Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

May, 2007

  • Automatic Image Compression in Outlook 2007

    Have you ever done a screen capture, pasted it into an email message and hit the send button only to find out later from the flame mail, that the email was huge?  Pretty embarrassing eh?  I just did it a couple of minutes ago because I forgot to turn on automatic image compression.

    Huh?  How do you do that?

    Well, the default picture quality in Outlook is set to print at 220 ppi.  If you change that setting to email at 96 ppi, you will see a rather huge reduction in the size of those outbound emails.

    Here's how:

    1. Create a new email message in Outlook.  My default format is HTML.
    2. Do a print screen or use the Windows Vista Snipping Tool to copy a picture blob to the clipboard.  In my example here, I did a print screen of my Windows Vista desktop at 1920x1200 resolution.  If I didn't make any changes, the outbound email would be huge.
    3. Paste the picture blob into the body of the email message.  Here's what it looks like so far (see below).  There is no apparent way to force the behavior I want.
    4. giganto
    5. The key here is to select the image by clicking it with the mouse.  When you do that, you'll notice a dynamic tab will display on the Outlook ribbon bar (see below).
    6. ribbon
    7. Click the Format tab and you'll notice all kinds of new tasks that can be used against pictures.
    8. Click the Compress Picture button in the Adjust group.  This is the first group on the left side of the ribbon.  You'll be presented with the following dialog box.
    9. compresspics
    10. Do not check the Apply to selected pictures only option.  Instead, click the options button and you are presented with the following dialog box.
    11. compressSettings
    12. Change the default setting from Print to E-mail (96 ppi) and click OK to save changes. 
    13. Click Ok to save changes again on the Compress Pictures dialog box.
  • Windows Server 2008 screencast - Setup

    If you don't have the resources to install and begin using Windows Server 2008 Beta 3, you have other training options.  Over the course of the next few weeks, I'll be rolling out a bunch of screencasts to give you a great Technical Overview of the product.  The number of "casts" in this series will be high because I'm breaking the capturing into smaller chunks.

    For instance, this first screencast is a little over seven minutes in length.  How did I install Windows Server 2008 Enterprise in seven minutes?  Well, first of all I have a smoking fast Lenovo ThinkPad T60p.  That certainly helps but the real magic comes via the capturing tool, Camtasia.  Camtasia lets me pause the recording of the capture so a thirty minute progress bar can essentially be removed from your boredom.  So let's dive into the details of the product and tools.

    Setup

    Setup for Windows Server 2008 (WS 2008) could not be easier.  You won't find a ton of information on setup just yet but it's coming.  Setup isn't nearly as sexy as the services and features in the product.  If you spent some time learning the deployment tools with Windows Vista, that knowledge will come in handy.

    Windows Server 2008 installation is based on some of the same toolset and imaging technologies used by Windows Vista.  When you boot from the WS 2008 DVD, Windows PE executes and loads the installation Windows Imaging (WIM) file.  Within the WIM, you'll find multiple images that are available for customization and unattended installation.  The product key you enter tells Setup which image to load and install.  In the case of Windows Server 2008, you still need to give setup some help because there are two images for each key.  One for the GUI version of the product and another for the Core version.  We'll get to the differences in other screencasts down the road.

    For today's demo, we are going to go through the GUI based install of Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Beta 3.  In another demonstration, we'll go though the process of installing Enterprise Core.

    The Screencast

    The Setup screencast is a little over seven minutes and will stream directly off the microsoft.com cluster.  Although the screencast resolution is set to 1024x768, setup processing flips the resolution a few times so it isn't as perfect as some of the demos you'll see in demos coming over the next couple of weeks.  So here's the Windows Server 2008 Setup Demonstration:

    mms://wm.microsoft.com/ms/inetpub/keithcombs/ws2008/Setup.wmv

     

    Additional Resources

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/default.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/evaluation/overview.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/windowsserver/2008/default.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/traincert/virtuallab/longhorn.mspx

  • Linux Indy car crash

    I certainly hope Roberto Moreno is ok after crashing the Linux car on lap 36 of the Indy 500.  If the posting at http://www.engadget.com/2007/05/29/linux-car-first-to-crash-at-indianapolis-500/ is any indication, people are having fun at his expense.  Bummer.

    See http://www.indy500.com/stats/ for final statistics on the race.

  • Let the comparisons begin - Dell Ubuntu and Windows Vista offerings

    Yesterday Dell officially started offering Ubuntu on some of their hardware.  So I configured a Dell XPS 410 machine with Ubuntu Desktop Edition v7.04 and the same machine with Windows Vista.  The XPS 410 with Windows Vista is the Home Premium edition of Windows Vista.  The hardware configuration of both machines is as follows:

    PROCESSOR
    Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor E6700 (4MB L2 Cache,2.66GHz,1066 FSB)
    MEMORY
    4GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz - 4 DIMMs
    HARD DRIVE
    500GB Serial ATA 3Gb/s Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache™
    OPTICAL DRIVE
    Single Drive: 16X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/double layer write capability
    MONITORS
    No Monitor
    VIDEO CARD
    256MB nVidia Geforce 7300LE TurboCache
    SOUND CARD
    Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
    SPEAKERS
    No speakers (Speakers are required to hear audio from your system)
    KEYBOARD & MOUSE
    Dell USB Keyboard
    MOUSE
    Dell Optical USB Mouse
    WARRANTY AND SERVICE
    1Yr In-Home Service, Parts + Labor - Next Business Day

    The Ubuntu based machine is currently priced at $1659.  The Windows Vista Home Premium machine is fifty more bucks at $1709.  I didn't see any way to configure the XPS 410 with any other version of Windows Vista. 

    I guess there are lots of ways to look at this.  Obviously the prices are very close.  If I were a Linux fan, I'm sure I would be happy with the notion that I'm not paying any money for Windows .  I believe that has been the historical complaint about buying systems.  Not which version of Linux comes on the system, just as long as it isn't Windows and no money is headed this way. 

    So what are you getting for the extra $50 ???

    The obvious thing to do is do a side-by-side comparison of the features in each operating system.  But that isn't the whole picture.  Look at the applications that are available, device and driver support, etc., etc., etc. 

    We can also debate other aspects of the operating systems choices like security, management, monitoring, customization and many other potential topics.  So what do you think?  I think customer choice is good.  Competition is good.  Ultimately the customer wins.  Thoughts?

  • Windows Server 2008 screencast - Core installation and initial configuration

    ws2008logo Core to any server is the ability to service networks requests.  In some cases, raw I/O is the goal.  In other cases, simultaneous streams might be the goal.  Windows Server 2008 Core is the engine for many of those cases.  Do you need a graphical user interface to run a server?  Not really so lets see what this new Core implementations is all about.

    Setup

    The installation of Windows Server 2008 Core is nearly identical to a regular server install.  However, the end result is VERY different.  As with the previous screencast and install, we supply the product key, answer a few questions and we're off.  The Core installation is much quicker because there's less "stuff" to install.  This benefits you in a variety of ways.  Core consumes less disk space.  That's really obvious.  Since Core is a much smaller set of applications, processes and services, the potential attack surface or vulnerability landscape is much smaller.

    core The Core installation will reboot your machine or VM a couple of times during device detection and installation.  Eventually you'll be presented with the login screen. 

    [errata note] I made a mistake at the tail end of the setup portion of this screencast.  I said we were going to promote the Core installation to a DC, then to a RODC.  That is incorrect.  We will convert directly to a Read Only DC (RODC).

    Initial Configuration

    The best place to get information on how to setup and configure Windows Server 2008 Core is of course the Step-by-Step guide.  You'll learn a lot from this guide but of course doing is better than reading.

    As indicated in the screencast below, one of the first things you'll want to do is set the administrator password.  The guide shows the command line method.  Regardless of the method used, do it, do it fast.

    When you install the Core server, a machine name is generated and it isn't pretty like the one suggested by Windows Vista.  It starts with LH- followed by a nice string of characters.  You can of course create the machine name at setup if you are driving the setup process with an unattended installation script.  Unattended installation is pretty easy but for the purposes of this screencast, we'll defer that magic.  Make sure to use the following command to rename your server:

    netdom renamecomputer %computername% /newname:<NewComputerName>

    You can certainly use the command in the guide, but that means you need the generated machine name and I'm lazy.  The command above will grab the machine name from the %computername% variable.  Machine name changes require a reboot so you may want to hold off on that until you configure the network interfaces. 

    Activation

    slmgr To activate or not to activate, that is the question.  I would imagine you'll be testing and learning from your installation for longer than 30 days.  If that's the case, you must activate.  Activation is easy enough.  The following command assumes you have network connectivity to the Microsoft activation servers.

    slmgr -ato

    Slmgr is a .vbs script present in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.  It has a number of useful command line arguments.  For instance, the -xpr command will tell you if your license period is about to expire.

    Another useful argument is -ipk.  It comes in handy if you burn through all of the activations for a particular key and need to change it.  -rearm extends the grace period, but you can only rearm Windows a finite number of times.

    Installing Roles

    The one role or service installed by setup is the file server service.  You can bring up a computer manager and connect to the Core server and immediately create a share and start using it for file sharing purposes.  Some configuration of the firewall will likely be necessary for some of your designs.

    Installing roles is pretty easy.  Make sure to remember the role names are case sensitive to the installation tools.  I know, that's odd. In the screencast, we install the FRS-Infrastructure role.  There are a number of other possible roles.

    Role installation allows your Core server to potentially specialize.  By specialize, I mean you could strategically position certain Core servers on your network to handle specific types of demand.  This may seem contrary to the consolidation trend over the years, but also keep in mind that a Core server can run multiple roles, too.  The bottom line is that it's flexible.

    Just like it's big GUI brother, the Core server can also install a number of features.  Those features include Failover Clustering, Network Load Balancing, Subsystem for UNIX-based applications, Backup and others.  Some of the features are only available in the Enterprise Core option.

    I'll be posting a screencast soon on how to convert a Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Core into a Read Only Domain Controller (RODC) and filter the authentication password list.  It's a very interesting demo so keep your eyes peeled for it.

    The Screencast

    This screencast is longer than the previous screencasts.  I combined the setup screencast with the configuration details screencast.  It's still pretty short at 18 minutes.  Let me know if you prefer smaller or bigger chunks of demo video.  The more complex the demonstration, the more I'll have to capture so the topics will naturally start to get longer.  Here's the direct link to the Windows Server 2008 Core Setup and Configuration screencast:

    mms://wm.microsoft.com/ms/inetpub/keithcombs/ws2008/CoreSetupAndConfig.wmv

    Additional Resources

    http://blogs.technet.com/server_core/default.aspx

    http://forums.microsoft.com/TechNet/ShowForum.aspx?ForumID=582&SiteID=17 - Server Core TechNet forum

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/servercore.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/default.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/evaluation/overview.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/windowsserver/2008/default.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/traincert/virtuallab/longhorn.mspx

  • Verizon ships VZAccess for Windows Vista - PC 5740 updated

    Verizon is making progress updating the drivers and VZAccess Manager software so that it is compatible with Windows Vista.  Take a look at http://www.vzam.net, their official download site.  For those of you using the PC 5740 card like I am, you can download the current version of VZAccess Manager directly from http://www.vzam.net/uploadedFiles/VZAccess_6.2.4_1641c-5740.exe.  Keep in mind that this version and link are subject to change so it's probably best to start at the main website. 

    The software installed cleanly and so far I have not been able to reproduce the Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) that was present in previous versions.  The repro I am talking about is a normal scenario.  Many times I forget I'm connected to the EVDO network via VZAccess Manager 5.x.  I'd hit my power button to shut down and BOOM, BSOD.  Nice.

    Like I said, so far, so good.  I'm posting this via the wonders of the cell network.  Love it.

  • http://www.launchtour2007.com/download/ Office Pro broken link

    As many of you know, we are still giving away copies of Office Pro 2007.  No, you didn't know that?  Well, I gave away thirty copies at my past three events.  I also gave away a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate, a copy of Exchange Server 2007, ISA 2006, Digital Image Suite, and some other goodies.  As you can see, I take care of my region pretty well.

    No, I don't have copies for every attendee, but your chances of getting something good are pretty decent.  I never win squat, but if you are one of the lucky types, who knows?

    One small problem, inside the copies of the Office Resource Kit we giveaway, the instructions take you to http://www.launchtour2007.com/download/.  Then you click the button at the bottom but someone hosed the link.

    No Fear!

    All you need to do is register and download Office 2007 Pro at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/suites/FX101674091033.aspx and use the download a free trial link.  If you win one of the kits we are giving away, it has a real non-time bombed product key in it and you can ignore the trial key emailed to you.

  • Windows Server 2008 screencast - Server Manager

    ws2008logo The Windows Server 2008 Server Manager is a portal of sorts to the installation, configuration, management and monitoring of the roles and features.  Your initial view of those roles and features will be rather empty because of course, you need to install the ones that are germane to your particular server.

    Initial Server Manager Stuff

    This screencast starts to get into the meat of WS 2008.  In Beta 3, there are seventeen roles that are available in the GUI version of Windows Server 2008 Enterprise.  The Core implementation of Enterprise has a different set of roles so we'll defer that discussion to some of the Core step-by-step screencasts I recorded. 

    None of the 17 roles are installed by default.  None of the 35 features are installed either.  That is by design.  The firewall is running and blocking traffic on initial setup of WS 2008 but very little else (from an attack surface perspective) is enabled initially in the server.  Role or feature installation is a wizard driven piece of cake.  You can also install roles via the command line if needed. 

    roles Does Server Manager just install roles and features?

    Nope.  Although you'll spend some time doing that initially, Server Manager is also a great management and monitoring tool.  Think of the WS 2008 Server Man as being a digital dashboard where you can get a quick view of the health and well being of your server.  You'll see server manager provide a summary view of the services that are executing, warnings or other critical errors requiring your attention, and access to the tools to diagnose and fix problems.

    In the Summary view, you'll see computer, security, role and feature summary information.  At a glance you'll see if there is a warning or error.  Services that are having issues will be displayed and hot linked so that you can drill for more information and get to a root cause.  It's simple and fast.  It's task oriented.  I think you'll like it because it combines a good set of the overall Windows Server 2008 toolset into a single location.

    Must I use Server Manager for all of my server changes?

    Nope.  Although Server Manager consolidates many of the tools nicely, you can still use the administrative consoles that are specific to a service.  For instance, if you install the DNS server service, access to the DNS console is available from the administrative tools group.  You'll see that in the screencast demo.

    Does Server Manager run on Windows XP or Windows Vista?

    Nope.  I'm sorry to say that, but that's the current answer.  Now obviously that won't set well with a lot of you so I'll just say that we're working on the remote administrative models and have some things cooking I can't disclose at this time.  However, you can use the usual tricks from your desktop.  You can always use Terminal Services or RDP for remote management.  In fact, that is one of the demos we're currently doing in our live seminars.  I publish Server Manager as an RDP application and use it from another Windows Vista VM.  I'll show you some of that in later screencasts as I show the tricked out VM's I built for our current content.

    The Screencast

    This screencast is a little longer than the previous two.  It's right at nine minutes but gives you a nice demonstration of the capabilities in Server Manager.  The next screencasts are around the Core Server implementation and we'll see how to install and configure an Enterprise Core server.  For now, check out the following direct link to the Windows Server 2008 Server Manager demonstration:

    mms://wm.microsoft.com/ms/inetpub/keithcombs/ws2008/ServerManager.wmv

    Additional Resources

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/default.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/evaluation/overview.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/windowsserver/2008/default.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/traincert/virtuallab/longhorn.mspx

  • Windows Server 2008 screencast - Initial Configuration Tasks

    Setting up Windows Server 2008 Beta 3 is pretty easy but there are a couple of initial configuration tasks that you should pay attention to.  Fortunately, like most of the recent product developments, we give you a nice checklist on what to do in a step-by-step manner.

    Initial Configuration Task Screen

    After you get through the install and setup of WS 2008, you'll notice that the administrative account is automatically logged into and you are presented with a screen with those steps.  What do you think the first step is?

    You guessed it!  Create a complex password for the admin account.  There are a number of simple steps in the first two sections of the task list.  Most of the real work takes place in section three with the WS 2008 Server Manager which we'll defer to another screencast I'll post shortly.

    The Screencast

    This screencast will take five minutes to view and is very straightforward.  Short is good.  In fact, all of the screencasts I'm doing are intentionally being kept as short as possible.  You'll see some subsequent demos take longer, but that's the nature of the beast as we go deeper and deeper into the topics.  So here's the link to the Initial Configuration Tasks screencast:

    mms://wm.microsoft.com/ms/inetpub/keithcombs/ws2008/InitialConfigurationTaskScreen.wmv

     

    Additional Resources

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/default.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/evaluation/overview.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/windowsserver/2008/default.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/traincert/virtuallab/longhorn.mspx

  • The 100 Best Products of 2007

    Earlier this week, PC WORLD published their list of "The 100 Best Products of 2007".  I've got to disagree with the top place getter (shock), but it's an interesting list to review.  I have or use several of the products in the list on a regular basis (eight).  What about you?  It's also interesting to note that only one operating system made the list, Apple's OS X 10.4 "Tiger".  There are a couple of Microsoft products including Office 2007 and the Sysinternals Process Explorer.  See the full story at http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,131935-page,1/article.html.

  • "Shipping is a feature"

    For anyone that has developed a widget, those words will have dramatic meaning.  The majority of my career in the IT industry has been spent as a professional developer.  I can still say that until I hit thirty one years in the business.  Those words certainly have meaning to me.  I am all too familiar with the creative process and the pressures of business.

    The term isn't new:

    http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q=%22shipping+is+a+feature%22

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22shipping+is+a+feature%22

    I didn't look back to see when the first searchable occurrence was.  Widget makers long ago probably thought it up.  It doesn't matter who said it first.  What matters is what happens next.

    Yesterday Mike Neil, Microsoft General Manager - Virtualization Strategy, used those four little words.  They are far from little and most people that build things will never use them lightly.  It usually means that hard choices have been made.  Those choices can have dramatic impact on peoples lives.

    In a few more weeks I'll have my 11th anniversary with Microsoft.  Over the past decade I've seen a lot of decisions made about software and strategy.  Software development is part art and part science.  There's also the business part.  It's fun to watch ideas get hatched.  You want to see the baby chicks grow into soaring eagles and rule the high mountain passes.

    But the reality of time is always on the developers mind.  "Is my widget in the right place at the right time?"  "Will it sell?"  "Does it meet customer needs?"

    The last question is really important but timing, location, marketing, distribution, support and other business issues are strategic to success.  Place the customer first, get the quality right, execute and live for another day.

  • It's Official - Halo 3 has a 9/25 release date

    halozune It's Halo time.  The official Halo 3 multiplayer beta starts today, we announced that Halo 3 will ship on September 25th and Gamestop.com has an exclusive new Halo3 Zune packed with Halo 3 music and videos.  What more could a Halo freak want? 

    Ok, don't answer that.

    Where's the movie?

    Ok, don't answer that either.

    Anyway, have fun for the next three weeks beating the crap out of Microsoft employees.  Just cause we've been playing already doesn't mean we're any good.

    I highly recommend trying all weapons.  Some will surprise you.  The Needler rocks. 

  • The Technical Architecture of Exchange Server 2007

    I feel like a treasure hunter.  In my quest to find you valuable nuggets, I unearthed the mother lode on Exchange Server 2007.  The Technical Architecture of Exchange Server 2007 is almost 600 pages of pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about the product.  The shocking thing is that the download is only 5.5meg.  If you decide to print this, make sure to print duplex on a really good printer.

    Download @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=b34fa7cc-8f13-4e21-ae87-eb824728ddd1&DisplayLang=en

  • UPDATE: Windows Vista Volume Activation Technical Guidance

    For those of you deploying Windows Vista with volume license activation, make sure you are intimate with the details of this technical guide.  It was recently updated on 5/10 and includes the following:

    • Volume Activation 2.0 Step by Step Guide - This guide provides planning, deployment and operational guidance for activating volume editions of the Windows Vista operating system.
    • Volume Activation 2.0 FAQ - This document provides answers to frequently asked questions about Windows Vista Volume Activation 2.0.
    • Volume Activation 2.0 Technical Attributes - This spreadsheet lists WMI properties, WMI methods, KMS registry keys and values, KMS log events, KMS error codes and KMS PRC messages.
    • StandardUserProductActivation.zip - This contains the Standard User Product Activation webpage. This webpage is used for simplifying Standard User recovery from Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM). Refer to Volume Activation 2.0 Step-by-Step Guide for instructions.

    Download @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=9893f83e-c8a5-4475-b025-66c6b38b46e3&DisplayLang=en

  • Windows Vista Client Monitoring Management Pack - download available

    The Windows Vista Client Monitoring Management Pack is built on the Windows Diagnostics Infrastructure in Windows Vista that detects, diagnoses and tries to resolve hardware and software problems. Information and analysis on the issues that the system detected are collected by the MP through an agent on the client and sent to Operations Manager where this data is converted into health state, alerts (if need be) and processed for aggregate reports.

    The MP monitors the following areas:

    • Disk reliability and utilization
    • Memory reliability and utilization
    • System performance 
    • Runtime performance
    • Bootup performance
    • Shutdown performance
    • Sleep performance
    • Resume performance

    And surfaces information in these areas by:

    • Raising individual alerts when there are impending catastrophic failures 
    • Raising trend-based alerts on significant changes to any OEM or computer group in one of the monitored areas
    • Health monitors giving an in-depth view of the health of individual machines with knowledge articles to guide the admin.
    • Reports giving a landscape view of the health of all monitored clients in all the monitoring areas

     Get the download @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=A2D42208-D4FD-46A6-9E8D-0FF7694B5634&mg_id=10121&displaylang=en

  • Windows Server "Longhorn" Beta 3 Step-by-Steps

    Most of the Longhorn Beta 3 guides are now in a nice tidy place on the download center.  Here's the list:
    • Creating and Deploying Active Directory Rights Management Services Templates Step-by-Step Guide.doc
    • Step-by-Step Guide for Configuring a Two-Node File Server Failover Cluster in Windows Server Longhorn.doc
    • Step-by-Step Guide for Configuring a Two-Node Print Server Failover Cluster in Windows Server Longhorn.doc
    • Using Identity Federation with Active Directory Rights Management Services Step-by-Step Guide.doc
    • What's New in Failover Clusters.doc
    • What's New in Terminal Services for Microsoft Windows Server Code Name Longhorn.doc
    • Windows Server Active Directory Rights Management Services Step-by-Step Guide.doc
    • Windows Server Code Name Longhorn Beta 3 Active Directory Certificate Services Step-By-Step Guide.doc
    • Windows Server Longhorn Beta 3 Release TS Gateway Server Step-By-Step Setup Guide.doc
    • Windows Server Longhorn Beta 3 Release TS Licensing Step-By-Step Setup Guide.doc
    • Windows Server Longhorn Beta 3 Terminal Services RemoteApp Step-By-Step Guide.doc
    • Windows Server Longhorn Beta 3 Windows Deployment Services Step-by-Step Guide.doc

    Download @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=518d870c-fa3e-4f6a-97f5-acaf31de6dce&DisplayLang=en

  • Network Monitor 3.1 Beta does Wireless

    What's new in the beta version of NETMON 3.1 ???  Wireless (802.11) capturing and monitor mode on Vista - With supported hardware, (Native WIFI), you can now trace wireless management packets. You can scan all channels or a subset of the ones your wireless NIC supports. You can also focus in on one specific channel. We now show the wireless metadata for normal wireless frames. This is really cool for t-shooting wireless problems. See signal strength and transfer speed as you walk around your house!

    Signup for beta testing at http://connect.microsoft.com

  • There's something missing in Longhorn

    Who's installed Windows Server code named "Longhorn" Beta 3?  Did you notice anything missing in your installation?

    Here's a hint: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=2C09FD09-A1D8-4C27-B210-CD16DD778B62&mg_id=10119&displaylang=en

    Go forth and stream!

  • Shhhhhh... let's spy on the CEO's

    Each year Microsoft hosts the CEO Summit in Seattle, WA.  Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall?  Well, this time around you can listen to Bill Gates live.  Hit the 500kbps link at http://metahost.origindigital.com/microsoft/20070516/ceosummit_20070516_500.asx  on 5/16/2007 at 08:50am PST.  Not 8:45.  Not 9:00.  8:50am PST precisely.  Other speeds are available at the website for dialup CEO wannabees.

    For more information on what your bosses, bosses, bosses, bosses, bosses, bosses, boss is up to, see http://www.microsoft.com/ceosummit/default.mspx .

    I wonder if they'll give us a live feed from Bill's house... 

  • Preorder the OPhone

    This has been making it around the internet.  I was going to post it but see Kevin Remde already has everything wired up at http://blogs.technet.com/kevinremde/archive/2007/05/09/too-cool-not-to-share.aspx.  So check it out.  I want a nice red one.

  • Nerds Rule !!!

    Young BillG WinHEC

  • Lets ride the "Santa Rosa" wave

    Mooly Eden, Intel Vice President and General Manager, Mobile Products Group, sits on the Intel Chopper Tuesday, May 8, 2007 in San Francisco, Calif. Intel will announce the launch of its newest processing system to the press, Centrino, on Wednesday morning, May 9. 

Photo by Erin Lubin
 Yesterday Intel and nearly every major OEM announced the initial wave of new laptops based on the "Santa Rosa" chipset's.  The laptop world as you know it just changed, big time.  Faster processors, more addressable memory, next generation video support, etc.  In short, power users hungry for a portable workstation just hit pay dirt.

    Now keep in mind that today marks the very first wave, but build a dream machine in your mind, and you may very well have it by Christmas.  The timing is perfect for my team.  At a time when our product mix is moving to the 64bit world, so is the hardware we need to demonstrate those products.

    The Microsoft product groups worry about their Enterprise products running on our laptops.  That's reasonable.  Nobody is going to run a data center on a dual core 64bit laptop.  However, when the IT Pro evangelists in Microsoft demonstrate products, we aren't normally stressing the crud out of the products anyway. 

    If you look at the history of bottlenecks my team faces, it runs in cycles. Slow laptop disks and sub par I/O performance was solved by faster laptops disks, then external parallel ATA drives (USB, Firewires), then serial ATA drives via PCI Express ExpressCards.  Next was the CPU bottleneck.  We went from single processors to dual processors.  Then of course there's memory.  Prior to today, most laptops would not address more than about 3.2gig of RAM even if they were running a 64bit operating system.  Video has always been a luxury until Windows Vista shipped.

    When Windows Vista shipped, the video horsepower bar was raised.  Desktop composition, glass effects, and the Windows Presentation Foundation has a price.  Throw in high definition decoding or other graphics needy application and all of the sudden that mobile GPU is like a deer in the headlights. 

    So how did this really change?

    First of all, the dual processors are faster.  Faster front side buses, bigger buffers, more efficient pipelines, better caching, etc.  The new CPUs are supposed to consume less power.  For us laptop users, that's a very good thing.  The new chipset has better  memory support at well.  You'll be able to address up to 8GB in many 64bit operating system configurations.  This is really attractive for my team because it means we can allocate more memory to the virtual machines we demonstrate as well as running more of them.

    Running more virtual machines means we can do a better job of simulating complex infrastructure.  It'll be easier to have dedicated VM's that serve specific functions like a sql database, reporting services, software distribution and patch management, clients, edge firewalls, etc.  In the past we did this with multiple machines but with 8GB of memory, I'll be able to run about eight virtual machines or more.  You can get really creative with that much horsepower.

    Unfortunately, a 8GB laptop config is still months off.  The memory makers have to actually produce 4GB SoDIMMs.  Then of course they need to be affordable.  This time last year, 2GB SoDIMMs were about $2000 USD.  Wanna guess what a 4GB SoDIMM is going to run when they start shipping?

    So check out the offerings from Dell, Lenovo, HP, Gateway, Toshiba, etc.  Keep in mind they'll be announcing additional products later this month and next.  I see a laptop running Windows Server code named "Longhorn" x64 with Window Server virtualization (WSv) in the not too distant future.  Oh, and while I'm on that subject, look for some interesting announcements at the upcoming WINHEC.

  • The sands of time are running out...

    On May 31, 2007, pre-release versions of Windows Vista will expire. If you are running a pre-release version of Windows Vista (Beta 2, RC1, or RC2) you will begin to receive notifications about the upcoming expiration on May 18, 2007. To avoid work disruption and the loss of data, it is strongly recommended that PC users running any of these pre-release versions of Windows Vista migrate their PCs to the final version of Windows Vista prior to May 31.

    More information at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/preview.mspx on your possible upgrade paths.

  • Still on the fence about a PMP ?

    Portable Media Players (PMP) still haven't really taken off yet in my opinion.  The markets still seem to be morphing and converging.  Most people are buying players for audio.  But video is coming into it's own.  Look at the Ultra Mobile PCs, small form factor laptops, portable DVD players and of course, the small form factor media players.

    ARCHOS-704-WiFi-3-4 On the audio side, we know who's king.  The iPod continues market domination.  Their domination is so horrific that the Apple Shuffle recently won Portable Media Device of the Year in the Engadget awards.  I guess the portable media device of the year doesn't need a screen.  That really cracks me up.

    If you've read this blog before, you know I have a nice portfolio of devices.  One of the makers missing from my stash is Archos.  I've been meaning to write about them again because I recently got my hands on one for a few minutes at DFW Airport Terminal D.  Terminal D is the swanky new terminal where you can get a $10 margarita at Cantina Laredo.

    I was killing some time one day waiting for a flight and strolled through InMotion Entertainment.  InMotion sells the Archos players so the salesman let me touch and feel the Archos 704 Wifi for a few minutes.  This is one rad little player.  Seven inch LCD panel, 80GB hard drive, Wifi, etc.  At $550 you have to think pretty long and hard how bad you want one.  But consider this, the 80GB iPod Video is $350 and has a 2.5" screen.  Of course the iPod is much smaller and at 5.5 ounces, it's also one fourth the weight of the Archos 704 80GB player.

    See all of the Archos 704 features at http://www.archos.com/products/video/archos_704wifi/features.html?country=us&lang=en.  I have a feeling one might show up at my house one day, but in the meantime, if one of you makes the plunge and purchases one, please comment on the good and bad here.

    Maybe I should talk my marketing department into giving one of these away at each of my events.