Active Directory


Active Directory® is the foundation for distributed networks built on Microsoft® Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 domain controllers. Active Directory provides secure, structured, hierarchical data storage for objects in a network, for example, users, computers, printers, services, and so on. Active Directory provides support for locating and working with these objects.

This guide provides an overview of Active Directory and sample code for basic tasks, such as searching for objects and reading properties, to more advanced tasks such as service publication.

Windows® 2000 and later provides a user interface for users and administrators to work with the objects and data in Active Directory. This guide describes how to extend and customize that user interface. It also describes how to extend Active Directory by defining new object classes and attributes.

Where Applicable

Network administrators can use Active Directory programming to automate common administrative tasks, such as adding users and groups, managing printers, and setting permissions for network resources.

Independent software vendors and end-user developers can use Active Directory programming to directory-enable their products and applications. Services can publish themselves in Active Directory; clients can use Active Directory to find services, and both can use the Active Directory to locate and work with other objects on a network.

Developer Audience

Applications that access data in Active Directory can be written using the Active Directory Service Interfaces API, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol API, or the System.DirectoryServices namespace.

Run-Time Requirements

Active Directory runs on Windows 2000 and later domain controllers. However, client applications may be written for and run on Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Client components are available for each operating system on the MSDN® Web site.

About Active Directory

General information about Active Directory.

Using Active Directory

Active Directory programming guide.

Active Directory Reference

Active Directory programming reference.