Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

June, 2006

  • Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) 2007 Beta 1 - go get it

    As reported on the Windows Vista Team Blog, you can now apply for access to Beta 1 of the Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) 2007 product.  To get access to the bits, go to  You will need to signon with your Passport ID.

    BDD 2007 is the best practice set of guidance and automation to optimally deploy Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system. BDD 2007 uses an integrated deployment workbench built using ImageX, System Image Manager, Windows PE 2.0, and Windows Deployment Services. The BDDWorkbench enables you to build and manage multiple OS configurations, define network deployment points and network shares, inject drivers, attach language packs, and chain applications. It even helps generate ISO and WIM images using Windows PE. BDD 2007 also alleviates much of the scripting requirements of previous BDD versions by incorporating a stand-alone task sequencer derived from System Center Configuration Manager 2007.

    The BDD 2007 Beta 1 release supports four primary Lite Touch deployment scenarios:

    • New: Format the computer’s hard disk and install a new operating system (wipe-and-load) and applications.
    • Refresh: Save all configuration information, remove the existing operating system, and install a new operating system and applications.
    • Upgrade: Preserve existing applications and configuration information by upgrading the existing operating system.
    • Replace: Save user data from the old computer. On the new computer install a new operating system and applications and restore the saved user data.

    This Beta release of BDD 2007 currently supports deployment of Windows Vista and the 2007 Office system Beta releases. Release versions of BDD 2007 will add support for Windows XP and share common tools with Windows Vista across both x86 and x64 platforms. Included tools and documentation are not feature complete and we strongly recommend following the release notes to get started. Zero Touch features will be available for the SMS 2003 OS Deployment Feature Pack Update to enable hands-free deployment of Windows Vista and 2007 Office system desktops.

    The BDD 2007 Beta Program is not supported for production use. Feedback can be submitted through Microsoft Connect and we encourage you to use the desktop deployment newsgroup for questions requiring immediate attention.

    BDD 2007 Main Download - BDDVista_Full.msi and are required to install the full solution with dependent components (0.9 GB total)

    • BDDVista_Full.msi
    • ( includes the Windows AIK, USMT 3.0 Beta, ACT 5.0 Beta, and Enterprise Learning Framework Guide)

    BDD 2007 Documentation

    • BDD 2007 Release Notes
    • BDD 2007 FAQ
    • BDD 2007 Announcement

    Bugs - Using Connect Feedback to submit bugs and feature requests

  • I caved... I'm now a Motorola Q fanboy

    I wasn’t kidding when I said my Cingular Audiovox SMT 5600 was obsolete. Verizon made it easy for me.  They dropped my employee discounted price to the “get off the fence” price point.  I picked up my Motorola Q at the local CircuitCity store a couple of days ago.  They have a rather large Verizon Wireless booth inside the store.  I printed off my employee pricing from the Verizon B2B Microsoft employee purchasing site and took it to the counter.  The reps were very polite and professional. They even went into the back of the store and found me the kewl leather case.  I hear horror stories all the time about customer service, but Matthew Stout and the rest of the VZW crew in Southlake, Texas are doing a great job.  They were able to do everything but give me the Unlimited PDA/Smartphone Microsoft Employee SKU.  I fixed that this morning with one email to my Verizon regional rep. 

    I’ve been testing the phone to see if it really meets my needs.  It does.  It’s perfect, for me.  Some of my friends are scratching their heads.  You see, they are PocketPC touch screen fanboys.  I am not.  I love single handed Smartphone navigation and use. 

    My phone number is currently in port transition as it migrates from Cingular to my device.  Naturally, it’s already been turned off at Cingular.  That happened very quickly.  Shocker.  My phone should be able to receive calls by lunch tomorrow.

    So how many more services can a person get from Verizon?  I have Verizon Business FIOS.  I have Verizon Voicewing.  I have Verizon BroadbandAccess (for the remaining two months on my contract). Now I have Verizon Wireless.  Actually there is one service I want, that I can’t have.  I want FIOS HDTV.  I can’t get it unless I want to go back to a residential FIOS plan.  I don’t want it that bad.

    UPDATE: My telephone number has been ported without issue.  All of the CSRs I’ve dealt with were very polite and professional.  Wait times for help was pretty low (less than five minutes).  The website immediately reflected the telephone number change.

    For fun, I set my ActiveSync email check to five minutes and turned the GPS locator on fulltime.  That drained the standard battery in 24 hours as expected.  I also have the extended battery.  I’ll test it when I get back from vacation. 


  • Where's my stone tablet?

    I have been sitting here on the sidelines watching the show for a few weeks.  How many electrons were used consuming the news about Robert Scoble announcing he is leaving Microsoft then “Correcting the Record about Microsoft”?  Lots and Lots.  Lots squared.  Lots to the 100th power.  Why?

    Then came the interesting post from Philip Su about Windows Vista titled the “Broken Windows Theory”.  As you might suspect, this generated a considerable amount of buzz as well.  Why?

    Then of course came the big story.  Bill Gates announced a transition he is planning and “A New Era of Technical Leadership at Microsoft” was communicated internally and externally.  I was glad to be able to see Bill announce this live on our intranet.  It made me sad, but I am also very proud of the man for how he is using his money to help save the planet.  We certainly need some saving.

    So which story was the biggest? 

    There has been a lot of traffic inside and outside Microsoft on the impact of blogging and the blinding rate that the internet consumes news. Frank Shaw blogs about it.  Steve Rubel blogs about it.  And of course Jeff Jarvis blogs about it.

    Are blogs really changing anything?  Is there really anything new here? 

    Many of the blog leadership talk about how the internet can crater your reputation in a picosecond.  That would suck.  There are many cited examples.  Hugh MacLeod at refers to “The Kryptonite Factor” when talking about this phenom.  I’m not sure who first reported the problem, but you can read about it at Engadget.

    It’s about the story.  What fascinates people?  There are lots of categories of information that grab the attention and put a vice grip on you. 

    Much of the discussion I’ve seen centers on how information flows, whether the information is factual, confidentiality of the information and of course the impact.  Disruption comes to mind.

    The network is the key enabler.  I would say the internet, but that wouldn’t give the proper amount of credit to gossip and personal verbal communications, relationships, personal networking, etc.  Never underestimate the grapevine.

    Not to knock Robert Scoble at all, but what will happen to his blog readership after he leaves Microsoft on June 30?  Will what he has to say still matter?  If it does, it certainly proves you have to work at networking, relationships, and blogging.

    Respect isn’t given, it’s earned. 

  • Be careful where you stick your fingers

    I recently ordered and received a new Dell Latitude D820 laptop that has a built-in Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2 chip and UPEK biometric finger print reader.  Of course I enrolled a couple of my fingerprints to see if the hardware and software works.  I was using the factory supplied image at the time that I did that.

    Every machine I buy or use generally comes with a recovery disk set.  Dell offers the media at a small extra cost.  I looked around at the disks but being a Ghost expert, decided to take a snapshot of the factory image and burn it to DVD just in case.  Good thing I did…

    After taking the snapshot, I proceeded to flatten the machine and build it the way I want.  I have a number of applications that won’t run on Windows Vista Beta 2 so I installed Windows XP Media Center Edition.  I installed the Dell supplied drivers and software including the EMBASSY Security Center software made by Wave Systems Corporation.

    I fired up the EMBASSY application and it choked.  Scratches head…  So I screwed around trying to figure out why and finally headed over to the Dell and Wave support sites for some digging.  On the Wave site, I stumbled across the FAQ entry about the security suite not being compatible with IE7.  The nerve.

    So I uninstalled IE7 and tried again.  The EMBASSY security center application launched fine with IE6.  I went into the area to enroll fingerprints and tried enrolling my fingerprints again.  Unfortunately, I got a message the fingerprints were already enrolled.  Uh oh!!!  This is really bad news.  So being the clever young lad that I am, I rebooted and went into the BIOS TPM settings and cleared the memory.  Reboot and try again.  Still got the same error message.  CRAP!!!

    Snapshot time again.  I Ghosted my current image and saved it to my eSATA drive.  I then restored the factory image and logged on.  You see, the fingerprints are tied to the account that was used for enrollment.  Although my fingers were the same, the account was different.  I fired up the security app and deleted my fingerprints.

    Restore time…

    After restoring my fully installed MCE environment, I was able to enroll my fingerprints again with my new account.  Let this be a lesson to you.  I would imagine many of the TPM and biometric enrollment applications work in a similar manner.

    Like I said, “Be careful where you stick your fingers!!!”

  • My phone is obsolete

    Smt5600_yFor the past six weeks, my phone has been displaying the roaming indicator.  It started to get a bit disconcerting because I would even see it here at my house.  It annoyed me a bit because like most of you, I had my ActiveSync settings tweaked so that it would only sync manually if roam was indicated.  No sense in jacking up the charges for a bunch of pesky email, right?

    Well, I finally decided to call Cingular and ask them if my phone has an issues they can easily resolve.  I figured since I started the plan just before the AT&T Cingular merger, it was a SIM issue, back-end provisioning, or something simple. 

    The lady I got on the phone looked at my account and said my phone was obsolete and would need to be replaced.

    Does my phone look obsolete to you?

    It works perfectly fine.  It has a nice 512meg MiniSD card.  It rings and I can answer phone calls.  Phones should definitely do that.  The keypad lock works better than most phones I’ve tried.  The form factor is very nice.  The screen is big enough to be kewl and by golly, you can almost read email.  The email delete button works perfectly.

    So why in the world would my phone be obsolete?

    It’s obsolete because my contract was for one year, and I’ve been month-to-month for a few months now.  Get it? 

    Like many of you, I want the most value out of my hardware and software.  I pinch pennies, too.  I squirm thinking about spending $200 for a new phone.  Call me cheap.  Call me frugal. 

    [UPDATE] I guess I wasn't the only person unhappy with my treatment.  Sounds like class action litigation may be coming. 

  • So when will Microsoft release Scoble v2.0?

    Now that the man is leaving us (is he crazy?), who has the talent to fill those shoes?  I’d love to do it, but frankly it would mean uprooting my family and leaving blistering Texas heat for the cool Seattle skies.  That is actually the reality we all face in our careers.  Like many companies, there are a significant number of job opportunities in Seattle where the mothership docks.  Corporate campuses are like that.  Tons of stuff to do, but not enough people to do it.

    In case you haven’t noticed, we’re hiring.  There are 4300 jobs posted for the USA at  I wish half were here in Texas, but sadly they aren’t. 

    So what would it take to get hired into Microsoft and blog half the time, drive channel 9 half the time, and have a life the other half the time.  You’ll notice it doesn’t add up.  To do what he did, expect to work a lot of hours.  To work those kind of hours, you’d better make sure you have passion about technology.  You’d also better have passion about Microsoft technology.

    When I left the company I was working at to go work for Microsoft, I remember some of my co-workers, friends and mentors saying I would be back.  My manager at the time asked me what he could do to keep me.  I told him there wasn’t anything he could do.  It wasn’t about money.  It was about going to work for a company that could help shape the direction of technology.

    So they said I would be back.  In two weeks I celebrate my tenth anniversary with Microsoft.

    Will Robert be back?  Time will tell…

  • Take this TechEDians !!!

    Oasis_ViddlesLast year at TechED I ended up working pretty much the entire event.  Budgets are tight so I figured the chances of going to learn this year were somewhere between slim and none.  Instead of going to TechEd 2006, I choose to head south to Austin for the AICPA Tech06 Conference. 

    Sunday started out early in order to catch a flight down to Austin and deliver a Windows Vista Technical Overview presentation.  My audience was great!  There were a lot of smart folks asking a lot of smart questions about the product, skus coming out, the prices, features, etc.  Of course we haven’t released any pricing so I could not answer those questions. 

    Normally for our content we do focus groups to see if we are hitting the mark.  Yesterday was an excellent chance to test drive the content we’ll deliver across the USA in Q1FY07 which starts in August.  Being the content lead for the Windows Vista content, I worked hard to make the information relevant, entertaining and useful.  I burned a lot of hours the past few days to make that happen and as my neighbors will attest, the yard suffered.  Insert pic of my grass and weeds in need of mowing.  I’m nowhere near done and will hook up with fellow content developer Shawn Travers later this week to do the post mortem on what we need to adjust.

    AustintatiousLast night and today I got a chance to spend more time with my family.  My wife's daughter Stefanie, her husband Eric and beautiful new baby Brooke are carving out a living in Austin.  This afternoon we headed to Lake Travis just outside of Austin, Texas and enjoyed the cool summer.  One of the places known to the locals is a place called the Oasis.  The Oasis has an interesting past, good food, good drink, music in the evenings and stellar views of the lake.

    So you guys enjoy your chowder.  I’ll take a frozen rita, plate of Tex Mex and my family any day.  I’ll be delivering another presentation in the morning then heading back to Dallas to unveil my new toy.  I’ll fully document that process for you geeks since I know how you like nude laptops.

    Sorry I didn’t use my brain and bring my good camera.  The pics are from my obsolete Cingular SMT 5600.  That’s a story all by itself.  Coming soon.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

  • Watching the TechED 2006 action poolside

    PoolsideGet your frozen margarita, dual core laptop and favorite rubber ducky and head to the pool.  Might as well since this year you’ll be able to watch and listen to the festivities on the website.  It’ll be interesting to see how much of the show, seminars and “social” events are actually broadcast. 

    I would recommend tuning into the opening keynote on 6/11 at 7pm EST.  We’ll have Ray Ozzie, Bob Muglia and Chris Capossela showing off some kewl stuff.  Maybe they’ll do some of those kewl virtualization demos, or something fascinating from Windows Vista.  It sure would be kewl if they did a BDD of Halo 3 to 1000 workstations and waiting TechEd gamers.  Now that my friends is business desktop deployment.  Time to get down to business fragging.

    And yes, this is a current shot of the homepage at from my patio.  The laptop is on battery so the brightness is a bit low and obviously the exposure is set for the background, not the black Lenovo Thinkpad T60 in the foreground.  The picture doesn’t do the pool justice but as you’ll recall, it’s big enough for a few of your friends.  Sorry, you can’t see the “refreshments” just to the left of the laptop. Gotta go work on on some important business. 


  • Guess how many Windows Vista downloads in 24 hours

    Vista_thumbIf it wasn’t for the size, I would imagine Windows Vista would eclipse all download records.  A more interesting number might be the number of gig we served up in the month of June.

    Or maybe the number of hard drives that fried in the data centers around the world.  (Pictures a dude in the data center with a fire extinguisher next to the racks)

    By the way, if you click on the thumbnail to the right, it’ll display the large version which you can of course use as your background or keep a copy for future use.  Enjoy.

  • Got a phat internet connection? Download Windows Vista Beta 2 now!!!


    So I missed the date by a few hours, but you can help us bring the internet to it’s knees by downloading Windows Vista Beta 2 today!!!  Ok, depending on your connection, maybe not today but hopefully shortly there after.  After the download is complete burn the .iso image to DVD and you’ll have a shiny new operating system to test.

    Go to and decide if you want to order the DVD kit or download the bits right now.

    Thissucks_thumbAs you can see, this is a rather large download so you’ll need to be patient with it.  It might make more sense for you to simply order the DVD.  The price will vary by region but to give you an idea, it’s $6 for the DVD, $4 for shipping and some taxes for me here in sunny 100 degree Texas.  That’s slightly over $10 if you want to conserve bandwidth.

    UPDATE:  Well, we’ll hardly bring the internet to its knees when we get these.  I was going through the process of trying the download for myself (so I could share your pain), and I got the lovely message to the right (click the thumb for better detail).

    You can’t really read it, but it has bad news.  I basically says our data center is a bit busy right now. 

    Now I’m really going to try to download the whole thing to see how long it takes.  With my 15meg connection, it should take about an hour.  Place yer bets. 


  • Verizon Motorola Q Update - bad news for me

    MotorolaQI was all gung ho about the Motorola Q.  I was so hopeful I finally had a phone in my sight that would fulfill my requirements. But it appears Verizon has released it without some key capabilities I want.  I filled out the paperwork, scanned my employee badge and send all of the paperwork to my Verizon corporate rep last Thursday.  Then I got the call of death from my Verizon Rep on Friday…

    He told me that in the initial release of the Motorola Q by Verizon Wireless, there won’t be any ability to tether my laptop to the Q and use it as a gateway to the Verizon EVDO network.  Not only that, the Q will not have a Bluetooth dialup networking (DUN) modem profile. 

    Cancelled my order on the spot. 

    Rumor is that they’ll release the tether option in a few months as they release the Microsoft Security and Messaging Feature Pack (MSFP).  This probably means they’ll implement this support via VZAccess.  

    Verizon VZAccess doesn’t currently run on Windows Vista Beta 2.  VZAccess will install but it just doesn’t run correctly for me.  I have reported it and have not received a commitment for any support.  Considering Windows Vista is still under development, it’s not unusual for other companies to take that position. 

    I have the Verizon PC 5740 pcmcia card for my laptop so I can use the Verizon EVDO BroadbandAccess network.  Windows Vista Beta 2 includes “inbox” drivers for the Curitel PC 5740 chipset.  As far as Windows Vista is concerned, it’s just a dialup modem.  Thankfully this allows me to continue to use my EVDO BroadbandAccess subscription.  See for my instructions on how to get that setup and running.

    If the Q would only do the same thing, I could get rid of my SMT 5600 Smartphone,  PC 5740 and get to the holy grail of one device and one plan…  presumably at a lower cost.

    Maybe it’s time to think more about the Palm Treo 700w.  I know you can tether it on the Verizon network.  I wonder when Sprint will start selling the 700w.  At the moment, they only have the Treo 700p.  I must admit though, the Palm Treo 700p DUN page sure looks inviting…  Would I dare run an OS not made by Microsoft?

    Oh, and I sent a query over to the folks at June Fabrics about their PDAnet for Windows Mobile software.  Hopefully they have something that works on Windows Vista Beta 2 with the Q.  If they do, they are my new best friends.  I’ll let you know what they say.

    UPDATE:  The price went low enough to get me off the fence.  Still no MSFP or supported tether option, but I got mine at a great price.  See for more information.  Also, if you ask the support folks at June Fabrics for a Windows Vista Beta 2 version of PDAnet, they might just supply a link to the goods.

  • Windows Vista Beta 2 shipment for TechNet Plus subscribers

    Like many of you, I have a TechNet Plus subscription.  It includes Microsoft software (released and beta).  Unfortunately, Windows Vista Beta 2 wasn’t complete for the TechNet June mailing cutoff date.  I received a newsletter notice that indicates we are getting ready to mail the disks.  Here’s the quote:

    Looking for Window Vista Beta 2?
    The Windows Vista Beta 2 released after your June issue was being prepared for shipment. As a result we will be sending TechNet Plus subscribers a separate shipment containing Windows Vista Beta 2. It will arrive after your regular June shipment.”

    Personally, I would have waited until the July mailing and saved the money, but that’s just me pinching pennies.  Just so you know, I’ve also been pushing hard for a TechNet subscriber download center for this type of stuff. 

    If you haven’t looked at the TechNet Plus subscription details, you should.  It essentially pays for itself if you use the two included support incidents.  Everything else is just gravy.

  • Our new networking center is now live

    SdisolationWould you like to do one stop shopping for all of your networking questions on Wireless, IPSEC, RRAS, IAS, DHCP, IPv6 or NAP?  Well, we just launched a comprehensive virtual directory on that fills the order. is the actual address, but in case that it too hard to remember, just remember and it will redirect to the location above.

    The site links you to long list of IT Pro focused information and content.  The Networking and Access topic areas covered include:

    • Network Access Protection
    • Server and Domain Isolation
    • Scalable Networking
    • Secure Wireless
    • IPv6
    • And more!

    I just stumbled across an interesting site. has some interesting topics and videos.  Go to the site and just sit there watching the main page.  Tom gets a little testy if you don’t click any of the links.