Server Manager in Windows 8.1

I was kinda bummed when Microsoft moved from the 2008 version of Server Manager and turned to the new 2012/8 version.  However I went in with an open mind to try it out; unfortunately it didn’t take long to find it incredibly frustrating.

Server Manager is not included in Windows 8/8.1 by default; you need to install the Remote Server Administration Tools.  Then you need to turn on the RSAT features you want to use in Control Panel/Programs and Features/Turn Windows features on or off.

You can add many servers to monitor and administer in the new version and if you right-click on a server you are given a lot of options like:

  • Add and remove programs
  • Restart server
  • Computer management
  • Remote desktop connection
  • Windows powershell
  • Configure NIC teaming
  • Configure Windows automatic feedback

This works great on server 2012/2012R2 but on Windows 8/8.1 right-clicking a server does nothing — no menu appears.  I spent many hours on the Internet trying to find a solution; many people reported the same problem but nobody had a solution.  So I gave up on it and just logged into each server directly.  That’s obviously not ideal.

But wait!  Turns out there is a solution:

  1. Go into Control Panel/Programs and Features
  2. Select Turn Windows features on or off
  3. Completely uncheck all RSAT files and press OK and let it uninstall.
  4. Now go back into Turn Windows features on or off and select all RSAT tools.

I initially followed best practices and selected only the tools I  wanted, namely Server Manager, Active Directory tools, and Group policy.  I didn’t need DHCP, DNS, NIC Teaming, etc so I didn’t install those tools.  However, it appears that Server Manager requires something in one of the unchecked objects in order to display the right-click menu.  Installing all of the RSAT tools allows Server Manager to work correctly on Windows 8.1.

For the record, I did try the uninstall/reinstall method before but I still only chose the Manager/AD/GP tools on reinstall and I still had no menus.  I can only get the menus when all RSAT tools are installed.

Now that Server Manager is working correctly on Win8.1, I have to say that I really like it.  The Dashboard feature is really nice; you can see at a glance when a server is misbehaving.

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