Microsoft's many admin UIs: The more the merrier

Microsoft has three types of UIs for server admins. If only all three were available for all its server products

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But you don't see this UI flexibility in SharePoint. Site collection administrators can perform many tasks through the browser-based admin tool, and when they need to concentrate on design, they can install SharePoint Designer. But SharePoint administrators can use only PowerShell or the browser-based Central Administration site. Why isn't there a GUI-based administration console? The Microsoft Management Console (MMC) has become the de facto UI for administring Microsoft server products, yet there is no SharePoint MMC.

You might believe that having so many approaches could be confusing -- but it's not. Take Exchange 2010: You can perform almost all tasks in the GUI-based, MMC-oriented Exchange Management Console. But if you need a powerful method of managing and configuring Exchange for bulk operations? Go with the Exchange Management Shell with PowerShell cmdlets. If you need to administer your Office 365 deployment or on-premise Exchange environment from your hotel while at a conference, use the browser-based Exchange Control Panel.

The availability of multiple options simply makes sense. Removing options means you lose something along the way. As Microsoft releases Windows 8 Server and its other planned server products this year, my hope is that we get the three major options -- the GUI-based MMC, the browser-based console, and the command-line PowerShell -- for each to provide all the power and flexibility we need. I hope Microsoft lets you turn them on or off, as it is doing Windows Server 8, so the choices thmselves can be managed as needed.

This article, "Microsoft's many admin UIs: The more the merrier," was originally published at Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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