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Microsoft’s Windows Admin Center (WAC) is a locally installed, browser-based server management tool that will likely replace both the Server Manager Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) tool and the age-old Microsoft Management Console (MMC) framework.
As you can see in the next figure, Windows Admin Center looks good and is informative. If you’ve used the tool, I think you’d agree that Windows Admin Center is fast, is developed rapidly, and holds promise for managing both local and Azure-based physical and virtual servers far into the future.
But today’s subject isn’t about Windows Admin Center itself. Rather, I’d like to review several ways we can keep the tool up to date. Two compelling reasons to keep Windows Admin Center current are:
- Microsoft revises WAC and its extensions at least monthly
- Microsoft supports the current WAC version only for 30 days after the next non-preview version is released
Check your current version and look for update notifications
In Windows Admin Center, open the About and Help menu to check your installed version and build number. I show you my system in the next screenshot.
Notice that the version follows Microsoft’s current numbering strategy whereby version 1904 represents April 2019. For context, the first public preview release of what was then known as Project Honolulu was version 1709, or September 2017.
You will find that WAC notifies you robustly when an update is available. For instance, you can see a hyperlink in the About menu shown in the previous screenshot. You’ll see a larger banner on the WAC home page.
Clicking an update link takes you to the “Hello, Windows Admin Center!” docs page where you can snag a direct download link to the WAC installer MSI. By the way, that direct download link for your reference is https://aka.ms/WACDownload. You can always find the Windows Admin Center release notes at https://aka.ms/WACrelnotes.
As long as you have your servers configured to download updates for non-operating system components, you can update Windows Admin Center using your native update tools, including:
- Windows Update
- Windows Server Update Services (WSUS)
- System Center Configuration Manager
- Update Management solution in Azure
In the next screenshot you can see my server pulling down the WAC current release build:
Windows Insiders preview builds
If you belong to the Windows Insider Program, you can download preview builds of WAC to test new features as they are under development. Be aware, naturally, that Microsoft won't support your use of preview features; I suggest you remain with generally available (GA) builds in production.
Follow the Windows Experience blog for WAC preview-related announcements.
Chocolatey is an excellent package manager that has a wide and loyal user base among Windows systems administrators. If you have the Chocolatey package source registered on your Windows Server hosts, you can run the following PowerShell command to install/upgrade the latest build of WAC:
Install-Package -Name windows-admin-center -Source chocolatey -Verbose -Force
By contrast, you can install and use the native choco client to do (a) install or (b) upgrade WAC:
choco install windows-admin-center -y choco upgrade windows-admin-center -y
One of the most compelling Windows Admin Center features is its first- and third-party extension library. WAC itself notifies you of available updates to your installed extensions on the Extensions settings page, shown in the next figure.
From an automation perspective, check out Microsoft MVP Ravi Chaganti's PSWindowsAdminCenter PowerShell module. The module contains commands to manage WAC connections, feeds, and extensions. Here, let me show you the command list:
Submitting WAC feature requests
The Windows Admin Center development team at Microsoft is very much open to your feature requests, questions, and general feedback. Post your WAC new feature requests (and upvote existing requests) at the Windows Server Management Tools UserVoice site.
For general questions, answers, and shop-talking among other Windows Admin Center users, check out the Windows Admin Center forum at Microsoft Tech Communities.
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Finally, be sure to bookmark the Windows Admin Center documentation and follow the team's Twitter feed. See you later!
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So, when the update gets stuck on
"Gathering environment info—this may take a few moments"
what's our next move?