Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

April, 2006

  • Using Verizon EVDO with Windows Vista

    I’m sure by now that a number of you have signed up for the Verizon BroadbandAccess EVDO service.  If you are a trail blazer and are part of the Windows Vista testing gang, you have probably noticed by now that Verizon’s connection software (VZAccess) doesn’t run under Windows Vista.  Never fear, there is a solution to this problem.

    Creating an EVDO Dial-up Connection

    • Insert your EVDO modem card.  I am using the PC 5740.  Make sure you are doing this at home or in an office and Windows Vista networking via your homelan or office lan is already working.  The detection process needs to get the drivers from the Windows Vista update site.

    EVDO modem detect

    • Click the yes button to search for the drivers.
    • Let the detection process complete and you’ll see the success result dialog box as indicated below.

    EVDO modem installed

    • Go to the Network Center.  You can get to this a variety of ways, but Control Panel | Network Center works.
    • Click Setup a connection or network in the left hand list of tasks.
    • Click setup a dial-up connection as shown below

    EVDO setup dialup1

    • Pick the modem from the list.  In my case, it’s the Curitel PC Card.  This will bring you to the next screenshot and allow for the other information we’ll enter.
    • Enter #777 as the phone number.
    • Enter a network name.
    • Check the box that lets other users use this network on your machine.  I use this for guest access on my machine.

    EVDO setup dialup3

    • Click the Connect button and the new connection will be attempted.  You should see the success message similar to the dialog below.

    EVDO setup dialup4

    Happy surfing!!!  FYI, I also tested VPN connectivity across this to my corporate network.


    [UPDATE 7–15–2006]

    VzwFor the Kyocera, KPC650,

    • Copy the Verizon VZaccess installer to your harddrive
    • Open properties, click the run in XPxp2 compat mode and run as admin
    • Install the software.
    • Once the install finishes
    • Insert the card and use network center to create a new dialup connection
    • If you are prompted for drivers look in program files\verizon wireless\vzaccess manager\drivers\650
    • Dial #777 – no username or password
    • You don’t need to use the VZaccess software
    • I have noticed sometimes when I wake the system and insert the card the system won’t see it.  If you just reboot with the card in it will work fine.




  • Xbox360 High Definition game videos here

    Xbox360Ok, what’s your excuse now?  I see Xbox360 boxes for sale in all of the retail stores around my area.  What about your area?  I’ve been a bit of a gaming whimp the past few months.  Work has consumed far too much time.  After next week, I’m ready to tackle the games I have. 

    If you are having a hard time deciding what to spend your precious cash on, what better way to decide that to see some trailers and action?  The links below are to high definition 720p Windows Media Video files of a bunch of games.  I have Call of Duty 2, Ghost Recon AW, Kameo, PGR3, Oblivion, and some others not listed below. 

    As you can see, some of the files are pretty hefty downloads.  But hey, at least you can pull down and review them before you buy.

    See you on Xbox Live soon!!!


    File Name: File Size


    93.2 MB


    53.0 MB


    286.0 MB


    75.9 MB


    61.5 MB


    93.5 MB


    79.5 MB


    78.8 MB


    57.9 MB


    102.3 MB


    86.1 MB


    84.0 MB


    49.2 MB


    68.1 MB


    65.8 MB


    25.1 MB

    PGR3_Tokyo_Xbox_360 Video.wmv

    68.1 MB


    127.8 MB


    89.9 MB


    72.2 MB


    87.6 MB


    103.7 MB

  • How would you solve this security problem?

    Steve Riley sent me an email message about a post on his blog.  He needs feedback from all of you on how to solve a challenging problem.  The challenge revolves around using public computers or kiosks to access your corporate data.  If we all used smartcards, and all machines had smartcard readers, then we’d have a nice multi factor auth system.  However, smartcard utopia doesn’t exist.

    You can read a nice description of the problem at

    So what would you like a two factor authentication system to look and act like?  Give Steve some good feedback at the post linked above.

    My solution would be to create a smartcard emulator on a USB flash “drive”.  Securely store the certs on the device.  USB is a pretty prevalent port on machines, at least more so than anything else I can think of.  Would that work?

  • Windows Vista Security - webcast questions and answers (tons)

    Today was a blast!!!  Webcasts are fun, nerve racking, exciting, tense, glorious, chilling…  notice the see saw?  My job is to make sure the webcast is smooth as Aero Glass so that any issues don’t distract you from the information I’m discussing.  This webcast could have easily been four hours.  There is soo much information related to Windows Vista Security, there’s no way to get much coverage in 60 minutes.  So thanks for your time today and I promise some killer screencasts on this blog, and the blogs of my team.  We are building a screencast plan for Windows Vista, Exchange Server, Longhorn Server, Office, and a bunch of other products. 

    Thanks to the gentlemen that helped with today’s webcast.  Kevin Remde, Blain Barton, John Weston, Michael J Murphy and Shawn Travers all helped out today.  The question and answer log below reflects their contribution which as you can see, is very significant.  Thanks guys.

    I did use editorial license a bit below… but hey, it’s my blog.  Enjoy!



    Windows VistaQuestion: If you use the Vista Bits Locker does that block tools like On-Track Data Recoverer from being able to retrieve data off a failing hard drive?
    Private Answer: Yes. You'll get the bits, but you won't be able to make sense of them.

    Question: Where can I get the technical info being presented? The presentation does not contain any technical details about Vista
    Answer: Best source currently is the Windows Vista web site: Subscribe to the RSS feeds there to be notified when new information is available.

    Question: Is it true, that there will be released a new build on connect today ?
    Private Answer: I don't know the answer to that. Sorry.

    Question: What resolution do you have your monitor set at?
    Private Answer: I was running the host OS at 1280x1024 and the vm guest OS’s at 1024x768.  LiveMeeting disables part of the color support.

    Question: I have not been able to get the beta yet
    Answer: Sign up here for the next beta:

    Question: Will Vista have Group Policy to enable the desktop firewall when not connected directly to the system's primary DNS Domain network?
    Answer: Yes. Same as currently available with XP. (XP SP2 introduced that capability as well.)

    Question: I installed Build 5308 yesterday. Will the April CTP have an upgrade option?
    Answer: The next "CTP" is going to be Beta 2, and I believe upgrade will be possible - though I wouldn't count on an upgrade from older builds or CTPs to be successful.

    Question: Vista is a desktop OS? Longhorn will be the server OS?
    Answer: correct

    Question: XP SP2 you can 'Prohibit the use of Internet Connection Firewall on your DNS Domain network', but I don't see where you can do that for the desktop Firewall- those are two separate things - right?
    Answer: The "Windows Firewall" is the desktop firewall included in SP2 for XP and SP1 for Windows Server 2003. It is the next version of what WAS known as ICF (Internet Connection Firewall), so yes, they are the same thing.

    Question: Is IE 7.0 avaliable for Windows XP?
    Answer: The beta is, download here

    Question: will IE 7 be available without vista
    Answer: Yes. You can download the beta now, as a matter of fact.

    Question: Is there going to be a 64bit beta release?
    Answer: absolutely

    Question: Will IE7 run on 2k or just vista and xp?
    Answer: Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2003.

    Question: Keith mentioned about using IE7 for himself. I cannot run it at work, but was thinking about running it on my home PC which is XP SP2. Since it is not the "officially" released version, does running it at home pose any issues I may need to consider?
    Answer: The only issues you might encounter have to do with some web applications that might not yet be supported. But for the most part it works really really well.

    Question: When can we expect a 64 bit Vista or IE 7 Beta?
    Answer: 64bit Windows Vista will be released the very same day as 32bit. The versions are being kept completely in sych as they are built. (It's essentially just a recompile of the same code.)

    Question: Is there going to be a tool for administrators to monitor and manage MS Firewall for users?
    Answer: Through Group Policy you can manage it, monitoring network traffic to ensure compliance can be done with any network monitor

    Question: To take full advantage of Vista Firewall, does it require Longhorn?
    Answer: No

    Question: I have been having issues installing Flash player and other apps on Vista
    Answer: This is why we have the beta process.  It’s important to report issues you see so that we can make changes to the OS if needed, or report issues to other companies.

    Question: What is the release date for the flavors of Vista?

    Question: how do I get Vista?
    Answer: Sign up here for the next beta:

    Question: are regular users with default user profile have the abiulity run programs in any mode , say "run as admin or power user" on the fly?
    Answer: As long as they have an admin/Power User Name and password, yes

    Question: Do you have some recommendations for Vista capable Anti-Virus programs?
    Answer: Windows OneCare. (You can try out the beta now on XP. And if you try the beta, you can purchase one year for only $19.95 instead of the $49.95 or whatever it will be when it ships in a couple months.)

    Question: Firewall: Will there be some kind of centralized log collection to monitor the clients?
    Answer: I am unaware of anything native for the Firewall on the clients, however, MOM may be able to supply much of that desired funcionality

    Question: A program error with IE7, will you be able to go into Control Panel Add/Remove Programs and run a Repair on IE7?
    Answer: I don't know if that will be allowed in the final build. I know that with the beta 2 preview you can remove it (it shows up as an "update" in Add/Remove Programs list.)

    Question: Can a 64 bit IE 7 be found now?
    Answer: From the beta download site "Evaluation of Internet Explorer 7 should start now, but the software should not be used on production systems in mission-critical environments. Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview - released on March 20th - will only run on Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) systems, but will ultimately be available for Windows Vista, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, and Windows Server 2003. "

    Question: Is IE7.x going to have a IE Admin kit for automated deployment or something else?
    Answer: I expect that they will have either a kit or some other specs for automated deployment, yes.

    Question: Second level of authentication can be used with First, or second level a failover only?
    Answer: Multiple authentication techniques are generally intended to be used in combination or be cumulative. An exception example would be the "Run As" in which I am launching a process under another set of credentials, independent of whatever my current login.  In the case of the firewall demo, Keith mentioned this because if you are unable to contact the key authentication mechanism like a Kerberos server, you could fallback to using a Certificate or an older technology like NTLM.

    Question: Is there a white paper on Vista firewall/GPO settings someplace?
    Answer: See the step by step guides Keith has listed at  Close to the top of the list of those guides is the Group Policy guide.  You’ll also want to review the goodies at  There will be a lot more information coming in the new couple of months as we get closer to the release of Beta 2.

    Question: will Vista run smoothly on my 2003 computer made for XP?
    Answer: Probably, if you have 512MB or more RAM, a 1.5GHz processor, and 64MB video memory on a video adapter that supports the new WDDM driver APIs from Microsoft.

    Question: will there be group policies to controle and setup the firewall in an AD environment?
    Answer: Absolutely

    Question: He mentioned that firewall rules are scriptable....can you elaborate on how to begin something like that.
    Answer: That's true in XP SP2 and Windows Server 2003 SP1 also, for the windows firewall. You can configure the firewall using the "netsh firewall" commands.

    Question: Ok on Windows OneCare. I use it on my XP boxes but the install requirements say it requires XP and IE6. My Vista Security Center is screaming that it wants anit-virus protection now.
    Answer: Right. Windows OneCare will satisfy your Security Center.

    Question: when can I down this webcast
    Answer: within 24 hours.  Look in the on demand webcast area for April 17, 2006.

    Question: If youy install IE7 beta on an existing IE 6, do u still have the option of running both versions or basically installing IE7 is like an upgrade?
    Answer: It is an upgrade; and it currently IS uninstallable, also, if you have any problems.

    Question: I have a few AutoIT scripts that have 'run as' inside. Is that still an option in Vista?
    Answer: To the best of knowledge that will be supported

    Question: Can certain applications be setup to automatically run with admin rights?
    Answer: Yes - it is part of the application compatibility options.

    Question: the complexity of the firewall can be covered by existing server 2003 methods (group policies / templates) ?
    Answer: No.  The Windows Server 2003 built-in firewall does not have outbound rules as demonstrated today. 

    Question: The consent prompts... does Vista remember you're responses to Allow or Deny so you aren't prompted each time?
    Answer: No. You'll be asked every time.

    Question: I get quite a few prompts when launching apps that state "run dll as app" Do you want to allow this? Is that the firewall or a security policy in Vista?
    Answer: It’s the Windows Vista security.  Depending on the build of Vista depends on what you see as we tune this. 

    Question: Would you recommend using Vista on my everyday home usage PC? Or should I wait unitl a later build or the final release?
    Answer: I would wait until the next Beta, and then I would test that build first before relying on it for production (or even regular home) use.

    Question: is there a way to override the Admin authentication for a period of time? This could be very annoying during a manual build... being prompted 30 times to install 30 apps will be time consuming and unnessessary
    Answer: yes, they can be disabled

    Question: When is the estimated date for the next beta? How many more betas are planned before the final release?
    Answer: Next Beta will likely be May or possibly June (not yet announced, I don't think). No word on other betas beyond that either.

    Question: Will the Beta be available with all the versions:i.e premium ,ultimate etc.?
    Answer: Yes.

    Question: Okay, regarding the question about auto configuring an app to run with admin rights, can it also be setup to not prompt the user for an admin password and username?
    Answer: You'll have to provide those as part of the script, which you may consider to be a security issue in and of itself, but doable, yes

    Question: Will Vista or IE7 provide functionality to contain internet zone activity within a protected virtual shell like products such as Greenborder which flushes once the active session ends?
    Private Answer: I am unaware of any native functionality like you describe

    Question: Am I correct in saying that in Vista, basically every program/software install requires some form of authentication. Now if you have local admin rights, are you still prompted ?How come my questions are not being answered??
    Answer: Yes, you will still be prompted, the idea is prevent any malicious/background/intrusive software from being loaded without your knowledge. Can you turn the prompts off? Yes, but I encourage you not to

    Question: what's his blog address again?

    Question: No need to answer: I would hope that a possible feature would be added in the future in the profile of the startup icon that would have the ability to accept a username and password to specified by the admin (sort of like start-up credentials for services). I would not want to creat a script because the password can't be encrypted.
    Answer: Understood, thanks for the feedback

    Question: Keith used TPM. Can you tell me what it means?
    Answer: Trusted Platform Module see

    Question: Sorry for off topic but does Acrobat Reader run on Vista yet ? Can't install Acrobat Reader on Vista :( Error msg: You need Windows NT4 ServicePack 6 or Windows 200 ServicePack2 and up. ?
    Answer: There are some known bugs with some of the recent versions of the Acrobat 7 installers.  They are working on fixing this.

    Question: How to integrate Lenovo Fingerprint in Vista?
    Answer: The Lenovo ThinkPad T60 Keith is using supports TPM and also has custom written software to take advantage of the fingerprint reader.  See for information on the software they use.  We expect Lenovo to ship updates shortly after Windows Vista releases, or at least we hope that happens.  Be sure to scan more than one finger.

    Question: Does the bitlocker encprytion, when encrypted use more disk space then when not encrypted?
    Answer: Yes, there is some overhead, but it is not alot see  Also see the BitLocker guide listed at

    Question: Will bitlocker be supported on hardware RAID disk systems? If so will we need to unlock the machine if we replace on of the disks?
    Answer: see Also see the BitLocker guide listed at

    Question: where I can download the new build of windows vista?
    Answer: It's available as part of your MSDN Universal subscription or TechNet Plus suscription and through some Beta programs, it is not available for public/general download

    Question: Can there be 3rd party drivers like lenovo Fingerprint installed in Bitlocker Pre-boot authentication?
    Answer: Yes, the plan is to support 3rd party integration, though that will be vendor specific

    Question: with BitLocker, will the need for PGP still be there
    Answer: BitLocker competes with other volume and disk encryption products on the market.

    Question: Versions of Windows Vista:

    Question: Will Defender have Settings more accesible? Like the 1st antispy release?
    Answer: Yes

    Question: I guess we'll have to update all our GPO templates for Vista.
    Answer: Everyone will. With the new OS I would anticipate a variety of improvements you'll want to manage centrally. Only way to do that is load the new adm's

    Question: Can I get antivirus through Vista?
    Answer: Yes. You will be able to use Windows OneCare, or other non-microsoft antivirus just like you are currently.

    Question: Will there be a recovery utility for Bitlocker if the HD gets corrupt?
    Answer: Yes. See this article on BitLocker and recovery:

    Question: Can I assign the Policy Groups from my server WS K3, to the clients with WV?
    Answer: Yes, you will be able to manage WV completely through Group Policy and even running GPMC on Windows Server 2003, using administrative templates.

    Question: What would prevent a client who would have the administrative credentials from just logging in with those credentials to begin with, bypassing all the security meant to protect the user?
    Answer: The administrative prompts which apply to those logged on with admin rights, could that admin then disable those prompts, yes, but I would encourage the admin to see those prompts as a way to know, nothing is getting installed without his knowledge

    Question: How does Vista control removable device such as USB keys? Through domain policy? Can this be overriden by a local system administrator?
    Answer: Yes, through group policy in the domain. A local system admin would not be able to override these settings, provided the machine remained in the domain.

    Question: Will we be able to merge current GPOs together with Vista? Is there a tool to help us consolidate GPOs with Vista?
    Answer: The vast majority of your client GPO settings WILL apply to Vista, additionally there will be new Vista specific GPO settings

    Question: will that be in a podcast ?
    Answer: There may be some available for download, yes.

    Question: Can shutdown be configured by device - laptop vs. desktop?
    Answer: Sure. This is possible. One way to do this might be to create a WMI script to look for a battery on the local machine. Battery = laptop. No battery = desktop. (I'm talking about the big battery, not the little ones that keep the clock running.)

    Question: I am previving Vista Beta 1 from Oct and was wondering if you are using a newer build how can I get an update?
    Answer: Much newer, yes. Keep watching the Windows Vista web site ( for details on the next beta, which will be out in a month or two.

    Question: We have a workgroup setting, not a domain. Can I have a group policy that prevents installation of USB sticks on the Vista client? Meaning can I configure this setting on each client without having a domain controller?
    Answer: Yes, manually at the client or through a startup script

    Question: link to the blog?

    Question: A WMI check of Chasis is better to determine laptop vs. desktop. Virtual machines sometimes list batteries when running on desktops.
    Answer: That's good to know. Thanks!

  • PCIe ExpressCard 34/54 - your next laptop killer feature

    PCIe ExpressCard Introduction

    When you start looking at the feature set for your next laptop purchase, look very closely.  At first glance, many of the new laptops appear to have two pcmcia card slots.  Look more closely because most likely one of those slots is a PCI Express ExpressCard 34/54 slot.

    My team is getting ready to refresh the hardware platform we use.  We are moving to a 32bit dual core based laptop.  You might be wondering why we aren’t going to a 64bit based machine.  The answer is simple, money.  We have sponsors that would like us to run the Intel Centrino Duo Mobile chipsets and technology.  Our budget is constrained like everyone else, so sponsorship money helps immensely.

    Almost all of the machines we are evaluating include the ExpressCard 54 slot.  I am currently writing this from the Lenovo ThinkPad T60 eval unit I have.  My shopping list includes the Dell Latitude D820, Acer TravelMate 8200, Gateway M465, Toshiba Tecra M5, and the Apple MacBook Pro (grin).  The MacBook and TravelMate 8200 have ExpressCard 34 slots according to the specs.  The Gateway M465 does not have an ExpressCard slot.

    What problem are you trying to solve?

    The reason I became interested in this technology was to solve an ongoing problem Microsoft presenters face.  Most presenter machines have two serious bottlenecks.  The first issue is the lack of available memory to run virtual machines.  In calendar years 2003–2005, most of the machines we ran had 2gig of memory.  You start carving that up with 500meg VM allocations, and you run into the wall pretty quick.

    The second and more serious issue is I/O throughput.  When you are running one or two virtual machines on 2.5” Hitachi 100gig 7200rpm drives, you can get by with decent performance.  We started to see issues with some of our more I/O intensive products in 2005.  When my team started running the Q3 content sessions, we hit the wall on both disk I/O and memory at the same time.  We were running a host OS and four virtual machines.  The virtual machines used six virtual hard drive files and because we had UNDO turned on, an additional six virtual undo disk files get created at execution time.  This generates a tremendous amount of disk activity.

    As you know, we always run at least two hard drive spindles in our demos.  This allows us to place the undo disk files on one spindle, and the virtual hard drive source on the other spindle.  This helps relieve the I/O contention burden and we’ve been getting by ok.

    So what are you worried about?

    History and experience tells me the complexity of our demo environment isn’t going to change.  The TechNet team typically has a client/server model in most of our demos.  Many times we are also demonstrating multiple servers, replication, monitoring, software distribution, etc.  So keeping an eye on the future with Windows Vista, Exchange Server “E12”, 2007 Microsoft Office System, and Windows Server “Longhorn” tells me those bottlenecks will still be taxed.

    So how are you going to fix the disk issue?

    Integration my friend, integration.  The ExpressCard standard is pretty new so the goal will be to come up with a package of components that will allow use to supply a high speed disk standard for the presenters.  If we can find an ExpressCard to deliver eSATA, then we have a number of disk options.  Probably the hardest component to certify will be the external enclosure.  We need an enclosure that supports SATA 3Gb/s (also known as SATA II).

    Today I am using an eSATA solution with my cable HDTV DVR to extend the recording capacity of the DVR.  You can read about all of the components and cables I’m using at  I don’t think the enclosure I’m using supports the full SATA 3Gb/s spec.  It appears most of the 3.5” eSATA enclosures don’t, so finding one and proving it really works won’t be easy unless someone saves me some time and points me to one.  Hint hint.

    Next, we need a nice eSATA ExpressCard.  I plan to test the SIIG cards since they have a solid reputation for quality products.  The card I have my eye on is the SIIG eSATA II ExpressCard RAID.  It looks like a great little card and it’s priced around $70.

    And of course we need a hard drive.  As you know, 3.5” hard drives are priced very nicely per Gig when compared to 2.5” laptop drives.  And we could also consider a 10,000 RPM SATA II drive as well.  Here’s a nice 500gig 7200rpm drive from Hitachi.  An of course there’s the bad ass 10,000rpm Western Digital Raptor X.  It’s soo pretty you won’t want to even put an enclosure around it.  It also has a clear lens portal so you can see the hard drive actuator arm in action.  Very very kewl.  WDRaptorXwindowSee the picture at the right or below.

    Do you really think presenters want to lug this around?

    Probably not.  Backpack or roller bag cubic inches are at a premium for all road warriors.  I recognize that many people won’t want to lug around a 3.5” enclosure, power supply and eSATA cable.  However, if they see that their demos are snappy and they no longer get embarrassed on stage, that might be just enough of an incentive for them to think twice.  Another significant portion of my job is delivering webcasts.  In FY07 (which starts July 1st 2006), it looks like screencasts will also become a significant portion of my job.  In those two cases, I can have the eSATA drive sitting here on my desk.  No hassle at all then.

    I thought you were building an iSCSI SAN?

    Ah, I see you’ve been reading  Well, iSCSI isn’t really a portable solution so most likely it will have a place at my home datacenter.  An eSATA solution could hit the road with me. 

    Other ExpressCard Options

    There are a number of other possibilities for use of the ExpressCard slot.  High Definition tuners, memory expansion, network cards, and IEEE 1394 firewire are just a few of the possibilities.  It would be nice to have a HDTV tuner card that plugs into that slot and allows for Windows Vista recording of HDTV content.  You’ll notice that scenario is also listed in the Apple MacBook Pro technology overview.


    I stumbled across my ThinkPad T60 ExpressCard slot by accident.  I already had my pcmcia smartcard reader in the lower slot and tried to plug my Verizon pcmcia EVDO card into the top slot.  It wouldn’t go.  I looked inside and wondered what the heck this slot was for.  I discovered it earlier this week while in Canada but didn’t have time until now to investigate.  I’m glad I did.  So, make sure you consider this on your next laptop purchase.  You’ll be glad you did!!!

  • Windows Vista Webcasts - 4/17 through 5/17

    WinVista_h_WebMonday the TechNet Team kicks off some of the really serious stuff around Windows Vista from an IT Pro perspective.  I’m going to lead things off with a look at security changes implemented inside the new client operating system.  We’ll discuss group policy objects, Windows BitLocker drive encryption, Windows Firewall, and User Account Control (UAC), and illustrate how changes in these items affect overall security from the standpoint of an IT professional or system administrator.  We are also going to take a peak at Windows Server “Longhorn” during the course of that discussion. 

    I’ll be running two virtual machines (Longhorn build 5326 and Windows Vista build 5326) courtesy of Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2.  If you haven’t had a chance to try our virtual machine technology, you have no excuse now.  Virtual Server 2005 R2 is a free download.

    After we get done with the security portion, the webcasts series will cover other topics like deployment, group policy, management, application compatibility, user state migration, and other topics.  Maybe the Bungie folks will let us do a demo of Halo2 for Windows Vista. Wouldn’t it be fun to deploy Halo2 across a bunch of desktops?  Don’t count on that happening, but it would be fun. 

    Take a look below.  As you can see, we’re off to a good start.  Don’t worry, there are plenty of other sessions in development.


    Live Webcasts

    TechNet Webcast: Security in Windows Vista (Level 300)
    Monday, April 17, 2006
    11:00 A.M.–12:00 P.M. Pacific Time

    TechNet Webcast: Windows Vista Deployment Overview (Level 200)
    Wednesday, April 19, 2006
    11:30 A.M.–12:30 P.M. Pacific Time

    TechNet Webcast: Group Policy in Windows Vista (Level 200)
    Monday, April 24, 2006
    9:30 A.M.–11:00 A.M. Pacific Time

    TechNet Webcast: A Day in the Life of Windows Vista Productivity (Level 300)
    Wednesday, April 26, 2006
    11:30 A.M.–1:00 P.M. Pacific Time

    TechNet Webcast: Windows Vista Deployment Tools and Technologies (Level 200)
    Monday, May 1, 2006
    11:30 A.M.–12:30 P.M. Pacific Time

    TechNet Webcast: Tools and Techniques for Managing a Windows Vista Desktop (Level 200)
    Wednesday, May 3, 2006
    11:30 A.M.–12:30 P.M. Pacific Time

    TechNet Webcast: Business Desktop Deployment Workbench in Windows Vista (Level 300)
    Monday, May 8, 2006
    11:30 A.M.–12:30 P.M. Pacific Time

    TechNet Webcast: Application Compatibility Testing (Level 300)
    Wednesday, May 10, 2006
    11:30 A.M.–12:30 P.M. Pacific Time

    TechNet Webcast: User State Migration in Windows Vista (Level 300)
    Monday, May 15, 2006
    11:30 A.M.–12:30 P.M. Pacific Time

  • Does your file system have attitude or altitude?

    During the course of last quarter, we demonstrated the Windows Server R2 quota management, file filters and other storage related technologies.  On a few occasions, the question would pop up as to how file requests are processed by virus checking products, file filters, quota management, etc.

    A file system filter driver intercepts requests targeted at a file system or another file system filter driver. By intercepting the request before it reaches its intended target, the filter driver can extend or replace functionality provided by the original target of the request. Examples of file system filter drivers include anti-virus filters, backup agents, and encryption products.

    The processing or load order is defined at in what are known as “Altitudes”.  Altitude allocations can be requested from Microsoft, but keep in mind this is developer territory.  For more complete documentation on File System Filter Drivers, see  Propeller head stuff for sure.

  • The Windows Vista Product Guide was here...

    Windows Vista Product GuideEvery so often, something really kewl comes along that you just have to have.  The Windows Vista Product Guide is one of those objects of affection.  It’s a comprehensive look at the Windows Vista product line and explains the features, the differences between the product versions, screen shots, etc.

    A word or two of warning is in order.  First, the guide is pretty big (313 pages) so the filesize is almost 44meg.  Second, you’ll need to install WinFX XML Paper Specifications Document (BETA) stuff in order to render this guide.  You can download the WinFX goodies at  Since I already had IE7 installed, I just installed the WinFX Runtime Components and was able to view the document without issue.

    I cheated a bit however (as usual).  I am running a Lenovo T60 Dual Core laptop so it certainly has the power to do such things.  Let me know your experience.  I am also currently in the Microsoft Toronto office so I sent the document to one of their high speed duplex printers.  Now I have a few extra pounds of reading for my trip home tomorrow.


    UPDATED 4/14/2006

    So, where’s the guide?  I had permission from the Program Manager to post the Windows Vista Product Guide to my blog. Apparently, it isn’t quite ready for public consumption so I was asked to remove the link.  If you were lucky enough to download the “sneak peek” preview, enjoy!  The guide will be back when we ship Windows Vista Beta 2.

    By the way, the isp server that had the guide caught fire.  Just teasing... 

  • Facetime is Evil

    Facetime416-thumbMy team spends a lot of time discussing and evangelizing Microsoft products to a wide variety of groups and customer segments.  For the meetings that aren’t considered to be a core live event (seminar), or a webcast, we call the event or meeting “face time”.

    The meetings can be at a university to discuss Microsoft technology and career paths.  It could be a meeting with a large customer.  They are many and varied and we consider those “touches” to be high quality time.

    Often we learn more from our customers than they learn from us.  It isn’t “by design” but it just happens that way naturally.  It’s the real world out there and you are the folks taking our code and operating systems and really building solutions that impact peoples lives.

    I thought it was particularly humorous that Hugh at posted a cartoon that so brazenly reflects the opposite of what we’ve found.  The cartoon did the trick.  I read the link just below it from Fred Wilson.  Fred’s right.  Air time sucks.  Face time rocks.

  • Microsoft Helps the Red Cross

    As you’ll recall, the US Gulf Coast got pounded last year by hurricanes.  There is no shortage of heroes that helped many people in need.  The American Red Cross is one of those organizations that goes to the worlds disasters and is a critical player in saving lives, lending a shoulder to cry on, and helping people put their lives back together.  They are at it right now helping the people of the southern US after this weeks terrible tornado disasters.  Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

    I work for the Microsoft Across America team.  In 2004 and 2005 we build some pretty impressive rolling demo trucks.  Each truck has an array of rack mounted servers, laptops, tablets, ip phones and thankfully a sattelite dish.  When disaster hit, we knew we had a valuable resource.  As you might expect, we got an enthusiastic yes from the Red Cross when we asked if they wanted us to come down and put the trucks into play as an asset on the ground in the disaster zone created by hurricane Katrina.

    There is a lot to the story.  Many Microsoft employees jumped in all across the US and helped develop applications, websites, fly airplanes, raise money and provide housing. 

    We sent some cameras along for the ride because we knew this was a historic event on many levels.  Matt Hester and Chris Henley spear headed the video production efforts and hired a post production crew to produce a professional video detailing some of the scope of that event.

    See the video at InterfaceTV.  We have plans for several more videos this year.  I’ll let you know when they are finished.

  • The Masters in High Definition

    This was the first year I got the opportunity to watch The Masters golf tournament in high definition.  I watched part of the live coverage yesterday on my HP md5880n DLP HDTV.  Today I watched the over-the-air coverage on my Windows XP Media Center Edition pc.  The azaleas looked great.  It was pretty impressive to see the zoomed in shots of ball marks and being able to see the individual blades of grass.

    I don’t recall seeing so many contenders in the final round of The Masters.  Tim Clark, VJ, Tiger, Fred, Phil, Retief and Miguel could easily take the prize.  I have to admit, being a lefty I have a certain loyalty to Phil.  It isn’t over as I write this, but it sure looks like Phil has another green jacket.

    Way to go Mr. Mickelson!!!

  • Virtual Server Stuff Happens

    Most likely you’ve seen some of the press around Virtual Server 2005 R2 today.  Matt Hester delivered some recent webcasts on Virtual Server and has some good information on the announcement and the question/answer log from the last webcast he did.

    Now if I can just get my team to run Virtual Server 2005 R2 full time instead of Virtual PC 2004 SP1.  They claim Virtual PC is easier to deal with.  I agree the UI for adding VM’s and making mods is easier on Virtual PC, but I beg to differ when it comes to demo time.  And guess how much more time we spend doing demos versus messing with the settings.

    Anyway, I plan to start using Virtual Server 2005 R2 fulltime starting this month.  Let’s hope Windows Vista and Virtual Server can get along…

    Oh, and if you missed the April Fools blog pranks on my blog, you’ll have to wait until next year.  I pull them off after about 48 hours so it’s possible one of the search engines has a cached copy.  Don’t bother looking for them, they weren’t that great.