Windows 8 : Using other management tools remotely (part 3) - Microsoft Management Console

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Microsoft Management Console

Management consoles have been part of Windows for a long time and remain useful in Windows 8. Many, if not all of the GUI-based management tools are actually run inside a management console, which shows how much they are used every day. In many cases, the existing management tools provide a good starting point or opportunity to work with the out-of-the-box tools such as Server Manager or Certificate Stores, but Microsoft Management Consoles (MMCs) can be created as custom toolkits for a wide variety of solutions to assist in your day-to-day work.

The management console is still a blank canvas for administrators. The functionality comes in at the snap-in level. (Snap-ins are components that can be added to the management console.) Adding snap-ins to a management console brings all the tools needed for performing tasks. The snap-ins available in the Windows 8 management console are as follows:

  • ActiveX Control Allows an ActiveX control to appear in the results view

  • Authorization Manager Enables configuration of role-based permissions for applications that support them

  • Certificates Enables management of installed certificates and certificate stores

  • Component Services The component services (Com +) management utility

  • Computer Management Enables system management for the connected computer

  • Device Manager Enables viewing and management of peripherals and other hardware connected to the computer

  • Disk Management Enables management of physical and logical disks within a computer

  • Event Viewer Manages Windows and other events on the local or a remote computer

  • Folder Enables organization of other snap-ins in folders within the tree view

  • Group Policy Object Editor Enables editing and review of local Group Policy objects on a computer

  • IP Security Monitor Enables you to monitor the status of IP security on a computer

  • IP Security Policy Management Enables you to define policies concerning IP security

  • Link to Web Address Displays the specified webpage in the results view

  • Local Users and Groups Enables management of users and groups on the local computer

  • Network Access Protection (NAP) Client Configuration Helps manage Network Access Point (NAP) client settings

  • Performance Monitor Provides information about the performance of the computer in terms of networking, hard disks, and RAM

  • Print Management Enables management of local and remote printers

  • Resultant Set of Policy Enables you to view the resultant set of policy for a user, to determine which policies apply to the specified account

  • Security Configuration and Analysis Provides security configuration and analysis of security templates

  • Security Templates Enables the creation and management of system security templates

  • Services Enables you to manage services on the local or a remote computer

  • Shared Folders Displays information about current sessions and currently shared folders and open files on the connected computer

  • Task Scheduler Enables the creation and management of scheduled tasks

  • Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Management Enables you to manage and configure TPM security hardware if present on the computer

  • Windows Firewall with Advanced Security Enables management of the local Windows firewall, including inbound and outbound rules

  • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Control Enables management of the WMI service



Other installed applications might also have MMC snap-ins. The preceding list includes the items that are included with Windows.

Adding snap-ins

Because you can plug tools into the console, it’s the only place you need to go to for some tasks. For example, services, Windows Firewall, and Performance Monitor are snap-ins that provide insight into how a system performs when certain conditions are true. These tools can be added to a single console to provide the monitoring tools for local and remote systems.

To add snap-ins to a console, complete the following steps:

  1. On the Start screen, type mmc.

  2. Tap or click the search result.

  3. Tap or click Yes when prompted to elevate the utility.

This opens a blank management console window. To add snap-ins, select the File menu and choose Add/Remove Snap-in. Figure 1 shows an empty management console.

The list of available snap-ins appears, as shown in Figure 2. You can tap or click the components needed and then tap or click the Add button, which moves an instance of the tool to the right pane in the window. If the snap-in you have selected allows connections to other computers, a dialog box appears asking which computer this instance of the snap-in should be used against. The selection dialog box for the services snap-in is shown in Figure 3.

Microsoft Management Console without snap-ins

Figure 1. Microsoft Management Console without snap-ins

Adding snap-ins to a management console

Figure 2. Adding snap-ins to a management console

Choosing the computer to which an instance of a snap-in should connect

Figure 3. Choosing the computer to which an instance of a snap-in should connect



Snap-ins can be added as multiple instances so that iterations for several computers can be configured within the same MMC.

If necessary, some of the extensions of added snap-ins can be disabled (and selected ones can be enabled), but All Extensions For A Snap-in is the default configuration. This means that any items with which a snap-in can work are available when it is added. To modify these settings, tap or click the Edit Extensions button in the Add Or Remove Snap-Ins dialog box.

Snap-ins are added to the Console Root node by default. However, the parent snap-in can be modified by selecting the Allow Changing The Parent Snap-In check box in the Advanced Options dialog box to enable grouping similar snap-ins. For example, the Windows Firewall snap-in configured for the local computer might make a good parent snap-in for Windows Firewall snap-ins for other systems in an environment. This way, these configuration tools are grouped for ease of use.

When the snap-ins have been added to the console, tap or click OK in the Add Or Remove Snap-ins dialog box to add the tools to the MMC.

Using the MMC to manage resources

Selecting a snap-in listed under Console Root displays its available navigation options in the left pane of the console and the details of the item in the center pane. The right portion of the MMC lists available actions for the selected item. Figure 4 shows the Windows Firewall With Advanced Security snap-in displayed in an MMC.

The center details pane and the right Actions pane change as the selections on the left change. If a snap-in has only one level of tools, no nested levels of items are available to select.

Windows Firewall MMC

Figure 4. Windows Firewall MMC

The actions you take using a management console are performed on the computer that is configured when adding the snap-in. By default, this will be the local computer; however, remote computers can be specified instead.

MMCs are similar to a tool belt for administrators, but certain administrators or help desk professionals might not have permissions to change available options and settings. You can control permissions in the options for an MMC.

Table 2 lists the modes that are available when saving an MMC.

Table 2. Save modes available for MMCs

Console Mode


Author mode

Allows full access to the MMC, including the addition and removal of snap-ins, creation of new windows, addition of taskpad views and tasks to the MMC, and view of the entire tree of items

User mode - full access

Prevents the addition, removal, and modification of snap-ins but allows full access to the tree of items

User mode - limited access, multiple windows

Prevents users from accessing areas of the tree that are not visible in snap-in console windows

User mode - limited access, single window

Opens the snap-in console in a single window and prevents access to other parts of the tree that are not available in that window

In addition to these settings, each console can be assigned a name; the default name is console1. This can be helpful when sharing multiple versions of an MMC with different users because you can set the name to be more descriptive about what the console allows.

In all the modes except author mode, the option to allow customization of views is available. Selecting this option enables users of this console to change the options that are visible within the saved management console. The console can be locked down by removing options from the view and saving it in a limited mode without the option to customize views.

Management consoles are useful tools not only in the day-to-day administration of Windows environments but also as powerful training tools that you can use to create a limited custom console for help desk employees or junior-level administrators. This helps them become familiar with the available tools without providing too much access to an environment.

  •  Windows 8 : Configuring, managing, and troubleshooting connections (part 3) - Connecting to VPNs in Windows 8
  •  Windows 8 : Configuring, managing, and troubleshooting connections (part 2) - Using Troubleshooter
  •  Windows 8 : Configuring, managing, and troubleshooting connections (part 1) - Troubleshooting network problems
  •  Windows 8 : Configuring and using Remote Desktop (part 3) - Programs, Experience, Advanced
  •  Windows 8 : Configuring and using Remote Desktop (part 2) - Opening the Remote Desktop application - General, Display, Local Resources
  •  Windows 8 : Configuring and using Remote Desktop (part 1) - Configuring Remote Desktop
  •  Windows 8 : Working with Remote Assistance - Initiating Remote Assistance, Providing remote assistance
  •  Windows 8 : Managing authorization and access rights (part 4) - Run As,Using and managing certificates
  •  Windows 8 : Managing authorization and access rights (part 3) - Running tasks as administrator and user account control
  •  Windows 8 : Managing authorization and access rights (part 2) - Local Security Policy console
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