Robert has a good post up for folks wanting to run Windows Server 2008 R2 on their laptops. A lot of us do that so that we can run Hyper-V for demos or development purposes. If you enable the Desktop Experience feature along with Wireless LAN and a few other things, you effectively get a Windows 7-like desktop and the ability to run Hyper-V.
One of the challenges of this setup is that for some of the hardware in your laptop, Windows Server 2008 R2 may not detect drivers for it whereas if you were running Windows 7, the hardware would be detected and appropriate drivers downloaded from Windows Update. Robert’s post describes installing Windows 7 into another partition on the laptop and letting Windows Update detect and download the drivers into the Windows 7 install. Then you can boot into Windows Server 2008 R2, go into device manager and search the DriverStore on the Windows 7 partition to find the drivers.
If you know specifically all the hardware in your notebook, either via the Vendor’s website or by taking a screenshot of Device Manager before you upgrade, another way to approach this without doing a separate install of Windows 7 is to search the Microsoft Update Catalog. This KB article talks about how to do that but basically you can search the catalog and download the driver packages directly without Windows Update having to detect your hardware. In my example, I have a Dell D820 with an NVIDIA Quadro NVS 120 display adapter. Sometimes Windows Server 2008 and R2 don’t detect this. Since I know exactly what card I have, I can go to the catalog, search for that adapter, and find then download the Windows 7 driver and install that. The screenshot below shows what the catalog looks like. You can search and add multiple drivers to the download basket then download them all.
Bottom line, if you don’t know all the hardware in your machine, use Robert’s method of installing Windows 7 in another partition to identify all the hardware and use the drivers you download there. If you know your hardware, give the update catalog a try.
So I’ve been using Seesmic Desktop as a Twitter and Facebook client for the last week or two. Very cool app built on Adobe Air. Today via @EverythingMS I heard about sobees, a .NET app that aggregates Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed (yeah!), and many other sources. I’ve only just started using it in the last hour but it looks very slick. In addition to bringing in a bunch of networks, it really shows off .NET/WPF and what you can do with UI design. It supports full Aero transparency, the ability to zoom text sizes in and out, multi-monitor support and a bunch of other UI niceties. There are several color themes available and a wide range of layout options for arranging the services. As an FYI it seems to run fine so far on my Windows 7 RC installation.
I don’t know anything about the makers of the software yet so other than pointing out that it looks like a cool beta implementation your mileage may vary.
Below you can see a screenshot of three services (you can add in more) updating in real-time (Note: I blanked out some of the Facebook status on purpose). Definitely worth checking out. They also have a video up if you wan to see it in action.
Brian Madden has an excellent post up today called The hidden costs of VDI. I’ve been working nearly full time the last two months helping to put together a Microsoft Services offering around desktop virtualization in general and VDI in particular so have spent a lot of time looking into both the technical and business considerations that must be taken into account. I’d summarize his post in three points:
As a well known fan and expert on Server Based Computing (SBC), i.e. Terminal Services or Citrix Presentation Server/XenApp, Brian prefaced the article by saying that he likes VDI “where it make sense”. He correctly points out that nearly all vendors and TCO models show that Server Based Computing still provides the lowest TCO due to its high user density but that there are limitations which make other approaches such as VDI relevant.
That is where I’ll jump in with my thoughts because I completely agree with those statements and it has been the foundation of the offering I have been working on. It starts with the notion of flexible desktop computing and desktop optimization that Microsoft has been talking about for some time now. An overview of this approach is presented in this whitepaper. To summarize, there are a variety of ways that a desktop computing environment can be delivered to users ranging from traditional desktops, to server based computing, to VDI, with a multitude of variations in between with the addition of virtualization at the layers illustrated below:
Rather than selecting a one-size-fits-all solution, virtualization provides architects a new, more flexible set of choices that can be combined to optimize the cost and user experience of the desktop infrastructure. The following four steps lead to an optimized solution:
Define User Types: Analyze your user base and define categories such as Mobile Workers, Information Workers, Task Workers, etc. and the percent distribution of users among them. The requirements of these user types will be utilized to select the appropriate mix of enabling technologies.
Define Desktop Architecture Patterns: Each architecture pattern should consist of a device type (thin client, PC, etc) and choice of:
For each pattern, determine which user types it can be applied to. For example, with mobile or potentially disconnected users, presentation virtualization alone would not be applicable as it requires a network connection. Power users may require a full workstation environment for resource intensive applications but may be able to leverage application virtualization for others. These are just a few examples where different user groups have different requirements.
Determine TCO for each Architecture Pattern: Use a recognized TCO model to determine the TCO for each pattern. Minor adjustments to these models can be made to account for specific technology differences but most include TCO values for PCs, PCs with virtualized apps, VDI, and TS/Citrix thin client scenarios. Be wary of vendor provided TCO models. To Brian’s points, be sure to gain a full and complete understanding of the chosen TCO model and what does and does not include. Consistent application of the model across the different architecture patterns is critical for relevant comparisons.
Model Desktop Optimization Scenarios: With the above data, appropriate architecture patterns can be selected for each user type by choosing the lowest TCO architecture pattern that still meets user requirements. By varying the user distribution and selected architecture patterns, an optimized mix can be determined. It is tempting to simply choose the lowest TCO architecture pattern for all users but this can be very dangerous in that it will typically impact your high value, power users the most if their requirements are not accounted for.
A one-size-fits-all approach would result in either a large number of PCs if not using virtualization, a large number of servers if virtualizing everything, or failure to meet power user needs if using only server based computing. An optimized solution is one which utilizes the right mix of technologies to provide the required functionality for each user type at the lowest average TCO. Combined with a unified management system that handles physical and virtual resources across devices, operating systems, and applications, substantial cost savings can be realized.
As I mentioned at the top, a lot of the concepts in addition to very detailed architecture and implementation guidance are part of the Microsoft Services Core IO offerings. For the last two years, in addition to my customer work I have been deeply involved in the creation of the Server Virtualization with Advanced Management (SVAM) offering. The work I mentioned above around VDI architecture will complement that and be available later this summer. Finally, specific to desktop imaging, deployment, and optimization, there is also the Desktop Optimization using Windows Vista and 2007 Microsoft Office System (DOVO) offering. Taken together in concert with the underlying product suites, these illustrate Microsoft’s “desktop to datacenter” solutions and how to plan, design, and implement them.
Continuing the foray into social networking I started on a couple weeks ago, today’s topic is social bookmarking. For those who are even later to the game than I am, social bookmarking is basically a site or service that lets you tag and store your website bookmarks in a central location that is accessible from any browser while also publishing your bookmarks for others to see. Advanced services let you publish your bookmarks as an RSS feed so that others can subscribe and be notified when you bookmark something. Delicious.com is the most well know of these and provides even more features like being able to subscribe to feeds based on tags so that you get a stream of all new bookmarks using one or more tags. An example would be creating a subscription for the tag “Hyper-V” where you would then see a list of all bookmarks created where someone added the Hyper-V tag. You can also use these services to see and follow what others are bookmarking, a good way to see what influentials in your area find interesting.
Lesser known than Delicious but utilized by nearly two million people are the TechNet and MSDN social bookmarking sites. Like nearly all Microsoft web properties, after an initial burst of coverage when launched, there is usually minimal follow-up coverage (hopefully that changes this summer…) so unless you caught the original announcements you may not be aware of these sites.
For a thorough introduction and steps to get started, check out this post over on Technically Speaking.
For my purposes, I will be using both Delicious and TechNet for social bookmarking. I’ll keep the TechNet list focused on the deeper, more informational bookmarks on technical topics. As with everything else I’m doing online, I will be bringing these bookmark feeds into Friendfeed which I’m using as a hub for all of my online activities.
For the bookmarks only, you can find me at these locations (RSS feeds available there as well):
TechNet Social Bookmarks: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Profile/en-US/?user=davidzi
There was a lot of buzz last week with Facebook’s Open Stream API announcement. There were many demos of applications leveraging the new API, one good one is Seesmic Desktop which I’ve been using as my Twitter client and now has Facebook integration. It's an Adobe AIR based application. On the home front, Microsoft took part in the Facebook event and showed off some very slick Silverlight and WPF clients leveraging the Facebook API. Both were technology demonstrations created in 72 hours by two teams of 3 developers. This post over on Team Silverlight has the details and a bunch of screenshots. In their Twitter stream they say that they will be publishing the source code for these very soon. Below is a TechCrunch video showing them in action.