Just before Microsoft released Windows Server 2003, it released a client tool called the Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools Pack to help manage the new server. However, the name is a little misleading, since this tool can also be used to manage Windows 2000 servers. The name derives from the fact that the product contains the WS2K3 version of the server administration tools. This package installs these tools to a Windows XP Professional machine to ease remote administration of Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 servers.

Download availability and system requirements
Available for download directly from Microsoft, this set of tools has some stringent client requirements. It will run only on Windows Server 2003, Windows XP Professional SP1, or Windows XP Professional with this fix applied.


Note that installing the Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools Pack on a Windows XP system with this special fix (and without XP SP1) will result in an inability to remotely manage the clustering service on remote servers.

To install the WS2K3 Administration Tools Pack, download the Adminpak.exe file from Microsoft and execute it. You will be asked for a location in which to place the extracted files. For my installation, I chose C:\adminpak. An MSI file that contains the installation routine for the package will be placed in this location.

To continue, double-click on the Adminpak.msi file and accept the defaults. When you finish, click the Start button and you’ll be notified that new programs were installed. Opening the Administrative Tools folder on the Start menu will yield a number of new options, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
The Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools installed on XP SP1

Using the tools
Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Server have many administrative consoles to manage the different aspects of the operating system. In cases where tools in the administrative suite are related, Microsoft has bundled them into what it calls “convenience consoles” (essentially prepackaged custom Microsoft Management Consoles, or MMCs) for easier administration.

For example, three utilities are generally used on Windows Server to manage IP addresses—DNS, DHCP, and WINS. Although the Administration Pack provides separate tools to manage these services, it also combines the three utilities into one option on the Administrative Tools menu: IP Address Management. When you open this console, you can work with all three utilities, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B
Convenience console with the IP addressing tools included

To manage the DNS services on a remote server, just click the DNS option to open a window asking whether you want to manage local DNS services or those on another system. On my lab network, I chose to manage the DNS services on the server named w2k3, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C
Managing the DNS services on a remote system

Once the remote DNS console opens, expanding the w2k3 server in the left pane, followed by forward lookup zones and the name of a zone, shows the information from that zone just as if you were running the tool from that server (Figure D).

Figure D
Records from the DNS console on the remote system

Safety and efficiency
In many cases, if you just need to add a user, add a DNS record, or perform some other mundane task—but you don’t want to install a potentially insecure remote administration package on a Windows 2000 or 2003 server—your task can be safely and effectively accomplished using the native tools from the operating system of a remote machine running the Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools Pack. WS2K3 even provides the bonus of convenience consoles, which group related programs for more efficient use.