2009
10.30

Windows 7 FilmFest

Microsoft recently had 17 film teams produce videos from 30 seconds to 3 minutes length in a competition.  They had 3 pre-requisites:

  1. There must be a character called “CIO Wiggins”
  2. There had to be a line of dialog with “The guys in IT are going to like this”
  3. They must have mentioned Windows 7

The results are here.

2009
10.28

Microsoft has announced the release of updates for Windows Vista  and Windows Server 2008 to bring some features of it up to date to take advantage of Windows Server 2008 R2 technologies.

  • Windows Ribbon and Animation Manager Library: contains the Windows Ribbon API, a command framework that enables developers to quickly and easily create rich ribbon experiences in their applications, and the Windows Animation Manager API, an animation framework for managing the scheduling and execution of user interface element animations.
  • Windows Graphics, Imaging, and XPS Library: components for developers to leverage the latest advancements in modern graphics technologies for gaming, multimedia, imaging and printing applications. It includes updates to DirectX to support hardware acceleration for 2D, 3D and text based scenarios; DirectCompute for hardware accelerated parallel computing scenarios; and XPS Library for document printing scenarios.
  • Windows Automation API: allows accessibility tools and test automations to access Windows user interface in a consistent way across operating system versions.
  • Windows Portable Devices Platform: supplies the infrastructure to standardize data transfers between an application and a portable device, such as a mobile phone, digital camera, or portable media player

These updates will be available through Windows Update.

2009
10.28

Want to run SQL, SharePoint or Exchange on Hyper-V?  If so, make sure you tune into some webcasts on how to do this best.

Microsoft Virtualization Best Practices for SQL Server

Thursday, October 29, 2009 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Virtualising business critical applications will deliver significant customer benefits including cost savings, enhanced business continuity and an agile and efficient management solution.  This session will focus on virtualising SQL Server using Microsoft solutions, the benefits over key competitors such as VMware, and guidance for virtualising SQL server for Production and Test/Dev scenarios focusing on consolidation, scale, load balancing, dynamic provisioning and high availability. We will go into technical details with best practices. Customer evidence and results from lab deployment tests will also be discussed.

Microsoft Virtualization Best Practices for Exchange

Wednesday, November 04, 2009 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Virtualising business critical applications will deliver significant customer benefits including cost savings, enhanced business continuity and an agile and efficient management solution.  This session will focus on virtualising Exchange using Microsoft solutions, the benefits over key competitors such as VMware, and guidance for virtualising Exchange for various Production scenarios. We will go into technical details with best practices. Customer evidence and results from lab deployment tests will also be discussed.

Microsoft Virtualization Best Practices for SharePoint

(Date/Time TBA) Check here for the original announcement

Virtualising business critical applications will deliver significant customer benefits including cost savings, enhanced business continuity and an agile and efficient management solution.  This session will focus on virtualising SharePoint using Microsoft solutions, the benefits over key competitors such as VMware, and guidance for virtualising SharePoint for Production and Test/Dev scenarios focusing on scale, load balancing, dynamic provisioning and high availability. We will go into technical details with best practices. Customer evidence and results from lab deployment tests will also be discussed.

2009
10.27

I hate phones and everything phone related.  I hate phone people who have to talk about their iPhone or Shineyokia all night long.  They make a hardcore trekkie conference look like an appealing vacation option.  I have a phone only because it’s a required item.  I had to take of the back panel to find out it was a Nokia 6300.  What can it do?  There’s a green button for answering phone calls and a red one for not answering them.  There’s a socket where the power goes and and a power button when I want the world to go away.

I recently bought a 2 year old Ford Focus “Connect”.  It features Bluetooth connectivity for the phone.  It’s a legal requirement here to use a hands free kit while driving.  Get caught and it’s 2 points on your license and your car insurance goes up.  I had tried over the last 5 weeks to make the Bluetooth work.  I read the manual and it only told me what to do with the phone.  There were no car instructions other than turn on the radio.  No matter what I did I got “Bonding Failed” on the radio.

I was about to go buy a €30 headset when I decided to do a search.  A little while into the search I got two contenders:

  1. Make sure Bluetooth is enabled in the car.  Mine was.  Press <Phone> and <Menu>.  The option is in there.
  2. The car can only store 6 phone configurations.  Previous owners may have consumed all of the slots.  That was the case for me.

I pressed <Phone> and <Menu> and <Menu>.  From here I could delete the phone bindings.  Now I could follow the car manual instructions.  I enabled Bluetooth on the phone and searched for nearby devices.  I selected the found “Ford Audio” and entered “0000” as the code.  The bonding worked.

I tested it out.  The car microphone worked nicely and the car radio volume allowed me to adjust the speaker volume of the call.  The sound was clear.  Now the phone picks up the car Bluetooth hands free kit once I get in and turn on the radio.  Perfect.

2009
10.27

Use OpsMgr 2007 To Monitor …

Ask an IT Pro what’s the most important thing at work.  Servers?  SAN?  Exchange?  Active Directory?  Not even close.  It’s the coffee pot.  And no one likes and empty one.

Wilbour Craddock just sent me a link to an article with a demo video.  In the video one of the authors of the Operations Manager 2007 management pack created a solution to visually monitor a coffee pot using a digital camera.  It alarms on empty, below warning threshold and below error threshold.  It automatically changes to a healthy state using a monitor.  Superb!

2009
10.27

I noticed I hadn’t done a good job blogging about 2 patches that MS has released since the RTM of Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V.  Both are pretty important and I was peeved I couldn’t find them on my own blog (my virtual notebook).  This blog post should rectify that.

KB974598 – You receive a "Stop 0x0000007E" error on the first restart after you enable Hyper-V on a Windows Server 2008 R2-based computer

Assume that you enable the Hyper-V role on a computer that is running Windows Server 2008 R2. You restart the computer after you enable the Hyper-V role. However, you receive the following Stop error message during the restart operation:

Stop 0x0000007E (ffffffffc0000096, parameter2, parameter3, parameter4) SYSTEM_THREAD_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED

This problem occurs because the system uses a C-state that is supported by the processor. However, the C-state is not supported by Hyper-V.

Fix: To resolve this problem, follow these steps:

  1. Disable Processor Virtualization in the BIOS.
  2. Start the computer normally.
  3. Apply this hotfix and then restart the computer.

My note: I suspect MS forgot to mention re-enabling Processor Virtualisation in the BIOS.  Otherwise the Hyper-V role will fail to start during boot up.

Workaround: This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

To work around this problem, follow these steps:

  1. Disable Processor Virtualization in the BIOS.
  2. Start the computer normally.
  3. Open an elevated command prompt, and then run the following command: reg add HKLMSystemCurrentControlSetControlProcessor /v Capabilities /t REG_DWORD /d 0x0007E06
  4. Restart the computer.

This workaround adds a registry entry that disables the C2 state and the C3 state.

KB975530 – Stop error message on an Intel Xeon 5500 series processor-based computer that is running Windows Server 2008 R2 and that has the Hyper-V role installed: "0×00000101 – CLOCK_WATCHDOG_TIMEOUT"

Consider the following scenario:

A computer is running Windows Server 2008 R2 and has the Hyper-V role installed.   This computer has one or more Intel Xeon processors (code-named Nehalem) of the 5500 series installed.

In this scenario, you receive the following Stop error message:

0×00000101 (parameter1, 0000000000000000, parameter3, 000000000000000c) CLOCK_WATCHDOG_TIMEOUT

This problem occurs because spurious interrupts are generated on the computer that uses Intel Xeon 5500 series processors. These interrupts are caused by a known erratum that is described in the Intel document number 321324. To view this Intel document, click the following link.

Microsoft provides third-party contact information to help you find technical support. This contact information may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this third-party contact information.

This hotfix pertains only to computers that have Intel processors installed.

Hotfix information

A supported hotfix is available from Microsoft. However, this hotfix is intended to correct only the problem that is described in this article. Apply this hotfix only to systems that are experiencing the problem described in this article. This hotfix might receive additional testing. Therefore, if you are not severely affected by this problem, we recommend that you wait for the next software update that contains this hotfix.

If the hotfix is available for download, there is a "Hotfix download available" section at the top of this Knowledge Base article. If this section does not appear, contact Microsoft Customer Service and Support to obtain the hotfix.

Note: If additional issues occur or if any troubleshooting is required, you might have to create a separate service request. The usual support costs will apply to additional support questions and issues that do not qualify for this specific hotfix. For a complete list of Microsoft Customer Service and Support telephone numbers or to create a separate service request, visit the Microsoft Web site.

Note: The "Hotfix download available" form displays the languages for which the hotfix is available. If you do not see your language, it is because a hotfix is not available for that language.

For more information about how to install the Windows Server 2008 service pack, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

Restart requirement

You have to restart the computer after you apply this hotfix.

Hotfix replacement information

This hotfix does not replace any other hotfix.

File information

The English version of this hotfix has the file attributes (or later file attributes) that are listed in the following table. The dates and times for these files are listed in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). When you view the file information, it is converted to

local time. To find the difference between UTC and local time, use the Time Zone tab in the Date and Time item in Control Panel.

Windows Server 2008 R2 file information note

The MANIFEST files (.manifest) and the MUM files (.mum) that are installed for each environment are listed separately. MUM

and MANIFEST files, and the associated security catalog (.cat) files, are critical to maintaining the state of the updated component. The security catalog files (attributes not listed) are signed with a Microsoft digital signature.

For all supported x64-based versions of Windows Server 2008 R2

File name File version File size Date Time Platform
Hvax64.exe 6.1.7600.20527 643,072 15-Sep-2009 02:29 x64
Hvboot.sys 6.1.7600.16385 118,864 14-Jul-2009 01:48 x64
Hvix64.exe 6.1.7600.20527 707,072 15-Sep-2009 02:29 x64
2009
10.27

Going To TechEd EMEA in Berlin

I completed all the paperwork last night to confirm my place at TechEd EMEA in Berlin next month.  I’m really looking forward to it.  I’ve spent a good bit of time working in Germany but I’ve never been to Berlin.  I’ll be working half days at the Springboard stand, mainly in the afternoons.  Drop by to say “hi” if you’re around.

2009
10.27

The RTM version of the IPD for DirectAccess has been released, according to Stephen L Rose in Microsoft (Springboard).

2009
10.27

Microsoft has released a updated MP for OpsMgr 2007 Service Pack 1. 

“The Operations Manager 2007 SP1 Management Pack alerts you to problems with components such as agents, management servers, the Operations Manager database, agents, modules used by workflows and services so that you can continue to monitor the servers and clients that your business depends on.
The management pack includes tasks that you can automate to get easy access to common diagnostic tools, such as restarting a health service or reloading an agent configuration.

The Operations Manager 2007 SP1 Management Packs includes the following features:

Local and Remote Monitoring of an Agent’s Health

  • Operations Manager agents monitor themselves for events and performance indicators that signal an issue with the agent’s health.
  • Management servers also maintain an external perspective of an agent’s health via the Health Service Watcher.
  • The ‘Agent Health State’ view provides a side-by-side dashboard of both perspectives on the agent.

Optional, Automatic Agent Remediation Capabilities

  • If the Health Service Watcher determines that an agent is unhealthy, a series of diagnostics and recoveries can be enabled to further diagnose the problem and event take actions to attempt to fix the problem (e.g. Ping the server to see if it is completely offline, start a stopped agent, trigger a reinstall, etc.). Refer to the management pack guide for more details.
  • Agents are monitoring their own process to ensure that memory utilization is not sustained at unacceptable levels. If this condition is detected then the agent will automatically restart itself to force the freeing up of memory.

Detection of Problems and Misconfigurations with Run As Accounts and Profiles

  • Checks are run on a regular basis to detect if any of the management group’s “Windows” type Run As Accounts have credentials which are about to expire. Alerts will be raised, and where possible this will be done in advance of the credentials expiring to avoid outages.
  • Alerts will be raised if any errors are encountered during the distribution of Run As Accounts.

Monitoring of problems with Running Workflows in Management Packs

  • Numerous rules are provided to detect if workflows within management packs are failing. Examples of workflows include discoveries, rules, monitors, etc. Failures can range from bad configurations on the workflows themselves, script failures, permissions problems, etc.”
2009
10.27

What’s New In IIS 7.5

There’s a great blog post by Mai-lan which details the reasons for IT Pro’s and Developers to start using IIS7.5 as included in Windows Server 2008 R2.  Well done!  It’s the best post I’ve seen on the subject.

I’ve got to say that the IIS teams might be the best bloggers/web contributors in MS corporate.  Admittedly, they should be :-)

2009
10.27

Microsoft has released a free ebook called “Introducing Windows Server 2008 R2”.  Apparently it will “get you up to speed on how R2′s new features and capabilities work, including Hyper-V and RDS virtualization, management, IIS and the new Web application platform and, of course, all the synergistic goodness between Windows Server and Windows 7”.

2009
10.27

The WSUS team announced that System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 will be added as a new product in WSUS.  This was announced a few days ago.  I haven’t checked yet but it has either happened or will happen soon.  They did say “near future”.  Make sure you add it and do all the usual tested before deploying updates.

I know I missed a fix for VMM 2008 when I didn’t add it as a selected product in our WSUS installation.  And that was a fix I wanted too.

2009
10.27

Windows 7 Pricing

I was at one of the local Harvey Norman’s on Windows 7 launch day.  MS Ireland had staff at many of their outlets to help with the launch.  I was chatting with one of the guys and looked at the pricing.  The RRP of Windows 7 Ultimate off the shelf is only 10-20 Euros (is that around $1,000 now? ;-) ) more than Windows 7 Professional.  Hmm, small and medium businesses who normally use OEM licensing for the desktop might want to spend that extra few Euros to get the “better together” features such as BranchCache, DirectAccess, and Federated Search, not to mention BitLocker and BitLocker to Go.

2009
10.27

Kindle For Windows PC

Amazon has announced that a beta for “Kindle for PC” will start in November. It will have support for touch on Windows 7.  For example, if your laptop or PC has a touch screen you can do things like “turn” the page with your finger.  How cool is that?

I can see myself signing up so I can get books cheaper.  I certainly advise anyone doing this to sort out their desktop/laptop backups.

2009
10.27

You now have Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 support for ConfigMgr 2007 and 2007 R2.  Service Pack 2 has been released and adds a bunch of new functionality:

“Service Pack 2 for Configuration Manager 2007 delivers new platform support for Windows 7 client, Windows Vista SP2, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2. In addition, Service Pack 2 delivers continued innovation with Intel vPro technology, support for Branch Cache enabled environments, and continued development for 64 bit architectures.

New Operating System Support

  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista Sp2
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2008 SP2

New Features in Out of Band Management

In addition to providing feature parity with SP1 and AMT firmware versions 3.2.1, 4.0 and 5.0, the following new features are supported:

    • Wireless management with up to 8 wireless profiles
    • End point access control: 802.1x support
    • Audit logging
    • Support for different power states
    • Power control options at the collection level
    • Data storage
    • Scheduling configuration for in-band provisioning

Asset Intelligence Certificate Requirement Removal

Configuration Manager Service Pack 1 introduced Asset Intelligence v1.5. This version allowed customers to configure an online synchronization to ensure that their catalogue was up to date with the latest Microsoft inventory for both hardware and applications. This initial release required a certificate. With Service Pack 2, the requirement to have the certificate has been removed, so any customer can configure their Asset Intelligence capabilities to connect online and update their catalogue. Software Assurance is not required for this functionality.

64-bit Architecture Development

Service Pack 2 will also continue to deliver new support for x64 architectures, including the following:

  • X64 support for Operations Manager 2007 Client Agent
  • Update to Management Packs for 64-bit operating systems – SP2 will ship 64-bit performance counters (the management pack is a separate release)
  • Remote control support added for x64 XP and x64 Server 2003

Improved Client Policy Evaluation

  • Faster policy processing
  • More efficient software distribution configured to run at user logon

Branch Cache Support

Support for scenarios where Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 Client are present and Branch Cache is enabled”

Architecturally, the BranchCache support is quite a cool option.  Now you can start looking at the need for branch distribution points.  Secondary sites are probably still a requirement in bandwidth sensitive branch sites to restrict and control that management traffic in larger individual branch office deployments.

You’re also starting to see how the ConfigMgr team is paying attention to power at the desktop.  See what’s happening with the R3 release and you’ll see they are very serious about conserving power in the office.

2009
10.27

I’ve blogged about this application compatibility solution for Windows 7 before.  Ben Armstrong has blogged that Microsoft has released some guidance and scripts to help you deploy the solution to a corporate environment.  Note that they prefer you use MED-V from MDOP (an additional purchase for desktop SA customers) instead in large environments for easier management.  Ben also mentions that there is a video with a demonstration.

The document gives you a little bit more, including how to plan your deployment of Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode.  Note that XP Mode hardware requirements are:

Processor

Hardware-Assisted Virtualization (HAV) enabled Intel, AMD or VIA processors (32 or 64 bit)

Memory

2 gigabytes (GB) for Windows 7 32-bit systems, 3 GB for 64-bit systems

Hard disk space

20 megabytes (MB) of hard disk space for Windows Virtual PC installation

15 GB additional hard disk space available beyond Window 7 minimum system requirement

 

Allow for additional space in XP Mode depending on your applications and data storage plans.  Note that XP Mode only runs on Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise editions. 

The document then goes on to show you how to extract the base image (base.vhd), customise it and sysprep it.  In the deployment section it tells you what file must be moved where.  The scripts zip file appears to include a script for deploying the solution using Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr).  MS does not recommend including XP Mode in your custom Windows 7 images.  This is because you get nested images making maintenance more difficult. 

Finally, there are some group policy settings that must not be changed.  They are configured to allow the XP installation to work correctly in XP Mode.  You’ll need to be wary of these (Appendix A in the document and below) when adding the VM into a domain.

The following are in Local Computer PolicyComputer ConfigurationAdministrative TemplatesWindows ComponentsTerminal Services:

  • Allows users to connect remotely using Terminal Services: Enabled
  • Remove Disconnect option from Shut Down dialog: Enabled
  • Client/Server data redirection: Not configured

Some of the GPO settings are also on the Windows 7 host and are found at Local Computer PolicyUser ConfigurationAdministrative TemplatesWindows ComponentsRemote Desktop ServicesRD Gateway:

  • Set RD Gateway authentication method: Enabled or Not configured
  • Enable connection through RD Gateway: Enabled or Not configured (Allow users to change this setting: Enabled)
  • Set RD Gateway server address: Enabled or Not configured
2009
10.22

As of today both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are available to everyone and everywhere (with obvious international limitations where MS are not allowed to sell).  For example, Harvey Norman is a chain of stores that sell furniture and electronics in Ireland.  Yesterday I got an A3 sized glossy flyer through the door advertising Windows 7 and pre-loaded OEM PC’s being on sale from today onwards.

I think MS learned a lot from the Vista days.  You even hear them publicly admitting that mistakes were made with Vista.  Personally I think they communicated badly.  It appeared to me back then that they were pitching Vista at the home user.  All I heard for the most part was how pretty it was and how easy it was to burn photos to a DVD.  Who cares!?!?! The business generally wants to disable DVD burning.  MS failed to market the business functionality of Vista.  I think they failed very badly at working with the OEM’s.  PC’s were sold as “Vista Capable” that barely ran the OS.  Lots of existing hardware had no drivers.  I’d just bought a set of wifi cards before the Vista release that had no support.

Windows 7 has been very different.

Locally, we saw a huge effort by MS.  In the Spring we had the TechDays tour which I spoke at.  At night Wilbour Craddock did a session on IT at home.  I worked with a number of other speakers in the day events to talk about Windows 7 working “better together” with Windows Server 2008 R2 and many of the new features.  In the summer MS ran a series of Windows 7 only events around the island.  We’ve just wrapped up the community launch tour.  Again Will did the IT at home session.  In the day we ran a session featuring some of the developers.  Myself, Will and Dave Northey talked about Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2.  I focused on MAP (Assessment and Planning), application compatibility (ACT and XP Mode), and deployment (WDS but mainly MDT 2010).  There was even a special all day deployment event in Ennis.

Heck, MS Ireland are even going to have representatives in selected retail outlets today to talk about Windows 7.  They are taking it very seriously.

Corporate also did a better job communicating with home and professional customers starting back in November 2008.  The beta and RC programs were HUGE.  We saw the result of that at the launch events: over 75% of attendees were already using Windows 7.  There’s a genuine appetite for it and interest in it.

On the driver side I’ve experienced some happiness.  Those wifi NIC’s that sat unused have a driver supplied in the Windows 7 DVD.  I’ve heard similar stories from others.  MS really did work with the OEM’s.  Certain rootkit spreading OEM’s (you know who I mean) continue to be uncooperative, though, when it comes to XP Mode/Windows Virtual PC support.

The Windows User Group will continue this work.  I’m planning a deployment session that will be demo, demo, demo.  I want to do everything from scratch so people see how to use WAIK, WDS and MDT for themselves.

I’m going into a retail outlet today.  I’m feeling evil and want to have some fun :-)

2009
10.22

Microsoft released XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC for download just a few minutes ago.  Windows Virtual PC is a freebie.  XP Mode is free to everyone running Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise editions.

Windows Virtual PC is a PC-based virtualisation solution aimed directly at application compatibility solutions.  XP Mode gives you a Windows XP SP3 operating system that you can run those applications on.  The idea here is that you run your non-Windows 7 compatible applications into the XP Mode VM.  If the shortcuts are in the “All Users” profile in the XP Mode VM then they appear on the Start Menu on your Windows 7 OS.  Now, when you run the XP Mode applications from Windows 7 the XP Mode VM is started up behind the scenes.  You get an RDP session into the VM and your application runs in a seamless window.  You can copy, paste, use USB devices, etc.  The XP Mode VM is a computer.  It is its own security boundary.  It needs to be managed just like a physical computer so that means anti-malware, software deployment, patching, etc.

XP Mode really is the last step in the application compatibility ladder.  Test your apps on Windows 7 and those you find are incompatible are dealt with in this order:

  1. Replace the application: If you can afford to do this and the vendor is still around this is the ideal solution.  It’s easier and cheaper (self service) than ever to self certify an application so you can legally use the Windows 7 logo.
  2. If the application is home grown then have it modified.
  3. Use the Application Compatibility Toolkit:  ACT 5.5 allows you to shim/mitigate (aka trick) the application to think it’s running on a legacy operating system and deal with system calls similar to those legacy operating systems.  You create a shim either as an MSI or a SDB file depending on the tool used.  MSI’s can be deployed as pre-requisites packages for your legacy applications.  SDB files can be deployed using SDBINSTALL.EXE which is found in C:WindowsSystem32 on Windows 7 computers.  You can use startup scripts, GPO or software deployment services (e.g. Configuration Manager 2007/2007 R2) to deploy these MSI or SDB shims.
  4. Use virtualisation: XP Mode is great for the small/medium business.  But larger businesses will want to look at MED-V if they have desktop software assurance and can afford the additional purchase of MDOP (Desktop Optimisation Pack).  MED-V is a centrally managed virtualisation solution allowing easier change control.
  5. Look at legacy Terminal Services solutions for running those applications.

Ideally, you get yourself to a point where you can run an application that is certified for Windows 7 without using shims, MED-V or XP Mode.

2009
10.20

Great Tip For MDT 2010

Michael Niestrom posted a handy tip for a problem I was looking at.  The problem?

When the Lite Touch deployment is complete it:

  • Leaves the PC logged in as a local administrator: The idea is that this is a light touch deployment.  We kick it off and walk away.  You can’t reasonably do that if you leave 10’s or 100’s of PC’s in the building all logged in as a local administrator.
  • A splash screen is left up on screen when the task sequence completes.

Michael suggests that:

  • You add a command-line based step to shutdown/restart the PC as the last step in the task sequence.
  • You disabled the summary screen with SkipFinalSummary in the CustomSettings.ini (aka deployment share rules).

Thanks for the tips Michael!

2009
10.19

I’ve just switched over to my “7MB” ADSL broadband connection at home.  7MB, eh?  Not quite.  I wonder if they give back 1/7th of my money?  I’m probably not heavily contended (or contended at all) either.  It’s still during the work day here in a small commuter town and most everyone around here is with Eircom.

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2009
10.19

The event that was presented by Microsoft Ireland’s Wilbour Craddock on Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory was recorded.  It’s available to stream now – just click ahead to the 9:15 mark for the start of the sound.

2009
10.17

Exhausted

I’m feeling pretty wrecked still after the week on the road and the 14 hour days.  I have 2 chapter layout edits to review this weekend and I’m just back from a failed sunrise photography shoot at the deer rut.  Monday is going to be a big day of documentation for work and Tuesday is already booked up with meetings and events.  It could be a few days before I blog again.

Anyone who’s interested in seeing how I set up the deployment solution for Windows 7 at the launch events should read my Deploying Windows 7 Using MDT 2010 whitepaper.

Oh! Thursday is the day that both Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 are generally available.  There might be something going on at your local retail outlet so drop by if you can.

2009
10.16

There’s been a glut of reports about bluescreens of death on Windows Server 2008 R2 machines running on Intel Xeon 5500 series processors.  Microsoft released a patch for this issue.  Ben Armstrong reports that this is caused by an issue on these processors.

2009
10.16

I’ve just arrived home and had lunch after an exhausting week, doing the MS Ireland community launch events for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 in Belfast and Dublin.

On Monday I met up with Dave Northey in Microsoft, parked my car and picked up our demo kit.  Dave drove us up to Belfast where we dropped off the gear in the BMC college.  We then checked into the Hilton hotel.

The Hilton is overrated.  The only edible food is the double paté beef burger.  That seems to be a common theme in all hotels these days.  I’d have gone for a salad but prawn Ceaser salads don’t do it for me (or anyone?).  Hence the title: “The 7 Stone Tour”: I reckon each of us put on a stone of weight in this tour.  The Hilton also charges £15 for wired only Internet (no wireless) per 24 hours.  That’s €20 in Dublin.  And what is it with hotels being (a) way too hot, (b) only having thick heavy duvets on the beds making it impossible to sleep and (c) not having a single light to illuminate the room like any normal room?  There’s a dozen light switches to turn on or off at night and in the morning.

We were in early to set up for a student only event where Wilbour Craddock (MS) did a mixture of Windows 7 and and home session.  Once the prizes came out the kids started asking questions.  It was pizza for lunch followed by our business launch event.  That seemed to go well.  The MS guys had set up the server infrastructure in a test room and accessed it via VPN.  That simplified the move and setup.  My deployment lab is a simple setup now.  In the evening (after a trip to Subway) we had the IT @ home event by Wilbour.  That was very interactive and I got involved a little when deployment questions came up.  We left the gear in a secure room for the night to collect it in the morning.

Back at the hotel bar we had a few drinks and discussed the feedback forms.  I felt drained.  The room we did the events in was very hot with no fresh air.  That came up in the feedback.  25% of the forms complained about the acoustics.  I’d agree with that: there was a bad echo that the speakers couldn’t overcome.  And the screens were also a bit low.

On Wednesday we collected the gear and returned south to Dublin where we would be using a room provided by DIT Kevin Street.  Myself and Dave enlisted the help of the student volunteers to get stuff moved onto the stage.  This room looked good.  Big stage and good acoustics.  It allowed for 350 seats too.  We were set up in no time.  The AV company set up two HUGE screens nice and high up.  Back at the hotel we discussed ideas.  One of them was to use a webcam during Will’s “touch” demo to show his hands on the screen of his laptop manipulating the demo application.

IMG_2661

An early start for us in the college for the student event on Thursday.  Lots of interaction – it mainly became a Q&A session with some of the kids really impressing the MS folks.  The afternoon session kicked off.

There was a huge amount of moaning and complaining on boards.ie about tickets for these events.  Usually at a tech event there is about 50% of registrants who don’t turn up.  With a launch that’s lower and a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate should lower it again.  MS overbooked the room to allow for people not turning up.  Only 265 people turned up out of around 430 confirmed registrants.  The room had 350 seats.  Nuff said.

The afternoon session went fairly well.  We were being recorded on video cameras for this one.  The AV guys did an awesome job.  Everything was slick.  The demo’s went well.  We celebrated by having dinner in Eddie Rockets … chilli dogs and chilli fries do a stomach good after a week of eating burgers :-)

The evening “at home” session was weird.  One moany guy dominated proceedings, complaining that there aren’t enough number keys on his keyboard and not understanding that you can’t plug 3G gaming graphics cards into a virtual machine.  Dumb ass!  By the end of this session we were all entirely shattered.  14 hours on the go can really drain you.  We had one very quiet drink in the hotel bar before slinking back to our rooms.

Friday morning was a stripped down business launch session with just myself, Dave and Will.  We had 2 hours to do what needed 2 and a half hours.  A good number of the registrants turned up which was great.  This session was added to deal with the demand for the previous day’s business session.  Apart from one little Internet issue this was our best session by far.  We didn’t have a coffee break and it just flowed.  Everything fell into place nicely and we didn’t miss anything.  We managed to wrap up on time.  We then had 30 minutes to clear the venue because the college had another event on.  40 minutes later I was back in MS picking up my car and on the way back to the house.

I’m totally exhausted now.  I’ve done a few bits of work and send some mails that had to be sent.  Hopefully those of you who were there over the last few weeks enjoyed the sessions and learned something useful.  I enjoyed demo-ing MAP, the application compatibility toolkit, XP Mode, Microsoft Security Essentials, BitLocker-To-Go and MDT 2010 to deploy and operating system.  Thanks to the folks in MS for allowing me to join in on the tour and thanks to those of you who came along!

2009
10.16

Microsoft VDI Sizing Tools

Microsoft has released the Remote Desktop Load Simulation tools to help you size your VDI deployments.  This release is due to customer requests.  The responsible teams are very web connected so they’re interested in getting genuine feedback (use Connect).

“The Remote Desktop Load Simulation toolset is used for server capacity planning and performance/scalability analysis.

In a server-based computing environment, all application execution and data processing occur on the server. Therefore it is extremely interesting to test the scalability and capacity of servers to determine how many client sessions a server can typically support under a variety of different scenarios. One of the most reliable ways to find out the number or users a server can support for a particular scenario is to log on a large number of users on the server simultaneously. The Remote Desktop Load Simulation tools provide the functionality which makes it possible to generate the required user load on the server.”

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