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What's New in Active Directory Domain Services

Applies To: Windows Server 2008 R2

What are the major changes?

Active Directory® Domain Services (AD DS) in the Windows Server® 2008 R2 operating system includes many new features that help improve Active Directory manageability, supportability, and performance.

The following changes are available in Windows Server 2008 R2:

  • Active Directory Recycle Bin

    Information technology (IT) professionals can use Active Directory Recycle Bin to undo an accidental deletion of an Active Directory object. Accidental object deletion causes business downtime. Deleted users cannot log on or access corporate resources. This is the number one cause of Active Directory recovery scenarios. Active Directory Recycle Bin works for both AD DS and Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS) objects. This feature is enabled in AD DS at the Windows Server 2008 R2 forest functional level. For AD LDS, all replicas must be running in a new "application mode." For more information, see What's New in AD DS: Active Directory Recycle Bin.

  • Active Directory module for Windows PowerShell and Windows PowerShell™ cmdlets

    The Active Directory module for Windows PowerShell provides command-line scripting for administrative, configuration, and diagnostic tasks, with a consistent vocabulary and syntax. It provides predictable discovery and flexible output formatting. You can easily pipe cmdlets to build complex operations. The Active Directory module enables end-to-end manageability with Exchange Server, Group Policy, and other services. For more information, see What's New in AD DS: Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell.

  • Active Directory Administrative Center

    The Active Directory Administrative Center has a task-oriented administration model, with support for larger datasets. The Active Directory Administrative Center can help increase the productivity of IT professionals by providing a scalable, task-oriented user experience for managing AD DS. In the past, the lack of a task-oriented user interface (UI) could make certain activities, such as resetting user passwords, more difficult than they had to be. The Active Directory Administrative Center enumerates and organizes the activities that you perform when you manage a system. These activities may be maintenance tasks, such as backup; event-driven tasks, such as adding a user; or diagnostic tasks that you perform to correct system failures. For more information, see What's New in AD DS: Active Directory Administrative Center.

  • Active Directory Best Practices Analyzer

    The Active Directory Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) identifies deviations from best practices to help IT professionals better manage their Active Directory deployments. BPA uses Windows PowerShell cmdlets to gather run-time data. It analyzes Active Directory settings that can cause unexpected behavior. It then makes Active Directory configuration recommendations in the context of your deployment. The Active Directory BPA is available in Server Manager. For more information, see What's New in AD DS: Active Directory Best Practices Analyzer.

  • Active Directory Web Services

    Active Directory Web Services (ADWS) provides a Web service interface to Active Directory domains and AD LDS instances, including snapshots, that are running on the same Windows Server 2008 R2 server as ADWS. For more information, see What's New in AD DS: Active Directory Web Services.

  • Authentication mechanism assurance

    Authentication mechanism assurance makes it possible for applications to control resource access based on authentication strength and method. Administrators can map various properties, including authentication type and authentication strength, to an identity. Based on information that is obtained during authentication, these identities are added to Kerberos tickets for use by applications. This feature is enabled at the Windows Server 2008 R2domain functional level. For more information, see What's New in AD DS: Authentication Mechanism Assurance.

  • Offline domain join

    Offline domain join makes provisioning of computers easier in a datacenter. It provides the ability to preprovision computer accounts in the domain to prepare operating system images for mass deployment. Computers are joined to the domain when they first start. This reduces the steps and time necessary to deploy computers in a datacenter. For more information, see What's New in AD DS: Offline Domain Join.

  • Managed Service Accounts

    Managed Service Accounts provide simple management of service accounts. At the Windows Server 2008 R2 domain functional level, this feature provides better management of service principal names (SPNs). Managed Service Accounts help lower total cost of ownership (TCO) by reducing service outages (for manual password resets and related issues). You can run one Managed Service Account for each service that is running on a server, without any human intervention for password management. For more information, see the Service Accounts Step-by-Step Guide (

  • Active Directory Management Pack

    The Active Directory Management Pack enables proactive monitoring of availability and performance of AD DS. It discovers and detects computer and software states, and it is aligned with the health state definitions. The Active Directory Management Pack works with Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft® Systems Center Operations Manager 2007.

  • Bridgehead Server Selection

    The bridgehead server selection process enables domain controllers to load balance incoming connections. The new logic for bridgehead server selection allows for even distribution of workload among bridgehead servers. For more information see, Bridgehead Server Selection (

Who will be interested in this feature?

The following groups might be interested in these changes:

  • Active Directory administrators

  • Network architects

  • System builders

  • Security administrators

  • Datacenter administrators