Me! However, we have a solution!
Kudos to James for forwarding this link on to me - it's actually an incredibly nifty, and useful tool!
The Virtualisation (ok, Virtualization for those in the US) Calculator comes in 2 flavours, namely, Calculator 1 and Calculator 2 (Sorry, couldn't resist) and thus provide two ways to estimate the number and cost of Windows Server Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition and Datacenter Edition licenses needed for your virtualisation scenarios to help you determine the most cost-effective edition of Windows Server.
The calculators, at present, don't cover Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server Virtualisation, but, unless the licensing changes dramatically, you should still be able to get a good idea of the pricing, but they are aimed at Windows Server 2003.
So, how do the calculators differ? Well, in a nutshell, Calculator 1 is an interactive, flash-driven experience, which, in my opinion, is a bit easier to use than Calculator 2, which is more of a print-out and complete wall-chart. Calculator 1 "lets you interactively build virtual machines running multiple Microsoft server products to estimate the licenses and costs for Windows Server by edition (Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter) and many Microsoft server products. It starts with configuring your server based on virtualization technology, sockets and clustering requirements, and then builds the virtual machines."
Now, one of the great things about Calculator 1 is it also takes other 3rd Party Virtualisation solutions into account, because, let's face it, not everyone is building solutions on Virtual Server, so it's important that we provide licensing information for these scenario's too.
Once you've run through the scenario's in Calculator 1, you can export your results into Excel, or alternatively, print them out.
If you are unsure about licensing in a virtual environment, or want to understand pricing more effectively, this would be a great place to start.
Access the Calculators here.
I've just got back from my holidays (Yes, I do take some!), and one of the many emails sitting in my inbox was from a chap called Nick Zara, who has written a number of articles over at Windvis.com.
Windvis.com is aimed mainly at beginners and intermediate users of Windows Vista, but having a look around the site, there are also some more advanced topics, such as Speeding up the Windows Vista Start Time and Using a Partition for your Swap file.
The site also uses a number of screencasts to illustrate the tutorials even more effectively - shame they aren't on Soapbox Nick! ;-)
So, make sure you check out the site, and also subscribe to the newsletter if you are interested!
For those of you who haven't heard of ReadyBoost, where have you been? Only kidding, it's not the most common term, so I'll explain. Essentially, without going too deep and technical, ReadyBoost is a technology in Windows Vista that boosts the performance of your system using inexpensive flash memory. Yes, the flash memory found in USB Keys, SD cards and so on. So, if you've bought a USB key in the last couple of months, or even earlier, it's definitely worth testing it in Vista to see if it is ready for ReadyBoost, as your system will benefit from that little extra oomph under the hood. You will see the biggest difference in performance if you have less physical memory to start with, say, 512mb for example, and you buy, for around $20 (or £10 here in the UK), a 2GB USB key, and use ReadyBoost. If you already have 2GB physical RAM, and you utilise the 2GB USB key for ReadyBoost, you will see some benefit, but not as much as the other scenario.
Anyway, the point of the post - I'm using ReadyBoost, but how can I actually measure what is going on? Well, today is your lucky day...
The various counters that you selected will now be seen in the Performance Monitor. As time goes on you will see the activity occurring in real time for each of these counters. Descriptions of the counters can be found below:
The total amount of uncompressed data currently stored in the cache. If there is data being stored then you know ReadyBoost is being used by Vista.
The number of times Vista reads from the cache per second. If you see a lot of cache reads per second then you know Vista ReadyBoost is working. If this occurs often when using your computer it is advised you invest in more physical memory to further increase performance.
The actual size of the data in the cache divided by the uncompressed size of the data in the cache.(actual size of the data in the cache) / (uncompressed size of the data in the cache)
Hit read bytes/sec
The number of bytes read from the cache per second. This is a further indication that the ReadyBoost cache is being used by Vista. If a lot of bytes are being read per second you also know that you need more physical memory to truly increase your performance.
Invalidated update buffer blocks/sec
The number of blocks in update buffers invalidated per second.
Invalidated update buffer bytes/sec
The number of bytes invalidated in update buffers per second.
Writes rescheduled due to the lack of regions per second.
Writes rescheduled due to the lack of update buffers per second.
Read-Size-Max IOs bailed/sec
The number of I/Os not serviced by the cache because the size is bigger than the maximum read size per second.
Sequential IOs bailed/sec
The number of I/Os not serviced by the cache due to sequentiality per second.
Total read bytes/sec
The number of bytes read from the volume per second.
Total write bytes/sec
The number of bytes written to the volume per second.
Updated buffer read bytes/sec
The number of read bytes services from the update buffers per second.
Now this is a really useful download for those of you who want to be able to index the content that is on a shared drives, or FAT drives. It's a free download from Microsoft.com, and after it is installed, go to the Start Menu, type "Index" and one of the results should be:
Click on "Indexing Options" and from there, you should be able to go to 'Advanced', and within the new dialog box, should be an option to add a UNC location:
Easy Peasy! :-)
Enjoy searching across your networks!
James forwarded this article on to me a few weeks back, and it's been sat gathering a bit of dust in my inbox, but now is the time to respond. The article was found on the AppleInsider website (what were you doing on there James...?) and opens with "Four out of five computers within the workplace are not adequately equipped to make the jump to Microsoft's Vista operating system based on the software maker's stated requirements, one study shows".
I find this hard to believe.
The study did cover 145,000 machines, so not a small study, but still, I think there are a few flaws in the study. Let's take a look at the first paragraph, "79.9 percent of business machines do not match the recommended requirements for "premium-ready PCs". So, 80% of business machines do not reach the requirements for a "premium-ready" PC. OK, that's fine. But is "Premium", the minimum? No. When James and I presented at a trade show event a few weeks back, we highlighted that a Premium PC would give you a great experience:
It's important to note that these are not the minimum specifications to run Vista. These are what is required to give a great experience. 1GHz processor - how long ago were these around? My home machine, which has an AMD Athlon, 1.6 GHz, is the same machine I had before I left home to move to University. In 2001. I had an AMD Duron before that, which ran at 1.3GHz. In 1999. Vista will run on these machines. 1GB of System memory - admittedly, most PC's now will ship with 1GB, but older machines will not, hence this is a Premium PC, and not a 'Capable' PC. The graphics memory - 128mb. Is this such an issue for the small and medium businesses? If not, why test against it? Who's to say that, for example, 60% of the 80% that are 'Ill equipped' are 'Ill equipped' because they don't have an Aero-Capable graphics card? Something that will not impact their daily use of the majority of the Vista features to run their businesses.
40GB Hard Disk? Yes, it's a recommended minimum specification, but, Vista will install on smaller. I have an 100GB disk in my laptop, but it's split into quite a few partitions, and I have installed Vista on 2 of them:
Local Disk C and Local Disk D both have Vista installations on them, and a lot of other content too, hence the remaining disk space is lower - its clear to see that Vista will install on a machine that has a smaller hard drive than 40GB - this is a recommended minimum, not a minimum, and hence, perhaps should not have been included in the study.
DVD-ROM drive - did they test against this? Who knows. If so, they shouldn't have. DVD isn't the only way to deploy now. I've lost count of the number of times I've deployed via USB Stick, and now, using the new and improved Windows Deployment Services, available natively on Longhorn Server, or as a new role in the Service Pack 2 update for Windows Server 2003. DVD isn't the only way.
Audio? Not a biggie. Internet - fair enough, to activate, unless you are using KMS internally.
So, I've picked a few holes in their study (or at least I think I have!), but what about the minimum specification:
800mhz Processor will run Vista. Admittedly, the faster the processor, the better the experience, but if you have an 800mhz processor, should you be labeled as having a machine which is 'Ill Equipped"?
512MB RAM - OK, this may be a little more difficult as even today most laptops as a maximum will have 2GB RAM, and a few 4GB, so the memory thing may be a little more of an issue, but the important thing to note is that you can still have a good experience with Vista on 512MB Ram. Again, does this justify the machine being branded as being 'Ill Equipped'? I think not.
What if you do have 512MB and you want to push a little more ooomph into your system, buy a 2GB USB stick for about $10 and use the ReadyBoost technology to boost the performance of your system. Trust me, you will notice the difference.
So, that's a good experience, and obviously, according to the article, a good experience = 'Ill Equipped', but I disagree.
The definitive way to see if your machines are unsuitable (sounds far nicer than Ill equipped!) is to use a free tool we have called the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment tool. In a nutshell, "The Windows Vista Hardware Assessment solution Accelerator is an inventory, assessment, and reporting tool that will find computers on a network and determine if they are ready to run the Windows Vista™ operating system."
Like a popular brand of varnish, it does exactly what it says on the tin. It gives you an inventory of all your hardware, even networked hardware, assesses them against different criteria, and produces a report that will include:
After collecting information about the computers on the network, the wizard compares the hardware and devices of each computer against the Windows Vista system requirements and assesses the readiness of each computer for Windows Vista. The readiness assessment includes determining the following for each computer:
All that, within a free tool. Surprisingly, it won't say "Machine A is 'Ill equipped'. If you want to test your home PC to see if it can run Vista, you can download the free Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor.
So, in summary, I think the study isn't the most accurate representation of Vista adoption and hardware. Yes, Vista requires a bit more ooomph than XP, but for a good experience, which includes all the search functionality, mobility features, security and backup, the requirements are not much greater. As long as you remember that for a good experience, you need the specs shown above, you won't go far wrong. If you are buying a new PC, don't worry - your hardware will support Vista.
I'll leave you to raise your own opinions on the article, but in my opinion, I don't believe the situation is half as bad as this suggests...
Just a quick post to let you know that there is now a section on the UK Partner Portal dedicated to Office Live. It details the following information:
• When to offer Office Live on it's own• When to offer Small Business Server on it's own• When to Start with Microsoft Office Live and Set the Stage for Future SBS Opportunities
You can read all of this at https://partner.microsoft.com/UK/40037527
This is US generated content, so may not be relevant to all in the UK, but the information is useful, and if you do have any suggestions or improvements, let me know.
The second piece of useful info is this link: https://partner.microsoft.com/UK/40029362 which you can also find via the previous one. It gives you plenty of information specifically about Office Live, what it is, how it can generate new revenue streams for your business and so on. Definitely worth a look.
James has been working with a few of the guys to set up an Office Live site dedicated to deployment of Vista - definitely worth a look.
The guys at Channel 9 posted this video a while back which details the inner workings of UAC, also known as User Account Control.
Ever since the early beta's of Vista, there have always been questions around UAC - the typical ones I receive are around the fact that 'it's really annoying and I just turn it off!'. Well, don't turn it off.
Sure, at first, when you build a system and you are performing a number of administrative tasks such as installing and configuring software, you are going to get quite a few responses, but after that, if you are just using the computer to do typical tasks such as using Office, blogging, surfing the web etc, you will not be bothered by the UAC and you can sit safe in the knowledge that you are being protected, from others, and from yourself.
I've been using my machine for a few hours this morning, and I've had 1 UAC prompt, and that was to install an ActiveX control, for PhotoSynth. That's all. Nothing else. I do know however, if I venture on to any sites, or receive a harmful spam email, that, with UAC switched on, nothing is going to install or utilise administrative privilege without my say so. If you turn off UAC, you also lose IE7 Protected Mode, which, like I said, helps to keep you safe online.
The interview covers:
This is something that I'm incredibly interested in, and the sooner it comes along, the better! Well, here's the info on the certifications...
This really is a fantastic chance to start getting to grips with this technology and get ahead of the competition. I believe that there is going to be a great deal of demand for Longhorn Server when it releases, especially with the Server Core and Virtualisation roles in that will only be found within Longhorn Server (Virtualisation will be available within 180 days of the release of Longhorn Server, just so you know :-)) so anything you can do to get ahead with Longhorn, can only be a good thing.
There has been a hell of a lot done in Vista to improve the accessibility side of things, but unless you require some of these improvements, how do you know they are there, and what they do? Do your customers require these kind of features? Would it not be of benefit to you to be able to tell your customers about them?
Well, there is a Microsoft website dedicated completely to accessibility, not only in Vista, but in many other Microsoft technologies, such as the Servers, Internet Explorer and Office. You can find that site here.
Within Windows Vista, as with many aspects of the operating system, all of the accessibility related features are in the Ease of Access Center. Makes sense, right? There is some stuff in there that even I didn't know! :-)
It's interesting to note that the first time I opened up the Ease of Access Center, it presented me with these options...
...and explained exactly what was on the screen, telling me where I was, what options I had etc. It may not be much to you and I, but to people who find it difficult to use the computer due to a wide range of physical challenges, these kind of features, and the way they are presented, really can make a difference.
The key link in the Ease of Access Center is this one:
Clicking this link opens up a wizard driven dialog box which asks questions around Eyesight, Dexterity, Hearing, Speech and Reasoning and will automatically configure your computer based on your settings. These ease of use would be invaluable for a user who normally struggles with using the computer.
So, if you'd like to drill into accessibility a little further, I'd recommend having a look at the "Accessibility in Microsoft Products" site, and the Windows Vista Accessibility site in particular.
I've been meaning to blog about this for ages and today is the day. I've tried to embrace as many cool Vista applications and gadgets as I possibly can, but I don't have time to use and write about them all, and what with WPF and now Silverlight gaining momentum, there is going to be more and more coming out on to the web for all of us to use.
One that I have started using however, is the Daily Mail eReader.
You know the thing I love about using this style of newspaper rather than a paper one (apart from saving trees), is the search functionality.
Just like in Vista, it quickly brings back any stories that are relevant to what I want to know - it means I can cut out all of the stuff that I'm not really interested in at this time.
You'll see from the piccy on the left that I'm on the sport page - should I want to view more info, I can maximise the window and all the content will scale accordingly.
When I drill into a story that I'm interested (Man Utd are my team, so any news of a new goal machine up-front is important), I can quickly see other commands become available for my use such as re-sizeable text, printing, and perhaps the coolest one, "Speak this Article".
Looks cool, right? The voice that reads the text out loud is a bit quick at the moment, but it does get pretty much everything spot on, and is easily understandable. You can also use these drop down menu's at the top of the eReader to drill into specific sections even quicker. It even allows you to view the previous couple of days papers! Genius!
The Daily Mail eReader is still in Beta, but you can register for access here, and subsequently download the application. It weighs in at about 4mb.
These are just the first kind of applications coming out, and trust me, there are going to be some crackers soon enough. Check out what's possible by heading over to the Silverlight homepage, the Mix 07 University and the Mix 07 Community Page.