Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

February, 2007

  • I'm passionate and opinionated !

    Who me? Ha! Check out Hugh's classic post. Brain food for bloggers.

  • What is the useful life of your machine?

    I tossed a laptop on the trash today.  It was old, and the motherboard was toast.  I stripped what I wanted and chunked it into the trash bin.  This particular laptop is about five years old.  I have another one that is still in working order that is about seven years old.

    How long do your machines last you?  Do you keep them forever or sell them on eBay?

    I'm asking because I know the hardware offerings coming in the next few months are going to be really really fast and capable.  That presents a paradox for home and business users.  Do you keep what you have and continue to run the operating systems designed for it's era, or do invest in the future.

    One of the interesting aspects of where we are at from a technology perspective is that many of the machines we have are more than capable Windows XP machines.  In fact, Windows XP is really enjoying it's golden years right now.  This is of course good and bad.

    As you know, I work on the TechNet team for Microsoft.  My peers have the job of attempting to stay ahead of the rest of the world in many ways.  We talk to literally thousands of people every week, and learn a lot about your joy and pain.  Most of the folks on my team have been in the business 10, 15 or 20 years.  That's like a combined set of 175 years of experience.  Now granted, that's a stretch, but you get the idea.  Like many high tech teams, we aren't always in the reality of your world.  Hence my hardware question...

    If you read my blog occasionally, you know I did a reality check over the Christmas holiday.  I installed Windows Vista Ultimate on a Compaq EVO n620c.  That machine is no where near state of the art.  I wanted to see why I continue to see complaints about the resource requirements for Windows Vista.  I also figured if I had a bad time with it, I'd have some fresh evidence for the Windows Vista team.  As you can see in the blog post, quite the opposite happened.

    So what are you using today?  How long to do plan to use it?

    One of the reasons I ask is because the hardware world as you know it is getting ready to change pretty radically.  In May, the PC makers will start shipping Intel "Santa Rosa" based laptops.  Those laptops will be capable of running x64 versions of Windows Vista and Windows "Longhorn" Server.  In my case, I'm interested because I'll be able to address 8GB of memory, in a laptop.  In addition to the ability to address more RAM, the laptops will start shipping with DirectX 10 capable video chipsets.

    Why am I bringing any of this up?

    When we shipped Windows XP in 2001, what was the hardware platform like?  Back then the hot laptop chip was a Pentium III and most of them were below 1.0 GHz.  Anyone remember how Windows XP ran on one of those in December of 2001?  I think this is an interesting comparison because I see a lot of nay sayers complain about how resource hungry Windows Vista is.  That's because Windows Vista is built for now and the future.  Fast forward three years...  what do you think it will be like then? 

    Fun my friend, very fun.

  • Repent!!! Er, I mean Revalidate !!!

    Are you an advocate for Microsoft or the other guys?  Are you sure?  Well, take the test at http://theheadlemur.typepad.com/ravinglunacy/2007/02/windows_genuine.html.  Pretty funny.  Scary, too.

    Discovered at http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/003746.html

  • Who's your NETMON daddy?

    For those of you that have been part of the beta testing, you already know Microsoft Network Monitor 3.0 has released to the web.  Initially it was released to http://connect.microsoft.com, but it is now available on the Microsoft download center.

    Network Monitor 3.0 can co-exist with older versions of Network Monitor. NM3 installs in %program files%\Microsoft Network Monitor 3.0, so there is no conflict.

    For Vista, we have a new driver that supports new features available in the NDIS 6.0 driver. If you are using tools that rely on Network Monitor 2.x NPPTools, these tools will no longer work. Capturing on Vista requires NM3, as Netmon2.x does not capture properly on Vista.

    If during installation, you opt to use Microsoft Update to receive critical updates, then the installer will configure your system to receive these updates. If this configuration fails (because, for example, your Automatic Update settings are managed by a network administrator), the installation will continue without informing you. To ensure you have successfully signed up for Microsoft update, go to http://update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate. If the configuration was successful, the site will provide information about available updates. If not, the site allows you to sign up for Microsoft Update directly.

    Warning: Capturing with the NM3 GUI with conversations enabled can use up considerable amount of memory. This may cause a machine to become unresponsive. If you need to capture data for long periods of time, please use the included command line utility, NMCap, and the /DisableConversations switch.

    Download link: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=AA8BE06D-4A6A-4B69-B861-2043B665CB53&mg_id=10109&displaylang=en

  • Next week is Windows Vista week on Channel9

    Channel9 has a treat for everyone and it starts next week.  Charles Torre of Niner fame will have a bunch of fascinating interviews and videos on the core technologies that make up Windows Vista.  For instance, get the low down on Windows Vista User Account Control (UAC) from Jon Schwartz (UAC Architect/Developer) and Chris Corio(UAC PM).  This will be a "Going Deep" episode that promises to, eh, go deep on how it works, why it is what it is, the problems UAC solves and the context of Windows usability.

    Oh, and Charles gets in front of the camera as he's interviewed by Catherine Heller.  We'll see what Charles has learned as he "Connects the Dots" on Windows Vista.  Charles on the hot seat...  should be a crowd pleaser.  :)

    If you aren't familiar with Channel 9, head on over to http://channel9.msdn.com and check it out.  It's an amazing site full of information for IT Pros and Developers.

  • Don't you dare say anything bad

    Earlier this week, a Microsoft employee asked (on an internal DL) about blogging "offshore" and if it is appropriate or not to discuss any frustrations with a Microsoft product on such a blog.

    Well it's been done for years now.  Some employees do it anonymously...  I guess if you are going to rail on a feature or product and are worried about career limiting moves, that's one option.

    Other employees go on the offensive and seek out the developers, program managers and even the vice presidents to document and discuss the thinking behind a feature or decision.  Channel 9 comes to mind.  Robert Scoble certainly comes to mind.

    I think we all have to temper our frustrations with life.  There are things that are just beyond our control.  When you work the kind of hours we work, work is life.  Channel that energy from the force around you.  Don't give in to the dark side. 

    Being on the inside of Microsoft, gives you the opportunity to alter the course of a product or strategy.  You don't always get your way, but being part of the process is fulfilling. Windows Vista is an interesting case.  What a great product.  I mean seriously, there is a lot of truly stellar work in the OS that will lay the foundation for more greatness over the next decade.

    There are dramatic improvements in the graphics engine, shell improvements, security model, management, reporting, lots of new fun stuff and more to come. 

    One of the most heavily debated features of all time is the Windows Vista feature called User Account Control (UAC).  Inside and outside Microsoft it evokes passion on what people love and hate about it.  People, that's why we blog.

    I blog primarily to inform.  However, I can be a useful conduit back into the Microsoft ranks.  We are hard at work on the next set of improvements for Windows Vista.  If you want UAC changed, let me know how and why.  That goes for other features we shipped, or features you've heard about we cut or haven't shipped.

    If you really want to make an impact, get involved.  It takes time and energy up front.  Lots of it.  Get deeply involved in the development process through our tap, ctp and beta programs.  That's how I got my job here.

    You won't see me rail on a feature implementation here.  It's a bad use of your time.  If however you want to send me candid or negative feedback, feel free to use the contact form.  If you want to write a longer document, just ask for my email address.  No problem.  I'll be happy to forward your concerns.  Keep in mind we always want to know about the scenario, the impact, details, details.  Saying something sux isn't good enough for the type A's here.  We need data points... lots of data points.

    [UPDATE]  As an example, see Mini-Microsoft at http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2007/02/stop-him-before-he-speaks-again.html and the comments for a really depressing read.  Mini indicates we should keep our CEO quiet so that the stock will be above the option strike price.  Hogwash.  Take a closer look at the stock graphs for the past month.  While you are at it, look at the past 3 or 6 month graphs.  Notice anything interesting?  If you look at the 3 month picture, we are sitting where we are three months ago (for the most part).  If you look over 6 months, we are in pretty good shape.  So stop complaining MINI !!!  Don't get me wrong, some of Mini's points are well taken, but it's a good example of the anon side of this issue.  Or more accurately, the good and the bad side of anonymous blogging.  And for the record, I am underwater, too.  Ever wonder if anyone has tried to figure out who Mini is? 

  • Hello Kitty Hell

    Last August rob and I were trading barbs about the pink PSP and other pink stuff.  Well, this evening I stumbled across the Hello Kitty Hell blog.  Of course I thought of rob since he's a fanboy, and I wanted to make sure and bring this to his attention.  I doubt it's needed since he probably already has the site in his favs or RSS feeds.  But just in case...

    Some of the categories are shall we say... interesting.  For instance, see some of the posts at http://www.hellokittyhell.com/category/hello-kitty-strange/.  Might want to wait until you are not at the office, else your peers may wonder about you.  You were warned.  :)

    I personally thought the laptop at left would be a great choice as a TechNet demo machine.  I mean, nothing says performance quite like pink.  I'm sure Longhorn Server will be radical on one. I worry the boa might catch on fire though. 

  • Use your Xbox360 wireless stuff with your PC

    The Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows lets you take your quality, wireless gaming experiences that you enjoy on your console and experience them on your Windows gaming platform.

    • Will work with future Xbox 360 Wireless Accessories.
    • Provides up to a 30-foot range for complete wireless freedom.
    • Use up to four Wireless Controllers and four Wireless Headsets simultaneously with one Wireless Gaming Receiver.
    • Easily integrates with PC gaming scenarios and utilizes the same binding technology as Xbox 360.
    • Provides a great value by eliminating the need for additional accessories for Windows-based gaming at an attractive price point.
    • Plugs into a PC USB port and has a six foot cable.
    • Future drivers available for Windows Vista™ and Force Feedback for the Wireless Racing Wheel.
    • Wireless Gaming Receiver is coming soon! 
    • Price is $19.99.  $19.99 is cheaper than $20.00.  :) 
  • Longhorn Server now available for download

    The February CTP of Windows "Longhorn" Server is now available at a couple of locations.  For those of you that signed up for the technical beta program at connect.microsoft.com, you'll see the download there.  Not to be outdone, this release is also available to TechNet Online subscribers download area.

    For more information on this build, see http://blogs.technet.com/windowsserver/archive/2007/02/21/february-2007-ctp-of-windows-server-longhorn-released.aspx.

    If you haven't subscribed to the TechNet subscription but are thinking, "You know, Keith was right, they really do get lots of goodies!!", then head on over to http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx and get signed up.  The most expensive subscription literally pays for itself with Windows Vista alone plus you get Office, servers, betas, support, etc.

  • Win 10 hours on a private jet

    I've seen some pretty interesting marketing recently but this one takes the cake.  The "I'm Going Places" sweepstakes at http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=6257425 has a really kewl grand prize...  "10 hours of private jet travel for you and up to 6 guests on a Citation V Ultra provided by the Marquis Jet Card program, with fleet by NetJets. Chauffeured transportation to the jet will be provided."

    WOW!!!  How far is it to Hawaii from San Francisco?  I know you can't do round trip to Hawaii from Dallas in 10 hours. See the official rules at https://microsoft.eprize.net/msofficeliveimgoingplaces/index.tbapp?page=rules.  There are some mighty nice prizes to win.  I wish I was eligible. 

  • Windows Vista Demo Readiness Toolkit now available for partners

    I noticed over on Don Roessler's blog that he posted the information in the recently released Partner Demo Readiness Toolkit (DRT).  The DRT in a Windows Vista demo tool and until today was for employees only.  Checkout the steps at Don's blog for more information.  This is an awesome tool for demonstrating various features and benefits in the new operating system.  Thanks for the heads up Don!

  • Are you a Blue Monster?

    The monster is getting around.  So far we've kept it somewhat caged on a big island across the Atlantic from where I sit, but that won't last long, and it shouldn't.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, see the back story on gapingvoid.com.  Or checkout Chief Monster Steve Clayton where in his video he explains a bit of the history behind the cartoon and what has taken place since October. 

    What are you doing to change the world?

  • Virtual PC 2007 goes gold - download link is live

    Virtual PC 2007 is a great virtual machine execution environment.  John Howard, Virtual Machine PM blogs that we have released it to the web and it's currently propagating across the microsoft.com cluster complex.  This is the core tool I use for my job and I think you'll find we have added some great new features to this release.

    What is Virtual PC 2007? 

    Use Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 to run multiple operating systems at the same time on the same physical computer. Switch between virtual machines with the click of a button. Use virtual machines to run legacy applications, provide support, train users, and enhance quality assurance.

    Virtual PC lets you create separate virtual machines on your Windows desktop, each of which virtualizes the hardware of a complete physical computer. Use virtual machines to run operating systems such as MS-DOS, Windows, and OS/2. You can run multiple operating systems at once on a single physical computer and switch between them as easily as switching applications—instantly, with a mouse click. Virtual PC is perfect for any scenario in which you need to support multiple operating systems, whether you use it for tech support, legacy application support, training, or just for consolidating physical computers.

    What are the benefits?

    Virtual PC provides a time-saving and cost-saving solution anywhere users must run multiple operating systems. Use Virtual PC in the following scenarios:

    • Ease Migration: Run legacy applications in a virtual machine instead of delaying the deployment of a new operating system just because of application incompatibility. Test your migration plans using virtual machines instead of actual physical computers.

    • Do More in Less Time: Support staff can run multiple operating systems on a single physical computer and switch between them easily. They can also restore virtual machines to their previous state almost instantly. Train students on multiple operating systems and virtual networks instead of purchasing and supporting additional computers.

    • Streamline Deployment: Test software on different operating systems more easily. One crashing application or operating system doesn’t affect others.

    • Accelerate Development: Increase quality assurance by testing and documenting your software on multiple operating systems using virtual machines. Decrease time-to-market by reducing reconfiguration time.

    See the system requirements at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/downloads/virtualpc/sysreq.mspx.

    DOWNLOAD LINK

    Download from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=04D26402-3199-48A3-AFA2-2DC0B40A73B6&displaylang=en.  This link may not work consistently for another hour or so.

  • Windows Vista Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) released

    The Microsoft Volume Activation Management Tool (“VAMT”) is part of Microsoft Volume Activation 2.0 and allows organizations to manage the activation of their Windows Vista and Longhorn Server computers using Multiple Activation Key (MAK) keys. A MAK performs a one time activation of computers against Microsoft. Once the computers are activated they require no further communication with Microsoft. The number of computers that can be activated with a specific MAK is based on the type and level of the organizations's volume license agreement with Microsoft.

      • MAK Independent Activation: Each computer individually connects and activates with Microsoft either online or via telephone
      • MAK Proxy Activation: One centralized activation request on behalf of multiple computers with one online connection to Microsoft
      • Activation Status: Ability to determine the activation status of Windows Vista and Longhorn Server computers in the environment
      • Remaining MAK activations: The current remaining activations associated with a MAK key
      • XML Import/Export: Allows for exporting and importing of data in a well formed XML format to enable activation of systems in disconnected environment scenarios
      • Local reactivation: Enables reactivation of computers, that has been previously activated using MAK, after rebuild or reimage by applying the Confirmation Id
      • Multiple Activation Key (MAK) REQUIRED: In order to use VAMT, a valid MAK is required. MAK keys can be obtained from the Microsoft Licensing portals by customers with a valid Volume License Agreement. For more information see the Microsoft Volume Licensing website.

    Download from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=12044DD8-1B2C-4DA4-A530-80F26F0F9A99&displaylang=en.

  • Windows Vista key management is now available on Windows Server 2003 SP1

    Microsoft Key Management Service for Windows Server 2003 is now part of Microsoft Windows Volume Activation 2.0. It allows enterprise users to host Key Management Service on Windows Server 2003 to enable activation of Windows Vista using Key Management Service (KMS) Key.

    Microsoft Volume Activation 2.0 is a set of technical and policy related solution provided by Microsoft’s Software Protection Platform (SPP) that gives Microsoft customers a more secure and easy to deploy solution to protect and manage their volume license keys. Microsoft Key Management Service for Windows Server 2003 is part of Microsoft Volume Activation 2.0 allows enterprise customers manage the activation of their Windows machines using Key Management Service (KMS) Key.

    Enterprise customers who license Windows Vista and Windows Server “Longhorn” server under volume license program get two keys namely a Multiple Activation Key (MAK) and a Key Management Service (KMS) Key.

    KMS based activation allows enterprise customers to host a local service within their environment to enable activation of machines running Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Enterprise editions within their environment instead of any activation against Microsoft. Machines that have been activated through KMS will be required to reactivate by connecting to the KMS host at least once every 6 months.

    Key Management Service for Windows Server 2003 enables deployment of Windows Vista using current and released server operating system. It uses the Windows Vista KMS key provided through Microsoft’s Volume Licensing System portals (MVLS, eOpen). The KMS host can be activated using either online or offline methods. It uses the same interfaces and tools as KMS on Windows Vista including:

    • Software Licensing API, WMI interfaces, error codes, logging events
    • SLMGR.VBS and KMS Management Pack for Microsoft Operations Manager

    The x86 download is at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=81D1CB89-13BD-4250-B624-2F8C57A1AE7B&mg_id=10108&displaylang=en.

    The x64 download is at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=03FE69B2-6244-471C-80D2-B4171FB1D7A5&mg_id=10108&displaylang=en.

    See more information on Windows Vista volume activation at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/windowsvista/plan/volact.mspx.

  • My SBS server got paved today

    It was a sad day.  After a couple of years of non stop service, I flattened my Small Business Server (SBS).  I feel so naked without the strength of ISA Server guarding the perimeter.  I feel depressed that I'm back to pop3 downloads instead of the rich synchronization of Exchange Server and Outlook 2007.

    You might be asking why the hell would I flatten a perfectly good server?  Well, it's a long story that became the perfect storm. 

    First, the "server" was end of life.  It's one thing to rely on a machine for your production web farm, email and firewall.  It's another thing to use such a machine for syncing your Zune, gaming, email and web surfing.  In other words, it hasn't been put out to pasture, yet.  The machine has been re-purposed and will be used by another family member.

    Second, you may recall my rant about the evils of HDTV, or more accurately, how the content owners rule.  In my case, the local cable provider has continued to increase the price of services, but has offered inferior service.  After eight years, my cable connection goes dark on March 2nd.  The company in question is already in financial dire straights so it probably makes good sense to go on the offense now anyway.

    So the astute reader will notice these changes aren't trivial.  Shutting the SBS server down meant moving the websites and domains.  It meant moving the email.  I also took the opportunity to move the website technology forward and remove the use of FrontPage extensions.  This meant learning a new website developer toolset and how to use Dynamic Web Templates among other things.  I also installed Office 2007 on my wife's laptop during this transition and shifted her email back to pop3.

    Of course prior to any of that, web hosting needed to be evaluated, dev tools needed to be evaluated, testing needed to take place, etc.  Sound familiar?  You might be asking yourself why on earth would I evaluate website dev tools.  Well, primarily because I wanted to see how the other half lives. 

    Needless to say, that was a lot of work over the past few weekends.  Everything went smoothly except I forgot ATT (SBC Global) uses some high security for their SMTP server.  This of course cropped up after my wife was using that connection at her shoppe and yours truly was in Houston for the big freaking Vista/Exchange/Office launch event down there.

    Now that the SBS server is gone, what's next?

    I am "downgrading" my fiber connection from a static ip business plan, to a residential plan.  This will allow me to use Verizon FIOS TV.  Unfortunately, I'll have to eat some downtime.  Apparently Verizon cannot cut me over from the business circuits to the residential circuits on the same day.  Sux.  Oh well, that's why I have EVDO.

    After I get up on FIOS TV, I plan to buy or build a Windows Vista machine that uses two or more ATI Digital Tuners hooked up to a big freaking array of disks.  Who knows, that may change if the HD DVR market takes off and you can get a 1TB DVR.  I'm not holding my breath for a set top box from Verizon that will meet my needs and I'm not ready to pay TIVO.  Vista to save the day!?!?

    With any luck, I'll have everything in place and working by the time the summer heat starts cranking here in Texas.

  • Matt's manager has a strange sense of humor

    It's always nice to see people rewarded for a job well done.  A couple of times each year, we send our top performers to Honolulu Hawaii to deliver the current content sessions, and relax on the beach.  Yes, I've been.  :)

    This time around, Matt Hester got the nod.  However, after he gets back from Hawaii, look where he has to go.  That's just wrong!!!

  • I never win didley, but these people did !!!

    Do you ever see those contests and wonder if anyone really ever wins?  Well you need not wonder about the promotions we've been doing for the webcasts.  To refresh your memory, on December 29, I posted some information on how to win a Ferrari laptop and other prizes.  I know that was just before the New Years, the Super Bowl and countless lost brain cells, but please try.  :)

    Ok, here's the punch line...

    Congratulations to Alison B. from Lee’s Summit, MO, who won the Acer Ferrari laptop watching the TechNet Webcast: Accelerate Desktop Deployment with the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (Level 200) !!!

    Congratulations to Tho P. from Spokane Valley, WA, who won the Windows Mobile powered smartphone watching the TechNet Webcast: TechNet Webcast: How Microsoft IT Deployed Office Groove 2007 (Level 300) !!!

    Congratulations to Curt L. from Madison, WI, who won the Microsoft Zune digital media player watching the TechNet Webcast: How Microsoft IT Deployed the 2007 Office System (Level 300) !!!

    And if that isn't enough, each winner also received a copy of Microsoft Office Professional 2007.  Actually, the official rules say it may come in the form of a download, but hey, it's still a legit copy.

    Congratulations to the winners so far!!!  Keep in mind this promotion runs through June 30th.  See the link above for more information and links to the official rules.

    GOOD LUCK!!!

  • Global warming? Seen this?

    For the past few years the big news has been global warming.  Katrina and all of the other hurricanes that slammed into Florida are symptoms.  Where I live (Texas), we've been in this huge drought that has many of us worried about next summer.  We received some rain recently that helped refill the lakes so some of the pressure has been relieved on that front.

    This morning I woke up and of course took Elvis outside to do his doggie thing.  Uh, hello?  He looks up at me like, "You really expect me to go potty in this cold?"  It's pretty chilly.  Granted Texans are pretty big wusses when it comes to cold so I thought I'd check weather.com to see how the rest of the country is fairing.  I recalled seeing a story Monday night about the northern states being buried in snow.

    Much to my dismay, the country is a bit frigid.  Check out the current chill factors.  You'll notice we don't have the Canadian temps on the map.  I think they do that for tourism purposes.  See Kai Axford's Canadian adventures for more on his Canadian tour:

    Canada- Day 3 - Ottawa

    Canada- Day 2 - Quebec City

    Canada- Day 1 - Montreal

    Sure puts a damper on Valentines Day...  I guess with global warming comes global cooling.  Sure seems chilly this winter.  That's why Microsoft created the Xbox360.

  • Naked Wireless Presenter Mouse pictures

    I know how you hardware geeks are.  If you can't touch, you want some good hardware porn of the latest offerings.  Well, I was in the company store before my trip down to Houston this week, and this new wireless presenter mouse kept calling my name.

    So I grabbed one of the packages, paid for the goods, and headed to the airport.  After dinner Monday night, I was watching Jack Bauer save the world and decided to see what this mouse would do.  Or more specifically, I wanted to see if it would work with the Lenovo ThinkPad T60p built-in Bluetooth.  I first tried it with the Bluetooth USB dongle that ships with the mouse.  It worked perfectly.  I tried it with the ThinkPad built-in Bluetooth and it worked very nicely as well.

    This particular mouse has some interesting presenter features.  First, there's a button on top to flip into presenter mode, or back to mouse mode.  Second, the bottom of the mouse has buttons for going forward or backward in PowerPoint, volume control buttons for audio and video, a laser pointer button and other stuff.  My favorite button isn't a button but an on/off switch.

    The mouse comes with a handy clear plastic case and wrist strap.  This is nice because you can throw it in your backpack or luggage and hit the road without worrying about it getting smashed or scratched.

    Here's the pics pervert...  :)

    TOP    SIDE    BOTTOM

  • Windows Vista Enterprise available for TechNet Subscribers

    I have a TechNet Plus subscription so on occasion I go snoop around in the download area to see what new nuggets I uncover.  Much to my surprise, I spy a download for Windows Vista Enterprise. 

    The reason I was surprised is because I know this edition must be activated using Volume License keys.  So I poke the product keys area to see if they are also supplying a key for me to use.  Viola!!!  Sure enough, there's a VL key with 15 activations.

    Ladies and gentlemen, think carefully about your job and how you work.  I bring this up because there is a pretty significant difference on one particular feature that I really like about Enterprise.  In fact, I flattened my ThinkPad T60p and switched from Ultimate to Enterprise for the feature. 

    What feature am I talking about?

    Activation!!!  Huh?  Dude, you been smokin some weed? Activation is a hassle, right?

    When you backup and restore a machine using the Windows Vista CompletePC tool, you have 3 days to activate the restored image.  Now the assumption here is that you are restoring to a different hard drive which is actually what trips the activation.

    With Windows Vista Enterprise, you have 30 days for activation.

    So?

    This is important to me because when I go on the road, I carry four laptop hard drives.  Two are containers for the virtual machines and decks (primary and backup), and two are the OS, applications and my personal data (primary and CompletePC backup).  With those four drives, I can lose either primary drive and switch to the backup fast so I don't have to cancel an event.  Considering the shows we are doing right now have 500+ people, this is important.

    If I'm running Ultimate, by the time I get to an event on Thursday, the CompletePC restored image has expired and REQUIRES activation.  At many of our events we do not have internet connectivity so that's out.  I could call in via phone, but that takes 15 minutes plus boot time, plus VM start time.  We're talking a minimum of 30 minutes.

    If I am using Enterprise, I have the luxury of knowing my CompletePC restored drive is ready if I need it, for 30 days.  Helps a presenter sleep at night. 

    Sure I have to give up some Ultimate goodies like the MCE shell, Texas Hold Em, and soon the DreamScene desktop video enhancement, but hey, that's why I have more than one machine.  One for work, and one for play.

    Speaking of machines, Lenovo ordered me a new ThinkPad T60p Widescreen.  I can't wait to try it out.  It's probably the best business machine on the market.  Heck, it may be my next personal purchase.  I'll do a blog post on the unwrapping of the naked T60p soon.

  • Remote controlled Dragonfly's for the office

     

    Somehow, the folks at T3 got their hands on the latest WOWWEE toy.  It's a flying Dragonfly.  If you click the embedded Shockwave Flash object below, it'll play the YouTube video demonstration.  Now if we can get it to deliver Valentine cards...  :)

     

    [UPDATE]  See the PC Magazine review on this at http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2094659,00.asp.

  • Multi-Touch Interaction Research

    When you get a few extra minutes, check out the research Jeff Han has been working on at http://cs.nyu.edu/~jhan/ftirtouch/.  He calls it "Frustrated Total Internal Reflection".  Sounds like a diagnosis to me.  Check out his demos.

    You can also see a demo at http://www.ted.com/tedtalks/tedtalksplayer.cfm?key=j_han.

  • Run wild, run free

    Now this might get me to reconsider gas prices and buy an "American" car.

    Click on the pic for the article and more photos.

  • Multicast imaging support coming to Longhorn Server

    Lets face it, our new deployment tools rock.  However, one significant customer feature request has been missing from the portfolio.  Every time I do a deployment tool session around ImageX, BDD, WAIK, etc., the question of multicast support comes up.  And the answer until today is we don't have multicast support.

    Well, we now have multicast support checked into the build tree for Longhorn Server.  It will be tightly integrated into the Longhorn Server Windows Deployment Services (WDS) role.

    We'll release the bits on a very limited basis this month to some customers via an IDS build, with much broader availability as we drop Beta 3 from airplanes.  For those of you with subscriptions to TechNet Plus Online, you'll get the goodies early. 

    Want more details?

    • New MGMT tasks in the WDS MMC and WDSUTIL
    • New WDS Client UI page indicating multicast transmission
    • Real-time multicast client view + ability to remove clients from a transmission via WDS MGMT tools
    • Real-time transmission progress / monitoring via WDS MGMT tools
    • Installation logging and reporting via Crimson to the application logs (read: this is how you can get installation metrics / tracking!)
    • Ability to install a “stand-alone” WDS multicast server complete with MGMT tools (command-line via WDSUTIL) and CMD-line client

    Imagine “always on” multicast where clients can request an image at any point in time and trigger a new multicast deployment or join mid-transmission to an existing deployment and still receive all the data. The WDS Team built a brand-new multicast protocol to handle both scenarios that has congestion control and flow control, making it more “TCP-like” and able to play well on production networks without saturating links and interfering with existing traffic.

    Extensibility points were strongly considered in the architectural solution and were built into the client, server, and MGMT toolset's. Also, the ability to perform ImageX multicast deployments without requiring full-blown WDS or Active Directory are enabled. Complete with a CMD-line multicast client app that can run within Longhorn Server Windows PE, Windows Vista, Windows XP SP2, and Windows Server 2003 SP2 and easy set-up or configuration on the WDS Server.

    There's other stuff I'm not going to divulge at this time, but as you can see, we have some killer code on the way.

    Deployment drool !!!

  • A Champion emerges...

    Are you enjoying the Apple commercials?  You know, the ones that make fun of the PC and now Windows Vista.  Are you surprised Microsoft hasn't gone on the offensive?  Well, Charlie couldn't take it anymore.  See "I Hate Macs" written by Charlie Booker.  Is he right?

    I have never purchased an Apple computer.  I guess I'm not kewl.

  • Life After Vista

    As you might guess, we're doing a lot of air, land and sea cover on Windows Vista right now.  But what's next?  Here's a hint...

    Windows "Longhorn" Server, that's what!!!  With that in mind, what do you want to see in Q4FY07 ???  Q4 is April, May and June 2007.  For our live seminars, I'm planning on pulling some demos from the following TechNet sessions:

    • Windows Server "Longhorn" Technical Overview Part 1
    • Windows Server "Longhorn" Technical Overview Part 2
    • Windows Server "Longhorn" Network Access Protection (NAP) Technical Overview
    • Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) in Windows Server "Longhorn" Technical Overview
    • Next Generation Networking with Windows Vista and Windows Server "Longhorn
    • Server Core: Running a Minimal Windows Server "Longhorn"
    • Windows PowerShell and Manageability Improvements in Windows Server "Longhorn"

    As you can see, we're planning on looking at the new server, it's role as a directory service, network policies and protection, IPv6, some scripting stuff and maybe some headless operation.  This is really just the first wave in a long list of Longhorn Server stuff we'll be doing.

    If you have something specific you want to see in Q4, speak up.  We are getting ready to lock and load.  After that, you'll need to wait until Q1FY08 which will start in August.

  • Will the real language translator please stand up?

    Have you looked at the list of postings at http://blogs.technet.com lately?  There's at least ten different regions of the world posting in that aggregated list.  The problem is, that although I read and write close to ten languages, they're all computer languages.

    So how would you solve this problem?

    My first notion was to allow me to filter the list, and only show me my preferred language.  Well, that pretty much sucks because I can tell from some of those postings that they are topics that interest me.

    I brought this issue up over six months ago.  At that time, I suggested we need some profiling and a real time (or near real time) translation.  For instance, the Russian team has been going crazy growing their community.  Lots of postings...  I need a profile that says, "Keith is a Texas dude", so translate Russian or any other non English language post on the fly so he can read it.

    Those little excerpts would need to be translated since they are the teasers.  Then if I click the blog or post link, it would need to be translated on the fly.  Search would also be an issue.

    Is anyone doing such a thing?  If so, let me know.

  • Is DST the new Y2K ???

    Rewind back to 1999...  As the year progressed, did you stock up on food, water and other "provisions"?  In August of 2005 the United States Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, which changes the dates of both the start and end of daylight saving time (DST). When this law goes into effect in 2007, DST will start three weeks earlier (2:00 A.M. on the second Sunday in March) and will end one week later (2:00 A.M. on the first Sunday in November) than what had traditionally occurred.

    Why didn't we just abolish the darn thing?

    Anyway, if you are concerned about the impact of the time change on your software and computer systems, see http://support.microsoft.com/gp/dst_overview for a consolidated view of the changes in Microsoft software.

    [UPDATE]  See http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HA102086071033.aspx for information on Office.

  • Test drive Windows Vista without a seat belt or insurance

    Sick of wearing your seat belt?  Tired of the high cost of liability insurance?  Well, you can test drive Windows Vista via the magic of Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 from the comfort of your couch!!!

    Ok, put down the Xbox360 controller and head on over to http://www.vistatestdrive.com/.  When you go there, you'll need to install the Virtual Server 2005 Virtual Machine Remote Control (VMRC) client ActiveX control but it only takes a few seonds.

    READ the fine print:

    • The test drive experience is currently available only to web visitors from the United States and Canada.
    • The test drive is intended for evaluation purposes only.
    • The test drive requires Internet Explorer 6 or later, a browser plug-in, and a broadband Internet connection. A minimum 1024 x 768 screen resolution is recommended.
    • There is no product support for the test drive. You are welcome to participate in a Microsoft Windows Vista newsgroup to share your trial experiences with others and ask for advice. Find a Windows Vista Newsgroup.
    • The Windows Vista version hosted in the test drive contains most of the functionality of the regular versions, but browsing the internet is not enabled.
    • You may notice a slight delay or pause as you experience the product. This is due to the fact that this is a hosted trial and is dependent upon your bandwidth, local machine resources, etc. This does not necessarily represent the actual experience you will have with Windows Vista if it were installed on your PC.

    Watch out for black ice on the bridges!!! 

  • Windows Mobile Device Center for Windows Vista RTW's

    The Microsoft Windows Mobile Device Center enables you to set up new partnerships, synchronize content and manage music, pictures and video with Windows Mobile powered devices (Windows Mobile 2003 or later). The Windows Mobile Device Center is only supported on Windows Vista.

    The Windows Mobile Device Center combines an efficient business-data synchronization platform with a compelling user experience. Windows Mobile Device Center helps you to quickly set up new partnerships, synchronize business-critical information such as e-mail, contacts and calendar appointments, easily manage your synchronization settings, and transfer business documents between your device and PC.

    The Windows Mobile Device Center simplifies managing media between your Windows Mobile powered device and your PC. With the picture acquisition wizard, you can easily tag and transfer all of the pictures from your Windows Mobile powered device to your PC’s Windows Photo Gallery.

    Windows Mobile Device Center Features Include:

    • Streamlined setup - A simplified new partnership wizard and improved partnership management.
    • Robust synchronization - Synchronization of business-critical data such as e-mail, calendars, contacts, tasks, favorites, and files.
    • Enhanced user interface - A simple and compelling user interface helps you to quickly access critical tasks and configure your device.
    • File browsing - A new device browsing experience enables you more quickly browse files and folders and open documents on your device directly from your PC.
    • Photo management – Picture management helps you detect new photos on your Windows Mobile powered device, tag and import them to the Windows Vista Photo Gallery.
    • Media synchronization - Use Microsoft Windows Media Player to synchronize and shuffle music files on your device.

    Download at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile/devicecenter.mspx.