Home vs Work vs Public? Ever wondered what happens when you choose one of these selections the first time you connect to a new network?
Vista is clever. We all know that. In this case, Vista has the ability to automatically configure security and other settings based on the type of network to which the computer is connected. This new feature makes computing more secure and easier for users because they no longer have to be aware of the type of network that they are connected to and configure security settings to prevent unwanted access. A related feature for developers makes it easier to enhance applications by automatically adjusting settings and behaviors for changes in network conditions and for different network types.
The use of the icons, along with a useful description means that even the most non-IT savvy people among us can make an informed decision and choose the setting that is correct for their current situation.
There is also another one, that you don't get the choice of becoming part of, and that is the Domain network. You can see this one the 2nd image above. All the settings for this type of network are received from Group Policy, and although, the first time I connected to this network, I was presented with the usual dialog box, after this point, Vista knows I'm on a Domain network and the settings are automatically pushed to my machine.
The Cable Guy, also known as Joseph Davies, has written an excellent article going into a bit more depth around the topic, so if you are interested, I'd definitely have a look. He's also included some information that would be relevant to developers around Network Awareness API's.
Read it here: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/community/columns/cableguy/cg0906.mspx
Just a quick one this time ("We've heard that one before" I hear you cry!) about Windows Vista Ultimate and WSUS. What is WSUS I hear you ask? Well, it stands for Windows Server Update Services and essentially, allows administrators to deploy updates across a network, so instead of all the users on your network navigating to Windows Update and downloading the updates separately, just download them once, and distribute using WSUS.
The reason for the post is that WSUS currently does not allow Windows Vista Ultimate Extras to be distributed via WSUS. Not good. A view which is backed up by Erik Neuenschwander, who works in the Ultimate Extras team here at Microsoft "That's not a good situation for customers, so we plan to improve it. The Ultimate team is working with Windows Update to revise the Extras to be offered to WSUS"
Erik goes on to say "We cut support for WSUS at launch to reduce the test burden, and because we didn't think many WSUS environments would deploy Ultimate. We're hearing that we were wrong, so all the Wave Zero Extras will be offered to WSUS later this year."
You can read more from Erik over on his Windows Vista Ultimate Blog.
Told you it was a quick one. :-)
Do you build systems? Once you have shipped the machine out of the door, do you have any contact with that customer again? Do they have any knowledge of how you may be able to help them in the future? Are they aware of any of the other services you offer? If not, you could be losing potential business - I have a way to help you :-)
What is the first thing that users are presented with when they start Windows Vista for the first time (or every time if this is not switched off)? The Welcome Center.
So, this is the default Welcome Center that users are presented with, but what if I told you that you could easily, in around about 10 minutes, customise this to include icons and links to your services that you, as a business, could offer on top of just building and then shipping that PC.
Here is one I made earlier which includes....
Which, when clicked, gives...
So, as you can see, the user is presented with a small icon and a bit of info in the list, under WOW Resources (which I defined), and clicking on it, changes the main view at the top to contain a few high level bullet points, and a main link to 'Launch my blog' in this scenario. This is quite a trivial example, but think about it - why couldn't you link back to your services? 'Need Support - Click here' or, 'Company X Contact Details' and so on. Really useful yet really really simple!
If you do want to start playing around with this customisation, a great place to start is the Windows Vista TechCenter over on TechNet. It will show you the process, from start to finish, of how to find, edit and configure your oobe.xml file (the key file for the Welcome Center!).
If you want some sample content to start playing around with, you can download the Windows Automated Installation Kit, from here. There are some Fabrikam samples in there which are very easy to start using and testing your customisation skills.
Nope, Adcomsubordcomphibspac is the longest English one (apparently, and it's a Navy term, standing for Administrative Command, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet Subordinate Command) but SCVMM comes pretty close. Needless to say, it's a mouthful.
System Center Virtual Machine Manager is one of the latest products within the System Center family of products to be released in a public beta, which you can download here. So, what is it, and why is now the time to start using it, testing it, and loving it?
Well, we know virtualisation is hotter than the surface of the sun at the moment, as there is no sign of it cooling down just yet. So, you create and start running all these different virtual machines, hopefully on Virtual Server, but then what? How do you control and manage them all? How do you deploy them quickly? Do you want to convert physical machines to virtual machines and vice versa?
SCVMM is your answer to all those questions. Sure, Microsoft accept that Virtual Server has it's short falls, but, when you combine it with SCVMM, you can really start to reap the benefits of a virtual infrastructure. One thing I will say is, don't just think about now. Think about a little bit further down the line, when Windows Server Virtualisation hits the fore. Not only will you be able to migrate your virtual machines from Virtual Server straight over to WSV, thanks for the VHD file format, but SCVMM will allow you to seamlessly manage those virtual machines too, in an environment that you can start using. Today.
So, what are some of the other benefits of SCVMM? Well, here's a top 10...
You can read details on each of the top 10 here.
There are a whole host of resources on the Microsoft.com pages:
As if they were not reasons enough to download SCVMM and try it out, you can win an Xbox 360, just for downloading!
Right, I'll be honest. I didn't know what a diskless PC was before starting to write this post, and perhaps you don't either, but, It's important you do know about them, and how we licence them.
In an IT infrastructure, what are some of the biggest headache's that are encountered? How about if all your users are administrators on their own machine, free to run riot on there own desktop? How do you manage this desktop environment? How about the cost of deployment and administration in your infrastructure? If these tasks are not automated, it not only takes someone a lot of time, but this, in turn, costs the business a great deal of money in lost productivity. So, managing the desktop is one thing, but factor in the complexity of mobile workers, temporary workers, rules and regulations, and you can see that managing a desktop environment, in an efficient and effective way, is no mean feat.
So, how can you start to get around some of these headaches? Well, Vista Enterprise and something called the Desktop Optimisation Pack (DOP) would definitely be a good place to start. What is this DOP that I mentioned? Well, in a nutshell, the DOP extends this value found in Vista Enterprise even further by helping to reduce application deployment costs, enable delivery of applications as services and allows for better management and control of enterprise desktop environments. Now, I know what you are thinking...what is in the DOP? Well, contained within the DOP are a couple of cracking technologies:
All of which, you can read more about on this page. You can also download the PDF Datasheet or XPS Datasheet of DOP here.
Anyway, at the Microsoft Management Summit 2007 (MMS 2007) just over a week ago, we announced some pretty big additions to the ways you can deploy and manage a Windows Vista Enterprise environment. According to Scott Woodgate, director in the Windows Business Group, "These two new options will enable our customers to begin testing centralized desktops and diskless PCs in their production environments alongside their existing deployment model and determine which combination provides the right mix of centralized IT control and end-user flexibility for their respective businesses". What are these 2 new options?
Let's take a look at 1). So, what is a diskless PC? It's not a PC that's missing a floppy drive, or a CD/DVD, and hence can't accept disks; it's a machine without a hard drive. Yes. No hard disk. No Windows to boot into, no data stored on there. No photo's, recorded TV, and, god-forbid, no music! When I say, 'No Windows to boot into', that isn't entirely true.
The machine can still have a hard disk, or, more generically, storage space, but, it isn't actually located in the box that sits under your desk. Surely that is going to be really slow, having to access everything over a network? Well, in all honesty, it isn't. It's actually an incredibly efficient way of housing and accessing your information from a centrally managed location. One of the great things that it does enable is the ability for me to log onto any diskless PC and access my data quickly, rather than, now, logging on to a different PC, waiting for my roaming profile to kick in and set up a local copy, which is subsequently left on the hard disk when I log off.
OK, so that's 1) covered, but what about 2)?
What is this VECD? Similar kind of concept, but involves a Server that dishes out the Operating System over the network, rather than just accessing the diskless PC's storage across the network. This concept can be executed for 2 different types of hardware; PC's and Thin Clients:
In both situations, users would benefit from a seamless Windows experience, yet the overall infrastructure would be centrally managed from one place, the Server.
So, Centralisation (is that a word?) is the key. Throughout Vista, you'll see emphasis on centralising commands, Network Center, Security Center, Mobility Center and so on, so why not centralise your infrastructure too? Using established technologies such as Virtual Server 2005 R2, along with innovative new technologies such SoftGrid, IT Pro's can not only create, deploy and manage their operating system images more effectively, but also centralise and manage their application deployment too.
These innovations and developments present a number of opportunities for our Partners, and their customers. Think about the ease of management in a centralised location. Think about no more rogue desktops with a million random applications installed. Think about how easy it would be to deploy a new machine should the hardware fail - no more installation, just change the hardware and log in, and away you go!
Virtualisation really will be the way of the future. Start getting the most out of your infrastructure now, to ensure you can embrace future technologies that are just around the corner.
With Windows Server Codename "Longhorn" Beta 3 just around the corner, I thought it would be an apt time to take a quick look at one of the new deployment options in Longhorn Server, namely, Server Core.
As we all know, High Availability is top of a lot of people's lists in terms of requirements when implementing a server within their infrastructure. They need these servers to be effectively running for as much time as possible, especially when you bring mission-critical systems into the mix too.
Windows Server “Longhorn” helps organisations keep their dedicated file and print servers, DHCP servers, DNS servers, and domain controllers maximally available with Windows Server “Longhorn” server core.
Now, administrators can choose to install Windows Server “Longhorn” with only core server functionality and without any extra overhead. Not only does this limit the roles that can be performed by the server, it also does away with the server graphic user interface (GUI). The result? Improved security and reduced management. This type of installation is called a Server Core installation. It does mean that your command line skills do have to be tip-top to ensure you can manipulate and work with Server Core in the way that your desire!
Now, because Server Core installs only what is required to have a manageable DHCP, DNS, file server, or domain controller, it means that less software maintenance, I.e. updates, service packs etc are required for the server. Moreover, since there is less installed and running on the server, there are fewer attack vectors exposed to the network, and therefore less of an attack surface. In addition, if a security flaw is discovered in a file that is not installed, a patch is not required. Finally, because less functionality is installed on a Server Core-based server, there is less for administrators to manage. Sounds perfect, right?
Just to confirm, the exact list of available roles in a Server Core installation is as follows:
I've also located a great blog dedicated purely to Server Core, and how you can work with it.
Some other useful resources include:
I mentioned the other day about a couple of TechNet events that James and I are doing in a couple of weeks time, and I thought I'd spill the beans a little more on what we will be covering in the sessions. Just a note before I continue - this stuff if purely aimed at the consumer market, so we won't be covering all the businessy-type bits, just the really cool stuff!
OK, first things first, there are 2 sessions, one on the 1st May and one on the 3rd May. Just so you know, the details are:
01 May 2007 18:30 - 21:20 GMTWelcome Time: 18:00Leeds Showcase Cinema, Screen 220 (That's a big Cinema?), Gelderd Road Birstall Batley West Yorkshire, WF17 9RQRegister Here
03 May 2007 18:30 - 21:20 GMTWelcome Time: 18:00Microsoft Ltd, Chicago 1&2, Building 3, Microsoft Campus Thames Valley Park Reading Berkshire RG6 1WGRegister Here
So, what is the flow of the event? Well, obviously we start with the obligatory intro, but then it is straight into demo demo demo, which we know you love! The first session is dedicated to what you can do with Vista 'Out of the Box', so, things like Search, but not for documents, I'm talking tagging, photo's, videos and so on, but not just across the client, oh no, across on to Windows Home Server, which we will be demoing, live, uncut, for your viewing pleasure.
From Home Server, we move gracefully on to Photo Gallery, Movie Maker and DVD Maker, closely followed by a helping of Backup and Restore Center, focusing on the Complete PC Backup side of things, where we will demo a live Complete PC Backup. We'll cover abit on Security, but focusing on Parental Controls and the granularity that it present in this area. We'll finish the first section with some info on Networking and the Windows Firewall.
We'll give you some time to recover with a quick break, before we hit the real cool stuff...as session 2 is all about Vista: Extended....
We'll have a quick recap of session 1, before we hit you with 3 beauties straight off, namely cool gadgets, even cooler WPF and WPF/E applications (Now named Silverlight...), and because we want to treat you well, we'll be showing a couple of SideShow devices. We then move on to my favourite area - the Media Center. Add to that, the HD-DVD Drive, extending the experience onto the Xbox 360, and wrapping it all together with a it of Xbox Live vs Games For Windows - Live, and you have an enthralling demo (and a lot of kit to transport home!)
Sound fun? Sound interesting? Sound cool?
Register for 1st May @ Leeds ShowcaseRegister for 3rd May @ Microsoft Campus, Reading
With MIX 07 in Las Vegas only days away, I thought it would be a good chance to talk about a particular website that has been created in conjunction with MIX 07. The MIX University is your one stop shop to get really switched on around Microsoft's web technologies. Whether your interests lie with ASP.NET and Ajax, or you fancy a bit of Virtual Earth, it's all here, with fantastic links to documentation and resources. There are even video's and demo's - very useful indeed!
I have to say, some of the stuff people out there are doing with our technologies is cool with a capital C. Just check out some of the videos on WPF/E, or Silverlight if you don't believe me :-)
You can stay up to date with all the news and announcements by subscribing here - I hope you find it useful.
If someone who reads this is attending MIX 07, let me know what the Pussycat Dolls are like live, and take lots of photos! ;-)
Interoperability, Choice and Open XML. Over the past year, Microsoft has done a hell of a lot to try and ensure that our products inter-operate with other products, not necessarily produced by Microsoft, out of the box, without the need for the user to call on an advanced team of consultants to make sure the products 'talk' to each other and work together as the user would like.
We've opened up our products a great deal more, ensuring that developers of other products can ensure their products work seamlessly with ours. The logical next step of this opening up of our products, ensuring interoperability, is to impose standards, that all can subsequently follow. There is however, in one particular case, a debate raging around document formats and standards, namely Open Document Format (ODF), and Open XML.
Users today are demanding interoperability and choice. Software vendors wanted to create high-value applications that integrate with our software. What have we done to meet these needs? Well, for a start, Microsoft has long believed in the power of XML-based file formats to unlock data in documents and to help integrate front and back office processes, and throughout the releases of Office, we have been implementing XML-based formats more and more and with Office 2007, you have more XML than you can shake a stick at, with all the documents from Word, PowerPoint, and Excel all being XML-based. But what about those users on Office 2003 or earlier? Well, how does the free add-in download from the Microsoft.com website sound?
XML really does ooze compatibility and interoperability. Documents can be archived, restructured, aggregated and re-used in new and dynamic ways. We believe that Open XML can help spark an explosion of innovation and investment, which will bring great benefits for customers in the years to come.
Open XML already is an open standard, and has been approved by Ecma, a highly respected standardisation body that has developed hundreds of international technology standards over the past 46 years. The technical committee that was formed for the approval was comprised of a number of large technical companies, such as Apple, Intel, Toshiba and more, along with government institutions and sophisticated “power users” of information technology, such as BP, and large banks like Barclays Capital. Around 1 year, and 6000 pages of documentation later, Ecma approved the adoption of Open XML as an international open standard. The vote was nearly unanimous; of the 21 members, IBM’s was the sole dissenting vote. IBM again was the lone dissenter when Ecma also agreed to submit Open XML as a standard for ratification by ISO/IEC JTC1. Some governments had encouraged Ecma to seek this additional recognition to establish choice among ISO/IEC JTC1 standards, including Open Document Format (ODF).
Why do you think IBM were so against the decisions? Well, it's thought that perhaps, IBM has commercial interests at heart, when voting against Open XML becoming an ISO standard *cough* Notes doesn't support Open XML *cough*. If you reverse the roles, when Open Document Format, a.k.a ODF was making it's way through the 6 month ISO standard review process, did we try and get in the way? Nope. We want to ensure there is choice between ISO standards. As do the other 20 companies on the Ecma technical committee. So, just IBM then. It's also interesting, as Steve says, "In the meantime, during the one-month period for consideration of Open XML in ISO, IBM led a global campaign urging national bodies to demand that Open XML was not even considered. They ignored the fact that the vast majority of ISO members chose not to submit comments. Nice eh?"
Again, this illustrates commercial interests at heart. We want to ensure there is choice. We want to ensure interoperability. We want to ensure innovation continues at a high level. If Open XML's application for ISO standard is blocked, what would that mean? Well, for a start, it would create a dynamic where the first technology to the standards body, i.e. ODF in this sense, regardless of technical merit, gets to preclude other related ones from being considered. People want choice. Partners and Customers want choice. We want choice. Do you want choice?
If yes. Please Vote. It only takes a minute. Thanks.
Another (fairly) quick post all about Windows Vista Meeting Space. If you are using Vista in an environment which requires you to collaborate with other people, the Meeting Space functionality is a brilliant tool. For instance, myself and a colleague can very easily start working on a document together, that is sitting on my machine, I can give him control, take control, share handouts and so on. At the end of our session, I can very easily ensure he receives a copy of the document that we have collaborated together on. This really is a top notch tool, but you know the best bit? Even if we were in the middle of a field, with no Internet connection at all, Meeting Space will quickly and easily set up a secure ad-hoc wireless network between the machines involved, so a lack of Internet connectivity becomes a boundary no more.
It's not just a great tool for collaborating - have you ever turned up to a presentation and there was no projector? Embarrassing is one word, and mildly annoying too! With Meeting Space however, why not just stream the presentation to the other machines from yours? Need to leave the room for a while? Delegate control to another member of the meeting space and let them flick through the slides from their machine! Great!
Anyway, enough blurb about what it can do from my experience - what about the stuff it can do that even I haven't tried yet?
Well, navigating through the wealth of information on the TechNet Vista TechCenter, I stumbled upon this beauty: The Windows Vista Meeting Space Step by Step Guide. One of the points it notes, under the section entitled "Benefits of Windows Meeting Space" was:
"A collaborative application focused on sessions that work in all topologies, including...Internet (if the firewall and associated ports are correctly configured) A means to invite, track, and detect the presence of attendees"
So, Meeting Space can be used over the net? I didn't know this before, but already I can think of a number of ways it would be useful, in a similar way to a remote assistance session, but for more people I guess!
I've pinched the following from that guide, but if you do want more information, I'd definitely recommend going to have a read of it.
Prepare Windows Firewall for Windows Meeting Space
Windows Meeting Space will automatically configure the correct exceptions for Windows Firewall the first time you start Windows Meeting Space. When Windows Meeting Space is started the first time, you are prompted to Setup Windows Meeting Space. Click Enable file synchronization and Windows Firewall exception to make the changes automatically. You will also be prompted to set up and enable People Near Me. In Name, type your name, and then click OK after reading the security warning.
If you want to manually configure Windows Firewall, the following table contains the ports and applications to be excepted.
To configure Windows Firewall for Windows Meeting Space
Like I said, there is a tonne of information in The Windows Vista Meeting Space Step by Step Guide around setup, troubleshooting and so on.