What is Windows Admin Center and do regular users need it?

What is Windows Admin Center

Windows Admin Center is an interface for managing Windows servers and Windows workstations. Microsoft is currently actively promoting this tool as an assistant to system administrators for configuring Windows servers and workstations.

Through Windows Admin Center, you can manage and configure both a local computer and a remote one.

In Windows Admin Center computers are presented in the form of a list; connection to a remote computer takes place in one click.

You can configure all the basic parameters of a computer: network, users, groups, editing the registry, local storages, network folders, firewall, devices, scheduled tasks, processes, and more.

While the Windows Admin Center platform supports many common scenarios, it is not a complete replacement for all traditional Microsoft Management Console (MMC) tools.

Windows Admin Center can be installed on Windows 10 (version 1709 or later) running in desktop mode. Windows Admin Center can also be installed on a server running Windows Server 2016 and later in gateway mode, and then accessed through a web browser from a Windows 10 computer.

Windows Admin Center uses PowerShell at the system level, you can take a look at the scripts it uses. Showscript was added in Windows Admin Center Evaluation 1806 and is now part of the public channel.

Official page of the program: https://aka.ms/WindowsAdminCenter

How to install Windows Admin Center

You can download the stable version from the direct link: https://aka.ms/wacdownload

Download the file and run it with a double click.

Windows Admin Center sends diagnostic data anyway, here you can choose how much information you want to send: the first option is less, the second is more.

This window is informational and tells us about usage scenarios: https://aka.ms/WindowsAdminCenter-install

Select the desired settings (I added creating a shortcut on the desktop):

We are warned that the first time we start, we will definitely need to select the certificate used to encrypt connections.

How to use Windows Admin Center

Start Windows Admin Center:

A web browser window will open with the address https://localhost:6516/

If there are updates for components, the program will install them. You may need to restart Windows Admin Center after updates.

You will see a list of computers available for connection. By default, only the local computer is available. Click on this connection.

You will see a tab with an overview of this computer.

To manage your local computer, go to the appropriate tab on the left side.

The following sections are available:

  • Overview
  • Apps & features
  • Azure Monitor
  • Azure Security Center
  • Certificates
  • Devices
  • Events
  • Files & file sharing
  • Firewall
  • Local users & groups
  • Networks
  • Performance Monitor
  • Processes
  • Registry
  • Scheduled tasks
  • Services
  • Storage


Local user and group management tab:

Setting up shared access to a network folder:

Pay attention to the “View PowerShell Scripts” button (this is the Showscript function mentioned earlier):

When you press it, you can select the function of this section that interests you and the code used to perform actions will be shown. This can help you get started learning PowerShell and become familiar with specific command examples for in-demand Windows System Administration steps in PowerShell.

To shut down or restart your computer in Windows Admin Center, go to the Overview tab and click Restart or Shutdown.

How to connect to a Remote Computer in Windows Admin Center

Setting up a local computer is not the main advantage of Windows Admin Center. The key function is to connect and control a remote computer.

In the previous part, we installed Windows Server without a GUI. We did not configure the server, we limited ourselves to changing the computer name. The server may need to set a static IP address, perform system updates, assign a role, and perform other tasks. Let's take a look at how to do all this in Windows Admin Center.

Note that although this example uses a server without a graphical desktop, you can connect to Windows Admin Center and a server with a graphical desktop if Windows Admin Center is more comfortable for you than the standard server interface.

So, in Windows Admin Center, go to the “All connections” section (home page) and click the “Add” button:

You can choose from several options, for example:

  • Servers
  • Windows PCs
  • Server clusters
  • Azure VMs

I am connecting to the server, so I select the appropriate option.

I enter the server name “test-server” and wait for it to be found:

The bottom line is that you need to choose one of two options:

  • Use the credentials of this computer on the remote server (if the username and password match)
  • Specify the server administrator username and password for connection

Please note that depending on the server language, the administrator name is different, for example:

  • Administrator
  • Administrateur
  • Администратор
  • Etc

When the server is found, select the option

  • Add with credentials – that is, the connection to this server will be saved along with the username and password
  • Add – connection to this server will be saved without username and password

Now, to connect to the server, just click on its name:

Please note that the set of sections is different for the server and for the workstation:

  • Overview
  • Azure hybrid center
  • Azure Kubernetes Service
  • Active Directory
  • Azure Backup
  • Azure File Sync
  • Azure Monitor
  • Azure Security Center
  • Certificates
  • Devices
  • Events
  • Files & file sharing
  • Firewall
  • Installed apps
  • Local users & groups
  • Networks
  • Performance Monitor
  • PowerShell
  • Processes
  • Registry
  • Remote Desktop
  • Roles & features
  • Scheduled tasks
  • Services
  • Storage
  • Storage Migration Service
  • Storage Replica
  • System Insights
  • Updates

Items in bold are server-specific. In turn, the section “Apps & features” is additionally available for the workstation.

On the “Updates” tab, you can view and select to install a server updates:

On the “Networks” tab, you can view the properties of network adapters and configure them. For example, here you can set a static IP address for a server without a GUI.

If you want to change the server name, workgroup or domain, then go to the “Overview” tab → “Edit computer ID”:

In the “Registry” section, you can edit the registry of the remote computer:

For our purposes (remember, we are deploying Active Directory), the “Roles and Features” tab is especially important. Here we can set the server roles. We will return to this tab in the next part of this guide.


So, the Windows Admin Center utility is lightweight, works in modern browsers, it makes it easier to connect to remote computers and allows you to manage servers and workstations in the web interface.

See also: Active Directory comprehensive guide, from installation and configuration to security auditing

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