Difference between AD 2003 and AD 2008

Posted on 2009-02-09
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
1-Can someone provide me with some details about the difference between  Active Directory 2003 and Active DIrectoy 2008.

2-Is the upgrade easy to do?

Question by:jskfan
    LVL 58

    Expert Comment


    There are many changes in Active Directory between Server 2003 and 2008. For example, the 'Active Directory' role as it was known in 2003 is now known as 'Active Directory Domain Services' (AD DS) in Server 2008. This paves the way for the other 2008 Active Directory-integrated roles, such as AD Lightweight Directory Services, AD Federation Services and many other new features.

    AD DS 2008 itself has a few improvements over 2003. However, to have a benefit from the improved Server 2008 Active Directory features, you have to have all the DCs in the domain running Windows Server 2008. This is because the Functional Level is responsible for controlling what AD features are available, and you need all 2008 DCs to upgrade to the 2008 Functional Level.

    See for more information on the features supported by each functional level.

    If you upgrade all your DCs, the 2008 migration procedure is very easy.


    Author Comment

    do you mean the upgrade from windows 2003 AD to windows 2008 AD, is just inserting the windows 2008 CD and this have an option to upgrade to windows 2008.
    If you have a link for upgrade this will be great.

    LVL 58

    Accepted Solution


    Yes, you're speaking about an in-place upgrade. You can do this, even if your current 2003 Server is a Domain Controller. There is a good article including screenshots on this at

    However, if this server is only a Domain Controller and you have at least one other DC, then I'd transfer any critical roles to that remaining DC, format the current one and install 2008 as a fresh, clean install, then migrate back.


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