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.
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!
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!
Licensing isn't the easiest thing to get your head around at the best of times, hence we release cool tools that enable you to build your virtual infrastructure and price it all up. We also release really long white papers which detail everything, but what if you want a quick glance at a table to see what's what with virtualisation? Well, read on:
So, what does this table mean? Well, you have your desktop OS on the left, and as you can see, with XP Pro, for every Virtual Machine you deploy with Windows XP, you need 1 licence. So, if I have a physical host running XP Pro, and I install Virtual PC, or VMware Workstation, and create 3 more XP Virtual Machines, I need a total of 4 XP licenses. However, if you look at the column on the far right, you can see that if you have Software Assurance, you can have a maximum of 1 'free' (hence the 0) XP Virtual Machine per physical XP Host.
Home Basic and Home Premium come with no virtualisation licensing configurations, so let's nip past those.
Looking at Vista Business, again, without SA, I'm afraid it's 1 licence per install, regardless of it being in a VM or not, however, looking at the right hand column, you can see that you can have up to 4 VM's installed on that physical host. There is a caveat, and that's why it's got a *. If you have Vista Business with SA, you can upgrade to Vista Enterprise for free anyway (plus get things like BitLocker!) and take advantage of the 4 VM's, however if you choose to stay with Vista Business, you can't take advantage of the 4 VM's.
What about the Servers?
OK, so looking at the Server side of things, you can see the number of CPU's that SBS and Server 2003 Standard both support; 2 and 4 respectively, and that they both require a single licence of the Server OS per physical host. For every Virtual Machine Guest that they install, they will require a licence for that guest OS. So essentially, both Server OS's come with no additional virtualisation benefits. If, for example, I installed Windows Server 2003 Standard R2 on my physical box, then installed Virtual Server, and created 3 XP Virtual Machines...yep, that means 3 XP licenses are required.
Moving to Enterprise, you obviously need the licence on the physical box, but, similar to Vista Enterprise, this gives you the option to run up to 4 Windows Server VM's. That gets even better with Datacenter edition. Although you need a licence per physical processor, which could get expensive, you don't need any more licenses for your virtual machines, so essentially, you could save a fortune with this method, and consolidate your infrastructure. Makes sense to me!
If you want to do any more calculating, you'd be hard pressed to find a better way to do it than use the Virtualization Calculator.
I first blogged about the Windows Mobile Device Center back in October, when Vista was still in RC2, and the WMDC was in Beta 3. Well, now, Vista's RTM'd (I hope you know that already! :-)), and WMDC has been available for download for ages. For most people, connecting their Windows Mobile to their Vista PC and connecting to Windows Update would allow them to download the Device Center.
So, the point of the post - the WMDC 6.1 for Windows Vista is now available to download, from here and brings improvements such as:
So, where can you read all the info and download it from again? Here:
Also, if you've not seen what Windows Mobile 6 can do, you can download a flash-based demo of that here.
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!
If you haven't heard of these two technology areas, where have you been! Windows Server 2008 has just hit Beta 3, and is now available for public download for people to test. Let's make no bones about it, Windows Server 2008, will be the most secure, flexible and easy to manage server operating system that we have ever made, yet aside from these 3 pillars, this release will be the turning point for Microsoft in the virtualisation arena. Can you afford not to watch?
Gareth Hall, Windows Server Product Manager here in the UK, hosts the interview with Ward Ralston, Senior Technical Product Manager for Windows Server, based in Redmond. The guys cover a great deal in the 10 minute (or so!) interview, paying particular attention to aspects of Windows Server 2008 such as Server Core, NAP, Network Utilisation and Virtualisation.
Stream Video (11 min)Download Video (Right Click, Save As) (39Mb)
In terms of resources, the following will be of use around Windows Server 2008 and Virtualisation:
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
The Partner team here in Reading have been working on this for quite some time now, and it's finally live! Even I contributed to some of the content! The Partner Bot is a robot contact that you can add to Windows Live Messenger, using the 'firstname.lastname@example.org' email address. As you can see, I've asked the Partner Bot who I am, and it's returned a very detailed piece of information, along with a call to action. I didn't submit that info, honest...
You'll see that style of response to nearly all the questions; a bit of info, and then a link to more information. I populated the database with information on Vista and Longhorn, so there is quite a bit to get you started. There is also plenty of information relating to the Microsoft Partner Program to get your teeth into.
I've stolen (borrowed) this blurb from Steve's blog:
Partner Bot is your Instant Messenger 'data digger', which quickly retrieves partner-related information and shows you where you can find the answers you need. Simply type in your question and Bot will bring back an instant response. Add Bot as a buddy in your Windows Live Messenger contacts and it will always be available whenever you're logged in. Whether you're looking for support options, searching for competitive information or want to learn more about competencies, ask Partner Bot and it will point you in the right direction.
(Please be aware that Bot may guide you to areas of the Partner Portal which can only be accessed by Registered, Certified or Gold Partners, so you may need to sign-in to view this information.)
Credit to Steve Marsh and Alex Smith here at Microsoft UK for their work on the Partner Bot. Nice one guys!