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Overview of Upgrading Windows NT 4.0 Domains

Updated: March 28, 2003

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Upgrading your Windows NT 4.0 domains to the Microsoft® Windows® Server 2003, Standard Edition and Windows® Server 2003, Enterprise Edition operating systems enables you to simplify and reduce network administration. Windows Server 2003 Active Directory integrates with other applications and services and allows you to delegate administrative responsibility at the appropriate level when you have multiple organizations existing in a single domain structure.

When you upgrade your Windows NT 4.0 domains to Windows Server 2003 Active Directory, you improve scalability because Active Directory domains can scale to meet the needs of your organization. You also gain new capabilities by using Group Policy, and you gain more flexibility for business units.

In addition, performing an in-place upgrade of Windows NT 4.0 domains to Windows Server 2003 Active Directory has no adverse effect on your Windows NT 4.0 production environment. There are fewer administrative complexities than with restructuring your environment, such as maintaining access to shared directories, files, and printers. Groups and group memberships are retained. You do not need to migrate local profiles, and you retain the existing passwords and profiles for domain users.

Before planning and implementing Windows NT 4.0 in-place upgrades, ensure that your organization has already:

  • Designed the Active Directory logical structure of the forest and Domain Name System (DNS) for your Active Directory environment.

  • Designed a site topology to efficiently locate domain controllers.

  • Deployed a Windows Server 2003 forest root domain if that is the upgrade path that your organization has decided on. For more information about the paths for in-place upgrading a Windows NT 4.0 environment, see "Upgrading Domains from Windows NT 4.0 to Windows Server 2003 Active Directory" later in this chapter.

After completing the in-place upgrade process, you can perform an in-place upgrade for any remaining Windows NT domains or restructure them into your new Windows Server 2003 forest. For information about restructuring Windows NT 4.0 domains to a Windows Server 2003 forest, see "Restructuring Windows NT 4.0 Domains to an Active Directory Forest" in this book.


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