Meet Project Honolulu, Microsoft’s new Windows Server management GUI

Now in technical preview, the new web-based tool for managing Microsoft Windows Server will have GUI fans rejoicing.

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I’m a firm believer that PowerShell knowledge is required if you work in Windows administration. That’s become especially true over the last three to four years as Microsoft has invested a good deal of time and energy into expanding the universe of things that PowerShell commands can accomplish. I’ve been on the PowerShell train for years now — so much so that I wrote a book to help beginners learn it.

As PowerShell’s reach has expanded, Microsoft has allowed the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and other graphical user interface (GUI) tools for managing Windows environments to grow somewhat long in the tooth. But PowerShell is not always the best tool for the job, and according to Microsoft, IT administrators have argued that GUI tools are still key for Windows administration. After all, if you want to use the command line, you can go with Linux. Windows was supposed to be point and click all along.

To this group, Microsoft says: Fear not — we now have something superior to the in-the-box GUI tools you know well. Enter the new web-based GUI tool for managing Microsoft Windows Server, codenamed Project Honolulu.

Now in technical preview, it can manage Windows Server 2012, 2012 R2, 2016 and future versions, all through a web browser. (Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome are currently supported.) It can even handle the free Microsoft Hyper-V Server, making this a no-brainer way to get a free hypervisor deployed in environments that don’t need a full-fledged copy of Windows Server without trying to manage through Hyper-V Server’s cryptic command-line interface.

Let’s take a look at how Honolulu works, how it’s built, what it can do, and perhaps most important, what is isn’t.

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