Are you evaluating or testing Windows Server 2008? If so, we'd love your feedback. The Windows Server 2008 Scenario voting website gives you the perfect opportunity to develop a comprehensive test plan of your own, and at the same time, ensure that Windows Server 2008 is the best server OS Microsoft has ever developed. Not only will this give you valuable insight into the product, but you can also influence it through direct input into the Windows Server product teams.
So, all you need to do is register here: https://windowsbeta.microsoft.com/server/setup.aspx and associate your passport, and you're away! Once you've signed in, you can select from a huge list of categorised scenarios, and build up your own test plan. Alternatively, just dive into the different scenarios you fancy! So, how does it actually work?
I've clicked on 'Server Core' from the menu on the left hand side (trust me, there's quite a few options in this menu!), and I'm presented with a number of more specific scenarios. So, if you are, for example, considering Server Core as an option, you instantly have 6 different scenarios that you can test to extend your own knowledge, and improve the product with your feedback. Upon selecting a scenario, you'll be presented with a number of scenario-specific questions, and also, if needed, relevant documentation to actually perform the scenario. If I chose 'Installing a Server Role on Server Core', I am presented with questions, but also:
So you are getting documentation too! Bonus! You'll notice that one of the options has a star next to it. This is a key scenario which we encourage you to try if possible.
Now, the reason I chose Server Core from the list of scenarios, is because I've got a great 'Guide to Server Core' document, for you to download for free.
"This Step-by-Step Guide provides the instructions necessary to build a server based on the Server Core installation option of Windows Server® Code Name "Longhorn" in your test lab. This includes installing and performing the initial configuration of the Server Core installation, installing server roles or features, and managing a server that is running a Server Core installation."
Kudos to George and the TechNet team for this month's newsletter, (which you can subscribe to here) as it contains links to some great information on Windows Server 2008.
Some of this content includes:
All of the documentation can be found here.
There's also another great site, dedicated to events and webcasts around Windows Server 2008, with all the different content logically organised into:
Alternatively, you can view an overview here.
I hope you find them useful.
Last, but no means least, you may be interested in a live webcast, taking place on Thursday September 6th at 5:30pm GMT entitled "TechNet Webcast: Managing Virtualisation with System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007".
"In this webcast, we describe how the Microsoft System Center products can help you manage a virtualized data center. We explore the features and benefits of using Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007 and Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 with the Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1) environment. We discuss the Microsoft Virtualisation management strategy, along with various usage scenarios for System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007 and System Center Operations Manager 2007. This technical session also includes demonstrations of advanced System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007 functions, such as physical to virtual (P2V) and virtual to virtual (V2V), and how System Center Operations Manager 2007 manages virtual machines."
You can register for the webcast here. Don't worry if you miss it, as it will be recorded so you can watch it at your leisure.
Kudos to Steve (via Long) for this first snippet of information.
Like Steve says, it's not always easy getting hold of a Microsoft product roadmap, so when one does come along, it's worth taking note. Now, although this doesn't give you specific dates to when products are released (bite tongue here), it gives you an idea of what's coming this FY. Key ones for me include Windows Server (with it's accompanying updates and service packs: very brave to acknowledge them this early!) and the small and mid-market server offerings, namely Cougar and Centro. My role will also focus heavily on the System Center family, and there is a plethora of them coming this FY. Pay particular interest to Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, Data Protection Manager and Configuration Manager; I predict big things from this foursome...
Aside from products that I'm intimately (steady!) involved with, FY08 just seems like a year of cool technology from a Microsoft perspective, and one that's full of opportunity. Take the whole Entertainment and Devices section - Zune, Mediaroom, Xbox, and the fantastic Surface really are cool pieces of technology, and combine that with the ever strengthening Application Platform, with Popfly, Silverlight and above all, Visual Studio, there are big opportunities for a lot of people out there.
I also mentioned, conveniently in the title, there is also a convenient way to search not only my blog, but across all the blogs in my team. Between us, as Steve rightly states, we cover a huge variety of topics around technology, from the web, to Windows. You can search them all using a new feature in Windows Live Search; Macros.
So, this enables me to search across the blogs in my team. As you can see, I've even been able to add the option to my search bar in IE7.
If you want to be able to access the PTS Search Macro, you can do so here: http://search.live.com/macros/ptsuk/blogs/?FORM=OIJZ.
So now, when I select that option in IE7, and search for a term, all my results are taken from the blogs - great!
This discussion has been around the web for ages, and no doubt, if you're as geeky as me, you'll already know about it, however, today, of all days, it's become more relevant for me, as finally, I have a laptop with 4GB RAM. Woo Hoo!
Admittedly, it isn't as sexy as my Sony Vaio SZ3 (the one on the right, should you be wondering....), nor is it as light and mobile, but it packs a punch, with a 2.4Ghz Core 2 Duo CPU and 4GB RAM. Anyway, it's arrived with XP on there (and a number of Google apps I'll add :-( ) but that is about to get wiped, in favour of Windows Server 2003 R2 SP2 Enterprise Edition (x64), Vista (x64) and Windows Server 2008 (x64). I know what you are thinking. This is the GOD of demo machines!
Before I go ahead and wipe the machine, which, like I said, has currently got an x86 copy of XP SP2 on there, lets take a look at my System Properties:
So, there you have it, 3.5GB of RAM. I've been cheated out of some performance here! Well, yes and no. Yes, because I've lost half a gig of RAM, but no, because there are ways I can get it back. The easiest way would be to install the x64 version of the OS, as this loss of RAM isn't a Windows problem, it's an x86 problem. The current x86 architecture, as Doug Cook states supports access to up to 4 GB of physical memory, however, hardware reserves large chunks of the upper 1 GB of physical address space. Because of these reserved areas, a system with a 32-bit physical address space will be limited to somewhere around 3.1-3.5 GB of RAM. There is another solution to upgrading to an x64 OS - the PAE hack. I say hack, as it's not the most recommended solution, but it does work. Doug continues "To overcome the 32-bit limitation, recent x86 CPUs (Pentium Pro and later) have 36 address pins and can address 64 GB of RAM. The original design of the x86 32-bit protected mode only provided access to 32-bit addresses, so PAE (Physical Address Extensions) mode was created to allow access to 36-bit addresses." So, PAE is the answer? Well, not always. PAE can only access 64 GB of memory if all 36 address pins are properly wired up on the motherboard, which isn't always the case. There are other things to consider too, for which you should definitely check out Doug's post.
So, the moral of the story is, to address that full 4GB, you can take a risk, which for many people, pay's off fine, and go with the PAE extension, or you could upgrade to an x64 OS, which can take advantage of the full del monte. That's exactly what I'm doing, with x64 versions of Server 2003, Vista and Server 2008.
However, don't just install an x64 OS and assume it will show the full 4GB RAM - it has to be supported by the motherboard and chipset, as detailed in this KB Article.
If you really want to get geeky, down to the 1's and 0's, you'd be hard pressed to find a better post that Jeff's.
If you aren't aware of what Infrastructure Optimisation is, or what it's all about, chances are, you could be missing a trick - a trick that really could boost sales for your business. At a high level, it's about ensuring a business is moving from a very static, basic infrastructure, through to a proactive, dynamic infrastructure. There is a great 10 minute explanatory video here, along with a whole host of information on Infrastructure Optimisation, at the MicrosoftIO website.
There are also a whole host of PowerPoint presentations, white papers and so on, all at this site - I'd highly recommend taking a look if you get the chance.
So, below you'll find a number of courses taking place in Reading over the next couple of months, and best of all, they're free, so if you know nothing about IO, or you'd like to learn more, at least it's only going to cost you your time - and it may turn out to be a very worthy investment indeed. If you can't attend in person, flip down to the bottom for some online courses.
Selling with Infrastructure Optimisation
This one day workshop will provide partners with the tools and techniques required to leverage Infrastructure Optimization to increase their sales pipelines. This workshop will show delegates how to identify new opportunities using IO as well as how IO provides the basis of selling high value solutions to customers. Delegates will be taken through a highly interactive workshop that ends with the delivery of an IO briefing to the customer and the definition of a Strategic Technology Roadmap.
Five deliveries will be scheduled, the first taking place on 15th October in Reading
Cost for partners to attend: Free
To register, use the links below:
This 3-day instructor-led training teaches partners how to position the 2007 Microsoft Office system in business conversations with customers—driving to a higher close rate.
Focused on the 2007 Office system and the Business Productivity Infrastructure Optimization (BPIO) campaign, this programme will help you:
Five deliveries will be scheduled, the first taking place on the 16th October in Reading
The APO (Application Platform Optimisation) Sales University is a comprehensive three day sales readiness programme that will prepare and arm strategic partners with the knowledge and tools to drive growth and win customers on the Microsoft Application Platform.
This programme will help you:
Four deliveries will be scheduled, with the first taking place in November in Reading.
Cost for partners to attend: Free
Online Courses - Webinars / Tutorials / Events (Free)
Simon contacted me earlier this week with regards to a problem he encountered with migrating user profiles over to a Small Business Server 2003 Domain. The particular problem was around joining a Vista Business PC to an SBS domain - sounds straightforward on the surface, however, the Vista PC had some private user settings, which prevented migration:
"The following user settings are private:
Client Setup cannot migrate private settings. On computers running Windows XP Professional, you can make these settings public and migrate them as follows:
Log on using the username and password of the user whose settings you want to migrate. In the Documents and Settings folder, right-click the user's folder, click Sharing and Security, and clear the Make this folder private check box. Repeat this procedure for all subfolders that have this check box selected, and then click OK.
Click Start, click Run, and run the Small Business Server Network Configuration Wizard again by typing: http://servername/connectcomputer.
For computers running Windows 2000 Professional, or if the above steps do not resolve the issue, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=19069 for more information."
If you've encountered this error, and aren't sure where to look, you can view these 2 pieces of information, which helped to solve the problem:
Although the articles are aimed at XP and Windows 2000, you can still use the information to solve the problem. Thanks to Simon for giving me the info!
Just a quick update, tickets are going fast for the Vista: After Hours events, but you still have a chance to get hold of them! We had some brilliant feedback to our last After Hours events, back in May, and these promise to be even cooler, with even more cool technology!
These After Hours events are for technology enthusiasts – after you attend these you will be buzzing! The events cover what’s in Windows Vista out of the box and how you can extend it. Products we'll will cover include: Windows Vista (Search, Photography, Movie Maker, DVD Maker, Back up and Restore Center, Network and Sharing Center and more), Windows SideShow, Digital Picture Frames, Windows Home Server, Xbox 360 Elite, Media Center, Windows Live Gaming and Virtual Earth), and we might even show the Master Chief.... :-)
I'm not promising anything here, but seeing as the release date is 26th September, and our events are around that time, you never know....
You can read our agenda for the previous event, back in May, here but obviously, technology has moved on, so we'll have an updated agenda around pretty soon!
Anyway, we'd really like to fill these events to the brim - you really will enjoy it, even if you're not a geek - it's just a fun event.
You can register for the event which is closest to you, here:
James, has gone into geek overdrive, and has actually plotted loads of cool stuff about the After Hours gig on his blog.
Not only has James plotted the map of the events, but it turns out we're hitting about 23,500 square miles! On foot! Just kidding on that one.
He's also gone all Web 2.0 on us (what's new!) and created a facebook group! Feel free to join if you are attending, or thinking about attending! You really can influence the content we show using facebook!
I also mentioned, just the other day, about TranquilPC, who've kindly offered to provide us with one of their Home Server Appliance's, the T7 for the event. If you too have something you want to show, we're happy to talk about it, as long as it's relevant! Don't get me wrong, we're not going to be selling directly to the audience here - we just want to highlight the cool stuff that you guys are building out there, on the Microsoft platform.
I couldn't resist :-)
Thanks to Tony for sending this through. In Tony's own words "These are the first of several cookbooks to help SI partner consultants get up to speed to deploy virtualisation solutions in record time. These are step-by-step, one-stop documents with all the details, tips/tricks to build a working solution". To me, this already sounds great, but what are the documents specifically about?
Hosted Backup and Recovery Solutions for Service Providers using DPM and VS
This cookbook will provide procedural, step-by-step guidance to an IT Generalist audience providing data backup and recovery to customers as a hosted solution using Virtual Server and System Center Data Protection Manager v2.
Simple Offsite Backup and Recovery of virtual machines using Data Protection Manager and Virtual Server
This cookbook will provide procedural, step-by-step guidance to an IT Generalist audience for backing up and restoring virtual machines running in an offsite location using Virtual Server and System Center Data Protection Manager v2.
Simple Onsite Backup and Recovery of virtual machines using Data Protection Manager and Virtual Server
This cookbook will provide procedural, step-by-step guidance to an IT Generalist audience for backing up and restoring running virtual machines using Virtual Server and System Center Data Protection Manager v2.
High Availability with Virtual Server and Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Server Clustering
This cookbook will provide procedural, step-by-step guidance to an IT Generalist audience for implementing high availability of server workloads using Windows Server 2003 Server Clustering and Virtual Server using Intel-based hardware.
Application Isolation and Operation in Branch Office Using Virtual Server
This cookbook will provide procedural, step-by-step guidance to an IT Generalist audience for isolating and operating applications on separate virtual machines in branch offices using Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1, in an Intel-based hardware environment for regulatory compliance and improved legacy workload performance.
What's nice for me to see is, that we've worked closely with Intel to produce these documents, and Intel are firmly behind Virtual Server as a technology. So much so, that they too will be promoting these cookbooks on their website. You're also getting an early look at these documents - they won't go live on Microsoft.com for another 1-3 weeks, so why not feel like a VIP for a while, and download now :-)
These cookbooks are a great way to learn about a product - it's a shame we don't do this kind of thing for more of our products, but I guess it's pretty time consuming to write, create the demo's etc, but still, we can but hope. You can however, expect some more Virtual Server related cookbooks in the works, very soon, along with System Center and Terminal Services cookbooks respectively.
Another interesting note is that I've stored the documents online using Windows Live SkyDrive. This service gives you 500mb of online storage, and all you need to upload stuff is a Windows Live ID. Pure and Simple. You can create personal folders, folders that are just accessible to your Live ID friends, or, like I've done in this case, public folders, accessible to all. Cool hey?
It was quite a strange day yesterday - not strange in a bad way, not at all. It started with an email from David, at TranquilPC. He'd found, via my blog, that James and I were putting on another set of Vista: After Hours events at the end of September. Why was this of interest to David? Well, apart from the events being amazing ;-) (and therefore of interest to everyone!), David and the team at TranquilPC have recently developed a dedicated Home Server appliance, the T7-HSA which has not only received a positive review on PC-Pro but has some very compelling specifications. The PC itself is fanless, and therefore silent, but also packs a 500GB hard disk, and wait for it...runs on less than 24 Watts. Now I'd say that's pretty impressive. Even better for the environmentalists out there, which includes me, 70% of the casework is recycled. Great stuff.
Aside from the products that TranquilPC create, David and I started a conversation of marketing, and I brought up the whole world of blogging, after all, it was how David found me - even though he'd conversed with Microsoft in the past, he found me through the blog. I explained how easy it was to start, and although it takes a while to get going, within a few months, I'm sure you'll see it gaining momentum. David obviously took this on board, as later in the day, he'd created his blog, and was already publishing away! Nice work!
As a business, there really is value in embracing Web 2.0, and the blogging bug. With a technology blog in general, Scoble has some great advice - it's important to be real, be human, and generate open discussion, not just plug your products. Obviously you want to shift more product out of the door, but in blogging, indirect is often more powerful than direct selling. Also, take criticism constructively - expect to get it.
It's also very useful to comment on other peoples' blog's. Not only does it build up a network, and rapport, but it can also generate links back to your own site, and create a community around your site, and inevitably your products.
It's also worth noting that it's a good idea to have a decent blogging tool <startPlug> and to meet your needs, you won't get much better than Windows Live Writer :-) (Couldn't resist). It even, as James points out, now has a Social Bookmarking Plugin to help drive traffic to your blog.</startPlug>
You'll be able to get a look at the T7-HSA, along with a stack of other cool technology at the Vista: After Hours events, taking place at the end of September.
I first blogged about this tool back in February, when it had just been released into the wild, hot on the heels of the Vista launch, but, as with most things Microsoft, it's evolved, and a new release, with some cool new features, has recently been released.
So, as recap, what is the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment Tool, WVHA for short?
Well, the WVHA is an agent-less network inventory tool designed to help customers and partners quickly discover and assess the readiness of their workstations and laptops for Vista and Office 2007. It provides in-depth hardware and device compatibility analysis and actionable upgrade recommendations for each PC discovered on the network for migration to Vista and Office 2007. The key part of that statement is that this tool does not require any agent software to be deployed on machines inventoried thus alleviating potential customer concerns. You can just run it, and the machines that are being 'surveyed' will not be impacted in any way.
So, being able to quickly inventory a complete site, (providing the machines are on the network), and accelerate the deployment of Vista and Office 2007 is a good thing, right? Yes! So you have to pay for this tool, right? No!
This is a key tool to have in your arsenal, particularly if you are a partner, considering deploying Vista to your customers. On many occasions, the customer will present the stopper of 'I've heard you need new hardware for Vista and Office' and in some cases, yes, you may need to add an extra stick of RAM to those 'older' machines, but a lot of the time, machines bought in the last few years will be fine. This tool however, will give the customer the definitive answer. You can go in and say, well, we've run the hardware assessment tool, and it turns out that out of all your machines, X just need a little more memory, and Y will be need a driver from the manufacturer. This tool really can help to put minds at ease and ensure that the customer is not upgrading unnecessarily.
So, what will it give you?
What are some of the new features in this release?
You can read the whole overview here, and you can download the tool here.