Something that I have recently been made aware of, and it links in pretty nicely with virtualisation, is the CompletePC Backup feature that is found in Windows Vista (Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate Editions).
CompletePC Backup produces a block-level image of the whole machine while it's running, through the use of Volume Shadow Service (VSS). This image can then be restored from bare metal, thanks to the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE), even on different hardware! The focus of CompletePC Backup is to make Backing up of data, easy to perform, simple and suitable, thus ensuring more people are performing backup's, safeguarding their data. CompletePC Backup provides the right features for the right people.
Vista CompletePC Backup is a great disaster recovery solution for both consumers and small businesses. The backup can be stored on an external hard disk, internal disk partition, or a set of DVDs and it is very easy to restore via Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE). One point to note is that only the administrator can perform the backup.
The use of a block-level backup means that the process is very fast and efficient and CompletePC Backup also has a very clever way to do incremental backups: each backup is “full” but deltas are small - hence speed and efficiency are kept high. Another interesting point to note is that the backup file is VHD format. Those of you familiar with Virtual PC, or Virtual Server will know that this is the Virtual Hard Disk format. This should mean, even if Microsoft haven't stated it clearly yet, that anyone will be able to backup a running Vista and restore it inside a virtual machine. Which is also a way to do physical to virtual (P2V) migration!
If you are interested, head over to Pro-Networks.org, where there is a great forum post taking you through the CompletePC backup steps (including images). One particular quote of interest to me reads "A complete restoration of a clean install of Vista business took approximately 6 minutes, although the time will vary depending upon your hardware, type of installation, and number of files and programs." 6 minutes for a complete restore is pretty quick!
The information I have provided in this post has been gathered from various sources, but the majority has been taken from a great PowerPoint presentation delivered at WinHEC 2006, entitled "Backup And Restore In Windows Vista And Windows Server Longhorn". Other areas covered in the presentation include more information on the backup functionality, incremental image backup's, Windows RE, Windows Server Backup and Hardware Opportunities. I hope you find it useful.
On 23rd June, I wrote an entry claiming that Microsoft was working on a music and video device that would compete with Apple's iPod.
Today, an article has been published in The Seattle Times, which states that it will be released in time for Christmas and one of the cool features is a wireless internet connection, allowing users to download music without being linked to a computer! Excellent! The article goes on to say:
"Microsoft's device will be able to connect to the Internet and other devices using the Wi-Fi standard, which iTunes doesn't have, the people said. Microsoft is also promising the screen will have a better quality picture than the iPod, according to the people, who saw the slideshow Microsoft is using to promote the device. The music and TV companies are interested in working with Microsoft in order to blunt Apple's power in the market, according to people close to the media companies"
Development is being headed up by Robbie Bach and J Allard - watch this space!!
*Update* - If you head on over to Engadget, you can find even more information on the Media player, including:
"To attract current iPod users Microsoft is going to let you download for free any songs you've already bought from the iTunes Music Store. They'll actually scan iTunes for purchased tracks and then automatically add those to your account. Microsoft will still have to pay the rights-holders for the songs, but they believe it'll be worth it to acquire converts to their new player"
*Update* - iPod rival speculation dampened - BBC Website
For those of you who may be having difficulty installing and running Virtual Server 2005 R2 on Windows Vista, Ben Armstrong, aka Virtual PC Guy, has written an excellent post on his blog to help you out.
In the post, Ben takes you through the installation step by step, and also answers some questions on the install process.
Unlike some of the other players in the virtualisation space, here at Microsoft we firmly believe that virtualisation isn’t the solution for every situation, and hence, our message around Virtual Server 2005 R2 and virtualisation, is to virtualise appropriately.
But what does that mean in terms of using Virtual Server? Virtual Server 2005 R2 has some great features in its arsenal, such as high availability, host clustering, management integration with MOM and migration toolkits to name but a few, and there are even more to follow in the Service Pack 1, currently in the Beta 1 timeframe. However, it does have some limitations, and this is where the ‘virtualise appropriately’ comes in. For instance, if you have an application workload that requires a greater level of memory support than 3.6GB, we would recommend keeping it on physical hardware, rather than in a virtualised environment. The same applies, for example, if you have an application that requires SMP support, or you require 64-bit guests. There may also be occasions where your application in a virtual machine requires access to a specific piece of physical hardware, i.e. it requires access to a PCI card of some sort, again, this is not provided in Virtual Server and running on physical hardware would be the recommended solution.
It is only through appreciating our own limitations, that we can strive to meet them in the future. And striving to meet them is what we are doing. Just looking at the features that are being included in the SP1, such as support for both Intel’s (SP1 Beta 1) and AMD’s (SP1 Beta 2) on-chip Virtualisation Technologies, 64-bit host support, Volume Shadow Service Writer, Longhorn Server Beta Guest Support (SP1 Beta 1) and host support (Beta 2) to name but a few, it is clear that Virtual Server is improving, release on release, as we move closer to Windows Server Virtualisation. One important point to stress however, is that Windows Server Virtualisation is not the next version of Virtual Server. Windows Server Virtualisation is a new virtualisation technology architected to provide highly scalable, enterprise class virtualisation with performance second to none. It will be a feature of Longhorn Server, not, like I said, the next version of Virtual Server.
For those who may be interested in jumping aboard the Virtual Server bandwagon, before Windows Server Virtualisation comes along, you can download the 2005 R2 release for free, here, or alternatively, the beta 1 of Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1, here.
Ok, Ok maybe not a movie, but definitely worth a watch all the same. Now I know that this news is quite old, in fact, about a month now, but it is something I have recently re-visited and thought it would be an ideal time to get a post online about it.
Back in May, Bill Gates stood up at WinHEC, and delivered a keynote speech on “Advancing the Platform”. Within that keynote, Bill was joined on stage by Jeff Woolsey, who demonstrated some of the features found in our next generation hypervisor based virtualisation. Some of these key features that were demonstrated included the new MMC 3.0 User Interface. Gone has the web interface found in Virtual Server, and instead, Windows Server Virtualisation takes advantage of the new MMC 3.0 capabilities to provide an elegant Windows Server experience. 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) virtual machines were also demonstrated, and we publicly disclosed that virtual machines will support more than 32GB of memory per virtual machine! Cool!
We also demonstrated 4-way virtual machines, and publicly stated that Windows Server Virtualisation will provide up to 8-way virtual machines. One of the parts of the demonstration that I found most interesting was the hot-adding of both memory, and a network adaptor. When adding the network adaptor, we showed a dual-processor x64 virtual machine running Windows Server 2003 that had no network adapters and we hot-added a NIC while the VM was running. The NIC appeared almost instantly. As for the memory, we showed a quad-processor x64 virtual machine running Longhorn Server with 4 GBs of memory and we hot-added an additional 1 GB of memory taking the virtual machine to 5 GB of memory while the VM was running. The memory appeared instantly in Task Manager.
If you get the chance, I would strongly recommend either watching the keynote, watching the highlights, or viewing the PowerPoint presentation.
A slight change from the normal format in this video, with our very own Andy Clark throwing the questions to Mr Sayers, live from the Xbox 360 playroom!
In this session, Dave talks about the ideas behind virtualisation, what it means for our customers in terms of our value proposition, some of the advantages of virtualisation, and some of the ways it can be put to good use. Dave also talks about the benefits of clustering within Virtual Server 2005 R2 and also the use of VHD files. There is also some useful information about the licensing around Virtual Server 2005 R2 and Windows Server 2003 R2.
There are also some comical outtakes!
You can stream the video, or alternatively, you can download it (right click, Save-as) to watch Dave over and over again. You can also visit Dave's blog.
Another PTS-TV installment with Dave Sayers, this time talking about High Performance Computing (HPC), with Andy Clark again posing the questions. Dave talks about the concepts of HPC (mentioning his 'exciting spray nozzle'), some of the industries that HPC is relevant to, how to take advantage of HPC and how Microsoft is bringing HPC mainstream with Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003.
Dave also introduces some of the features and characteristics of this new product and how it compares with open source offerings.
You can stream the video, or alternatively, download the video (right-click, save-as) for offline viewing. You may also want to check out Dave's blog.
In this installment of PTS-TV, our very own Mark Deakin, along with his glamorous assistant, Andy Clark, takes us through some of the features and characteristics of the new Exchange Server 2007.
Mark discusses release schedules, some of the big differences between the current version of Exchange Server, and Exchange Server 2007 with one of the major differences being that Exchange Server 2007 will run solely on 64-bit hardware. Mark also discusses some of the benefits of Exchange Server 2007, including the 'biggest inbox anyone could ever hope for' and MONAD, which enables IT administrators to execute command-line commands on the Exchange Server.
There is also some interesting information with regards to Unified Messaging, and what this means in terms of inboxes, voicemails, faxes and more....
You can stream the video, or download it to view it later (right click, save-as). You can find out more information on Unified Communications at Mark's Blog.
Mike Dixon, part of the Windows Client team, having just delivered a killer demo of Vista at a Partner Community Event, takes us through some of the ways to get customers excited about Vista. Mike also talks about the three C's, Confident, Clear and Connected and what those can mean to a business.
Mike also answers the killer question - how much better is it than XP....?
Well, I have been using Vista Beta 2 for a while now, in conjunction with Office 2007 Beta 2, and I could not go back. From both the graphical, and the functionality point of view, I'm totally sold on Vista.
You can stream the video, or download it (right click, save-as) for future reference.
Microsoft has released the third and final beta of Internet Explorer as it moves closer to the final delivery at the end of 2006. There has been alot of talk around IE7 with regards to security, and Microsoft really as put a great deal of focus on this area with this release. The IE 7 beta 3 makes some feature changes from the beta 2. The new version also provides reliability, compatibility and security fixes - more than 1,000 bugs have been dealt with in total.
Within IE7, there is much more of a streamlined interface, maximising the viewable area of the screen. Tabbed browsing and improved printing functionality is also present, along with great search and RSS feed features. The final key area, and this is something I touched upon earlier, is the number improved security features. The robust IE architecture and improved security features help protect against malicious software and help to keep your personal data safe from fraudulent websites and online phishing scams.
You can download the new IE 7 Beta 3, take a tour here, or find out what's new here!