Active Directory Best Practices Analyzer
This feature goes through your Active Directory Directory Services, determines if you are meeting best practice standards, and reports back the good, the bad, and the ugly. It also provides instruction on what you need to do to meet best practices for Active Directory. You can locate this feature by looking under the Roles in Server Manager and looking at the Role Status summary for a link to start a scan.
My judgment: I've worked with this tool for Exchange and loved it. Having an Active Directory Best Practices Analyzer is excellent. And although it took a few extra clicks to find what I was looking for, the speedy results were incredibly helpful.
The verdict: Thumbs-p all around. I especially liked the details of an error that was located by showing me the issue, the impact, and the resolution.
Active Directory Administrative Center
The admin center is a new GUI interface that allows you to access the same features as in the Active Directory Users and Computers tool, plus adds a few new features such as a list view and breadcrumb bar navigation. It's really a task-oriented interface based on the new PowerShell cmdlets that will provide another method of administration.
My judgment: I'm torn on this one. I was excited to hear we had a new interface, but not so happy with its clunky look and feel. I don't know why, but I thought installing the Desktop Experience would spruce up the look. It didn't. It feels like I'm working from a Web page instead of an installed application. However, I did like that, when creating a new user, I could include a ton of information immediately, rather than have to use the slow approach of Active Directory Users and Computers in which you first create the user and then go back and alter the properties. But I don't like the Administrative Center's interface when it comes to going back and altering the properties of a user. Again, it feels clunky.
The verdict: I'm going to have to go with a thumbs-down on this one. I wanted more of an Action Center approach here, a combination of all Active Directory tools in one place with a sleek Star Trek TNG-style console.
A new Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell
This new module (named ActiveDirectory) replaces the large variety of command-line tools that we used to work with Active Directory in times past. Now you have a centralized method of administering AD from the command line. There are about 85 Active Directory-oriented PowerShell cmdlets, making your ability to script Active Directory tasks through PowerShell much easier.
My judgment: I enjoyed the new cmdlets instantaneously. I even found myself spending hours testing all sorts of account management commands, topology commands, and more. I found that the Microsoft PowerShell team has created a blog for Active Directory PowerShell and provided an awesome Getting Started chart of cmdlets.
The verdict: Simply put, thumbs-up!
So have you had a chance to work with any of these features yet? Let me know what you like or don't like about Windows Server 2008 R2!