change the computer name and domain membership settings

Run a program with different user credentials

I've been working on creating a System Center 2012 Configuration Manager training course for TrainSignal and, during the course creation process, I needed to run the SCCM console under a variety of user credentials to test System Center's new role-based access control features. I could have simply logged off and back on the test server each time I needed to change credentials. Instead, however, I chose to use Windows' Run As capability to run a program under different user credentials.

To accomplish this task from the new Start screen, right-click the program you wish to run under different credentials. When the app bar appears at the bottom of the screen, choose either Run As Administrator or Run As a Different User (Figure C).

Figure C

Ways to run a program with different user credentials

When you choose to run a program as a different user, the following window appears, just as was the case in older versions of Windows Server.

Figure D

Provide credentials under which the program will operate

Open the Run box

Personally, I've always made liberal use of the Run option on the Start menu, as long as it's been available. I find it to be a really easy way to quickly find what I need without having to navigate Windows Explorer or the Start menu (i.e., open a remote connection to a server = Start | Run | mstsc). Although it's not immediately obvious, the Run box has not disappeared from Windows Server 2012. Here's how you get it.

Open the Start screen. Once it's open, just type the word Run. Typing something opens the Search results box. You will see that the Run applet shows up, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

The Run applet
Select the Run progam to open the familiar Run box, shown in Figure F.

Figure F

The Run box

I recommend that you right-click the Run application on the Start screen and choose Pin To Taskbar from the app bar. This will make the Run box much more accessible since it will always be available on your taskbar and you will be able to use it without having to open the Start screen.

Open a command prompt

I still use the command prompt a lot and like it to be quickly accessible. In older versions of Windows, I would simply go to Start | Run and type cmd and get my prompt. In Windows Server 2012, I can replicate this outcome using the Run box from the previous tip or I can simply choose the Command Prompt tool from the Start screen.

However, before you can just select it from the Start screen, you need to unbury it from its hiding place. To do so, go to the Start screen and right-click anywhere around the border. The app bar will appear with an All Apps icon, as per Figure G.

Figure G

The App Apps icon
Click the All Apps icon to open the Apps page shown in Figure H. On this page, right-click Command Prompt to bring up the tool's app bar, which you can also see in Figure H below. From here, decide where you'd like to pin the Command Prompt shortcut-to the Start screen or to the Taskbar.

Figure H

Open a command prompt

Summary

These are just four of the common tasks that you may want to perform in Windows Server 2012 that have different steps than in versions past.

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

21 comments
mitch_mccarley
mitch_mccarley

After hearing all the complaints about server 2012, I held off for as long as I could installing it.  I have just completed my first 2012 installation, and it's even WORSE than I expected!  Who designed these idiotic changes?!  I spent an hour just trying to figure out how to add an icon to the Desktop.  If the goal of 2012 was to make the administrators job as hard as possible, then it's a great success!  What a cluster !@*#.  Seriously Microsoft, you just made the Administrators job much, much harder.  I won't install 2012 again unless I really, really have to.  Novell, this may be your big chance for a comeback!

geckog11
geckog11

Additional clicking, missing start buttons, backward GUI. How sad. Sounds like painful groans of those who hate dentistry or fear their favourite teddy ear might be dumped. Grow up. If you detest the awful changes so much because of their time consuming, how have you got time to browse and moan here? Perhaps a brisk walk through the absolute maze of Linux will cheer you up. Troll along now!

sonisick
sonisick

I can do one or the other. I want my desktop shortcut to be marked as "run as admin". thanks, Stephan

ivo
ivo

User interface for which experienced aministrators need to read "How to" tricks for most common tasks is obviously a total failure. Whoever designed it (and I've heard that it was the same person who designed ribbons in MS Office) should have been fired long ago. Both Windows 8 and Server 2012 are great products, widely improved, but doomed by their tablet-like interface which is just plain stupid for anything else than tablets.

westcoastpc
westcoastpc

If I wanted a Fedora box that I what I would buy. In the world GUI MS thinks we need to move backwards to CLI? As a small business admin, knowning SQL, Power Shell, Cisco CLI and everything else is a nightmare GUI are easy, CLI are not. Is that the point? I get change but wow, its like MS thinks its 1995 when Linux servers didnt have a GUI. I dont get it. this is a small business nightmare. How I can teach an office manager create mailboxes or a new users in Power Shell? Back to Green Screen is not fun.

Orld
Orld

One of the reasons we didn't renew SA, why waste money?

ricardoc
ricardoc

you have to what?... ahh! I see "you need to unbury it from its hiding place" (quoted from article). As if System Admins had all the time in this world. I would actually like to meet the team that though this through. What nonsense!

cperez57
cperez57

Seriously, most of you sound just like the luddite end users we always complain about... I'll for one will hold judgement until I become completely familiar with the Interface changes and workarounds.

nick.ferrar
nick.ferrar

For day-to-day server admin we need a sleek & efficient GUI not the metro monstrosity + Powershell. Command line & scripting certainly has it's place but for one-off, uncommon operations a GUI is far faster and can have built-in error checking.

dlovep
dlovep

Well, seems like M$ wants the administrators start learning GRAPHIC instead of command prompt, see if you can figure these out by not using the KEYBOARD, when you can monitor your server in Graphic Interface you are level 2 administrators... great !! we once become Level 3 technical support, now using a graphic interface that make us Level 2... how nice was that ? or they want MC-GUI-SE...

Gisabun
Gisabun

Why on earth did put this IFNAM ["Interface Formerly Known as Metro] on administrators [let alone the regular users]? It's a step backwards. Aside from trying to place a mouse in the corners to get the various hiddeen charms and crap, as Scott Copus mentioned, just about everything requires additional clicking. Administrators don't need the additional clicks. If they have to disable a users account and it is an emergency, the least amount of clicks are better. Maybe they'll figure we'll all learn Powershell to makre things a bit faster.

ScottCopus
ScottCopus

So is it more efficient to perform these tasks in Server 2012 now? It seems like there's a few more clicks to do the same tasks compared to previous OS versions.

ahusmc
ahusmc

Windows Server 2012 Charms Bar, really... I am sooo done with Windows.

gpachello
gpachello

On 2012 Server Core I've used also 2 usefull tools: Explorer++ and Notepad++

BDower
BDower

I can't confirm this on Server 2012 but on Windows 8 my old favorite of Windows Key + R will give you run as well. I use the run box constantly

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Apparently MS thinks Metro IS sleek and efficient.

pceasies
pceasies

I think their goal is to provide an easy GUI for beginners (since they are removing versions of server include WHS). For experts, MS expects them to use Powershell to configure headless servers. I've always used Winkey+R to open most everything that is commonly used. Given the disabling an account scenario it would probably be easiest if a script was created that accepts commands (enable, disable, add, delete). Basically just create an easier version of what's already provided.

BDower
BDower

They're always after me lucky charms!

Prescott_666
Prescott_666

I can confirm that the Windows Key + R will get the Run box in Server 2012. The other methods in this article work - I checked them - but they are kind of around the barn ways of doing it.

GAProgrammer
GAProgrammer

especially since there is no start button anymore. I do the same thing on my Windows 8.

Gisabun
Gisabun

I wonder how many admins know Powershell to do this stuff....