Deployment is something both James and I have been chatting about lots recently, and with good reason. According to the latest market analysis and forecasts from Gartner Group, and others, the worldwide PC market will see a significant migration to Vista over the next 12-36 months. Driving deeper adoption and deployment of the latest OS is obviously a key business priority for Microsoft yet it will also create significant business opportunities for Microsoft Partners.
Now, there are a tonne of resources out there around deployment of Vista - but do you know about them? Do you know your WIM from your BDD? Do you know your ImageX from your WinPE? Well, today is your lucky day.
We're running a series of 1-day classroom sessions, where you can go along and learn everything you need to know about deploying Vista, and also the 2007 Microsoft Office System.
The course will combine presentations with a number of technical exercises to give you real hands on experience in working with the Vista and Office deployment tools.
You can find all the info on the 3 sessions, and register, here:
So, some official details from the Partner Site:
About The TrainingThis one-day session is a combination of presentations that focus on growing services opportunities for partners, and a series of new technical exercises that highlight some of the compelling new design enhancements in deploying Windows Vista desktops. This course will concentrate on two of the key services opportunity areas for Windows Vista within your organization:
We will also cover how Windows Vista and Microsoft Office deployment tools, technologies, and Best Practices can help partners to address these top customer issues:
This course will include the following topics:
Now, If you've read some of my earlier posts, or watched the TechEd webcast I recently posted about, you'll now know that another role has been added to Server Core, namely, IIS 7.0. For those of you who don't know, the Server Core installation option of Windows Server 2008 provides a minimal environment for running specific server roles which subsequently reduces the maintenance and management requirements and the overall attack surface area.
So, IIS 7.0 is now in Server Core - but what's so good about IIS 7.0, say, over 6.0, or other web servers out there, such as Apache? Well, this new version of the web server is dramatically easier to manage, having introduced new capabilities such as shared web server configuration across servers. Customers will benefit from an extremely modular, low-footprint web hosting platform on top of the already small Server Core. It's interesting to note that Server Core is now ideal for hosting the PHP scripting language and now runs 10 to 20 times faster than before as a result of improvements in IIS. Sound good?
Well, if you have any questions around IIS 7.0, and would like to know what our decision to add IIS 7.0 to the Server Core Installation Option of Windows Server 2008 means for partners and customers alike, you can read all the answers in this FAQ page.
TechEd 2007 is well underway in Orlando, in the US (I wish I was there!) and already, there has been some cracking content already shown. So far, I've only had chance to watch the keynote by Bob Muglia, but I strongly recommend you watch it too. The video quality isn't the best - it's a little small on the webpage, but you can stream it and increase the size in Windows Media Player.
The video starts off with 7 minutes of top notch comedy, with Bob and Doc Emmett Brown (yes, THE Doc Emmett brown, and THE Delorean from the movies!) taking a light hearted swipe at some of the Microsoft Vision's of the future that really didn't materialise (at least, so far!) such as WinFS...It's definitely worth a watch, if only for Emmett trying to use voice control in the car...
Bob's keynote then takes shape, and covers aspects such as the Dynamic Systems Initiative, and IT’s evolution from an organizational cost center to a strategic asset and how you can make your mark by helping your IT department embrace its new role fueling growth and driving innovation. Some of the technologies to assist this evolution include the System Center of families, Server 2008 and Windows Server Virtualisation, all of which feature prominently, with quality demo's.
If you are short of time, and can watch only a few bits of the keynote (it's 1:30 minutes in total), skip along to 40:30 and watch Jeff Woolsey pop out a cracking 10 min demo of Server 2008, Windows Server Virtualisation and System Center working together in harmony to provide an efficient, easy to manage, pro-active infrastructure. For a full list of what Jeff covers, here it is:
And the "Quotes of the video" award go to, Bob and Emmett, for these beauties...
Emmett: "We've only got 5 minutes of time travel"Bob: "Why?"Emmett: "640k of RAM, I don't care what Bill Gates said back in 81, it's not enough!!"
Tell me about it! :-)
Enjoy the video!
Now, I didn't even know this existed - I knew XP Embedded had been around for a while, but I wasn't sure that Microsoft were actually going to produce an Embedded version of Windows Vista, but they have, and you can get all the details from here.
The great thing is, even though you are using Vista technology on these small, and sometimes custom devices, you can still get many of the benefits of the full blown Vista, such as built-in protection against malicious software, intelligent warnings around hardware failure and sophisticated backup technologies, and with the Ultimate version (Business and Ultimate are the 2 options available), you even have BitLocker, and the Multi-Language User Interface.
This site is your perfect launch pad to more information - check it out!
Are you aware of BitLocker and what it can do? If not, you can read a full lowdown here, however, in a nutshell, BitLocker is a new feature in Windows Vista Enterprise and Windows Vista Ultimate which prevents a thief who boots another operating system or runs a software hacking tool from breaking Windows Vista file and system protections or performing offline viewing of the files stored on the protected drive. Essentially, it is locking your data down, should your machine fall into the wrong hands...
Up to now, I was under the impression that BitLocker could only be used to encrypt your system drive, i.e. your Vista installation drive, typically C:\. This is partially true - from within the nice user interface that Vista provides within the control panel, you can only BitLocker your system drive, however, if you want to put your command line tools to the test, you gain full control over BitLocker, giving you the ability to enable it on any NTFS volume. Yes. Even USB external IDE drives.
By doing the following:
The result is a list of all the drives on my system, external or otherwise, that can be used for BitLocker. If they can't be used, it simply won't list them. My USB External disk was one of the results, as the picture shows.
Steve Riley provides a host of further information on the BitLocker Command Line Interface, including the different commands you can use to control BitLocker - I'd say this is pretty useful stuff, especially for external USB disks!
I think the key point to note, regardless of whether you are using the command line or the GUI to enable BitLocker - Make a note of your Recovery Key and keep it somewhere safe! You never know!
Have you used the backup facility in Windows Vista? What do you think about it? Did you prefer the way you could backup in Windows XP? I'm a little torn between - ideally, I love the simplicity of the Vista backup (I mean, which non-IT savvy users know where their email PST file is?) but on the other hand, I would have at least liked the option to go 'advanced', perhaps enabling me to backup in the same tree structure and folder checkbox style as in XP. Hey ho, I can but hope.
Anyway, if you have ever wondered about backup, there is a fantastic resource that the guys have put together over at The Filing Cabinet, and one of the posts I want to highlight is this FAQ on Vista Backup.
One of the key things I will draw your attention to around backup, is, around your older backups. What if you have an old XP backup - can you restore this in Vista? Yes.
Here is where you need to go: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=7da725e2-8b69-4c65-afa3-2a53107d54a7&DisplayLang=en
Don't say I don't do anything for you :-)
We had the first of our 'Ask the Expert' sessions this morning (you can still register for the others, here!) and there were a load of great questions - some even had us stumped!
One of the questions that we were asked was around upgrading from Windows XP to Windows Vista Business, but on different architecture, so from x86 (32-bit) to x64 (64-bit). Initially, I thought this couldn't be done, and would require a clean wipe, and a reinstall with the full Vista version rather than the upgrade version. I was a little bit wrong...
This KB Article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/932795/en-us details the ways you can upgrade from x86 to x64, in a number of different scenarios. In response to the actual question, to go from x86 XP to x64 Vista Business, you need to do the following, but before this, there are a few pre-requisites:
You need to have purchased the Windows Vista Upgrade (Or Full version) - in this case, we'll be using Vista Business 32-bit Upgrade. You will then have to access the 64-bit version (unless you are running Ultimate, as this ships in the box) from here.
After you get hold of the editions, x86 and x64, follow these steps:
OK, so that was pretty straightforward - if you want any further info on 32-bit upgrades on their own, you can read this KB Article here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/932616/en-us
Do you rebuild your machine regularly? Well, you shouldn't need to, becuase Vista looks after itself, however, when the need does arise, it's a bit of a pain. Not the actual Vista install process, oh no, the pain in the backside arises once you've finished installing it.
For me, with my Sony Vaio, once Vista is installed, I then have to pull down all the latest updates from Windows Update, which will result in 1 reboot, maybe 2. I then have to install the other device drivers that aren't on Windows Update yet (There are only 3 for my machine, so not too bad) and then the Vaio Utilities. These Vaio utilities are obviously still in their infancy, as the first 4 you install need a reboot straight after each one. Potentially I'm up to 5 or 6 reboots already. Once my OS and hardware are working nicely, it's then the turn of installing all my applications that I regularly use. Office 2007 being one, but also the others such as FoxIT PDF Reader, Windows Live Writer, Windows Live Messenger and so on. Again, some of these may require a reboot, but regardless of this, the time taken to install all of these, one by one, can be quite long.
So, I go through the whole process. My machine is up to date and running well, my applications are installed, along with my machine utilities. All is good. And relax.
What happens next time? Next time I want to rebuild my machine? Do I have to do the whole process all over again? No, and there are a couple of ways to save yourself the time and effort for the future. One of these would be to perform a Complete PC Backup of your machine, as is, right now, and simply restore from that at the future date. Easy Peasy - but what about an image that you would like to distribute within your organisation, or your team at work. This was the problem our team faced. We all have Sony Vaio's, and I thought, why not save everyone time rebuilding their machines and create this golden image, that we, as a team can deploy quickly and be back up and running after a rebuild within an hour. Make sense? Here's how I did it.
Before I go on, it's important to talk about BDD, or Business Desktop Deployment. The workbench is a piece of software you can download free, and use to create these golden images. Once installed, along with the Windows Automated Installation Kit, it allows you to pull Vista WIM files from the original Vista DVD, add applications and installation commands, drivers, language packs, services packs, updates and so on, and then once your 'Distribution Share' is populated, create 'Builds' which you can subsequently deploy from DVD, USB, WDS Server etc. The BDD really is your one stop shop in terms of deployment, and it's free, so you can get going in no time. Get it here.
I however, chose to take the manual approach. :-) The BDD harnesses the same technology that I will detail - you just don't need to script anything!
So, what do you need before we start? Well, you need to get to your 'Golden State'. Install all your applications, drivers, updates and so on, so that you are happy with that masterpiece that you've just slaved over. Next, you'll need the Windows Automated Installation Kit, and the User Guide is always useful too. What is it? Well, it's "designed to help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), system builders, and corporate IT professionals deploy Windows onto new hardware. The Windows AIK is a set of deployment tools supporting the latest release of Windows. This guide describes the methods, tools, and requirements for deploying Windows". Read more here.
The reason we need the WAIK is because it contains WinPE 2.0, or Windows Pre Installation Environment and a couple of other tools. This hasn't been free to download before, but with Vista, it is, and we need it. In fact, every single deployment of Vista uses WinPE in some shape or form. Yes, even the original DVD. Anyway, we need to boot into WinPE 2.0 in order to capture our masterpiece Golden Image. Before we do this however, we need to create our WinPE media.
Josh has got a great post on how to do this for a USB stick, here. It's important to note the key tool you need to copy across in 'Step 4' is ImageX. This is the tool that does the capturing magic. More on this later. James has also got a great post on customising WinPE and creating an ISO, if you'd prefer to go down the CD route, rather than USB. If you just want the instructions on creating a WinPE 2.0 CD, here they are:
So, for this scenario, say you've created the bootable WinPE 2.0 USB Stick. From within Windows, do a search from the start menu, for Sysprep. The result should be displayed in the Start Menu. Click on the folder and then, double click the 'sysprep' application.
Ensure that your dialog box looks like the one on the left before continuing. I've chosen shutdown, because it gives you that little bit more time to get ready before booting into WinPE - last thing you want is a reboot but forget to put your WinPE disc in!
So, when you are happy, click OK and wait for your system to shut down.
When it's all shut down, give yourself a pat on the back and get a cup of tea (brew). The next bit involves a tiny bit of scripting :-)
Make sure you have your WinPE media inserted, and that you know how to boot from that particular device. Switch on and boot into WinPE.
When you are at the X:\Windows\System32 in WinPE (or something like that, it's off the top of my head!), you need to change the drive letter to your WinPE Media. Once you are on the right drive, execute the following:
imagex.exe /flags “Ultimate” /compress fast /capture c: z:\MyGoldenImageName.wim "ULTIMATE Golden Image" /verify
Once it's all done, type exit and you'll need to boot back into Windows as normal, however, seeing as the machine has been sysprepped, you'll need to go through answering the questions about time zone, username etc.
So, you now have your Golden Image, in the shape of your WIM File. How do you deploy it? Well, one option is to use WDS, and deploy from a Windows Server, 2003 or 2008. You could make a bootable USB key, but mine wouldn't fit on the ones I have - I chose DVD.
So, once you are back into Vista, you need to do the following:
That's it! Process complete! You are now ready to deploy that image into your organisation. Now, my image has the Sony Vaio utilities within it, but, because the image was sysprepped, I could still deploy it onto a Toshiba machine, I'd just have to uninstall the utilities when it booted up! That is the beauty of the WIM format!
The installation from your custom DVD will take a little longer than the usual Vista install, but when all is complete, you are ready to go, with all your application sitting waiting for you. The great thing about this is, you can do it, with free tools available for download. Have a go and save yourself time in the future. Like I said at the top, you could use BDD to create your builds and deployment media, i.e. your ISO file - it's executing the same kind of commands that I wrote above, but in a more user friendly fashion. Using either method, you are definitely on to a winner.
Useful time saver? I'd say so. Enjoy.
Is your organisation in peak condition? Is it operating as effectively as it possibly could? Could you be using some of the benefits that come as part of the Microsoft Partner Program to boost your business? Do you have a record of the benefits you are using?
Well, this little site: https://partner.microsoft.com/UK/40037677 may be of use to you. Essentially, it's a health check site for your business, and as a Microsoft Partner, you have access. Doctor MSPP (Cheesy or what!) will update you, every quarter, to keep you up to date and ensure that you are in the know about which benefits you are making use of and which that you could make more use of to boost your business. Sounds great!
Other benefits of the Health Check Site include information and resources around the Microsoft Action Pack, Campaign Builder, Microsoft Sales Toolkit, Partner Channel Builder, Solution Profiler, Telephone-Based Pre-Sales Technical Support and 5- Pack Professional Support Incidents. There is also a dedicated area for ISV Partners.
Important notice for all those of you who haven't moved over to RTM (Release to Manufacture - Andy :-)) code, your pre-release versions have now expired. :-( Sorry!
You should have been receiving notifications for about 2 weeks now, however, from yesterday, the 31st May, you will notice some different behaviour on your machine. The main change is the fact that your machine will now only work for 2 hours, to allow you to retrieve your data. As soon as that 2 hour mark hits, the PC will automatically reboot, without providing you with the opportunity to save data. This 2-hour limit will run until around the end of August.
You can easily upgrade from the pre-release versions to the final RTM version, and the information is provided in this table below:
You can find all the information you need here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/preview.mspx
There is also an FAQ on the Vista Team Blog, here: http://windowsvistablog.com/blogs/windowsvista/archive/2007/04/24/windows-vista-beta-2-rc1-and-rc2-set-to-expire.aspx