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Run the ESM on Windows XP

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I read Daniel Mullikin's article "Exchange AD Management on Windows XP Pro" (February 2003,, InstantDoc ID 27534) with interest. Although Microsoft supports the Exchange Server 2003 version of the Exchange System Manager (ESM) on Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1), the company doesn't support the ESM on XP. Microsoft doesn't support ESM for Exchange 2000 Server on XP because the company developed the Windows 2000 Administration Tools after XP's release and never formally tested the combination. Although Microsoft doesn't support running the ESM on an XP workstation, Daniel is mistaken that you can't install and run the ESM on XP. I run the ESM every day on my XP laptop and desktop.

Installing the ESM on XP is tricky, however. First, install the adminpak.msi Win2K file (which you can find in a Win2K server's \%system root%\system32 folder) onto your XP machine. You'll receive a message during installation that says The Windows 2000 Administration Tools is incompatible with this version of Windows. You must click Continue to acknowledge this message and proceed with installing the Win2K Administration Tools on XP. You can ignore the message because you won't run the application—you simply need the application installed so that the ESM installation will proceed. Next, use the custom installation option to install the ESM from the Exchange 2000 installation CD-ROM. Then, install the Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools Pack Release Candidate 2 (RC2) from You must be running XP SP1 to use these tools. The Microsoft article "Administering Windows Server-Based Computers Using Windows XP Professional-Based Clients" ( describes how to use the tools. This combination of tools lets you run the ESM on your local machine and administer Active Directory (AD). I've even been able to run the ESM over a VPN session connected to my cable modem.

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