Many of the options previously available on the Windows NT Control Panel are now available as Windows 2000 Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-ins, which you can access through the Administrative Tools menu. A console is a set of snap-ins that Win2K treats as an administrator's workspace. Win2K stores each console's details in a Management Saved Console file, which has an .msc extension and which you can distribute and share as you would any other file. When you use an .msc file, you're actually starting up the MMC executable (i.e., mmc.exe) and passing the name of the .msc file as the first parameter in the command line. If you start up mmc.exe without a parameter, you begin with a blank console and can then load the snap-ins you want to work with.

Microsoft provides Win2K with a comprehensive set of consoles. These standard Win2K consoles manage basic elements such as services running on the local computer and local file shares as well as discrete applications such as DNS and Active Directory (AD). Note that some of the AD consoles appear under Programs, Administrative Tools only when the server acts as a domain controller (DC). However, the AD snap-ins are available on all servers, and you can quickly combine these snap-ins into a customized console on any server. Of course, if you fire up a console on a server that isn't a DC, the server will need to connect to a DC before it can access any AD data. Table A lists and describes the snap-ins that Exchange Server administrators can use. (For more information about MMC and snap-ins, see Kathy Ivens, "The Mighty Win2K Management Console, Part 1," September 2000, and "The Mighty Win2K Management Console, Part 2," October 2000.)