Directory Services

About Active Directory Service Interfaces

Active Directory® Service Interfaces (ADSI) abstracts the capabilities of directory services from different network providers in a distributed computing environment to present a single set of directory service interfaces for managing network resources. Administrators and developers can use ADSI services to enumerate and manage the resources in a directory service, no matter which network environment contains the resource.

ADSI makes it easier to perform common administrative tasks, such as adding new users, managing printers, and locating resources throughout the distributed computing environment.

ADSI makes it easy for developers to "directory enable" their applications. Administrators and developers handle a single set of directory service interfaces — regardless of which directory services are installed.

The following topics are discussed in this introduction:

What You Should Know Before Reading This Guide

This guide assumes that you are familiar with the Component Object Model (COM) and Automation, and that you know how to program in either Visual Basic® or C/C++.

Some of the terms used in this guide are unique to either ADSI or the directory services environment. Other terms will be familiar but may have slightly different meanings in these environments. For a list of ADSI terms and their definitions, please refer to the Glossary.

Where to get ADSI

The following operating systems include ADSI:

To use ADSI on Windows NT 4.0, Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Millennium Edition, it is necessary to install the Active Directory Client Extension, commonly referred to as the DSClient. There are two versions of the DSClient, one for Windows NT 4.0 and the other for Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Millennium Edition.

The DSClient for Windows NT 4.0 can be obtained from

The DSClient for Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Millennium Edition is available on any Windows 2000 Server family CD-ROM.

What Providers are Supplied by Default

The ADSI providers that are available by default will depend on how ADSI has been obtained. The following table lists the different ADSI delivery vehicles and the providers that each supports.

Windows Server 2003 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows 2000 Server Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows 2000 Professional Yes Yes Yes Yes
DSClient for Windows NT 4.0 Yes Yes No No
DSClient for Windows  95/98/Me Yes Yes No No

Further Reading on ADSI and Related Topics

For more information about Active Directory Service Interfaces and the technologies on which they are based, you may find the following sources helpful.

Brockschmidt, Kraig. Inside OLE, 2nd edition. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 1995.

Chappell, David. Understanding ActiveX and OLE. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 1996.

Hahn, Steven. ADSI ASP Programmer's Reference. Wrox Press Ltd., 1998.

Harrison, Richard. ASP/MTS/ADSI Web Security. Prentice Hall PTR, 1999.

Microsoft's OLE DB Programmer's Reference Version 1.0, 1996.

OLE 2 Programmer's Reference, Volume Two. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 1994.

Rogerson, Dale. Inside COM. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 1997.

The Active Directory Service Design Specification Version 2.0.

The Component Object Model Specification.