Windows Admin Center (WAC) makes it possible to manage virtual machines (VMs) under Hyper-V and Azure almost completely from a web browser. Though using the web GUI is more cumbersome than native Microsoft Management Console (MMC) tools, new possibilities for administration arise thanks to cloud integration.

WAC supports a large part of Hyper-V management, including setting up hosts. While there are few benefits for installing and configuring hosts via the browser-based tools, WAC offers several advantages for VM management.

VM management without local tools ^

As soon as a gateway server for Admin Center exists on the network, users can perform basic VM management tasks without the need for local software. This also applies to clients that do not run under Windows, but there's no support for mobile devicesyet.

Windows Admin Center makes it easy to use Azure services for your local VMs

Windows Admin Center makes it easy to use Azure services for your local VMs

In hybrid environments, this allows management of both Hyper-V and Azure VMs from a single console. In addition, integration with cloud services such as Azure Site Recovery or Azure Update Management makes it easy to back up VMs and update guest operating systems.

Creating a new VM ^

While a wizard in Hyper-V Manager lets you create a new VM, a single web form lets you do so in WAC. You can open this form by selecting the link "Virtual Machines" in the navigation bar and then switching to the Inventory tab.

Create a new VM in Windows Admin Center

Create a new VM in Windows Admin Center

There you click on the + New link and then enter the required information for the new VM. This includes the name of the VM, the drive and directory where to store the VM, the number of virtual CPUs, and the size of the virtual memory.

You can also select the generation of the VM (1 or 2) and the network. You can also add an existing drive if you do not want to create a new one (under Memory > Add Disk). In addition, you can assign an ISO image to the VM for installing the guest OS from this virtual DVD drive.

Note that in general the mounting of ISO files from a network share does not work. This is becausethe Hyper-V host doesn't pass on your logon credentials  to the computer where the file share is. For this to happen, you would first have to set up a Kerberos delegation.

Installing a guest operating system ^

Before starting the VM, you should make sure the DVD is in the first place of the boot order in the VM firmware. To do this, select the VM in the overview, open the menu under More, and click on Settings.

Change the boot sequence of VM devices

Change the boot sequence of VM devices

On the following page, change to Start Order. You can change the position of the entries with the arrow symbols.

In the Hyper-V Manager, you would connect to the VM at this point and then start it. Once instructed, press a key to start the VM from the virtual DVD drive.

Establishing a connection with a VM ^

The procedure is basically the same in the Admin Center, except that you have to switch on the VM before you can connect to it. Then open the menu under More and execute the Connect command. This will start the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) web client, assuming you have previously enabled the Remote Desktop feature on the host.

Note: The current official WAC release 1809 suffers from a serious bug that prevents it from connecting via the RDP web client. In the preview version 1809.5, this problem is now fixed.

You will notice that in the meantime, the VM will try to boot from the network via Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) because connecting via the web client takes a while before it shows the VM console. So you will not have an opportunity to press a key to boot from DVD.

When finally connected over the web client, it is too late to boot from DVD

When finally connected over the web client, it is too late to boot from DVD

A remedy here is the Send Ctrl + Alt + Del command, which will restart the VM. However, you should not wait until the screen output of the VM reappears, but press a key while the browser window is still white at this point.

An alternative is to download the .rdp file, which is available in the same menu when the VM is on. In this case, you would establish a connection via the native RDP client.

This option also requires restarting the VM while the RDP client is open (via More > Reset). But this interrupts the purely web-based approach and so removes a significant advantage of the WAC.

Installing a guest operating system within Admin Center

Installing a guest operating system within Admin Center

The interactive installation of the guest OS now runs in the usual way, and the responsiveness of the RDP web client is quite acceptable.

Changing VM settings subsequently ^

If you create a new VM via Admin Center, the web form only allows you to configure the most important settings. You can change all others as soon as the VM has been saved. As with Hyper-V Manager, you can't edit all parameters while the VM is running.

VM settings in Windows Admin Center and Hyper V Manager

VM settings in Windows Admin Center and Hyper V Manager

If you open the page under More > Settings, you'll find a list with eight categories, from General and Memory to Network and Checkpoints. This is very similar to what the Hyper-V Manager offers. However, some settings—such as bandwidth management under Networks—are missing in some categories.

Changing the power state of VMs ^

One of the most common VM management tasks is changing its power state, such as starting, pausing, shutting down, or turning off the VM. You can perform all of these actions via the browser interface.

Manage power state of virtual machines

Manage power state of virtual machines

Creating and managing snapshots ^

You can also use Admin Center to create and manage checkpoints. You can define the type (production vs. standard) and the storage location in the mentioned settings, where you can also deactivate the feature.

There is a separate command in the More menu for creating a snapshot. It opens a dialog in which you can enter a name for the checkpoint. If you don't enter a name, the system will assign a name based on the date and time.

Create a new VM checkpoint in Windows Admin Center

Create a new VM checkpoint in Windows Admin Center

You can't manage the snapshots from the context menu of the VM in the inventory list. Instead, follow the link attached to the name of the VM. In the Checkpoints section, you can then apply, delete, or rename snapshots.

Manage VM checkpoints in the web interface of Admin Center

Manage VM checkpoints in the web interface of Admin Center

On this page, Admin Center also provides an overview of the most important performance data of a VM in the form of live diagrams.

The VM dashboard monitor displaying fundamental VM metrics

The VM dashboard monitor displaying fundamental VM metrics

Thus, WAC is better suited for monitoring VMs than the Hyper-V Manager.

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3 Comments
  1. You all are the best online for everything Windows, SCCM, PowerShell, etc., etc.!  Thank you all very much.

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  2. Razesh 1 month ago

    How to install a third-party software inside a guest OS using WAC

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  3. Per 2 weeks ago

    Thanks for good explaining

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