Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:

  • Microsoft has formally released Project Honolulu under a new name: the Windows Admin Center.
  • The WAC is web based and designed to roll all the day-to-day tools for administering Windows servers and workstations into one console. It’s also free to download and use.

Microsoft has announced the general release of the Windows Admin Center (WAC), a browser-based IT administration console designed to manage Windows servers and workstations.

Microsoft said that Project Honolulu, as it was known in testing, was downloaded more than 50,000 times, which it said confirms the ongoing excitement surrounding the WAC.

For Windows administrators tired of dealing with opening multiple consoles and management apps to administer networks, the WAC is probably the exact product they’re looking for–and it’s completely free.

What the Windows Admin Center can do

To be clear upfront, the WAC is not designed to completely replace the Microsoft Management Console or the Remote Server Administration Tools: Both have features that aren’t included in the WAC. You’ll still have to use those other tools to manage things like DHCP, Active Directory, DNS, and IIS.

Day-to-day management operations seem to be the bread and butter of the WAC, which incorporates a bunch of tools into one interface using either Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome (other browsers aren’t compatible).

SEE: Windows 10 power tips: Secret shortcuts to your favorite settings (Tech Pro Research)

The WAC can manage Windows servers (Server 2012 and up) and workstations as well as Windows VMs located in hypervisors and the cloud. It has a long list of built-in tools for managing machines, including:

  • Certificate management
  • Device management
  • Event log
  • File browser
  • Firewall management
  • Local users and groups management
  • Network settings and devices management
  • PowerShell
  • Process Manager
  • Registry Editor
  • Remote Desktop
  • Roles and features management
  • Services management
  • Storage management
  • Update management
  • Hyper-V virtual switch management

There isn’t a lot left out from the WAC when it comes to performing typical admin tasks and maintenance, which is great news for helpdesk employees and IT administrators, and potentially bad news for third-party MSP software platforms.

Advantages to using Windows Admin Center

The WAC has a lot going for it, but a couple features stand out: ease of remote access and an SDK.

When I was in IT, which was admittedly quite a few years ago, I remember having to attempt to connect to computers at one client site while at another and it was always hit or miss. The WAC, at least on paper, seems to make remote administration simple: All it needs is to have the WAC gateway installed on a computer that has been published to DNS and it can be accessed from anywhere.

The second standout feature is the (not yet released) Windows Admin Center SDK. Microsoft plans to release the WAC SDK for public testing soon and promises it will let developers build their own tools to extend WAC features. Microsoft is also going to support the public release of extensions, allowing developers to publish their tools for others.

If all of those features in one lightweight, web-based console sounds worth your while you can download the WAC now and test it out.

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