Windows Server Definitions

This glossary explains the meaning of key words and phrases that information technology (IT) and business professionals use when discussing Microsoft Windows Server and related software products. You can find additional definitions by visiting WhatIs.com or using the search box below.

  • A

    active directory

    Active Directory (AD) is Microsoft's proprietary directory service.

  • Active Directory domain (AD domain)

    An Active Directory domain (AD domain) is a collection of objects within a Microsoft Active Directory network.

  • Active Directory forest (AD forest)

    An Active Directory forest is the highest level of organization within Active Directory.

  • Active Directory functional levels

    Active Directory functional levels are controls that specify which advanced Active Directory domain features can be used in an enterprise domain.

  • Active Directory tree

    An Active Directory (AD) tree is a collection of domains within a Microsoft Active Directory network.

  • Azure DevOps

    Azure DevOps -- rebranded from Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) in 2018 -- is a software-as-a service (SaaS) platform from Microsoft designed to provide a comprehensive toolchain for developing and deploying software projects.

  • B

    backup domain controller (Windows NT)

    A backup domain controller (BDC) is a role a Windows NT computer takes on to help manage access to network resources.

  • batch file

    A batch file is a script file that stores commands to be executed in a serial order.

  • blue screen of death (BSOD)

    Officially called the stop screen, or stop error, the blue screen of death (BSOD) is a most unwanted error, second only to malware or ransomware in indicating that a user is in for a very bad day.

  • boot

    To boot (to boot up, to start up or booting) a computer is to load an operating system (OS) into the computer's main memory or random-access memory (RAM).

  • built-in administrator account

    In the Windows operating system, the built-in administrator account -- the first account created when the OS was installed -- has the highest permissions of any profile on the computer system.

  • C

    C

    The C programming language is a procedural and general-purpose language that provides low-level access to system memory.

  • canonical name (CNAME)

    A canonical name (CNAME) is a type of Domain Name System (DNS) database record that indicates that a domain name is the nickname or alias for another domain name.

  • CHKDSK (check disk)

    CHKDSK (pronounced check disk) is a command that displays a status report for a volume, such as a disk, and can correct any errors found in that volume.

  • Client Access Server (CAS)

    The Client Access Server (CAS) is a server role that handles all client connections to Exchange Server 2010 and Exchange 2013.

  • client-server network

    A client-server network is a distributed communications architecture in which a centralized server receives and responds to requests for services and data from multiple clients.

  • CNAME

    A CNAME specifies an alias or nickname for a canonical name record in a domain name system (DNS) database. (Continued...)

  • cold/warm/hot server

    In the backup and recovery of a computer server, a cold server is a backup server whose purpose is solely to be there in case the main server is lost.

  • command-line interface (CLI)

    A command-line interface (CLI) is a text-based user interface (UI) used to run programs, manage computer files and interact with the computer.

  • computer

    A computer is a device that accepts information (in the form of digitalized data) and manipulates it for some result based on a program, software, or sequence of instructions on how the data is to be processed.

  • CSV (Cluster Shared Volumes)

    CSV (Cluster Shared Volumes) is a feature in Windows Server in which shared disks are concurrently accessible to all nodes within a failover cluster.

  • Ctrl-Alt-Delete

    On a personal computer with the Microsoft Windows operating system, Control+Alt+Delete is the combination of the Ctrl key, the Alt key, and Del key that a user can press at the same time to terminate an application task or to reboot the operating system.

  • D

    defragmentation

    Defragmentation is the process of locating the noncontiguous fragments of data into which a computer file may be divided as it is stored on a hard disk, and rearranging the fragments and restoring them into fewer fragments or into the whole file.

  • Directory Services Restore Mode (DSRM)

    Directory Services Restore Mode (DSRM) is a Safe Mode boot option for Windows Server domain controllers.

  • diskpart (Disk Partition Utility)

    Diskpart is a command line utility in Windows operating systems (OSs) that is used to manage disks, partitions, and volumes.

  • domain controller

    A domain controller is a type of server that processes requests for authentication from users within a computer domain.

  • dynamic link library (DLL)

    A dynamic link library (DLL) is a collection of small programs that larger programs can load when needed to complete specific tasks.

  • E

    Exchange Administration Center (EAC)

    The Exchange Administration Center (EAC) is a Web-based management console for managing Exchange Server 2013 environments.

  • Exchange Autodiscover service

    The Exchange Autodiscover service helps Exchange administrators set up and sustain server settings for computers that run Microsoft Outlook, as well as settings for supported mobile devices.

  • Exchange Management Console (EMC)

    The Exchange Management Console (EMC), introduced by Microsoft in 2007, is an administrative tool with a graphical user interface (GUI) that's used to manage the components and resources of Microsoft Exchange Server.

  • Exchange Online

    Exchange Online is the hosted version of Microsoft's Exchange Server messaging platform that organizations can obtain as a stand-alone service or via an Office 365 subscription.

  • Exchange Web Services (EWS)

    Microsoft Exchange Web Services (EWS) is an application program interface (API) that lets applications access items in a Microsoft Exchange email mailbox, such as calendars, contacts, and messages.

  • F

    failover cluster

    In computing, a failover cluster refers to a group of independent servers that work together to maintain high availability of applications and services.

  • G

    global catalog (Active Directory)

    A global catalog is a data storage source containing partial representations of objects found in a multi-domain Active Directory Domain Services forest.

  • gpresult

    Gpresult is a command-line tool that shows the RSoP (Resultant Set of Policy) for a user or computer based on applied Group Policy settings.

  • Group Policy

    Group Policy is a management feature in Microsoft's Active Directory (AD) that enables network and system administrators to configure and assign user and computer settings in an AD environment.

  • Group Policy Editor (GP Editor)

    Group Policy Editor is a tool that helps administrators manage policy settings in Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-ins.

  • Group Policy Management Console (GPMC)

    Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) is a Microsoft Management Console snap-in that provides a graphical user interface that enables Active Directory (AD) administrators to manage Group Policy Objects (GPOs) from one console.

  • Group Policy Object (GPO)

    Microsoft’s Group Policy Object (GPO) is a collection of Group Policy settings that defines what a system will look like and how it will behave for a defined group of users.

  • Group Policy Preferences

    Group Policy Preferences are a set of extensions, introduced in Windows Server 2008, that increase the functionality of Group Policy Objects.

  • GUID (global unique identifier)

    A GUID (globally unique identifier) is a 128-bit text string that represents an identification (ID).

  • H

    hotfix

    A hotfix is code -- sometimes called a patch -- that fixes a bug in a product.

  • I

    Internet Information Services (IIS)

    Internet Information Services (IIS) is a flexible, general-purpose web server from Microsoft that runs on Windows systems to serve requested HTML pages or files.

  • ISA (Industry Standard Architecture)

    ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) is a standard bus (computer interconnection) architecture that was associated with the IBM AT motherboard.

  • L

    Linux Secure Boot

    Linux Secure Boot is a feature in Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 that allows some Linux distributions to boot under Hyper-V as Generation 2 virtual machines.

  • Local Group Policy Editor

    Local Group Policy Editor is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in that provides a user interface for managing local Group Policy settings on a Windows computer.

  • M

    Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS)

    Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) is a server role in Active Directory that allows admins to manage and store information about resources from a network, as well as application data, in a distributed database.

  • MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional)

    An MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional) is a credential that proves that an individual has a complete set of skills required to perform a particular IT job role, such as enterprise or virtualization administrator.

  • Microsoft

    Microsoft is the largest vendor of computer software in the world.

  • Microsoft Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT)

    The Microsoft Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT) is a free utility administrators can use to move Active Directory objects, such as computers, users and groups, from one Windows Server Active Directory domain or forest to another.

  • Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute

    Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute is a service that provides a private connection between an organization's on-premises infrastructure and Microsoft Azure data centers.

  • Microsoft Azure File Service

    Microsoft Azure File Service is a service that allows Windows Server admins to access SMB shares in the Azure cloud by setting up file shares in the Azure management console.

  • Microsoft Azure Key Vault

    Microsoft Azure Key Vault is a cloud-based security service offered by Microsoft as part of its Azure platform.

  • Microsoft Azure Stack

    Microsoft Azure Stack is an integrated platform of hardware and software that delivers Microsoft Azure public cloud services in a local data center to enable organizations to construct hybrid clouds.

  • Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)

    The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) is a certification that was offered by Microsoft for IT professionals who demonstrated expertise in designing, implementing, and administering Windows server infrastructure, as well as other Microsoft technologies.

  • Microsoft Cloud Witness

    Microsoft Cloud Witness is a quorum witness for Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC) that uses Microsoft Azure as the arbitration point.

  • Microsoft Cluster Service (MSCS)

    Microsoft Cluster Service (MSCS) is a service that provides high availability (HA) for applications such as databases, messaging and file and print services.

  • Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA)

    The Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA) is a diagnostics tool for troubleshooting and testing connectivity to several Microsoft messaging products from a client machine on an organization's network.

  • Microsoft Exchange Control Panel

    The Exchange Control Panel (ECP) is a Web-based management interface introduced in Exchange Server 2010.

  • Microsoft Exchange In-Place eDiscovery

    Microsoft Exchange In-Place eDiscovery is an administrative feature to perform legal discovery searches for relevant content in mailboxes.

  • Microsoft Exchange Mailbox Replication Service (MRS)

    The Microsoft Exchange Mailbox Replication Service (MRS) is a feature that handles mailbox import, export, migration and restoration requests on Exchange Server.

  • Microsoft Exchange Management Shell (EMS)

    Microsoft Exchange Management Shell (EMS) is a scripting platform that enables administrators to manage Exchange Server. EMS is is built on top of Microsoft PowerShell, a command line shell that allows administrators to perform administrative tasks with simple noun-verb commands called cmdlets.

  • Microsoft Exchange Online Protection (EOP)

    Microsoft Exchange Online Protection (EOP) is a cloud-based service that provides email filtering designed to protect organizations against spam, malware, and other email-based threats.

  • Microsoft Exchange RBAC (Role Based Access Control)

    Microsoft Exchange RBAC is a permissions model used in Exchange Server 2010 and Exchange Server 2013.

  • Microsoft Exchange Server

    Microsoft Exchange Server is Microsoft's email, calendaring, contact, scheduling and collaboration platform.

  • Microsoft Hybrid Configuration Wizard

    The Microsoft Hybrid Configuration Wizard (HCW) is a tool provided by Microsoft to help organizations set up and configure a hybrid deployment between their on-premises Exchange Server and Exchange Online, which is part of Microsoft 365.

  • Microsoft Hyper-V Shielded VM

    A Microsoft Hyper-V Shielded VM is a security feature of Windows Server 2016 that protects a Hyper-V second-generation virtual machine (VM) from access or tampering by using a combination of Secure Boot, BitLocker encryption, virtual Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and the Host Guardian Service.

  • Microsoft Identity Manager

    Microsoft Identity Manager -- also called Microsoft Identity Manager 2016 or MIM -- is an on-premises tool that enables organizations to manage access, users, policies and credentials.

  • Microsoft iSCSI Initiator

    Microsoft iSCSI Initiator is a tool that connects external iSCSI-based storage to host computers with an Ethernet network adapter.

  • Microsoft Monitoring Agent (MMA)

    Microsoft Monitoring Agent (MMA) is a service used to watch and report on application and system health on a Windows computer.

  • Microsoft Nano Server

    Microsoft Nano Server is a lightweight version of the Windows Server operating system that was introduced with Windows Server 2016 for use as an OS layer for virtualized container instances.

  • Microsoft Network Device Enrollment Service (NDES)

    Microsoft Network Device Enrollment Service (NDES) is a security feature in Windows Server 2008 R2 and later Windows Server operating versions. NDES provides and manages certificates used to authenticate traffic and implement secure network communication with devices that might not otherwise possess valid domain credentials.

  • Microsoft Network Policy and Access Services (Microsoft NPAS)

    Microsoft Network Policy and Access Services (Microsoft NPAS) is a server role in Windows 2008 and Windows Server 2012 that allows administrators to provide local and remote network access.

  • Microsoft Office 365 Admin Center

    The Microsoft Office 365 Admin Center is the web-based portal administrators use to manage user accounts and configuration settings for the Office 365 subscription services, including Exchange Online and SharePoint Online.

  • Microsoft Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection

    Microsoft Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) is Microsoft's optional cloud-based service that scans and filters email to protect subscribers from malware in attachments and hyperlinks to malicious websites.

  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS)

    Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) is the full version of a portal-based platform for collaboratively creating, managing and sharing documents and Web services. MOSS enables users to create "Sharepoint Portals" that include shared workspaces, applications, blogs, wikis and other documents accessible through a Web browser. The free version, Windows SharePoint Server (WSS), usually referred to as simply "Sharepoint," is available as a free download included with every Windows Server license. (Continued...)

  • Microsoft Online Services Sign-In Assistant

    The Microsoft Online Services Sign-In Assistant is a software application that provides common sign-on capabilities for a suite of Microsoft online services, such as Office 365.

  • Microsoft Outlook

    Microsoft Outlook is the preferred email client used to send and receive emails by accessing Microsoft Exchange Server email.

  • Microsoft Outlook on the web (formerly Outlook Web App, OWA)

    Outlook on the web is the browser-based email client for users to access email, calendars, tasks and contacts from Microsoft's on-premises Exchange Server and cloud-based Exchange Online.

  • Microsoft Remote Desktop Web Access (Microsoft RD Web Access)

    Microsoft Remote Desktop Web Access (Microsoft RD Web Access) is a Remote Desktop Services role in some versions of the Windows Server OS.

  • Microsoft Scale-Out File Server

    Microsoft Scale-Out File Server is an active-active clustered file server feature based on Server Message Block (SMB) 3.0 to provide continuous availability of file shares in Windows Server.

  • Microsoft SCOM (System Center Operations Manager)

    Microsoft SCOM (System Center Operations Manager) is a set of tools for infrastructure monitoring and application performance management.

  • Microsoft Software Assurance (SA)

    Microsoft Software Assurance is a software maintenance program that helps organizations gain access to the latest software versions and releases, without incurring additional licensing costs.

  • Microsoft System Center

    Microsoft System Center is a suite of software products designed to simplify the deployment, configuration and management of IT infrastructure and virtualized software-defined data centers.

  • Microsoft System Center 2012

    Microsoft System Center 2012 is a bundled suite of systems management products that offers tools to monitor and automate virtualized environments, including private clouds based on Microsoft Hyper-V.

  • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM)

    Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) is a Windows product that enables the management, deployment and security of devices and applications across an enterprise.

  • Microsoft System Center Operations Manager Management Pack (Microsoft SCOM Management Pack)

    A System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) Management Pack is a pre-fabricated rule set intended to extend and configure SCOM for specific services or applications.

  • Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification

    Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification is the name of a suite of entry-level certifications offered by Microsoft that signify fundamental technology knowledge in those who earn it.

  • Microsoft Windows Azure Active Directory (Windows Azure AD)

    Microsoft Windows Azure Active Directory (Windows Azure AD or Azure AD) is a cloud service that provides administrators with the ability to manage end-user identities and access privileges.

  • Microsoft Windows Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS)

    Microsoft Windows Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) is a service in Microsoft Windows operating systems (OSes) that allows download from and upload of files to Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) web servers and Server Message Block (SMB) file servers.

  • Microsoft Windows Features on Demand

    Microsoft Windows Features on Demand is a feature that allows system administrators to add or remove roles and features in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, and later versions of the client and server operating system to alter the file size of those operating systems.

  • Microsoft Windows Insider Program for Business

    Microsoft Windows Insider Program for Business is a service for IT professionals who want to test preview builds of Windows 10 and Windows Server in the enterprise before general availability.

  • Microsoft Windows PowerShell DSC (Desired State Configuration)

    Desired State Configuration (DSC) is a feature in PowerShell 4.0 and above that helps administrators to automate the configuration of Windows and Linux operating systems.

  • Microsoft Windows PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE)

    The Windows PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE) is a graphical user interface and front-end hosting application for Windows PowerShell.

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2016

    Microsoft Windows Server 2016 is Microsoft's server operating system (OS).

  • Microsoft Windows Server LTSC (Long-Term Servicing Channel)

    Microsoft Windows Server LTSC (Long-Term Servicing Channel) is a servicing option for Microsoft's server operating system that follows the familiar track of two to three years between feature updates.

  • Microsoft Windows Server OS (operating system)

    Microsoft Windows Server OS (operating system) is a series of enterprise-class server operating systems designed to share services with multiple users and provide extensive administrative control of data storage, applications and corporate networks.

  • Microsoft Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)

    Microsoft Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a series of Microsoft components that allow native Linux 64-bit Executable and Linkable Format (ELF64) binaries to run on the Windows kernel in the Windows 10 operating system (OS).

  • Microsoft Windows Update

    Microsoft Windows Update is a security service for Windows users that, once activated, automatically searches for and installs updates.

  • Monad Manifesto

    The Monad Manifesto is a document written by Jeffrey Snover in 2002 that outlined his idea for a new Windows systems administration tool named Monad, which was changed to Windows PowerShell.

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