Be an Early Expert on Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V, System Center 2012 R2, Azure and Windows 8.1

  • What’s New in PowerShell: Getting Started with OneGet in one line with Windows PowerShell 5.0

    Over the past couple weeks, while we’ve all been focused on the news on Windows 8.1 Update, Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft Azure, and Heartbleed, there’s also been a number of significant enhancements and announcements regarding PowerShell – including a preview release of the next major PowerShell version, Windows PowerShell 5.0.

    Read this article ...

    This article is the first in a series of articles designed to highlight recent announcements and new features in Windows PowerShell.  Today, I’ll help you get started with OneGet in PowerShell 5.0, but stay tuned for other articles in this series in the coming days …

  • Windows Phone 8.1 ready for download as Developer Preview

    A couple weeks ago at our Build 2014 conference, we announced Windows Phone 8.1 with tons of new capabilities for both consumers and enterprises. Yesterday, Windows Phone 8.1 was made available as a Developer Preview for developers and app builders that are registered in our Windows Phone Preview for Developers program.

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    Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1

    In this article, we’ll discuss how to get the new Developer Preview for Windows Phone 8.1 and I’ll also share some of my favorite new features!

  • Rewards, Prizes and Certification: Add Hyper-V to your Existing VMware / Virtualization Skills with Early Experts

    Microsoft Early Experts is a free, online study group for virtualization professionals who want to extend their Microsoft Hyper-V, System Center and Microsoft Azure knowledge with official Microsoft certifications. We've organized our high-impact learning resources into online Knowledge Quests that include concise videos, prescriptive study materials and hands-on practice with real products. Complete the weekly quests at your own pace and enjoy the flexibility to stop and review certain topics when you need more time.

    Join Early Experts - We'll help you get certified!

    In this article, I'll provide more details around a new Early Experts study group for existing VMware and Virtualization professionals.  I'll also describe the prize opportunities that are available to IT Pros located in the U.S. who actively participate in Early Experts in April, May and June 2014 ...

  • Step-by-Step: Build Your Cloud with System Center 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure

    April 11, 2014: Updated to include additional resources ...

    Now, take Build Your Cloud on-the-go with Windows Phone!

    My fellow Technical Evangelists and I have authored a content series that steps through building your very own Cloud by leveraging Windows Server 2012 R2, our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Services ( IaaS ) and System Center 2012 R2.  Week-by-week, we walk through the steps to envision, plan and implement your very own Cloud to take your existing data center to the next level and give you the tools and time back in your day for improving IT services and being able to change and shift with your business / IT needs.

    In this article, I introduce this series and provide a weekly breakdown of each topic that we've written to help you build your own Cloud ...

  • Step-by-Step: Getting Started with On-demand Private Clouds using Windows Azure Pack

    As I’ve been traveling and speaking to IT Pros about the great scalability, resiliency and offerings in our Microsoft Azure public cloud platform, there’s also been lots of interest around deploying our free Windows Azure Pack (WAP) to bring the power and consistency of the same self-service Azure portal user interface to on-demand Private Clouds provisioned in an on-premises datacenter.

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    Service Management Portal in Windows Azure Pack

    In this article, we’ll step through the process of setting up Windows Azure Pack in a lab environment for provisioning and delegating VM private clouds. Along the way, I’ll call out the specific details that I found helpful to successfully build my own lab environment.

  • TechNet Radio: (Part 6) Hyper-V from a VMware Admin’s Perspective - Disaster Recovery with Hyper-V Replica

    In today’s installment of our “Hyper-V from a VMware admin's perspective” series, Keith Mayer and Andy Syrewicze explore disaster recovery and how Hyper-V Replica can help assist your DR efforts. Tune in as they take us through some common DR scenarios as well as demo for us Hyper-V Replica and Azure’s Hyper-V Recovery Manager. [ 3:23 ] What is Hyper-Replica and how can impact Disaster Recovery? [ 8:00 ] DEMO : Getting started with Hyper-V Replica [ 23:30 ...
  • Best of Build 2014: Getting Ready for Windows 8.1 Update

    Last week at the Build 2014 conference, the Windows product team announced that Windows 8.1 Update will be generally available via Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center beginning April 8th as KB2919355.  Some of the most notable enhancements provided by Windows 8.1 Update include:

    • Improved hardware support for devices with lower hardware specifications, such as 1GB RAM and 16GB storage space
    • Enhanced compatibility with legacy web apps via Enterprise Mode for IE 11
    • Extended Mobile Device Management (MDM) support
    • Improved Keyboard/Mouse user experience

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    Windows 8.1 Update – Start screen

    In addition to these enhancements, Windows 8.1 Update includes two new security updates (KB2922229 and KB2936068).  These security updates will also be available separately for organizations that are not yet ready to deploy the full Windows 8.1 Update.

    Note: KB2919355 also applies to Windows Server 2012 R2.  When installed on Windows Server 2012 R2, the new Enterprise Mode for IE11, updated Start screen UI with Search and Power buttons, and Desktop Experience role for Remote Desktop Services deployments are all updated to align with the Windows 8.1 Update experience on client devices.

    In this article, I’ll provide a list of resources that you can leverage to quickly learn, deploy and educate your users on the new features in Windows 8.1 Update.

  • Best of Build 2014: What’s New in Microsoft Azure

    WOW! This past week at our Build 2014 conference, the Azure team announced over 40+ updates to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, including significant enhancements to Virtual Machines, Storage, Web Sites, Mobile Services and Azure SQL Database.  In addition, a new Azure Preview Portal was released that provides a customizable end-to-end DevOps experience along with Azure Resource Manager, a new framework for composing and managing cloud applications.

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    The NEW Azure Preview Portal

    In this article, I’ll provide a recap of the announcements made during Scott Guthrie’s Microsoft Azure keynote session on Day 2 of Build 2014 with a clickable video index and additional resource links for more information …

  • TechNet Radio: (Part 8) Building Your Hybrid Cloud - Build Your Compute Fabric with System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager

    In today’s “Building a Hybrid Cloud” episode, Keith Mayer and Brian Lewis demo for us how build and manage our compute fabric with System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager . Tune in as they discuss the many challenges IT Pros face today when trying to manage multiple virtualization hosts both on-premise an in the cloud. [ 1:48 ] What are some of the major compute challenges IT Pros face? [ 4:44 ] How does System Center 2012 R2 VMM address Compute? [ 8:48 ] How would...
  • Step-by-Step: Getting Started with NEW Microsoft Azure Automation preview feature

    Earlier this week, Microsoft Azure Automation was made available on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform as a public preview.  This new feature allows you to automate the creation, monitoring, deployment and management of cloud resources in your Microsoft Azure subscription using a highly-available workflow execution engine.  Azure Automation provides an orchestration feature set for public cloud resources that is similar to what the Service Management Automation (SMA) engine provides for on-premises private cloud resources via the Windows Azure Pack and System Center 2012 R2 Orchestrator.

    Read this article ...

    Azure Automation is super-cool, because it allows us to perform automated cloud provisioning and management without needing to manually build and manage a separate set of automation servers.  And … scalability and high availability of the Azure Automation engine is provided natively via the Microsoft Azure cloud platform without any extra configuration steps needed, which helps to make sure that your scheduled runbooks will always execute when needed.

    In this article, I’ll step through the process of getting started with Azure Automation. Along the way, we’ll build a runbook and PowerShell workflow for performing basic automation of Microsoft Azure virtual machines.

  • Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines: Reset Forgotten Admin Passwords with Windows PowerShell

    Our IT Pro team has been traveling across the US delivering hands-on IT Camp events on Microsoft Azure and Hybrid Cloud scenarios. At these events, IT Pros frequently ask us about resetting passwords on Microsoft Azure virtual machines …

    If we forget the Admin password for a provisioned Azure VM, is there an easy way to reset it?

    Read this article ...

    Yes! With the help of the latest Microsoft Azure PowerShell Module (version 0.7.4 and later), there’s an easy way to do just that!

    In this article, we’ll step through the process of using the Azure PowerShell Module to reset forgotten credentials for the built-in local Admin user account on Microsoft Azure virtual machines.

  • March 2014: Top 10 Favorite IT Pro Blog Articles and eBook of the Month

    March came in AND went out like a Lion this year … and the blogging activity in our IT Pro community has been no different, with some awesome posts on Microsoft Azure, Private Cloud, Windows 8.1 and PowerShell!

    Read this article ...

    In this article, I’ve provided a list of my top 10 favorite IT Pro blog articles in March along with my eBook pick of the month … Be sure that you don’t miss out on these great resources!

  • Why Windows 8.1 for Business? Build No-code Business Apps with Windows 8.1, Project Siena and Microsoft Azure (Part 3)

    This article is Part 3 of a three-part article mini-series on using Project Siena and Microsoft Azure cloud services together to build real no-code Windows 8.1 business apps.  Project Siena gives business users the ability to create powerful business apps without writing any code whatsoever, and Microsoft Azure provides a globally-accessible Internet cloud service that can serve as a centralized data source for these apps.  Together, Project Siena and Microsoft Azure provide a complete toolset for building no-code data-driven business apps.

    Read this article ...

    If you’ve missed the earlier parts of this series, be sure to check them out below and then come back here when you’re ready to proceed …

  • Why Windows 8.1 for Business? Build No-code Business Apps with Windows 8.1, Project Siena and Microsoft Azure (Part 2)

    Project Siena is super-cool, because it extends the ability to build real data-driven business apps to non-developers inside organizations: that is, the business experts and power users who, in many cases, know the inner meaning of business data better than anyone else in an organization.

    In this article, we’ll continue our exploration of Project Siena by stepping through the process of building a real no-code Windows 8.1 app together, with our focus on setting up the data source that our app will consume in Microsoft Azure Mobile Services.

    Read the full article ...

  • Why Windows 8.1 for Business? Build No-code Business Apps with Windows 8.1, Project Siena and Microsoft Azure (Part 1)

    Microsoft Project Siena, currently in Beta 2, enables business users to create powerful no-code apps for Windows 8.1 that can connect to enterprise applications, cloud services and the web.  Now, without any programming, your users can quickly create apps that leverage their knowledge of corporate content and Internet services to allow others within your organization to work with that data in new and interesting ways.

    This article is part 1 of a three-part article mini-series. In part 1, I’ll provide an overview of Project Siena with resources to help your users get started developing their very own Windows 8.1 business apps.  In parts 2 & 3, we’ll proceed step-by-step through building a real Windows 8.1 app together with Project Siena and Microsoft Azure Mobile Services - all without any coding whatsoever!

  • Step-by-Step: Cleaning up the Cloud with Microsoft Azure and Windows PowerShell

    I’ve been delivering lots of hands-on events lately on our Microsoft Azure cloud platform.  As part of our events, we step through the process of building complete multi-VM virtual network environments on the Azure platform with VM’s running Windows Server 2012 R2, SQL Server, SharePoint and System Center 2012 R2.  By the end of the day, we’ve built lots of VMs, Cloud Services and more!

    A common question at these events is …

    When I’m done with my lab VM’s, is there an easy way to clean things up in my Azure subscription without needing to manually delete each VM one-by-one?


    Well, good news! There is an easy way to de-provision VMs and Cloud Services in bulk by leveraging just a bit of PowerShell scripting with the Microsoft Azure PowerShell Module.  In this article, we'll step through the process of using PowerShell to completely de-provision and delete Microsoft Azure VMs and Cloud Services in bulk ...

  • TechNet Radio: (Part 7) Building Your Hybrid Cloud - Managing Storage with System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager

    In today’s “Building a Hybrid Cloud” episode, Keith Mayer and Brian Lewis show us how you can manage your data storage with System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). Tune in as they discuss some of the major challenges facing IT organizations today regarding storage costs and implementation as well as dive deep into a demo on how Virtual Machine Manager can help ease some of those concerns. [ 2:07 ] What are some of the major Storage Challenges IT organizations face today? [ 11:22 ] How...
  • TechNet Radio: (Part 6) Building Your Hybrid Cloud - Networking in System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager

    Continuing our “Building a Hybrid Cloud” series, Keith Mayer and Brian Lewis showcase the new networking features in System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). Tune in as they discuss the differences between networking in Hyper-V Manager and Virtual Machine Manager, new features such as integration of Physical Network devices, support for Hyper-V Network Gateway, integration with IPAM for management of physical and virtual network address pools and then dive into a demo on how to get started...
  • Why Windows 8.1 for Business? My users don’t have Touch Screens!

    I frequently speak with IT Pros about the exciting new business & technical advantages of Windows 8.1 around security, manageability, BYOD and Mobility, and Client Hyper-V.  Inevitably, during these discussions someone asks:

    “But … my users don’t have Touch Screens! Why should I deploy Windows 8.1 for them?”

    We’ve certainly added lots of new touch-oriented gestures and features in Windows 8.1 to provide a great natural experience on touch-enabled devices, but this doesn’t mean that we’ve replaced the great mouse & keyboard experience that we’ve always had on traditional devices.


    In this article, we’ll discuss why Windows 8.1 is a great choice on non-touch laptop and desktop PC’s as well as how the experience can be easily optimized for non-touch users …

  • Top 10 Favorite IT Pro Blog Articles and eBook of the Month

    February has been really active with some absolutely excellent blog articles published this past month!


    In this article, I’ve provided a list of my top 10 favorite IT Pro blog articles in February along with my eBook pick of the month … Be sure that you don’t miss out on these great resources!

  • Guided Hands-on Lab: Planning Disaster Recovery Capacity for Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Replica

    Throughout our Disaster Recovery Planning Series for IT Pros this month, we've been discussing the steps involved in planning an effective Disaster Recovery strategy ... And planning for the additional capacity needed to implement a successful DR plan is certainly an important part of that process.  Replicating application workloads and data between sites can incur additional CPU, Memory, Storage and Network overhead that we'll need to account for as part of our datacenter and wide area network load.  If you're using our native Hyper-V Replica engine as part of your DR strategy, the good news is that our Solution Accelerators team has built a tool to help us predict the capacity needed for these DR scenarios: the Hyper-V Replica Capacity Planner tool.

      Interested in learning more about Disaster Recovery?

      Check out our complete blog series at:

    The Hyper-V Replica Capacity Planner tool was updated this past month with a new version that adds several new features, including support for Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V Replica Extended Replication and new storage support for virtual hard disks located on CSVFS volumes and SMB shares.

    In this article, we'll walk through using the latest version of the Hyper-V Replica Capacity Planner tool for analyzing and recommending the capacity we'll need at our Primary site, Replica site and Extended Replica site ...

  • Microsoft OneDrive: One Place For Everything in Your Life ... Including PowerShell Scripts!

    Last week, we announced worldwide availability of OneDrive.  My friend and colleague, Brian Lewis, wrote a nice article that summarized many of the new capabilities around OneDrive, with improved support for shared document editing via Office Online, a new 3GB camera backup feature, automatic video rendering across multiple resolutions, and the ability to support a variety of devices, such as Windows, Windows Phone, iOS, Mac, Android ... and Xbox!


    One new capability came as a particularly pleasant surprise to many of us in the PowerShell community: OneDrive also now supports web-based rendering of PowerShell scripts. Very cool ...

  • Step-by-Step: Live Migrate Multiple (Clustered) VMs in One Line of PowerShell - Revisited

    A while back, I wrote an article showing how to Live Migrate Your VMs in One Line of Powershell between non-clustered Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V hosts using Shared Nothing Live Migration.  Since then, I’ve been asked a few times for how this type of parallel Live Migration would be performed for highly available virtual machines between Hyper-V hosts within a cluster. 


    In this article, we’ll walk through the steps of doing exactly that … via Windows PowerShell on Windows Server 2012 or 2012 R2 or our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 bare-metal, enterprise-grade hypervisor in a clustered configuration.

  • Guided Hands-on Lab: Deliver Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) with Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager (HRM)

    Implementing an effective Disaster Recovery and Business Continuance plan can be a really complicated and expensive ordeal for some Private Clouds. 
    In many cases, competing solutions either don't meet the Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) that an organization may require, or are super-expensive to implement because they rely on costly site recovery management software and/or proprietary storage appliances at multiple sites. 

    In this article ... I'll provide an introduction to Hyper-V Replica and Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager and a Guided Hands-On Lab that allows you to step through the process of protecting your Private Cloud with an orchestrated recovery plan ...

  • Step-by-Step: File Server Disaster Recovery in the Clouds with Windows Azure and Windows Server 2012 R2

    File servers are a key foundational workload in most organizations.  In addition to providing shared folders for document collaboration, storage and archiving, they can also serve as a data repository for other key business applications.  As such, file servers are a kind of “network utility” for data storage, without which most organizations would find it hard to continue operations. To reduce recovery time and data loss to tolerable limits that meet your RTO and RPO, you’ll want to consider augmenting a traditional backup strategy with more agile recovery options. 

    In this article, I’ll discuss one such recovery scenario for key file server workloads: implementing a file server replication strategy to a disaster recovery site leveraging Windows Azure and Windows Server 2012 R2.


    And, the good news is … we’ll be using capabilities that are native to these products, so you won’t need to purchase expensive storage solutions or third-party software!

About the Author ...
 Keith Mayer is a Senior Technical Evangelist at Microsoft focused on Windows Infrastructure, Data Center Virtualization, Systems Management and Private Cloud. Keith has over 20 years of experience as a technical leader of complex IT projects, in diverse roles, such as Network Engineer, IT Manager, Technical Instructor and Consultant. He has consulted and trained thousands of IT Pros worldwide on design of enterprise technology solutions.
Keith is currently certified on several Microsoft technologies, including Private Cloud, System Center, Hyper-V, Windows, Windows Server, SharePoint and Exchange. He also holds other industry certifications from VMware, IBM, Cisco, Citrix, HP, CheckPoint, CompTIA and Interwoven.
You can contact Keith online at