June, 2007

  • Manage your Virtual Server Machines with VMRC Plus

    One of my colleagues developed a tool called VMRC Plus which is an improved version of the VMRC client that is deployed together with Virtual Server 2005.

    As soon as I got the link I downloaded this tool, installed it on my machine. Unfortunately I didn't have Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 running. So I downloaded and installed it without IIS and I didn't installed the Web Administration tools. Why? Because you don't need them :)

    What does VMRCplus offer?

    • Direct control of local or remote instances of the Virtual Server service. IIS and IE browser are no longer required!
    • Tabbed interface to quickly jump between Virtual Server hosts and guest VMRC sessions.
    • Reusable saved states: this feature allows users to preserve a particular saved state and return to that state at any time.
    • Multiple guest selection supported for startup/shutdown/save/display.
    • Browse button navigation for media, hard disk images, ISO images, .VMC files, etc.
    • Drag and Drop support for .VMC files, ISO's images, VHD and VFD files.
    • Resizable desktop support for guests running Virtual Machine Additions (maximize VMRC window supported).
    • Limited cut and paste of text from host to guest (only).
    • A built-in utility to take JPG screenshots of running guests. Useful when filing bugs.
    • Built-in error notification with Virtual Server event log viewer.
    • A Virtual Networks Manager and Virtual Disks Manager that cover all features.
    • Keyboard shortcuts (e.g. Ctrl-S to save state a guest).
    • Create multiple guests at once.
    • Create guest from parent (or multiple guests)!
    • Automatic reconnect to a designated Virtual Server host.
    • Toolbars in both Guest and Console Manager for quick access.
    • Unlimited number of guests.
    • Maximum of 32 Virtual Server hosts.
    • Sorting on columns of guests so you can sort based on status and multi-select.
    • Automatic detection of Virtual Machine Additions and notification.
    • Detection of Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1.

    Some screen shots:

    Main VMRCplus window (Guest Manager)

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    Create a new Guest

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    Hardware Settings page

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    Remote control sessions through the Console Manager

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    This is yet another tool the Admin's should have in their toolbox it is definitively in mine now. Managing my Virtual Server will be so much easier now but.
    The VMRCplus tool is not an Enterprise tool neither is it supported by Microsoft, for Enterprise management I suggest you to have a look at
    System Center Virtual Machine Manager


    This tool Rocks!!

    Note: I updated the download location to the Microsoft download center 

    Download

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=80adc08c-bfc6-4c3a-b4f1-772f550ae

     

     

  • Find drivers for an unknown device

    This weekend I had to reinstall a Windows XP machine for my daughter, she got her first PC :). So she couldn't wait and it had to be installed right away. So I had to put in a new disk  because the old one crashed and died. Installed Windows XP SP2 (Dutch Version) onto the box. And guess what everything was fine beside one device which Windows XP did not recognize. How do you solve this? Through the blogpost (in Dutch) of one of my colleagues Tony Krijnen I found the procedure again to find out which device it is.

    image

    Let me explain to you how I found the driver for this unknown audio device. First open the device manager (I suppose you know how to do that) and double click onto the unknown device.  A new window will open and here you have to select the details tab and choose Hardware-Id's (see screenshot).

    image

    Here you see the Hardware ID for the unknown device it's defined as follows

    BUS \ VEN_[xxxx] Dev_[yyyy]

    So BUS means on which kind of hardware bus it is connected to,this can be PCI, USB, IDE, etc ....
    The VEN means the vendor this piece of hardware and the DEV can be the device type of the vendor.

     

    How can you look this up? Easy there is a website devoted to that and its called http://www.pcidatabase.com. I looked for the vendor 1106 which is VIA Technologies and within the vendor page I looked for the Device ID 3059 which returned "AC97 Enhanced Audio Controller".

    The next step is straight forward I just looked up the driver for the "AC97 Enhanced Audio Controller" device and installed it.

     

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  • Windows Server 2008:: Server core and IIS 7 the perfect match

    Yesterday @ TechEd US we announced that we will add another role to the server core in Windows Server 2008. With the upcoming CTP and RC release of Windows Server 2008 you will be able to add the IIS 7 web platform as a server role onto our Server Core installation. This is great news and I know this has been requested by many of our customers. If you don't know what server core means I encourage you to read one of my previous blogpost around Server Core.

    So what will work and what won't work on server core? As you might know we currently don't support .Net onto our Server Core platform. Because of that IIS7 running on a server core will not be able to server ASP.Net. This means basically that you will be able to serve ASP  and also PHP will run smoothly on server core.

    There is no GUI available this means that the configuration and maintenance of IIS7 has to be done through the IIS cmd line tool Appcmd, WMI or by just using Notepad, which is available on Server Core, to change the xml based config files.

     

    Basically everything in IIS7 that doesn't require a GUI or the .Net framework will run under the Server Core.

     

  • System Center Operations Manager 2007 Training Resources

    Want to get started with Operations Manager 2007? Go ahead and check the blog of Stefan Stranger an Microsoft MVP.

    He created a list of training Videos about System Center Operations Manager 2007.

  • Share your story

    Last week I had the visit from Adam Carter and a camera crew (actually it was only one guy). They came over to Belgium to do an interview at the "Université Libre De Bruxelles" (ULB) which is a French speaking University in Brussels. Why did Adam come all the way from Redmond to Brussels? A few months ago I was part of a small team that helped the ULB with the implementation of their HPC environment. We implemented a 4 node Windows Compute Cluster Server to do some complex fluid dynamics calculations. I helped them installing the Cluster server because they are Chemical Engineers and not really IT Pro's. Why did they choose for CCS in the first place? According to them it was because they already knew how to work with Windows and after getting some demo's of CCS it was clear that they should stay on the Windows Path.

     

    Having that said you still don't know why the filming crew was here? Actually we prepared a video that shared the story, the experiences of this customer after using this solution for about three - four months now. I was amazed with the results and the customer was too. They now have more time that they can spend on the different research projects instead of being in front of the servers. Within a few months there will be an announcement of a new big project together with a big player in the industry. I will post more information about this project when I am able to talk about it. So the ULB shared their story on video about how working with new Microsoft Technology helped them to be successful.

     

    Do you have a story to share?  About you doing something cool with new or upcoming Microsoft Technology? Please let me know (arlindo.alves@microsoft.com) and it might get published onto this blog or another Microsoft site.

     

    I am looking for IT Pro's that want to share there experience with the following technologies:

    NAP, IIS7, Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1, Vista with Bitlocker, HPC, Moss 2007, PowerShell

  • Windows Vista First 6 Months Vulnerabilities

    Jeff Jones released his security report about the Security Vulnerabilities found in Windows Vista during the first 6 months. His analysis shows that Windows Vista has less High severity vulnerabilities in the first 6 months compared to Windows XP and other Operating Systems.

     

     

    Check out the complete report at http://www.csoonline.com/

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  • Free E-Learning:: What's New in SQL Server 2008

    You  can now attend a free e-learning on SQL Server 2008 at this URL :

    https://www.microsoftelearning.com/eLearning/courseDetail.aspx?courseId=78337

    Title: What's New in Microsoft SQL Server 2008

    Description:
    In this clinic, you will learn about the new and enhanced features included in SQL Server 2008. You will explore the new data types and the data management features. Additionally, you will learn about the enhanced Integration Services, Analysis Services, and Reporting Services included in SQL Server 2008. This online clinic is composed of a rich multimedia experience.

    Objectives:
    At the end of the course, students will be able to:

    • Describe the features of SQL Server 2008 and their benefits.
    • Describe the features of enterprise data platform that help you to secure data in applications.
    • Describe the dynamic development features that facilitate the development of database applications.
    • Describe the features of SQL Server 2008 that provide data storage solutions beyond relational databases.
    • Describe the enhanced features in SSIS that help you to integrate data effectively.
    • Describe the enhanced features in SSAS that help you to improve the BI infrastructure.
    • Describe the enhanced features in SSRS that help you to improve the scalability of the reporting engine.
  • IIS 7 Appcmd UI Tool

    Yesterday I had to give a presentation about Windows Server 2008. One of the roles that I must cover is IIS 7 because we made such great improvements on this web platform that it has to be included. Most of the time when I demo IIS 7 I show them the new UI and how you can easily manage your IIS 7 web platform with the new tool and that is also possible to manage remote servers. The second item I mostly touch is the fact that you can manage your web platform from the command line using a tool appcmd.

     

    Now I don't use this tool often, actually only when I demo IIS 7 to my audience, which means that I have the choice  either I write down all the command (with parameters) that I want to show or I can use the appcmd /? which can be annoying during the demo. No whilst preparing for my session I found this nifty tool called AppcmdUI.

    This is really a great tool because with AppcmdUI you get an User Interface, not the most sexy one but still it's an UI, which will give you auto completion and also it will provide a list of available options for the command you just typed in.

     

    Lets see how this works using some screenshots:

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    I just typed in the appcmd command and hit the space key. The tool will then give you the different options to use, let's continue and try to create a new website.

     

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    So we want to add a new site so let's do that and just select the add option and see what happens next

     

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    You see now you get information about how to use this command, so their are multiple examples available onto this pane which all come out of the help function of appcmd command.

    This tool makes it really easy to use the appcmd command line functionality to configure and maintain a web platform. For me this tool goes into the standard set of tools an admin should have. Go ahead and download it now - AppcmdUI-Install.zip

     

    Go ahead and check out the blog of the author of this tool: Kanwaljeet Singla's Blog

  • Try Citrix Presentation Server through VHD Program

    The VHD test drive program is growing I just found out that Citrix has made a "Citrix Virtual Appliance" VHD. The "Citrix Virtual Appliance" is a pre-configured Citrix Server Platinum Edition. This give you the opportunity to test Citrix Presentation Server by just downloading the VHD instead of installing all applications. It's based onto our Windows 2003 R2 VHD base image.

    It's great to see that our partners/isv are starting to adopt our Virtualization Technology and creating VHD's to provide you with a test environment without the need to install everything.

    Do You want to know more about this program: http://www.citrix.com/

     

    Note: You will need a login to download the VHD.

     

  • Community Day 2007

    The Belgian community has a very strong reputation internationally with many individuals making their mark in their fields of expertise. Lots of individuals, like yourself, are hungry for more information about the many Microsoft products and technologies. In addition to the technical information, there is also very often the need to just socialize with other persons within the same domain of expertise.

    Five belgian usergroups, BIWUG, VISUG, SQLUG, IT-Talks, and Pro-Exchange, have decided to combine their efforts to organize a joint-event just before summer starts. This event will be the biggest community event in Belgium!  So if you are eager to learn, eager to get answers to your questions and eager to socialize, come and join us for our very first Belgian Community Day.

    The free event will take place at the premises of SemCom in Keerbergen on Thursday, the 28th of June 2007.
    For registration, please visit:
    http://www.communityday.be

     

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    The agenda of the event:

     

    AGENDA

    13:00

    Start

    13:30

    Welcome: introduction by the Belgian user groups

    14:00 - 14:30

    Keynote

    14:45 - 15:30

    Pro Exchange:
    Discovering Unified Communications

    VISUG:
    Building AJAX-Enabled Web Parts / Silverlight and PopFly

    SQL:
    Discovering Business Intelligence

    BIWUG:
    Community Tools

    15:30 - 16:00

    Exhibition / Demo's

    16:00 - 16:45

    IT-Talks:
    Securing and publishing your intranet with ISA Server 2006

    VISUG:
    Discovering Software Development Life-Cycle using Visual Studio Team System

    SQL:
    Broker Services

    BIWUG:
    Discover what SharePoint can do for your company

    17:00 - 17:30

    Speaker Panel

    17:30 - 18:30

    Buffet

    18:30

    Party

    For more information : www.communityday.be

  • Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Released to Web

    Today we released Service Pack 1 for Virtual Server 2005 R2 to the web.

    What's new in Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1?

    • Support for Hardware-Assisted Virtualization
    • Support for additional guest and host operating systems
    • VHD Mount command-line tool and APIs
    • Improved scalability support (Up to 256 GB of memory, Up to 512 VMs etc)
    • Interoperability with Volume Shadow Copy Service 
    • Service Publication using Active Directory Service Connection Points
    • Installation of Linux guests on a SCSI virtual hard drive
    • Default size increased to 127 GB for dynamically expanding virtual hard disks
    • VMRC ActiveX control now uses the Internet Explorer Security Zones 
    • Host clustering whitepaper

     Download SP1

  • System Center Data Protection Manager 2007 Beta 2

    Last friday I received a mail to announce that System Center Data Protection Manager 2007 Beta 2 is now available.

    What's new in DPM 2007:

    • Support for Microsoft Exchange (E2k3 and E2007), including advanced configurations such as E2007 Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR) and Local Continuous Replication (LCR) clusters. 
    • Ability to restore Exchange at the Database or Storage Group level.
    • Support for Microsoft SharePoint (WSS2.0 and WSS 3.0). 
    • Support for Microsoft SQL (2k3 and 2k5), including advanced configurations such as SQL 2005 mirrored clusters. DPM 2007 also supports shortened SQL backup windows without the need for costly compression solutions.
    • Zero data loss recovery for Microsoft applications
    • Shorter backup windows and smaller full backups thanks to patented Express Full technology
    • Efficient use of existing infrastructure, including reduced space requirements for Backup to Disk thanks to innovative data De-Duplication technology.
    • Enables end users to do their own recoveries and integrates the End User Recovery experience into windows. Recoveries are as simple a right mouse click!
    • Archive/TAPE Backup and Tape Data Encryption
    • Server system state 
    • DPM Disaster Recovery (DPM Backing up DPM)· Protection of Virtual Server 2005 R2 guest OS's and Virtual Server host based backup support
    • Files on workstations running Windows XP Professional SP2 and all Windows Vista Editions except the Home Edition

    Note DPM does not support file protection on laptops running Windows XP Professional SP2 and Windows Vista Editions

     

    DPM 2007 Beta2 will also contain some PowerShell cmdlets that you can use to manage your DPM environment. This is really cool, we can now manage Exchange 2007 and DPM 2007 through the same console PowerShell.

     

    Download

    X86: https://connect.microsoft.com/Downloads/DownloadDetails.aspx?SiteID=205&DownloadID=6741

    X64: https://connect.microsoft.com/Downloads/DownloadDetails.aspx?SiteID=205&DownloadID=6740

  • HTC Touch phone

    Last week HTC announced their new phone, HTC Touch. This is a real nice phone based onto Windows Mobile 6. It has been created for the customers who like to use touch screens to work with their phone. I just saw a video about HTC Touch in action which shows how HTC created a real slick interface. The only disadvantage this phone has is that they didn't focus onto the keyboard, so you still need a stylus to write your mails and messages.

    Nevertheless I think this is a cool device and I hope I will receive one very soon.

     

     

  • Virtual Server VHDMount Tracing

    Few weeks ago I received information about the VHDMount Tracing tool we added to the VHDMount into Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1. I wanted to share with you how you can use this tracing functionality to see when something goes wrong when trying to mount a VHD file.

    In case you are facing any failures please do following

    1) set VHD_MOUNT_TRACE=2 (on command prompt)

    2) Download and run DbgView.exe from http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/utilities/debugview.mspx

    3) This will create trace messages in DbgView.


    Notes:

    VHD_MOUNT_TRACE=1 will output trace on console. Trace messages are appended by [Info][Warning][Error][Internal], which can be used to redirect it to file

    VHD_MOUNT_TRACE=2 will output trace on debugger (kd / DbgView)

    VHD_MOUNT_TRACE=3 will output trace on console and debugger both

    If this env variable is not set, by default trace will only print Warning and Error messages on debugger.

     

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  • Virtualization and Licensing

    I have here two valuable resources about Virtualization and Licensing. Yeah I know it's not that easy to understand but with the first tool you will be able to calculate how many licenses your environment needs. The second resource is about how Windows 2003 R2 is licensed while using other Virtualization Technologies.

    Windows Server Virtualization Calculator (Version 2).
    The new calculator lets you interactively build virtual machines running multiple Microsoft server products to estimate the licenses and costs for Windows Server by edition (Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter) and many Microsoft server products. It starts with configuring your server based on virtualization technology, sockets and clustering requirements, and then builds the virtual machines.

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/howtobuy/licensing/calculator.mspx

     

    Licensing Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 to Run with Virtualization Technologies.
    This document covers VMware ESX Server, VMware VMotion, SWsoft Virtuozzo, and Microsoft System Center Virtualization Machine Manager. This document also Intentionally compares VMotion, System Center Virtual Machine Manager and Microsoft Host Clustering (AKA Quick Migration) to build awareness with VMware customers that we have similar management and “VM movement” capabilities.


    http:/download.microsoft.com/download/7/a/a/7aa89a8b-bf4d-446b-a50c-c9b00024df33/Windows_Server_2003_R2.docx


     “Microsoft details Windows licensing for 3rd party virtualization platforms” blog: http://www.virtualization.info/2007/06/microsoft-details-windows-licensing-for.html

     

    Currently I am reading a book on Virtualization written by Ben Armstrong - Professional Microsoft Virtual Server 2005,
    I recommend you to read it it's a valuable resource.

     

  • Surface Technology on a Laptop?

    Remember my blogpost at the end of may about the Microsoft Research innovation called Surface. Let me refresh your memory, Surface is a 30 inch tabletop which allow people to work without using any mouse or keyboard but just their hands. Wouldn't it be great to have this kind of technology on a laptop?

    Steve Hodges from Microsoft Research in Cambridge might have the solution by using some infrared sensors on the back of his laptop screen.

     

    Source: On10, Istartedsomething 

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  • System Center Service Manager Beta 1 available on connect

    You can from now on download the System Center Service Manager Beta 1 from connect.microsoft.com site.

    • Product documentation
    • Beta Guide walkthrough of 50 different scenarios
    • Quick Start Guide for setup and configuration of Service Manager
    • SDK download including sample Solution Packs and preliminary authoring guide
    • 2 VPC images and a working demo environment pre-installed
    • A getting started video highlighting various product features
    Source: Service Desk Blog

  • Katmai now known as Microsoft SQL Server 2008

    Another announcement made at TechEd was the release name of our newest version of SQL server and here again no surprises here it will be Microsoft SQL Server 2008. Now you can also download the first CTP of SQL Server 2008.

    Note that most of the new features will be about BI and development for SQL Server 2008.

     

    You can download the CTP here: https://connect.microsoft.com/sqlserver?wa=wsignin1.0

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  • Do you want to know more about Microsoft Volume Licensing?

    I know that a lot of out customers and Partners find it difficult to understand all the different licensing models we have here at Microsoft. I think that even a lot of people at Microsoft find it difficult to understand all the different licensing models, I do because I don't focus on licensing I focus more on the upcoming technology (lucky me). Because Licensing can be difficult we are introducing a series of webcasts for our Volume Licensing customers and Partners. The series is called "Inside Licensing"

     

    The series highlights hot topics in licensing through in-depth discussions with a varied and diverse group of panelists that includes industry analysts, partners, and Microsoft executives.

     

    Discussion topics include:

    • Microsoft’s People - Ready Business
    • Microsoft’s 2007 launch products
    • Infrastructure Optimization
    • New Licensing Packages including ECAL and Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack
    • Industry Trends
    • License management tools

    Watch the first webcast here.

    Find more information and register at the www.insidelicensing.com site

  • IT-Talks UG event: NTFS from A to Z

    IT-Talks organize another UG meeting On June 30th where they will talk about NTFS from A to Z.

    Topics of the day are:

    • NTFS physical to logical configuration

    • Active directory groups and NTFS security (AGDLP | AGUDLP)

    • Role base vs resource based access

    • Auditing

    • Distributed file system

    • Encrypted file system

    • Quotas

    • Access based enumeration

    • Volume shadow copy

    • ...

    Before the actual workshop starts I have one hour to give an introduction into Windows Server 2008. It's a bit short but I will try to focus on the important changes we've made with this new Operating System.

     

    If you are eager to learn something new I encourage you to check the IT-Talks website and register for this event. I know it's on a saturday but it's really valuable in depth information, workshop style, that you will receive during that day.

     

    They are also introducing their new blog. So from now expect to get more information around security and hopefully much more. Anyway I am subscribed to the RSS feed.

  • Windows Server 2003 SP2 release to Automatic Updates and WSuS

    Tomorrow June 12th we will release the Windows Server 2003 SP2 through the Automatic updates and Windows Server Update Services.

    We changed the way SP2 will be installed/delivered through our systems. You will now have more control on the installation behavior of Windows Server 2003 SP2 because the Update EULA acceptance screen and the SP2 Welcome screen will now be shown as part of the Windows Server SP2 install over WU Site and Automatic Updates. WSUS admins will also be required to explicitly accept the SP2 EULA in order to enable automatic deployment.

     

    Windows Server 2003 SP2 experience:

    • Windows Update (WU) Site: Install will now require specific UI: EULA accept and SP2 Welcome screen accept
    • Automatic Updates (AU): SP2 will require users to click on the balloon notification “Updates are ready to install” (which will show every day) unless SP2 is blocked with the blocker tool, or explicitly hidden by the user.  Once they click the balloon notification, starting the install will then require the explicit EULA and SP2 Welcome screen.
    • Windows Server Update Services (WSUS): WSUS Admins will be required to explicitly accept the Windows Server 2003 SP2 EULA in order to enable automatic deployment.  It will not flow thru automatically.  Once the WSUS admin approves, there is no further end-user machine interaction or UI required.

    Visit the SP2 TechNet pages for more information

  • Data Encryption Toolkit for Mobile PCs

    The Data Encryption Toolkit for Mobile PCs is a free Solution Accelerator from Microsoft, and the newest member of a suite of Windows Vista Solution Accelerators. The Toolkit provides tested guidance and powerful tools to help customers protect their organizations’ most vulnerable data—the information residing on their laptops.

    The Toolkit’s strategies are easy to understand, and show you how to use two key encryption technologies: BitLocker™ Drive Encryption, which is included with specific versions of Windows Vista, and the Encrypting File System, which is included with Microsoft Windows XP Professional and Windows Vista. 

    The Toolkit, which is free and available on TechNet, has four components: the Executive Overview, Security Analysis, the Planning and Implementation Guide, and the EFS Assistant

    Executive Overview

    The Executive Overview provides customers with a high-level overview of the Data Encryption Toolkit for Mobile PCs to help them understand the business and regulatory risks of losing data on mobile PCs, and how they can use the guidance in this Solution Accelerator to mitigate these risks.

    Security Analysis

    The Security Analysis discusses in depth a number of unique risks associated with data on mobile PCs, and analyzes how Microsoft's key encryption technologies, EFS and BitLocker, can help customers mitigate those risks.

    Planning and Implementation Guide

    The Planning and Implementation Guide describes how to plan for, configure, deploy, and operate EFS and BitLocker in a customer’s organization.

    EFS Assistant

    The EFS Assistant is a free downloadable tool that lets customers centrally control EFS settings on all their mobile PCs (and desktop PCs, too). The EFS Assistant will help customers find all the files on their mobile PCs that need to be encrypted, regardless of where users save them. And the EFS Assistant operates transparently to end users, minimizing training issues or other impacts. 

     

    Download the Data Encryption Toolkit for Mobile pc here