Windows Server 8: The 4 best new Active Directory features

Among the key changes, you'll find an improved recycle bin and better password policy controls

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Active Directory feature No. 3: Recycle Bin goes GUI

One of my complaints about Windows Server 2008 R2 -- the GUI-less Active Directory Recycle Bin -- seems to have been resolved in Windows Server 8. The Windows Server 2008 R2 version required a PowerShell command to enable it and PowerShell to use it. I am a command-line fan, but I believe something like this should have a GUI for better ease-of-use. After all, when you need to recover an item, the last thing you want is to have to remember command lines.

In Windows Server 8, there are now multiple ways to enable the Active Directory Recycle Bin through the GUI in the Active Directory Administrative Center (ADAC). It apparently can be enabled for the Windows Server 2008 R2 and higher functional levels. It's not yet clear whether it will work with lower levels (a complaint I had about Windows Server 2008 R2), but for now, I give a thumbs-up on this enhancement.

Active Directory feature No. 4: Fine-grained password policies

Windows Server 2008 provided an Active Directory feature called fine-grained password policies (FGPP) that allowed you to establish different password policies in the same domain. In Active Directory 2000 and 2003, you would have to form a whole new domain to get different password policies. The FGPP options in Windows Server 2008 removed that separation, but ADSI Edit was required for the task. That tool is so awkward for creating and managing password setting objects (PSOs) that some admins would rather create a new domain than play around with FGPP.

Fortunately, the Active Directory Administrative Center in Windows Server 8 implements FGPP much better. Through the Active Directory Administrative Center, you also can configure precedence levels. If there are multiple competing policies, the lower precedent wins out.

This article, "Windows Server 8: The 4 best new Active Directory features," 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.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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