Kevin Remde's IT Pro Weblog

  • Next Version of SBS ("Cougar") Now Has A Name

    SBS 2008 Microsoft announced some new details about the next version of Windows Small Business Server.  Previously codename "Cougar", the new name was also announced.

    I learned the name last week while at an internal training conference in Seattle.  The Product Managers told us how many hours and dollars were spent researching the new name. 

    "It has to be bold!   Daring!  Yet it has to accurately reflect the very essence of the product!" 

    "So.. enough history already!  What's the name?!"

    [Drum Roll....]

    Windows Small Business Server 2008!

    [Cymbal Crash!  Thunderous applause!]

    "Oh.. I coulda guessed that!"

    Of course.  Yeah, it's no shock.  But at least now it's official.  You can all breathe easier.

    "So, what's new?"

    Lots.  I'll blog about new features in the coming weeks.  One of the most interesting items to me is a new licensing option.  As before, there are two main versions, this time called "Standard" and "Premium".  But this time the Premium option actually allows you to install a second server.  So now when you've migrated your domain over to your new 64-bit machine (Yes, SBS 2008 requires 64-bit hardware, for the sake of Exchange Server 2007 among other things), one option you'll have is to re-purpose your old SBS server machine.  And yes, that 2nd machine can be 32-bit OR 64-bit, running the included license of Windows Server 2008.  Details on the versions are located HERE.

    And here is the Small Business Server 2008 home page.

  • Best of Questions and Answers from the TechNet Webcast: 24 Hours of Windows Server 2008 (Part 02 of 24): Server Virtualization with Hyper-V Features and Architecture

    Windows Server 2008 Greetings!

    Below are the best of the questions and answers that occurred during our TechNet Webcast entitled, "24 Hours of Windows Server 2008 (Part 02 of 24): Server Virtualization with Hyper-V Features and Architecture"

    John Weston, Keith Combs, and newest team-member (and very GROOVEy guy) Yung Chou, were kind enough to help out with the questions and answers during the webcast.  Much of what you see below is either specifically their answers, or based on the answers they gave during the session.  I've expanded some of them, and added answers to questions we didn't get to answer or were answered verbally on the webcast.   But basically this was possible as a result of their efforts, and I wanted to give them credit here. 

    Thanks, my friends!

    PS - here are the RESOURCES I pulled together for this webcast

    ---

    Questions and Answers

    “I have been testing Hyper-V and recently had this issue. I have a VHD of SBS2003 I setup Server 2008 and Hyper-V and then tried to run this existing VHD. But the VHD would not except the Network Adapter. How do I setup the driver inside an existing VHD with out the driver files. This btw worked just find on a XP VHD. Thanks”

    You will most likely need to use the "Legacy" network adaptor.

    “Are there any tools to convert from VMWare Server to Hyper V? Or will there be at release?”

    The answer is yes if you are running the next generation of System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM); but that isn't yet ready for public beta testing. (Announcements coming soon.) Same as V2V now with SCVMM managing Virtual Server 2005, where you can migration VMWare to Virtual Server 2005 machines, you’ll have the same ability to go straight to Hyper-V-based guest/child machines.

    “Is it possible to work with external USB devices inside virtual machine?”

    Today the answer is no unless the device can be shared across a RDP session to the VM. It's high on the list of feature requests for some of the upcoming versions of the virtualization products.

    “Will Virtual Machine Manager be able to manage VS within a cluster, unlike with Server 2003?”

    Hyper-V is a cluster-aware feature within Windows Server 2008, offering native support for VM high availability.

    “But, will Virtual Machine Manager be able to manage Hyper-V virtual servers within the cluster?”

    When the next generation of SCVMM ships; yes.

    “What is the current planned release of the Hyper-V?”

    Within 180 days from the release of Windows Server 2008 (which was released early February). So the clock is ticking!

    “How will the Release version of Hyper-V be available (Microsoft Update, Download, etc)?”

    Microsoft / Windows Update

    “I do not see Hyper - V feature in my windows 2008 machine. I do not see it in roles either . Where do i look for it . Also I do not have my NIC Card enabled. Seems like the drivers are not enabled by default. Could this be related to Hyper-V problem?”

    What machine and CPU are you using?  Does it have hardware assisted virtualization turned on?

    “I am using a VmWare . Win2008 is installed in a vmware . The host machine has 4 Gb ram. 1 Gb is dedicated to windows 2008 Vmware . The host machine is a Dell Optiplex GX 270”

    The Hyper-V role cannot be installed inside a virtual machine. It must be on a physical machine.

    “Will there be another beta ‘refresh’ or release before it is made public?”

    I am not aware of the plans if there will be an RC (release candidate) or other betas or not. I don't think we have announced anything on that one.

    “What client can connect to External option?”

    What do you mean by client?  Connections to the VM's can occur with the secure client or via RDP. In the case of RDP, it's just like a physical machine.

    “You said - Make sure you install integration components, is that exact name, what is the url?”

    Sorry I didn’t make this more clear. In the Virtual Machine Connection window, under the “Action” menu, there is a “Insert Integration Services Setup Disk” option. That will “insert” a “DVD” (actually an .iso in the virtualized disc tray), which will auto-run. Installing this is very much like installing Virtual Machine Additions works in Virtual Server 2005 and Virtual PC 2007.

    NOTE: It’s not the same thing, though. In fact, if you’re moving a machine to Hyper-V from Virtual Server or Virtual PC, it’s a good idea to remove the Virtual Machine additions first.  Then once your machine is running under Hyper-V, you add the Integration Services.

    “Hyper-V is limited to Windows Server 2008 Core and 64 bits?”

    Not exactly. Yes, it needs to be 64 bit. But Hyper-V is available on most versions of Server (Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter), whether being installed as full or core installations. So it’s not just Core.

    CLICK HERE for a good chart showing which roles are available in which versions of Windows Server 2008.

    Remember – “Core” isn’t a SKU or version of Windows Server 2008. Installing a core machine is an option when you’re installing the version that you purchased (Standard, Enterprise, etc.) You don’t just by something called “Windows Server 2008 Core Edition”. That doesn’t exist.

    “Can Hyper-V be installed on a Server Core installation? If so, are you then required to use VMM or can you manage it other ways?”

    Yes, Windows Server 2008 Core will be strong installation choice (platform) for Hyper-V. SCVMM is not required. As I showed in the session, the Hyper-V manager allows you to connect to other machines. Using the new WS-Mgmt based remote management, it works just like any other MMC works.. allowing you to securely connect to other servers – and those other servers may be just running as core servers.

    “Can the VM's be stored on a NFS storage? And is there high availability possible through the use of clustering?”

    I do not know if a NFS store will be supported. SAN support is obviously a must, but I am unsure on NFS. Clustering will be a key supported scenario.

    “Do you still have to pay full licensing costs for guests that are running 2008 server on a server running Hyper V?”

    Windows Server 2008 license on Standard and Enterprise allow for 4 copies of that OS to run on that machine under Hyper-v with just the one license you purchased. Windows Server 2008 Datacenter edition has a different license (unlimited virtual machines, baby!). So basically, no you don't for up to the first 4 copies.

    Here's the original retail pricing and SKU announcement.

    “Does Legacy support connections to Windows CE-4 and DOS / Win16 machines”

    I don't believe we've released the full list of supported guest operating systems for Hyper-V, but I seriously doubt those operating systems will be supported.

    “Can you have physical Domain Controllers and DC's that are VM's with out running into time issues?”

    Absolutely. Active Directory is going to be a key supported scenario.

    “What is the minimal and recommended physical memory for each Virtual Machine?”

    Whatever is required by the OS running on it.

    “Will Exchange 2007 be supported by Microsoft to run in Hyper-V?”

    CORRECTION to my original answer here: I replied incorrectly that Exchange 2007 was supported in Virtual Server- which of course is stupid, because Exchange 2007 is 64-bit, and Virtual Server 2005 only does 32-bit guests. 

    No announcements have yet been made about Exchange 2007 support in Hyper-V.

    “Can you use a dynamic vhd and install an O/S on it?”

    Absolutely

    “Hyper-V can run over 8 CORE? Meaning over 8 virtual servers?”

    I think you misunderstood what I meant by 8 cores. I’m talking about processors and processor cores. If you are running a multi-proc/multi-core parent/host Server, you can have your virtual machines recognize as many as 8 of them (or less if you choose). So you have some great flexibility and great power/performance available to the virtual machines now.

    “Ok so a dynamic expanding disk can be used to install the O/S on?”

    Yes indeed.

    “What is the maximum amount of RAM available to a Guest?”

    64 Gig (provided you have that to spare in your host/parent)

    “Comment - You cannot run Hyper-V in a VMware environment - the Enable-Hardware-Virtualization setting doesn't come thru their simulated BIOS.”

    Right. Thanks.  Yes, you can't host or "parent" virtualization within a virtual machine - no matter what virtualization technology you're using.

    “Will Hyper-V manager included in the windows 2008 enterprise? Or we have to purchase it separately?”

    The Hyper-V manager is installable as a feature, included under the features called Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT). You can the specific tools you need; ADUC, DNS, DHCP, and yes, Hyper-V manager, even without installing that particular role, so that you can manage other servers.

    Incidentally, these same RSAT tools will be available soon for Windows Vista SP1 as well. Now.. I’m thinking that it may even be that you can manage hyper-v machines from a Windows Vista SP1 desktop.

    “Can you hear the sound on a vm?”

    Yes.

    But really.. If a virtual machine beeps in the server room, and there’s no one there to hear it… ?

    “Does Hyper-V provide comparable features of VMware such as HA, DRS ?”

    We will ship Hyper-V so that it has at or near feature parity with the VMWare products. Since it is still in development and testing, the final feature set isn't... set.

    “Can you control a NIC so that it is not advertised? IE I want to setup a network that no one else can connect to.”

    Isolating network can be easily done. You saw that I had three choices: External, Internal, and Private.

    1. External: Connect to the physical NIC on the host. Advertise away.

    2. Internal: Connect to a “virtual” switch, so that only other VMs using that switch (and also the parent/host) can see me.

    3. Private: Connect to a “virtual” switch, but in this case even the host/parent can see me. Other VMs using that switch can, however.

    “Is there a document that lists the hardware requirements for running Hyper-V?”

    Right now that is in the RELEASE NOTES. See http://download.microsoft.com/download/e/4/8/e48d5cff-53d2-4eed-85bf-4af50e25b78c/relnotes.htm

    “So I could prevent one NIC from being a choice?”

    Yes, you simply do not add or disconnect that particular NIC to the VM.

    “Where can I find details on the SCVMM extensibility interfaces?”

    http://blogs.technet.com/virtualization/archive/2008/02/21/hyper-v-extensibility-and-apis.aspx is a great place to start

    “Can the COM ports be used to access a USB device? If not, what will their main purpose be?”

    I have never used one but I assume it would be for some sort of serial device, or devices that map drives to a COM port.

    “Is it possible to install hyper V on windows 2008 cluster?”

    http://forums.microsoft.com/TechNet/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=2610236&SiteID=17 has good discussion on the topic

    “Just want to say ‘Really Great Webcast!!’”

    Thanks very much! I hope you put that on the evaluation!  <smile>

    “Can you bring w2k8 into your domain as a domain controller without converting all of existing servers to w2k8?”

    Not really the topic of this webcast… but yes.

    “How are you organizing your files on the host. Configuration and VHD in same folder or some other schem?”

    This depends on the storage systems and disks you have. For instance, you may have the .VHD's on a SAN LUN.

    “Kevin explains things good.”

    Thanks! Yes, he's ok so we'll keep him.

    “When SCVMM for Hyper-v will be able to download?”

    It's still a ways off before public release but I would imagine you'll hear something definitive coming out of the Microsoft Management Summit 2008

    “When would you use Hyper-V manager as opposed to System Center VMM?”

    If you have purchased SCVMM, then you really wouldn’t need to use Hyper-V manager. I suppose there may be times where you don’t have the SCVMM tools handy, but everything that you can do with Hyper-V manager will be doable in the new SCVMM.

    “I understand Systems Center also has Operations Component are they are separate product from Systems Center Virtual Manager? What other product under Systems Center?”

    Monitoring and Reporting is via System Center Operations Manager and the VM management pack. For all the details on the System Center suite, go to http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter

    “If the hyper-V host hosted 4 VMs is dead, is there a HA for this?”

    Clustering Hyper-V hosts would obviously bring those VM's up on the other cluster node. And of course the new SCVMM (when it ships) will allow movement (“quick migration”) of the VM's as well.

    “Virtual Server does not have USB access, what about Hyper-V - can we access USB?”

    In the first release of Hyper-V, I’m afraid not.

    “When I transfer VM to another server the hardware configuration should be identitical?”

    Do you mean the host or the guest? If you mean the host, it doesn’t matter.  As long as the destination “parent partition” is capable, you can transfer the machine just fine.

    If you mean the “child partition” (guest) machine – you export the machine, then import it onto the destination. And the configuration goes along with it.

    You CAN just move the .vhd file (delete the machine from one host/parent first, in case there is snapshot data that hasn’t merged with the .vhd files), and then create a new machine and point to the original .vhd.  That’s no different than, say, taking a .vhd formerly running under Virtual Server 2005 or Virtual PC 2007 and creating a new machine from that.  But you’ll have to redefine the machine and it’s configuration first.

    “Is System Center Operations Manager one product and you have to purchase VM management pack?”

    System Center Operations Manager is indeed a product.  You need the product license as well as the management licenses for the machines you’re monitoring. But Management Packs are free (if they’re from Microsoft).

    “In a cluster W2k8 with hyper V can we move ONE virtual machine from a node to another node?”

    Yes. Check out this awesome post by Robert Larson about creating a cluster and configuring Hyper-V. Lot’s of great screenshots. http://blogs.technet.com/roblarson/archive/2007/12/17/building-a-host-cluster-with-hyper-v-beta-1.aspx

    “When I transfer VM to another server the hardware configuration should be identitical?”

    You will export the machine and the configuration is carried over.

    “Can we install Virtual Server on Server 2008?”

    Yes, you can install Virtual Server 2005 on Windows Server 2008, but it is not going to be a supported configuration.  It doesn't work very well.  The services for both Virtual Server 2005 and Hyper-V cannot be running at the same time.

    “System Center Operations Manager one product and you have to purchase VM management pack?”

    Management packs are generally free although we have partners that develop mgmt packs that are for a fee.  Microsoft mgmt packs are free downloads.

    Can the Hyper-V environment support mulitple physical NIC adapters?”

    Yes. You would create additional “networks” associated with those NICs, and then associate virtual network adapters you put in your VMs with those NICs. So in that way you can even have a virtual machine using more than one NIC (virtual OR actual physical) as well.

    “What about Licensing for Standard? Do you get any VMs for that?”

    Yes.. In the webcast I said FOUR for Enterprise, and I wasn’t sure about Standard. It turns out that you get FOUR for Standard as well! Yay!

    IMPORTANT CORRECTION: My source for that information was incorrect.  With Standard, you get ONE virtual instance license. 

    “When Hyper-V comes out will it replace the VM Manager or only if you have 64 bit?”

    Hyper-V is definitely 64-bit only but I don't know if System Center Virtual Machine Manager will be. It does not "replace" anything as they'll run side-by-side.

    “Can the Hyper-V environment support multiple physical NIC adapters?”

    Yes

    "Can you use system center essentials with the managaement packs to manage vm's similar to the full product of system center”

    System Center Essentials will have monitoring of the Hyper-V service on the host/parent. Yes. And any monitoring and managing of the services running on the virtual machines themselves will work exactly as if they were physical servers.

    “As a follow-up to my prior question, which COM ports are the VMs ‘mapped’ to? The hardware COM ports on the host?”

    Yes

    "Will you need a license per physical processor? Fantastic Presentation A++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ to Kevin and the support team”

    Wow.. I rarely got A’s in school (“You don’t apply yourself!”) so that’s the first A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I’ve ever received. THANKS!

    UPDATE: You can give me a D-minus, though, for my original answer to your per-processor question.  Datacenter and Itanium versions of Windows Server 2008 are licensed per-processor (not core).  All other versions are licensed per-Server, no matter how many processors you have in them. 

  • Breaking News: Microsoft Security Essentials BETA is LIVE (but limited!)

    Microsoft Security Essentials Beta

    For the first 75,000 people who want it, the first beta of the new free antivirus solution from Microsoft is available to download now.

    “Now?”

    Well.. it is now.. but by the time you read this it may not be any longer.  There is a limit, and high demand to try it out.

    “What exactly is it?”

    Remember Windows Live OneCare?  This is it's replacement.  No more subscription – just free antivirus.  When installed, it replaces Windows Defender and becomes a superset of it's functionality – adding antivirus protection in a very high-performing, non-intrusive way.

    “Did you download it?”

    No.

    “Why not?”

    Because I work for Microsoft, and it would be wrong of me to get one if other people want it.  I’ll try and get it through Microsoft internal resources.  I want YOU to be able to try it!

    And please let us know what you think!

    ---

    UPDATE: Looks like all 75,000 copies have been downloaded.

    Alert!

    Don’t let that stop you from learning more about it.  And keep watching the Security Essentials page for more details.

  • Breaking News: Finally! Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SHIPPED! RTM, Baby!

    RTM = Released to Manufacturing

    Windows 7 is RTM! Windows Server 2008 R2 is RTM, too!

    At 1:40pm Pacific (Redmond) time, the party started around the world, as both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 finally ship; that is to say, they are “RTM’d”.  The bits are ready.  They’ll be sent to OEMs, then made available to partners, businesses, TechNet and MSDN subscribers, and finally throughout the world.

    Congratulations to the product teams and to all of the many people who tested it, reported issues, and helped Microsoft make these into such amazing products.  This is the biggest and most important new product release for Microsoft since Windows 3.1 and Windows 95.

    “Bigger than Microsoft Bob?”

    Oh yes.  And shut up. 

    For all the details, simply go to http://www.microsoft.com/windows.  And of course the Windows 7 Team blog: http://windowsteamblog.com/blogs/windows7/default.aspx

    For Windows Server 2008 R2, check out http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/

    And the Server Division Blog: http://blogs.technet.com/windowsserver/

  • NEW Bigger Discount on TechNet Plus Subscriptions!

    IMPORTANT UPDATE: This promotion and promotion code have expired.
    Please CLICK HERE for the most current promotion.

    TechNet Plus!

    Whenever I present a live TechNet Event, I ask my audience to raise their hands if they are a TechNet subscriber.  Usually about 1/3 of the audience raises their hand.  Considering that this is typically a Microsoft-friendly audience, I'm a little shocked that there aren't more hands going up.  The TechNet Subscription is such a great resource for IT Pros, for these reasons:

    • Downloadable (or delivered, if you subscribe to the disks-delivered-to-you-monthly subscription), full-version software licensed for evaluation purposes; which includes Microsoft operating systems, servers, and Office System software; all the software that IT Pros care about.  Yes, these are for evaluation, testing, and training only; but they don't time-out.  You can install these into a training lab, test lab, or use Virtual PC, Virtual Server, Hyper-V, or even your own downloaded evaluation copy of the latest beta or CTP or Release Candidate software!  Use it to build a virtually networked playground, and play with (er.. “evaluate”, if your boss is watching) all the latest and greatest tools and technologies.
    • You get early access to beta versions and release candidates of new Microsoft products.
    • A Technical Information Library containing the articles, security updates, service packs, utilities and more - all in one convenient location.
    • Access to Online Concierge Chat service for live help from a Microsoft Online Assistant - to help you get the most out of your subscription.
    • Yearly subscription to TechNet Magazine (I love this magazine!)
    • Two (2) technical support incidents and a 20% discount on additional phone support incidents you purchase. (HINT: the savings here alone justifies the subscription cost)
    • Twelve free eLearning courses per year to keep your skills up to date.  Just for TechNet Subscribers.  (Good idea to watch the TechNet Plus Blog for details)
    • Unlimited Managed Newsgroup Support. Post your technical questions in over 100 public newsgroups and receive a response from an expert by next business day.  It's like another free avenue into direct technical support from Microsoft!

    For all of those reasons (Heck, for any ONE of those reasons), a TechNet Plus subscription is worth the yearly investment.

    "Cool, Kevin.  But how do I save $$$s?"

    For new subscriptions, from now until December 30, 2009, you can save 25% 28% on any version of a TechNet Plus subscription.

    "Is this worldwide, or U.S. only, or what?"

    This is for residents of North America.  So, if you're in the U.S. or Canada, this is for you. 

    “Why new subscriptions only?  Why not a discount renewals?”

    Renewals are already automatically discounted, even more than you get with this code.  Besides.. we’re honestly trying to promote TechNet Subscriptions to those who haven’t yet benefited from it.  We’re pretty confident that if you try it, you’ll see enough value in it to renew your subscription.

    Write down or copy this promotion code to your clipboard: TMSAM08 (That's zero-eight.  Not the letter O.)

    Then GOTO the TechNet Subscription Center (CLICK HERE), and use the code to get your savings.

  • Breaking News: Windows 7 Beta 1 Availability

    image Only 35% left to go on my download of Windows 7 from the TechNet Plus Subscription site.  Yes indeed… as expected, SteveB let loose the availability of the first public beta of Windows 7 during his keynote address at CES.

    And almost to the moment he announced it, the PressPass article went live, and the download showed up on the TechNet site.  As TechNet Subscribers, we have this benefit of being able to download the beta right now.  The rest of the world will have to wait.

    “Awww!  Really?”

    Yep.  Sorry.

    “How long?”

    January 9.

    “This year?”

    <sigh>  Yes.. exactly two days from now. 

    “Oh!  Cool!”

    I think so. 

    I’m looking forward to reading (and writing) a lot of reviews of Windows 7 in the coming weeks and months. 

  • Your chance to win a Lenovo T61p Laptop

    t61p “Isn’t that your favorite laptop you’ve ever had?”

    Yep.  This is the model I have two of, that I use for work and for presentations (which are also work).  Yes, it’s the best laptop I’ve ever used.  You’ll have to pry mine from my cold, dead (or unemployed) hands. 

    And you can win one if you can record a convincing, funny, or otherwise outstanding screencast of some feature or function in Windows 7.  More specifically, they’re interested in screencasts that address this statement: “Why Windows 7 is the clear choice over Linux and OS X!”

    My team mates Keith Combs and Matt “Mongo” Hester are organizing this contest.  Check out Matt’s blog post about it.

    “Screencast?”

    A screencast is basically a recorded presentation or demo.  Good tools such as Camtasia Studio can be used to capture your recording. 

    “Didn’t Keith and Matt do contest like that for MVPs several months ago?”

    Yes, they did.  And, well.. the response was underwhelming.  Apparently Microsoft’s “Most Valued Professionals” have better things to do with their time than to win fabulous prizes.  So Matt and Keith decided to let anyone have a shot. 

    (Hey.. MVPs!… Now’s your shot at redemption!)

  • How many agents are in System Center 2012? (So many questions. So little time. Part 12.)

    Tighe asked this question at our TechNet Event in Saint Louis several weeks ago:

    “System Center 2012 - one agent for all products?”

    Download the Release Candidate

    That’s a great question, Tighe.  Naturally one might assume that if we’ve changed-up how we sell System Center 2012 now as one product rather than a suite of separate products, that we might consider using only one management agent on the servers and desktops that are under management.  I don’t know if that has been considered, personally, but I suspect that it wasn’t considered for very long. And here’s why:

    Even though we’re going to be selling SC2012 as one product (in two varieties: Regular and Extra-Strength), you will still have the choice to implement one or two or 5 of the 8 components you own.  If I just want to do desktop and server (and service and network and…) monitoring using System Center 2012 Operations Manager, but don’t care about doing deployment or updates using System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, then I certainly don’t care to have the additional functionality (and potential overhead) installed on the desktops I’m monitoring. 

    It’s because of this that I doubt Microsoft would create just one agent.  But I could be wrong.  I’m not on the product team.  Perhaps they could do something to somehow simplify and unify agent deployments, but that’s pure speculation (wishful thinking) on my part.

    “Okay smart guy… So, how many agents are in System Center 2012 then, if you were to install all of the components?”

    Here are the components that utilize an agent (sometimes optional) for working with other machines:

    Here are the ones that, unless I’m mistaken, don’t have any use for any deployed agents:

    “Um.. wait.. ‘Regular and Extra-Strength’ System Center 2012?!”

    Okay.. not really.  By “Regular” I mean “Standard”, and by “Extra-Strength” I mean “Datacenter”.  Read my blog post on the new System Center 2012 licensing model.

    ---

    Do you have any questions for me?  Ask them in the comments. 
    Would you like to ask them in person?  Then come to one of our
    TechNet Events coming up March-May, 2012!

  • How to Cheaply Backup Virtual Machines (So many questions. So little time. Part 14.)

    At our Kansas City TechNet Event several weeks ago, Chris H. asked:

    “How do I backup VMs without using Data Protection Manager or Virtual Machine Manager?”

    You don’t,  It can’t be done.  You must buy our products.  Resistance is futile.

    “Oh c’mon.. get serious, Kevin.”

    Sorry.  Okay, I’m sure there are several ways that this can be accomplished.  Virtual machines running under Hyper-V are typically really just a few configuration, hard disk, and differencing-disk files.  So making a backup, at least at the heart of it all, is really just making a copy of those files.  I’ll throw out a few suggested methods here, and if you folks reading this have other ideas or solutions, we’d love to have you share them in the comments.  (You should also read the “Planning for Backup” article on TechNet.)

    How do you backup a private cloud?Make a copy of the hard disk files.  Really, if you’re not using snapshots (which create additional files in a differencing disk relationship), the easiest way to make a quick, worst-case but simple backup, is to copy the .VHD files from a stopped virtual machine. Restoring would require you to re-create the machine and configure it to use the hard disk files.

    Export the virtual machine.  This is something that I do regularly.  It takes some time, but you can make an importable copy of many virtual machines at once by using the Hyper-V Manager.  What you end up with is a set of files that can be copied to a new location and easily imported.

    And if you want to read a great description of how Export and Import of virtual machines works, read Ben Armstrong’s Part 1 and Part 2.

    Script it. Even if you don’t have SCVMM, you can use PowerShell and it’s support of WMI to administer Hyper-V.  So, a script could automate:

    1. Shut down the virtual machine
    2. Export the Virtual Machine and/or Copy the .VHD files
    3. Start the virtual machine

    A most-excellent starting point for learning how to use scripting of PowerShell and WMI for Hyper-V is found on Ben Pearce’s blog, in THIS POST HERE.
    NOTE: This is going to become a whole lot (and I mean a WHOLE LOT) easier to do with the included PowerShell cmdlets in the next version of Windows Server coming later this year, and in beta very soon.

    Use Windows Server Backup.  You can register the Microsoft Hyper-V VSS writer with Windows Server Backup, and then use this to backup running virtual machines.  And to, of course, restore them if needed.  Read “How to back up Hyper-V virtual machines from the parent partition on a Windows Server 2008-based computer by using Windows Server Backup” for learning all about to back-up Hyper-V virtual machines from the parent partition on a… you get the idea.

    Treat it like any other machine.  If you treat it with the same love and respect as you to any other server, one option is to treat it as if it were a physical server – complete with backup agents installed into it, and using some enterprise class backup and archiving solution.  It all depends upon the purpose of the server, the business applications and/or data housed therein, the ease with which you want to be able to recreate the server, etc.

    “But what about ‘snapshots’?  Aren’t those a good way to keep a backup?”

    (READ THIS if you’d like to know more about Hyper-V Snapshots.)

    No, they’re not a backup. Oh sure, they’re a way to maintain a point-in-time in cases where you may need to jump back (or ahead).  I regularly use them as a kind of mile-marker during complex installations and configurations while I’m learning a new product or technology, so that I can go back to where A) I have a clean install of Windows with all current updates, or B) this is where I have SQL installed, or C) here is where the product was freshly installed, but not yet configured.. etc.   For complex demonstrations I’ll use snapshots to jump ahead to a point in time after an ordinarily long process that I’m showing has completed.  (The cooking show demo, where you immediately and magically pull the completely baked cake out of the oven.)

    But for backup?  No.  Every snapshot you take adds additional disk space being consumed, plus additional overhead as the running OS has to refer to more and more files that represent the running hard disks. 

    One additional note about virtual machine backups: Remember that there is more to the machine running on a new server than just the VM files.  The networking configuration needs to be taken into account.  It’s not something that can’t be overcome without a little extra work, but it’s just annoying to import or restore a virtual machine to a new VM host only to find that you don’t recall how the networking was configured that made it work properly.  That “Planning for Backup” article I referred to earlier goes into this in greater detail.

    ---

    How are you doing VM backups and restores?  Got any tips or tools or ideas to share?  Any horror stories that we can all learn from?  We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

  • TechEd Memories – My Bottle Collection

    Okay.. this is purely for fun, but I thought it was time to share my collection of some of my Microsoft TechEd doo-dads with all of you.  (We are celebrating 20 years of TechEd, this year, are we not?)    TechEd is and has always been one of my favorite weeks of the year.  I have been attending nearly every year since 1994; only missing 1996 and 1997 when my boss wouldn’t let me go.  Sad smile  In addition to some of the TechEd Bags, and the cheap plastic wristwatch from 1994, I have collected and saved little tidbits of TechEd history.

    Water Bottles from TechEd North America

     

    So here are my bottles.  Click on each for a better look.

    1999 – Dallas, Texas

    1999 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    I thought it was geeky enough for Microsoft to create more than one design for the water bottles they gave us, that I took two of them home with me.  That’s what got me hooked.

     

    2000 – Orlando, Florida

    2000 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    Because I was attending my 5th TechEd, I was admitted into their exclusive “Star Club” area.  And they had their own exclusive water bottles.  The theme for the year was “It’s time to build the business Internet.”  I think we’ve succeeded.

     

    2001 - Atlanta, Georgia

    2001 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    The theme was “Feeding time for your brain.”  I went to this one with a coworker named Greg.  I remember the Jam Sessions (sponsored by NetIQ, several nights of them) being particularly good.  This was also one of the few years that we had a keynote delivered by Bill Gates himself.  And at the party we celebrated 10 years of Visual Basic with Tower of Power and Paul Rogers as the main entertainment.

     

    2002 - New Orleans, Louisiana

    2002 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    This was my fourth TechEd in New Orleans, which is really my favorite TechEd location.  The water bottles that year were sponsored by Intel.

    2003 - Dallas, Texas

    2003 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    KVS sponsored the water this year.  The MCP party was at some raceway park.  Lots of rain.  At the all-attendee party we were entertained by Smashmouth and The Wallflowers.  This would be my last TechEd as simply an attendee, and not a Microsoft employee.

     

    2004 - San Diego, California

    2004 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    Water sponsored by Quest Software.  This was my first TechEd as an employee, representing and working at the Microsoft TechNet booth.  The MCP/MCT party we handed out these really sweet flowered “IT Hero” Hawaiian shirts.  I try to wear it again at least once a year at TechEd.  

    2005 - Orlando, Florida

    2005 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    AMD were the sponsors of our water.  The theme of the year was “Learn.  Solve.  Grow.” 

    2006 - Boston, Massachusetts

    2006 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    IMG_4704This was the one and only TechEd North America held in Boston.  I remember that it was good, but we all spent way too much time in shuttle busses.  I did happen upon and get to share a beer with the one-and-only Mary Jo Foley.   The all-attendee party was at Fenway Park, where we were entertained by Train and Jet.

    2007 - Orlando, Florida

    2007 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    The bottle says “VoIP AS YOU ARE”, so I’m guessing the OCS product team were the water providers that year. 

    2008 - Orlando, Florida

    2008 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    Second year in a row in Orlando.  I prefer when they mix it up a bit more.  This year TechEd made the move to a more earth-friendly approach by giving us each one refillable bottle; sponsored by NetApp in this case.  The party was at Universal Studios.  I remember spending much of that show in a little Plexiglas-enclosed room doing TechEd video interviews.

    2009 - Los Angeles, California

    2009 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    EMC were the providers of the bottle this year.  Los Angeles’ TechEd was earlier in the year (Mid May) than most others (early-to-mid June).

    2010 - New Orleans, Louisiana

    2010 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    Ahh!  Back to my favorite TechEd location!  EMC provided the bottles. 
    Hmm.. did Microsoft steal the metro-esque icon idea from this design? 

    2011 - Atlanta, Georgia

    2011 - Water Bottles from TechEd North America

    Atlanta is really a pretty great place to hold TechEd.  EMC once again provided the bottles.  The party was on the grounds and in the facilities of the Georgia Aquarium and the World Of Pepsi Coke museum.

    2012 - Orlando, Florida (*the new one!*)

    IMG_2421

    My memories of TechEd 2012 here in Orlando are still being written.  Stay tuned!

    ---

    Is this the most geeky thing you’ve ever seen?  Let me know in the comments!  Smile

  • If you can read this, it wasn’t you!

    image

    Have you heard of “Botnets”?

    “You mean those legions of computers that are being controlled by criminals because they’re running malware that their owners don’t even know about; perhaps to use them to send spam e-mail?”

    Exactly.  And if you’re reading this post right now, you can breathe a little easier knowing that you aren’t currently operating on behalf of a particularly nasty network of infected computers.**  This week Microsoft petitioned for and received the ability to block the access to several domains that are listed as known sites working on behalf of the criminals involved in the “Waledac" botnet. 

    This blog post spells out what we did:

    “The takedown of the Waledac botnet that Microsoft executed this week – known internally as “Operation b49” – was the result of months of investigation and the innovative application of a tried and true legal strategy. One of the 10 largest botnets in the US and a major distributor of spam globally, Waledac is estimated to have infected hundreds of thousands of computers around the world and, prior to this action, was believed to have the capacity to send over 1.5 billion spam emails per day. In a recent analysis, Microsoft found that between December 3-21, 2009, approximately 651 million spam emails attributable to Waledac were directed to Hotmail accounts alone, including offers and scams related to online pharmacies, imitation goods, jobs, penny stocks and more.”

    For the full text of the complaint (including an interesting list of the 273 domain names that have been blocked), check out the actual document: “Microsoft Corporation v. John Does 1-27, et. al.”, Civil action number 1:10CV156

    What do you think?  Personally, I think it’s great when we’re able to help track down and hopefully eventually punish these criminals.  Anyone with an e-mail mailbox who gets spam should appreciate that we’ve been able to detect and help stop some of it. 

    ---

    **Note: Even though you aren’t going to be sending anymore e-mails on behalf of these particular criminals, you may still be infected.  “People running Windows machines also should visit http://www.microsoft.com/security/malwareremove/default.aspx, where they can find Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool, which removes Waledac. We also recommend that Windows users install and maintain up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware programs such as Microsoft Security Essentials and turn on auto updates and firewalls.   For our part, we will continue to work with both our industry partners and government leaders to explore possibilities for reaching out to the owners of compromised computers to advise them of the infection and remove malicious code from their machines.”

  • NEW: Save 25% on TechNet Plus Direct Subscription (Who wouldn’t want to save $87.25?)

    TechNet Plus! TNITQ404 Discount Code

    UPDATE: This promotion has expired.   Please click here to see details on the current promotion.

    UPDATE: This promotion ends on June 30, 2010 October 31, 2010.. and will still save you 25% on the newly named "TechNet Subscription Professional" (same price).  Just substitute "TechNet Plus Direct" with "TechNet Subscription Professional" in all that you read below.

    Whenever I present a live TechNet Event, I ask my audience to raise their hands if they are a TechNet subscriber.  Usually about 1/2 to 2/3 of the audience raises their hand.  Considering that this is typically a Microsoft-friendly audience, I'm a little shocked that there aren't more hands going up.  The TechNet Subscription is such a great resource for IT Pros, for these reasons:

    • Downloadable (or delivered, if you subscribe to the disks-delivered-to-you-monthly subscription), full-version software licensed for evaluation purposes; which includes Microsoft operating systems, servers, and Office System software; all the software that IT Pros care about.  Yes, these are for evaluation, testing, and training only; but they don't time-out.  You can install these into a training lab, test lab, or use Virtual PC, Virtual Server, Hyper-V, or even your own downloaded evaluation copy of the latest beta or CTP or Release Candidate software!  Use it to build a virtually networked playground, and play with (er.. “evaluate”, if your boss is watching) all the latest and greatest tools and technologies.
    • You get early access to beta versions and release candidates of new Microsoft products.
    • A Technical Information Library containing the articles, security updates, service packs, utilities and more - all in one convenient location.
    • Access to Online Concierge Chat service for live help from a Microsoft Online Assistant - to help you get the most out of your subscription.
    • Two (2) technical support incidents and a  20% discount on additional phone support incidents you purchase. (HINT: the savings here alone nearly pays for the subscription cost!)
    • Twelve free eLearning courses per year to keep your skills up to date.  Just for TechNet Subscribers.  (Good idea to watch the TechNet Plus Blog for details)
    • Unlimited Managed Newsgroup Support. Post your technical questions in over 100 public newsgroups and receive a response from an expert by next business day.  It's like another free avenue into direct technical support from Microsoft!

    For all of those reasons (Heck, for any ONE of those reasons), a TechNet Plus subscription is worth the yearly investment.image

    "Cool, Kevin.  But how do I save $$$s?"

    For new subscriptions, from now until June 30, 2010, you can save 25% on the TechNet Plus Direct subscription.  What would have cost you $349 will now only cost only $261.75.

    "That's nearly $100!"

    Bingo!

    "Is this worldwide, or U.S. only, or what?"

    This is for residents of the U.S. only.

    “Why new subscriptions only?  Why not a discount renewals?”

    Renewals are already automatically discounted, even more than you get with this code.  Besides.. we’re honestly trying to promote TechNet Subscriptions to those who haven’t yet benefited from it.  We’re pretty confident that if you try it, you’ll see enough value in it to renew your subscription.

    Write down or copy this promotion code to your clipboard: TNITQ404 (That's four-zero-four.  Not the letter O.)

    Then GOTO the TechNet Subscription Center (CLICK HERE), and use the code to get your savings.

    “If you weren’t a Microsoft employee, Kevin, would you buy this for yourself?”

    Without hesitation, YES.  I use the software I download so much; for personal education as well as testing, $261.75 is a small price to pay for the value I receive.  Absolutely.

    ---

    “Hey Kevin, didn’t you have some other codes we were using before?”

    Yes.  The “TMSAM08” and “TNITE04” codes are no longer valid.  You need to use this new TNITQ404 code now.

  • BIG News: Microsoft Office 2010 + SharePoint 2010 RTM!

    (RTM = Released to Manufacturing)

    It’s a big day for Microsoft, and for the world of people who work with information and documents on their computers.  Or on a SharePoint page using a browser.  Or on their phone.  Today marks the “ship” day for Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010.  It’s done.  It’s ready.  Kick it over to the manufacturing folks and start pressing those disks!  Get it online soon for TechNet Subscribers and Volume License and Software Assurance customers to start downloading. 

    Here is the official announcement on the Office Blog

    “What are your favorite new features, Kevin?”

    I have to say that I’m most excited about the new options and productivity that will come with the collaboration you can do now.  Being able to work on the same document with other people, and collaborate with them in real-time.  Doing simple editing using just your browser in an online document.  And all the many ways that people are going to be able to slice-and-dice data every-which-way-from-Sunday in Excel 2010.  These are all very exciting to me.

    “Does this mean I’m going to have to upgrade so I’m not running into compatibility problems with other people who have the newer version?”

    If you’re running or supporting Office 2007, then you have nothing to worry about (other than lacking a big boost in productivity, connectivity, collaboration, etc.).  File formats have not changed from 2007 to 2010 in any way that would cause compatibility issues.

    But if you or the people you support are still running Office 2003 or older, you will have the same problems with documents created in Office 2010 as you did with Office 2007.  You definitely should install and distribute the Office Compatibility Pack.

    “I have so many questions, Kevin!  Where do I begin?”

    You should definitely read the TOP 10 BENEFITS here.

    The official Office 2010 + SharePoint 2010 world-wide Launch Event date is May 12 at 11:00am EST.  It’s an online event featuring Stephen ElopMore details HERE.

    And if you’re an IT Professional living in the U.S., you definitely should consider coming to one of our Office 2010 Technical Readiness / Launch events.  We’re going to give you a good overview of what we envision a day-in-the-life of a person using the new functionality in Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 will look like.  And then we’ll drill down into how you will want to plan for your rollout, handle the deployment, and the tools and options for managing the new platform.

    HERE is the link for the U.S. events.  Register right away!  As you know from previous product launches, these tend to fill up rather quickly.

    “Which ones of those events are you delivering, Kevin?”

    I’m glad you asked!

    The only full-day event I’m delivering will be in Minneapolis on May 27, 2010.

    And I’ll be doing the following half-day (8:00am-12:00pm) “Best Of” launch events (click them to register):

    Will I see you there?

    ---

    “Are you guys giving away full copies of the new products at these events like you did in launches past?”

    No.  We’re not.  Everyone will be getting good information, additional resources, and an evaluation copy of the products**.  But we aren’t able to give out free copies of the software to everyone.  That should get you well on the way to doing your own testing and evaluating of the products.

    “But what if I don’t want a time-out evaluation version of the product to test on?”

    Hint: Get a TechNet Subscription.  No time-outs.

    **The exact form of this evaluation is still yet-to-be-determined.  We hope to have disks to hand out, but if we’re not able to do that in time for the events, then we’ll have a special link for you to go and download your evaluation from.

  • So Kevin, when are the Launch Events?!

    I'm glad you asked!

    Here's the launch event site, where you can get details on when and where these are being held.

    See you there!

  • Wondering about Windows Desktop Search?

    WDS HeroWondering about Windows Desktop Search?

    Wonder no more!

    My friend and “cow-orker”** Matt “Mongo” Hester has created a very detailed, beautifully done screencast all about how it works and what it does for you.

    He’s also in the process of submitting an article to a magazine about this.  I’ll let you know when it’s available.

    Do you use a desktop search engine?  Are you going to install it after you view his video? 

    **Extra points if you can comment here on where the “cow-orker” reference comes from. 

  • Windows Vista to RTM in July?

    Yep.  I blame myself.

    Vista

    If Windows Vista heads to OEMs on July 25th, 2006, then I’m responsible.  I, like many Microsoft employees, am running new Windows Vista builds whenever I get the chance.  And I’m submitting bugs as I find them.  Heck… most of the time I’m submitting bugs I don’t even KNOW I’m submitting bugs.  (The system is WAY smart about sending back information when things stop, hang, crash, or even faintly hiccup.)

    But according to http://www.thehotfix.net/ and others, unofficially (and as yet unconfirmed by Microsoft as far as I know), July 25th is when Windows Vista will be available to OEMs so they can start testing and building systems in time for the 2006 Holiday season.

    I'm currently playing with 5247.  What build are you running?

  • You should already know about this...

    And if you don’t know about it, and you consider yourself an “IT Pro”, then shame on you for not being connected and informed in areas of Security that are CRITICAL to your job, bozo.

    IT Pro who isn't keeping informed

    “What’s up?”

    Recently a vulnerability was found in the way Windows works with .WMF formatted files – particularly in a function that can be exploited.  Originally it was determined that there were few enough examples of this exploit “in the wild” that the fix could wait and be rolled out on the next “Super Patch Tuesday” (which is this coming Tuesday, January 10th). 

    The fact that we (Microsoft) were going to wait to roll out the fix was taken in various ways by the techno-pundits out there… most using it as an excuse to drive readership to their rags by making negative statements and falsely accusing Microsoft of delaying something that should be fixed right away.

    Hogwash. 
    Here are a couple of things for you to consider:

    As I understand it, the normal cycle for fixing and testing the fix properly before it is available to be rolled out is around 6 weeks.  Consider all the permutations of the files that need to be tweaked, and all the different language versions that have to be tested.  It’s mind-blowing.  Now.. consider that in this case, we’ve had 2 weeks to do 6 weeks worth of work.  Yes friends, there are people working around the clock on this one; guaranteed.

    Also consider what happens if we DO roll out the patch to something that really isn’t all that widespread of a problem – or when there are simple workarounds that can be applied while waiting for the patch to be fully tested.  Rolling out a patch is a BIG DEAL to most IT workers, because it means testing it themselves, and rolling it out.  It may mean re-booting servers (and when you’re running 24x7, you KNOW that this can’t be taken lightly).  Microsoft has heard loud-and-clear that we need to be more predictable in our patch release cycles, which is why we now make the 2nd Tuesday of the month such and important day.  And IT workers appreciate that.  (In fact, I’ve read recently where a number of non-Microsoft people are even saying that we should go every other month now, because we’ve had months recently with no patches.)  So even if it has been sufficiently tested, it’s a burden to our customers.  And if it’s NOT sufficiently tested… well, many of us (myself included) have been burned in the past by applying patches that screwed something up.  Microsoft definitely will NOT make that mistake again if they can help it.  And customers appreciate that the patches recently have been pretty-much rock-solid.

    So that brings us to today…

    Unfortunately, the spread of this exploit has grown to the point where Microsoft has upped the severity, and has rolled out the patch “out of band”.  Meaning – you probably already see it showing up as Automatic Updates. 

    “What should I do, Kevin?”

    There are a lot of resources available to you. 

    For this particularly vulnerability, check out this bulletin.  It contains a summary of the issue, plus links for where to go if you’re a consumer, or an IT Pro. 

    And if you ARE one of those who is learning of this for the first time from this blog posting, please please PLEASE at the very least sign up for the Microsoft Security Notification Service

    Stay informed!  Stay safe!  …and let’s be careful out there!

    What do you think? Should we have rolled out the patch sooner in this situation?  Should we go to an every-other-month patch release day?

  • Ooo.. I wish I were a lawyer...

    FireFox

    …because I agree with Vineeth Raja.  This is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    Check out www.ie7.com.

    The trace of the route to this site ends up in London (Southwark), registered to some BLTC.NET (so it’s hosted by Knightsbridge Online), through tucows domain registration. 

    Similarly, www.ie7.org leads right to a firefox link and plug. 

    Hey.. www.ie7.net is available.  For now.   

    I’m guessing there’s not much Microsoft can do about it except be happy that IE 7 is so much better than firefox. (just my biased opinion) 

    What do you think?  Should Microsoft sue ‘em? 

  • Security Updates as .ISO Disk Images

    Security Updates

    I saw this on Barnaby’s blog and didn’t realize we were doing this now.  For the IT Pro who needs to update many machines with security updates, but isn’t using WSUS or simply enforcing/allowing automatic updates, we’re now making the monthly security updates available as a download-able .ISO file.  I think that’s pretty cool.

    For example, the download to the January updates is available here.

    “What’s an .ISO file?”

    An ISO file is essentially a disk image.  You can take that image and quickly burn it to a CD using CD Burner software.  (Any worthwhile CD burning software includes this capability.  I use Roxio, but there are others too.)

  • Are you certifiable? There's a new generation of Microsoft Certifications!

    Certified IT Pro

    New Microsoft Certifications!

    That’s right!  Microsoft is changing the certification program.

    “Huh?  I’m an MCSE!  Why are they changing things?”

    I’m an MCSE, too.  But what are your specialties?  You’re obviously an IT Professional.  You’re not a developer (or perhaps you are), but other than that, what do you do, really? 

    If you’re certified on a particular technology, let’s call you a Microsoft Certified Techology Specialist

    If you’ve proven that you’ve mastered several techologies relating to being an IT Professional, then let’s call you a Microsoft Certified IT Professional

    If you’re a developer (and you know who you are), maybe you should/could be a Microsoft Certified Professional Developer.

    And if you’re even more skilled than that, and if you can stand before a panel of experts and actually answer some tough questions about IT Architecture (whether IT Pro or Developer), we’ll call you a Microsoft Certified Architect.

    New Certification Heirarchy

    Here are some more reasons – straight out of an internal email that was forwarded to me:

    Increased Value through Relevance, Efficiency, and Alignment

    Today’s announcement marks a milestone toward the increased value of our certification program and its positive influence on deployment and satisfaction with Microsoft.

    • More relevant: aligned with expertise on technology, job roles, and usage scenarios
    • Easier to distinguish: three simple series of credentials; clear logos and branding
    • More targeted: shorter, cost-effective exam paths that are more focused and rigorous 
    • Outstanding return on customer investment: straightforward exam and upgrade paths; continued recognition of old credentials
    • Tightly aligned with the business: redefined certification requirements in the Microsoft Partner Program and deep collaboration with the Visual Studio and SQL Server BGs; similar partnerships are in development for BizTalk Server, Office, Vista, Exchange, and beyond.

    Here’s the press release about it all.  And the best information about certifications, as always, is found at the “mcp” page of the Microsoft Learning site.

    Questions?  Concerns?  Comments?  Give me a comment, or contact me.

  • Song Fight! ...and a Microsoft Employee wins!

    Another in the “this is too good NOT to post” category…

    Song Fight!

    I used to be a Music Student.  Seriously.  I was a Theory and Composition major at the University of Minnesota (Go Gophers!).  So I have a lot of respect for creativity in music… and this one really floors me.  I love it!

    “Jim of Seattle” (I’m not sure if he wants his name out there) won a recent “Song Fight” at www.songfight.org.

    Here’s his entry: “Welcome to _______”

  • Microsoft Codename "Max"

    Create beautiful albums

    As a digital photography enthusiast, I’m really excited about this!

    Microsoft has a new product just for folks like me.  The current codename for the product is “Max”. 

    Did I say product?  Wrong.  It’s not a product;  It’s an “experience”.  (<sniff>.. I smell marketing.  Bleah…)

    Seriously though, it sounds a lot like FlickR or other online photo sharing… but it claims to have a new, cool interface built on WinFX

    Sounds to me like it’s worth a good long look!

    For more informaton, here is the Max site.

    Download Max here.

     

    Have you tried it?  What do you think?

    --

    UPDATE: I'm playing with it now.   Here are a couple of notes..

    1.  It's not like Flickr at all.  I was way off.  You have to install it (and the installation requires and does the installation of WinFX Beta 2 as well), and then sign in using your Passport account.  What happens is, you create these cool "lists", which are your photo albums... and there are several (well, three) ways to display your pictures:

    • Thumbnail - just picture after picture one at a time in the viewing window
    • Album - It does some cool photo-album-esque arranging on the page.. like pages out of a scrapbook.  And the pages are interactive... you full-page a picture by clicking on it's little part of the photo album page
    • Mantle - Similar to Album, you have multiple pictures on a "page", but in this case, they're arranged tilted and ordered in 3-D... kinda like you would see framed pictures sitting on your fireplace mantle.  Again, you click on an image to bring it to full-page.  Clicking it again brings back the mantle look.

    2.  What about sharing?  Well.. that's something I haven't tried yet.  I need one of my family members (Dad?  PaulCarl?  Are you reading this?) I sent the installation link to to actually install it so I can share these lists with them.  Apparently once they have it installed, I can share my lists with them, and the photos will be sent to their computer for their own viewing.  Later they can delete them if they're taking up space.  (And according to the help (which is all coming off the Max team blog, by the way), space is something that Max needs a lot of.).

    3.  It looks and feels a lot like Windows Vista!  The graphics are smooth, glossy (at least on my computer), the buttons are animated, and the way it twists and bends the images is really amazing.  If you want a good idea of what Windows Vista looks and feels like, play around with Max.

    Give it a go!  If you want, share your list with me.  Contact me and let me know you're interested, and what your email address is, and I'll email you my Passport identity to use.

  • The Donut Theory

    Dunkin' Donuts are awesome! I had to link to this…

    I ran into Michael Kleef (IT Pro Evangelist in Australia) last Wednesday at the TechEd 2006 IT Influencer Party.  He told me about this great picture he took of some American police officers eating donuts.. and was tickled by how it so very well fit the stereotype that is portrayed throughout the world. 

    Here is his post and his picture.  Love it!

    “But.. what’s this ‘theory’ that you have, Kevin?”

    Earlier on that same day I had had a conversation with another friend of mine on the fact that there are so many Dunkin’ Donuts shops in Boston.  They seem to be as commonplace as Starbuck’s in Seattle.  (The phrase “you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting…etc” comes to mind.)  In my home town, we have Dunkin’ Donuts, but they are few and far between.

    And then it occurred to me that there must be a law-enforcement connection or correlation.  So I theorize…

    The number of donut shops is directly proportional to the crime rate in any given city.

    More crime => more Police Officers-per-capita => larger donut consumption potential => more donut shops. 

    And so it follows that cities with more donut shops have higher crime rates.

    I don’t have any hard numbers to suggest that Boston has a higher crime rate than Minneapolis.  I’m just guessing.  I’ll let someone else fill in that blank.  I won’t little things like facts get in the way of my theory.

    I wonder if I were to go to the Dunkin’ Donuts site and find out where all of their stores are located, if that would be a good indication of where NOT to move to…

  • TechEd 2005 Revisited; Part 2

    TechEd 2005Here is video blogcast entry number two from last year’s TechEd in Orlando.

    On Monday, June 6th, Chris Henley and I were working in the Server Infrastructure area of the Hands-on-Labs.  We volunteered to fix a lab that was broken (HOL163), so I thought I’d document our efforts on video. 

    As you’ll see, our efforts really didn’t result in a fixed lab.  But it was a good learning experience nonetheless. 

    And another comment I should make also…

    I really don’t want this video to leave you with the impression that the HOLs don’t work.  They do.  And they’re awesome.  These folks who run the Hands-On-Labs are getting this process down really well.  TechEd 2005 was the first time they used a whole new engine for driving these things, and they’ve used it over and over again at other conferences since.  At our internal training conference TechReady 2 last January, for example, they ran these, and nearly all of them worked flawlessly. 

    Good stuff.

  • Busy Busy Busy and lovin' it.

    Working HardHi all,

    Yes, I’ve been away from blogging for a little bit.  Sure, I add my webcast notes and Q&A, but other than that I’ve been swamped preparing for up-coming events and webcasts, so I’m in serious learning mode right now. 

    “What are you learning?”

    Well.. the team is really excited about what we have for you this quarter in our Live Events, as well as the work we’ll be doing for the next 9–12 months around sessions on the new products coming out this year.  This quarter our team is talking all about Security.  In fact, we will have some truly jaw-dropping demos and information that I’m really excited to deliver in Des Moines, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Grand Rapids, and Detroit.

    Along with that, of course, I get the chance to play with Windows Vista builds, and 2007 Office.  Our team is delivering “Microsoft Campus Connection” events, and I get to do one at my alma mater (Go Gophers!) on April 24th where I’ll do a talk and demonstration of Windows Vista and 2007 Office, and we’ll also talk about the IT job market and hopefully dispel some myths.

    I will also be delivering three webcasts in the next few weeks:

    “Hey… does the TechEd 2006 link on the left really mean that you’ve found a way to attend this year?”

    Yes indeed!  Harold Wong (team mate and good friend) needed one more person to accompany him to TechEd to help with some Exchange 12 session proctoring, and I happened to be in the room when he asked.  <grin>  So, yes, I’ll be attending, blogging, and video-casting TechEd again this year.  See you there!

    “Wow… you’re busy!”

    Yep.  And I’m lovin’ it.

    CatSmiles