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Enabling Advanced Features for AD DS

Updated: April 26, 2012

Applies To: Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012

Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) makes it possible for you to introduce advanced features into your environment by raising the domain or forest functional levels. To use advanced AD DS features, you must identify the operating systems that are running on the domain controllers in your environment. You must also determine the best functional level for your organization based on your existing infrastructure and then raise the domain or forest functional level as appropriate. You can raise the functional level when all domain controllers in the domain or forest are running an appropriate version of Windows. Although raising the functional level makes it possible for you to enable new features, it also limits the versions of Windows operating systems that you can run on domain controllers in your environment.

If you currently run Windows 2000 in your environment and you plan to install or continue running any Windows 2000–based domain controllers, keep the forest functional level set to Windows 2000 after you deploy a Windows Server 2008–based or a Windows Server 2008 R2-based domain controller. This setting makes it possible for you to use all the advanced features that are available at that forest functional level.

If you currently run Windows Server 2003 in your environment and you plan to install or continue running any Windows Server 2003–based domain controllers, keep the forest functional level set to Windows Server 2003 after you deploy a Windows Server 2008–based or a Windows Server 2008 R2-based domain controller. This setting makes it possible for you to take advantage of all the advanced features that are available at that forest functional level.

If you want to deploy Windows Server 2008 in your environment and you plan to run only Windows Server 2008–based domain controllers, you can raise the forest functional level to Windows Server 2008 after you deploy the first Windows Server 2008–based domain controller. This setting makes it possible for you to use all the advanced features that are available at that functional level.

If you want to deploy Windows Server 2008 R2 in your environment and you plan to run only Windows Server 2008 R2–based domain controllers, you can raise the forest functional level to Windows Server 2008 R2 after you deploy the first Windows Server 2008 R2–based domain controller. This setting makes it possible for you to use all the features that are available in AD DS.

This guide provides recommendations to help you determine the forest and domain functional levels that best meet the requirements of your organization and the design that you want to create. This guide is intended for use by infrastructure specialists, system architects, system administrators, and system engineers.

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