Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

June, 2010

  • Long for a Vette with the coveted split window?


    How about a brand new Rossi based on the Corvette C6 platform?

  • TechNet On: Office and SharePoint 2010 Deployment


    TechNet On: launched it’s second package of content this morning at  As you can see above, this package is covering information about how to deploy SharePoint Server 2010 and Office 2010.  Click the pic or head directly to the TechNet homepage to get the low down.
  • TechNet WIKI Pick: The Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) video series

    The Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) video series is designed to help IT professionals wishing to learn more about the administrative and management tasks in MED-V. This series provides step-by-step guidance around common tasks that would be performed by IT professionals to deploy MED-V. Intended to be consumed sequentially, these videos will help you get up to speed with key MED-V administrator tasks and accelerate the deployment of MED-V in your organization.

    See the full article at

  • Network Monitor 3.4 – now available for download

    • imageUser Interface Refresh: The Network Monitor UI has evolved. New features have been added and previously hard-to-find features have been more readily available.
      • Parser Configuration Management: Parsers are now installed with profiles that allow you to easily switch between parser configurations with the Parser Profiles toolbar button. These configurations are also cached, removing the need to recompile when you switch between them.
      • Column Management: Network Monitor will automatically choose a column layout based on the type of file being opened. This column layout can be modified and saved for future use. In addition, two extra layouts for HTTP and TCP diagnostics are included.
      • Color Rules: Network Monitor can now save sets of Color Rules to files for easy sharing. You can also right-click in the Frame Summary and Frame Details windows to add a new Color Rule.
      • Window Layout Dropdown: The new window layout dropdown provides multiple configurations for window arrangement. You can move windows by holding down the Shift key while clicking on their title bars. Arrangements are saved for each of the three layout options. The Restore Default Layout option will reset the currently selected layout back to the default.
      • "Live" Experts: Experts can now be run during a live capture session. Also, experts that have been recently installed now appear automatically in the Experts menu, without requiring you to open another tab.
      • Fixed-Width Font: You can now use a fixed-width font in the Frame Summary window.
    • High Performance Filtering: Network Monitor will now enter a high-performance capturing mode when you specify fully qualified capture filters with certain fields in the UI or nmcap (e.g. Ethernet.IPv4.TCP.Port == 8080).
    • UTC Timestamps: Network Monitor will now capture and save Time Zone related information in a trace. By default, traces opened with Time Zone information will automatically have times adjusted to your local Time Zone. The original time or Time Zone can be viewed by adding the "Time and Date" column or viewing the Properties under the File menu.
    • 802.11n Support & Raw IP Frame Support : Network Monitor now supports monitor mode on 802.11n networks on Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 and later operating systems as well as Raw IP Frames on Microsoft Windows 7.
    • Process Tracking in NMCap: It is now possible to capture process tracking information in the NMCap command-line tool. It can be enabled using the "/CaptureProcesses" flag on live captures.

    Go get it @

  • Treasures for Sale – Kindle, Zune HD, Archos, Clear 4G+ USB Stick, phones and more

    imageI have a number of treasures for sale.  Everything is used but in great condition.  They are for sale on my section of my wife’s ecommerce costume selling site called Over the Top Costumes.  I have some other items I’ll be posting later, but in the meantime here are some of the premium goodies.

    Regarding shipping, I only ship in the USA and the charge really depends on how you want me to ship the item, amount of insurance, etc.  In other words, when you purchase an item from the store, I will call you to find out your preferences.  I will check on prices then call back again. Nothing is charged to your credit card until you approve the full price.

    Zune HD

    This player really does it all. Audio, video, FM radio, etc.  It’s very slim and has a beautiful touch screen.  This is the black 32GB player from Zune Originals.  This player has been rarely used so it is in like new condition.  See the price and more at the shopping section

    Zune 80

    Like the Zune HD above, the Zune 80 is in awesome condition.  It’s always been in the Incipio flip case (included).  It has the 80GB hard drive and stores approximately 50-60 full length movies if desired.  The back is laser etched with an Aztec looking tatoo.  The picture isn’t the correct tat but the one actually on it looks cooler.  See the price and more at the shopping section.

    Palm Treo Pro

    This is newly listed.  I have used this phone for the past 14 months and it’s always been in a Palm leather case (not included).  The battery is still in good shape and on standby with 15 minute pulls from Exchange will last a couple of days.  Windows Mobile 6.1 Pro is installed and works very well on this device.  In fact, it’s the most stable Windows Mobile phone I’ve ever had.  This is the CDMA version of the Treo Pro and I believe it only works on the Sprint network.  See the specs, price and more at the shopping section

    Clear 4G+ USB

    This is a really excellent 3G/4G USB modem for laptop broadband access.  If you are in a Clear 4G coverage area, it will use the 4G signal and speeds.  Otherwise it will use the 3G network operated by Sprint and Clear.  Clear is owned by Sprint.


    This is the second generation 6” Kindle with the Amazon leather case.  This is an awesome reading device and it sure beats carrying around thick hard or paperback books.  Due to the recent price reduction for the new Kindles, I have lowered the price on mine as well.

    Archos 605 WIFI

    This has been my travel companion and is a great movie watching device.  It has a 4.3” touch screen and is the perfect size for watching movies on a long flight.  The package includes an extra battery dock which when both were new allowed for 9 hours of video playback.  I haven’t tested the battery life in some time but they still seem to be in good operating condition.  The Archos player has all sorts of other features I never used.  I only used it for watching movies.  See the specs at the listing.  Great price for this device.

    Everything above comes with the original box, manuals, cables, etc.  See all of the items at

  • Office 2010 Resource Kit – compiled helpfile now available for download

    ofc-brand_h_rgb The following is just one page from the resource kit.  This help file should be a part of your IT Pro toolset because it will be an invaluable resource as you explore the product, test deployment tools and processes, and manage the desktops later.

    This particular sample is the “What's new for IT professionals in Office 2010” section close to the beginning of the file.

    Where do you get this resource?  Go get it @  Like most of the .CHM’s you download, don’t forget to right mouse click the file and go to the properties in order to verify you approve it’s use even thought it was downloaded from the internet.

    Here’s the sample section from the file.  Enjoy.


    Microsoft Office 2010 provides new features and improvements that help IT administrators configure, validate, deploy, and protect their Office installations. This article describes some of the changes in these areas.

    In this article:

    • Licensing and volume activation
    • Office 2010 64-bit editions
    • Security changes
    • Office Customization Tool changes
    • Application virtualization
    • Additional resources

    Licensing and volume activation

    <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = [default] NS = "" />

    Microsoft includes product activation technologies in the following products sold through the Volume Licensing channel: Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, and now Office 2010. Product activation is verification with the manufacturer to confirm that software is genuine and that its product key is not compromised. Activation establishes a relationship between the software's product key and a particular installation of that software on a device.

    Activation types include retail, volume, and OEM, and most require interactive steps by the user or IT professional, such as entering a product key from the packaging, or contacting a networked server or telephone service center. Activation technologies and tools vary according to the different channels for the software — retail, volume, and OEM.

    The Microsoft policy requires the activation of all editions of Office 2010. This includes those obtained through a Volume Licensing program. This requirement applies to Office 2010 running on both physical computers and virtual machines.

    You can use the following methods to activate Office 2010 with Office Activation Technologies:

    • Key Management Service (KMS). KMS uses a KMS host key to activate a KMS host computer and establish a local activation service in your environment. Office 2010 connects to the local KMS host for activation.
    • Multiple Activation Key (MAK). With a MAK, clients activate Office 2010 online with the Microsoft hosted activation servers or by telephone
    • A combination of KMS and MAK.

    For more information about Office Activation Technologies, see Volume activation overview for Office 2010 and Volume activation quick start guide for Office 2010.

    Office 2010 64-bit editions

    Processors that are 64-bit are quickly becoming the standard for systems ranging from servers to desktop computers. The 64-bit systems can use more virtual and physical memory than 32-bit processors. This lets users work with much larger data sets than they could previously, to analyze and solve large computational problems. Office 2010 introduces native 64-bit versions of Office products to take advantage of the additional capacity provided by 64-bit processors. This additional capacity is only needed by Office users who require Microsoft Excel spreadsheets that are larger than 2 GB, for example. The 32-bit version of Office 2010 provides the same functionality and is also compatible with 32-bit add-ins. This is why Office 2010 will install the 32-bit version by default.

    For information about the supported operating systems, supported scenarios, setup process, and deployment considerations for 64-bit Office 2010, see 64-bit editions of Office 2010.

    Security changes

    Fortunately, several new security controls in Office 2010 make it easier for IT professionals to build a robust defense against threats without diminishing information worker productivity. Five of the new controls provide countermeasures for hardening and reducing the attack surface and mitigating exploits. These include the following:

    • Data Execution Prevention (DEP) support for Office applications   A hardware and software technology that helps harden the attack surface by preventing the execution of viruses and worms that exploit buffer overflow vulnerabilities.
    • Office file validation   An Office software component that helps reduce the attack surface by scanning files for file format (file fuzzing) exploits before the files are opened by an application.
    • Expanded file block settings   A suite of Group Policy settings that helps reduce the attack surface by providing more specific control over the kinds of files an application can access.
    • Office ActiveX kill bit   An Office feature that administrators can use to prevent specific ActiveX controls from running within Office applications.
    • Protected view   A sandbox environment that helps mitigate attacks by enabling users to preview untrusted or potentially harmful files in a secure viewer.

    In addition to these new controls, Office 2010 provides several security enhancements that further harden the attack surface by helping to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of data. This includes the following:

    • Cryptographic agility for Microsoft Excel 2010, Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, and Microsoft Word 2010.
    • Trusted time stamping support for digital signatures.
    • Domain-based password complexity checking and enforcement.
    • Encryption strengthening enhancements.
    • Improvements to the password to modify feature.
    • Integrity checking of encrypted files.

    Office 2010 also provides several security improvements that have a direct effect on information worker productivity. Improvements in the message bar user interface, a trust model that remembers users' trust decisions, Trust Center user interface settings, and single identity management are some examples of new features that help make security decisions and actions less intrusive to information workers. In addition, many of the new and enhanced security controls can be managed through Group Policy settings. This makes it easier for you to enforce and maintain your organization's security architecture.

    For more information about security for Office 2010, see Security overview for Office 2010 and Plan security for Office 2010.

    Office Customization Tool changes

    The Office Customization Tool (OCT) is the main customization tool that administrators use to customize an installation of Microsoft Office 2010 (and the 2007 Microsoft Office system). The OCT is part of the Setup program and is the recommended tool for most customizations, and is available only with volume licensed versions of Office 2010, such as Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010. To determine whether an Office 2010 installation is a volume licensed version, check the Office 2010 installation disk to see whether it contains a folder named Admin. If the Admin folder exists, the disk is a volume license edition; otherwise, the disk is a retail edition.

    You run the OCT by typing setup.exe /admin at the command line from the root of the network installation point that contains the Office 2010 source files; for example, \\server\share\Office14\setup.exe /admin.

    For more information about the OCT, see Office Customization Tool in Office 2010.

    The Office 2010 release provides the following new features:

    • Two architecture-specific versions of the OCT, one for 32-bit Office 2010 and one for 64-bit Office 2010. The 64-bit version of the OCT supports 64-bit client editions of Office 2010, and provides the same user interface, capabilities, and OPA settings as the 32-bit version. The OCT files are located in the Admin folder under the x86 (32-bit) and x64 (64-bit) folders, respectively.
      For information about 64-bit Office 2010, see 64-bit editions of Office 2010.
    • Import feature that lets administrators import 32-bit OCT customization (.msp) updates into the 64-bit version of the OCT and 64-bit .msp updates into the 32-bit version of the OCT. This allows administrators of mixed environments (32-bit and 64-bit) to do the Setup customizations one time. For more information, see Import an Office 2010 Setup customization file.
    • Support for adding multiple Microsoft Outlook e-mail accounts.

    Application virtualization

    Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) is another method to deploy Office 2010. Virtualization transforms applications into virtualized, network-available services that are not installed on the users' computer. Instead, applications can be automatically delivered to the users' computer as users need them.

    By using App-V and Office 2010 together, you can quickly deliver the latest version of Office without having to worry about application conflicts or delays in productivity for users. Deploying Office 2010 with App-V 4.6 (currently in Beta) includes new support for integration with SharePoint Products and Technologies, Outlook Search, and Microsoft OneNote 2010. App-V 4.6 is scheduled for release in 2010.

    App-V significantly reduces regression and application interoperability testing. App-V also minimizes the effect on users during application upgrades, patching, and terminations of user rights to applications because restarts and uninstallations are no longer required.

    For more information about Application Virtualization, see Planning and Deployment Guide for the Application Virtualization System (

  • Bytes by TechNet: Chris Henley and Tony Safoian discuss online services

    BytesByTechnet Chris Henley speaks with Tony Safoian, Sr. CEO at SADA Systems around Online Services based on Tony's specialty of working with online implementations with his customers. They talk about the strategic value of online space, some challenges and concerns to move towards the online infrastructure, success and experiences with the customers moving to an online environment including reduce costs savings and improving the strategic value of their IT initiatives. Tony stated that Cloud makes it so that IT has the opportunity to be a strategic efficiency center of an organization as opposed to a cost center.

  • TechNet Simulcast: Forefront virtual events this week

    forefront Register for the Forefront Virtual Event on June 23 and 24 to hear from and ask questions directly to the product team as we deliver technical demonstrations and provide instruction on all Forefront products (FEP, FIM, TMG, UAG, FPSP, FPE, FOPE) and on Active Directory Rights Management Services + Exchange Server. If you’re an IT Professional interested in learning about Microsoft’s latest Forefront security technologies, this event is for you.

    Registration for Day 1 (6/23)

    Registration for Day 2 (6/24)

  • How Moved to a Virtualized Environment Operations, a team within the Microsoft Information Technology (Microsoft IT) division that manages the Web site, faced the same budgetary pressures that affect many businesses today: It needed to constrain capital spending, optimize the use of existing hardware, and reduce operational costs.

    imageUsing the traditional IT model of “Decommission the old and buy newer, more-powerful servers” continued to result in a lot of unused storage, network, and compute capacity. The number of physical servers provisioned to support business needs was growing at a rate of approximately 20 percent per year during a time when budget continued to shrink.

    In spite of earlier and significant investments in physical server hardware, was using less than 10 percent of the available processing power and 30 percent of the storage space.

    MSCOM Ops saw a great opportunity to address these challenges while fulfilling the Microsoft IT mission of being an early adopter of the Windows Server® 2008 R2 operating system, Hyper-V™, and Microsoft® System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2.

    This paper introduces the logical design of the dynamic compute infrastructure (DCI), a virtualized hosting environment that combines these new technologies with clustering and storage area network (SAN)–based storage to provide a flexible, cost-effective hosting environment.

    Full whitepaper @  The file you want is the big one.

  • Hello Moto – ES400 Announced


    Interesting Specs

    • Display: PenTile® 3 in. diagonal color display, touch, VGA 640 x 480 portrait, Super Bright 750+ NITS (luminous)
    • Dimensions: 5.08 in. L x 2.38 in. W x 0.67 in. D
    • Radio: Dual 3.5G: GSM HSDPA/HSUPA and CDMA EVDO Rev A broadband for voice and data
    • Frequency Band: UMTS/HSDPA and HSUPA: 850, 1900 and 2100 MHz, GSM/EDGE: 850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz CDMA/EVDO Rev A: 850 and 1900 MHz

    Full specs @

    Full Motorola Press Release @

  • Audit and Compliance Reporting for DirectAccess

    ws2008 r2 blog logo I had the pleasure of talking to one of the authors of “Compliance Reporting: First Step in Controlling Client Cloud Access”.  Dan Griffin is a Microsoft MVP and Security Software Consultant with JW Secure Incorporated and co-authored this article with Microsoft Architect Lee Walker. The conversation with Dan is captured below for your listening pleasure. 

    Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the article:

    “Establishing secure access is a logical first step to extending the enterprise into the cloud. By setting policies for compliance, reporting and remote connectivity now, you set the stage for how your team will work within the cloud in a smooth and secure fashion. Using Network Access Protection (NAP) with IPsec connectivity technologies like DirectAccess can help by improving your auditing and compliance reporting.

    It can be difficult to identify and gather the necessary data when creating an auditing and reporting solution for a new DirectAccess or IPsec deployment. Here we will show how a hypothetical company might create a DirectAccess and NAP solution and provide reporting data to determine who was connected, when they were connected and if the client computer was within compliance.”

    See the full article @ Compliance Reporting: Controlling Client Access.

    Podcast Interview

    Get Microsoft Silverlight
    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    Window Media Audio File

  • IIS Media Services 4.0 – now available for download

    ws2008 r2 blog logo IIS Media Services 4.0 is a set of media-related extensions for Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) 7 and higher.  IIS Media Services provides an integrated HTTP-based media delivery platform, and includes:

    • Smooth Streaming. Enables adaptive streaming of on-demand media files for Smooth Streaming-compatible clients, including Microsoft® Silverlight™.
    • Live Smooth Streaming. Enables adaptive streaming of live media broadcasts for Smooth Streaming-compatible clients. A new Live Smooth Streaming feature in IIS Media Services 4.0 Beta 1 enables delivery of live media broadcasts to Apple® mobile digital devices.
    • Transform Manager. Enables conversion of on-demand media files to Smooth Streaming presentations for Smooth Streaming-compatible clients and enables conversion of Smooth Streaming presentations to MPEG-2 TS segments that can be played by Apple devices.
    • Advanced Logging. Provides rich, real-time client- and server-side logging.
    • Bit Rate Throttling. Meters the speed at which media is delivered to a player.
    • Web Playlists. Enables secure sequencing and server-side control of media content.

    You can also download two additional IIS extensions related to IIS Media Services 4.0:
    • Advanced Logging, with real-time client- and server-side logging
    • Application Request Routing (ARR), providing HTTP proxying and caching
    • Transform Manager, runs encoding tasks to convert media files to on-demand Smooth Streams for Silverlight clients and Apple mobile digital devices.

    Get the x86 version @

    Get the x64 version @

    Get the Transform Manager @

  • Shaken Not Stirred

    007 64 DB5

    If you want to be James Bond, here’s a famous car complete with ejection seat and machine guns that will help get you there. Ante up in October.  Opening bid is $5,000,000.

  • The Three Amigos ride again!!!


    (from left) Keith Combs, Matt Hester and Kai Axford all in one place again.  Pretty rare these days unfortunately.  Hope everyone had fun at TechEd 2010.  We sure did. Viva La Revolucion!

  • TechNet Library Lightweight View – now ready for testing

    technet - white on black Since the release of the new Lightweight view for the MSDN Library in April we’ve been hard at work enabling a similar Lightweight experience in the TechNet Library.

    Like the MSDN Lightweight view, our goal for the TechNet Lightweight Library is to strike a balance between features and performance while making the content easier to consume overall.

    Key Features and Beta Feedback

    We’ve just released a beta of this new TechNet Lightweight Library experience and would love to get your feedback as we polish the experience for final release. Some areas of the new design that we’d like to highlight are:

    1. To help you navigate through the TechNet library we’ve implemented the lightweight table of contents and updated it with graphical elements designed to make the relationships between elements more clear.
    2. To help you easily discover and consume code samples we’ve implemented tabbed code blocks which persist your favorite development language.
    3. Based on usability research results the lightweight design focuses on content. As such the prime real estate at the top of the page is now dedicated to content rather than site features and options.
    4. Please use the feedback link in the site footer, to let us know how you like the new design or what you think we can do better.

    Beta Release Notes

    The beta site is only intended to preview this new library design. It is not a fully functional version of TechNet. Here is a list of known limitations with the beta implementation:

    1. The tabs at the top of the page that lead you to TechNet properties outside the library are not functional. Clicking them will lead you back to the TechNet library home page.
    2. We’re asking that you engage with us through the feedback link at the bottom of the page, as such the community content section is “read only”. You will not be able to sign in and add community content.
    3. There are some hardcoded links in the content to other TechNet or MSDN domains, which could lead you out of the beta experience. If you suddenly exit the beta experience, we ask that you simply use your browsers back button to resume.
    4. Similarly Search is not constrained to the beta site. Navigation using search in the beta is not supported and will lead to an undefined user experience.
    5. Some features do not yet carry the TechNet brand. Search results and Language Selection are examples of features that are still branded MSDN.

    We hope you like the new TechNet Lightweight Library experience. Please take some time to explore at and let us know what you think.

  • TechNet On: launches with Cloud Security

    CloudSecurity June 15, 2010 marks the beginning of a new content and publishing adventure.  It’s called TechNet On: and we are bundling technical content into the topics that are top of mind for IT Professionals.

    First up is Cloud Security.  As with all topics, there are different layers or elements that must be considered.  In this case we have combed content from a variety of credible sources like TechNet Magazine, TechNet Flash, Microsoft product group subject matter experts, and of course the Microsoft MVP community.

    The Cloud Security package has a Background (Bg), Security (Sc) and a Strategies (St) focus I think you’ll find are very well done.  Timely, technical and relevant.

    You can expect to see a new TechNet On: package every couple of weeks.  For the coming months you will see horizontal topics like Troubleshooting or Deployment as well as packages for SharePoint, Office, Windows and other technologies that are hot.

    We launched TechNet On: in the US, UK, India, Australia, and Canada but we aren’t stopping there.  Look for additional languages and locales as we push forward with our end-to-end content and publishing strategy.


    Here’s a short four minute screencast about TechNet On: and some of the content in this weeks package.  Pay no attention to my lazy tongue when I say “egglectic”.  Duh.  For the full demo view, be sure to either double click the Silverlight “Black Glass” player for full screen, or hover on the bottom of the video to bring up the tool bar.  The full screen button is on the far right of the tool bar. Enjoy.

    Get Microsoft Silverlight
    Get Microsoft Silverlight
  • Hope my wife likes our new appliance!

    Xbox2010 Now I just need to find some black glossy paint for a certain HD-DVD drive I know.

  • TechNet Subscriptions – new changes launched

    You have more choices now. And if you never used the included supports calls, then you now have the ability to go for a cheaper subscription now called Standard.  Here are the SKU descriptions:

    • Microsoft® TechNet Subscription Standard: Tailored to help IT Professionals evaluate, test, and troubleshoot Microsoft software for desktop environments. TechNet Standard does not include some enterprise editions of Microsoft software.
    • Microsoft® TechNet Subscription Professional: Geared towards IT Professionals who need a more comprehensive subscription and are primarily focused on supporting enterprise wide environments such as the following scenarios: server consolidation, interoperability, network management and more.
    • Microsoft® TechNet Subscription Professional with Media: Offers the same benefits as TechNet Professional, but is geared towards those organizations with bandwidth constraints and/or prefer a DVD copy of software.

    Want to see the side-by-side comparison?  See  Now keep in mind this is the view from my machine which uses the EN-US language and locale.  Your view may differ slightly, especially when you go look at the prices at  Here’s a screenshot:


    Be sure to look at the program descriptions carefully before choosing.  See the FAQ at for more information.  Enjoy.

    [UPDATE for 6/30/2010]  A spreadsheet was added to the bottom of the FAQ that gives you a side-by-side comparison of the products in the Standard and Pro subscriptions.  It’s currently missing some of the Office 2010 products but I’m sure that will be corrected rather soon.

  • Sprint HTC EVO 4G – mini review

    htc evo Now is the best time to wait.  It’s a pretty funny saying and the guys at said it a few weeks ago before the the HTC EVO came out.  They were referring to the parade of smartphones coming out. They got it wrong unless of course you plan to wait until the holiday season.  That’s no fun, I want to play with the toys now.

    On June 4th, Sprint launched one of the most anticipated phones with much fanfare.  The HTC EVO is a gorgeous phone and it’s the first 4G phone on the market.  There’s just one problem, 4G in nearly a myth where I live.  We’ll discuss that in a moment.  Let’s get into the specs and such first.

    Techno Info

    The HTC EVO has a 4.3-inch WVGA resolution Capacitive Multi-touch Screen.  This is a really large screen for a phone. The screen impresses everyone that see’s it for the first time.  It’s big and bright.  It also senses the lighting conditions around you and raises or lowers the brightness accordingly.  It works really well and I had no issues using it outside or in complete darkness.  I wish the iPad worked the auto brightness as well.

    The dimensions are 4.8 x 2.6 x 0.5 inches and weighs 6 oz. with battery.  As you can see, it’s pretty thin. I carried it on occasion in my pants pocket (kaki’s).  The back cover isn’t slick like the iPad so it was easy to hold onto.

    It supports the CDMA 800/1900 MHz EVDO Rev. A, WiMAX 2. 5 to 2.7GHz; 802.16e, and 802.11 B/G WIFI and Bluetooth networks.  I had no problems using any of the WIFI networks I tried with the sole exception being the TechEd network, but that was a network capacity issue, not a security or any other issue.  The WIFI networks I used had a range of security schemes. 

    It uses the Android 2.1 operating system.  It has an Android store for grabbing free and for fee applications.  One of the applications I needed is called Touchdown.  It’s an Exchange email client and we’ll discuss it later.

    Unlike most phones, the EVO has a 8 megapixel camera with Auto Focus and 2x LED Flash on the back and a 1.3 megapixel fixed focus front facing camera.  I have started to see reports of the back camera lens getting scratched so if you get one of these phones, you are going to need to take extreme care to prevent that.

    For memory, there’s 1GB ROM/ 512MB RAM of internal memory and a 8GB microSD™ included in device.

    For location awareness, the EVO uses GPS/aGPS or other networking.  This is fully controlled by the user and the home screen is constantly updated with weather related information.  Because this device is closely aligned with Google, it does of course include and use Google maps.  I did not test turn-by-turn directions before I returned the phone.

    The EVO uses the Qualcomm® QSD 8650, with a clock speed of 1GHz.  This is considered to be one of the best mobile chipsets currently on the market and the phone was plenty snappy.  I saw no faults and only one application error in the week I tested it.

    Battery Life

    Before I picked up the phone I had read some preliminary reviews that indicated battery life was terrible.  That isn’t entirely accurate.  If you turn off 4G, WIFI, GPS, Bluetooth, WIFI hotspot mode and just use the 3G CDMA voice and data radios, the battery life is quite good for this phone.

    I tested battery life every day in New Orleans while at TechEd 2010 last week.  I routinely got 14-16 hours of life.  I’d take it off the charger at 8am and would not plug it back in until I got back to my hotel room.  Most nights that was 11pm to midnight.  During the battery testing, I had the Exchange client set to check for new email every 15 minutes.

    During one of the battery test periods, I put the HTC EVO in WIFI hotspot mode.  I used the hotspot mode for 60 minutes.  This was at the end of one of the battery test periods and surprisingly it didn’t appear to totally drain the device.

    Firing up the 4G radio and all of the other bells and whistles was another story.  This cut the battery life by more than half.  It was pretty easy to drain the battery in 4-6 hours.  The device is thin enough that some enterprising case company will likely build a battery jacket (if they haven’t already) to help overcome this issue.  In addition, you could always purchase an external rechargeable battery and jack into the mini USB port.

    Hotspot Mode

    This is a special feature and allows you to use the phone as a WIFI hotspot for up to eight devices.  This is a really cool feature and the phone could take the place of a Sprint Overdrive, wireless card or tethering.

    Sprint charges $29.99 per month to use this feature which all things considered is a pretty good deal.  It sure beats the $59.99 monthly charge for the Overdrive other other data card plans. 

    In my testing, the Overdrive outperformed the HTC EVO hotspot mode in terms of performance and stability. 

    Voice Calls

    All of the calls I made were clear and drop free.  I didn’t expect any issues because I’ve been a Sprint customer for a while.  The HTC EVO will sense when you place the phone next to your face and turn off the screen.  When you remove the device from your face again, the screen lights back up again.

    Call logs and phone control were all straight forward.  However, my contacts in the Exchange client called Touchdown were not recognized on incoming calls.  We’ll talk about email in a moment.

    Ringers and silent mode worked very nicely including the amount of vibration on silent.  I could feel the phone vibrate inside my backpack while I was riding the bus from the convention center back to the hotel.  Like most phones these days, there were a number of ringers included and they were plenty loud. 

    Email and Apps

    The HTC EVO includes an email client that allows you to connect to Exchange server.  However, our Exchange servers have some pretty restrictive policies that weren’t compatible with the included client.  Touchdown to the rescue.

    Touchdown is an Exchange client developed by NitroDesk. Touchdown supports the PIN and Remote Wipe policies set by our IT department.  I tested remote wipe and worked pretty well.  Keep in mind it doesn’t wipe the device, only the Touchdown app and data.  Some people would probably prefer this behavior.

    The Touchdown client includes some interesting innovation.  First, like most email clients you can pick and choose what folders to sync.  You can also look at all of that email in a single view.  I know that sounds pretty strange, but with the filtering, you can filter the view to only show unread messages.  If you have a a bunch of folders and server side rules processing, this is a powerful combination.

    The built-in twitter client, HTC Peep, was a nice little client.  Easy to use and straightforward with touch, scroll, flick, etc.  It supported re-tweets, reply, direct messages, etc.  As far as I can tell, they had all of the major bases covered.

    I never did look to see what the browser was called but it did a good job of rendering the sites I looked at.  As you might expect, it supported pinch and other multi touch gestures very well.


    If you live in a 4G coverage area where there actually is a 4G signal, this is an interesting option.  Although the town where I live is supposed to be in a 4G coverage area, I never see a signal.  And if I do, it’s a poor signal.  This includes Roanoke, Southlake, Grapevine and DFW airport.  I was in Bedford this morning for several hours (183 and Central) and the 4G signal was poor.  Sorry Sprint, you are going to have to do much better.  Returned.

    Next up, Apple iPhone 4. 

    [UPDATE] I got to digging around on the Sprint 4G coverage map at  According to it, there’s a dense 4G area at Bicentennial Park in Southlake.  There is a big water tower there so that’s the likely candidate for the cell tower showering the park in 4G glory.  Surprisingly, the circumference around that area is smaller than I expected. 

    The area in Bedford I was at yesterday shows solid dark blue on the 4G map.  Unfortunately that was not my experience.  It’s still cool to think about the possibilities but it’s still going to be a while before we all have high speed wireless networking wherever we go. Any guesses?  Five years?

    [UPDATE for 6/17] See for another review. Battery life cited as bad.

  • WALL-E would love Microsoft Kinect


    I couldn’t help but think about the loveable little robot named WALL-E when I saw the picture of Microsoft Kinect.  See details in the press pass article at

    See the Kinect information center on at

  • Bytes by TechNet Launches with Keith Combs and Jenelle Crothers

    BytesByTechnet This week at TechEd 2010 Matt Hester, Chris Henley, Harold Wong and I had the pleasure of interviewing MVPs, customers and Microsoft staff on a variety of IT Pro topics including Windows 7, Windows Server, Windows Azure, SharePoint and others. 

    We have a landing page at where you will see each episode unveiled over the next few weeks and months.

    The first show is a five minute “byte” I did with Jenelle Crothers.  Jenelle is a Senior Systems/Network Administrator at the Conservation & Liquidation Office.  She is a Microsoft MVP for the Windows Desktop Experience and we talk about Windows 7 Deployment and Virtualization on XP mode.  Hit the link at the beginning of this paragraph for links to the resources we are referring to in the talk.

    The following video is the high definition 720p version of the video and I encoded it with Expression Encoder 4 using the new H.264 capabilities that are available. It appears the result of the VBR encoding is a 3MB data rate so I am interested to know how this .MP4 looks and plays for you.  Enjoy.

  • TechNet Wiki Pick for the Week: AD FS 2.0 Config DB Migration to SQL

    ws2008 r2 blog logo The AD FS configuration database stores all the configuration data that represents a single instance of AD FS 2.0 (also known as the Federation Service). You can store this configuration data in either a Microsoft SQL Server® database or using the Windows Internal Database. The Windows Internal Database is a Windows Server feature that is automatically installed on the computer whenever you complete the AD FS 2.0 Federation Server Configuration Wizard for the first time.

    Since the wizard does not provide a UI option to choose SQL Server as the store for the AD FS configuration database it is understandable how many would continue to use the wizard defaults to see if it will work well for their infrastructure. It is highly possible that in time you may want to scale out your federation server farm to use more than 5 federation servers by migrating the configuration database to SQL Server. By migrating to SQL you will obtain scale, high availability and also be able to use SQL’s backup mechanisms.

    Sound interesting?  I thought so especially since I had the pleasure of working the Wiki booth yesterday with the author of the full article, Nick Pierson. 

    See the full article which was uniquely published on the Wiki first at

  • Introducing “Point and Click,” Our IT Advisors for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

    PointClickLogoREDMOND, Wash. – June 2, 2010 – Matt Hester loves to find cool new technology. Keith Combs loves to find ways technology makes businesses more efficient. Together they are “Point and Click — The IT Investigators,” a new Microsoft team whose Internet radio shows are designed to help small- and medium-sized business managers understand and take advantage of the powerful new technologies available to them.

    The talk-radio-type shows, in which Hester and Combs chat with real business owners about their everyday challenges, launched May 26 on the Microsoft News Center’s Small and Medium-Sized Business virtual press kit. A new episode of Hester and Combs’s business conversations will appear roughly every two weeks.

    In the inaugural program, the two talk about working remotely from a main office.

    See the full press release at  See the SMB Pressroom at with Episode 1.