October, 2012

  • Logon Failures Involving Virtual Machines in Windows Server 2012

    Welcome back to the CORE Team blog. The General Availability date for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 has come and gone, and we here on the CORE Team expect more of you will be diving in and taking part in all of the excitement around these new products. To make sure you have a great experience, we endeavor, whenever possible, to make you aware of situations that may temporarily 'inconvenience' you. That is the purpose of this blog.

    We have recently encountered several instances where a specific group policy configuration can affect the proper functioning of a Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V virtualization solution. This is due primarily to changes made in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V functionality that will also be explained here.

    The two scenarios we have seen thus far are:

    • Virtual machines failing to start
    • Virtual machines failing to live migrate

    In both of these scenarios, the problem is the result of a logon failure. Here is an example of a pop-up error message you may see when a virtual machine fails to start.

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    The critical piece of the error message is, "Logon failure: the user has not been granted the requested logon type at this computer (0x80070569.)"

    In the second scenario where a virtual machine fails to live migrate, an Event ID 21502 error message is registered in the Hyper-V-High-Availability log. The critical piece of the error message is, "Failed to create Planned Virtual Machine at migration destination. Logon failure: the user has not been granted the requested logon type at this computer (0x80070569.)"

    Investigation of these events revealed that a custom Group Policy was modifying the user accounts that are allowed to Logon on as a Service on each Hyper-V server.

    In Windows Server 2012, a special security group, NT VIRTUAL MACHINE\Virtual Machines is created when the Hyper-V Role is installed. Members of this group require the right to Create Symbolic Links (SeCreateSymbolicLinkPrivilege) and to Log on as a Service (SeServiceLogonRight). The SID associated with the group is S-1-5-83-0. The security group is maintained by the Hyper-V Management Service (VMMS). To ensure members of the NT VIRTUAL MACHINE\Virtual Machines security group maintain the rights they need, VMMS registers with Group Policy in order to update the local security policy whenever Group Policy is refreshed.

    The NT VIRTUAL MACHINE\Virtual Machines group did not exist in previous versions of Hyper-V. As each virtual machine is started on a Hyper-V server, its account (Virtual Machine ID (VM_ID)) is added to the NT VIRTUAL MACHINE\Virtual Machines group and VMMS creates a Virtual Machine Worker Process (vmwp.exe). Examples of these processes are visible in Task Manager:

     

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    The VM_ID is the virtual machine account that is used to gain access to its own resources and prevent other virtual machines from gaining access to those same resources. As an example, if I run the following PowerShell command, it is easy to see the rights given to the virtual machine account to one of its resources (a virtual hard disk in this case):

     

    Get-Acl -Path E:\Virtual Machines\Contoso-FS1\Virtual Hard Disks\contoso-fs1.vhdx | FL AccessToString

    AccessToString : NT VIRTUAL MACHINE\E57917F3-31C3-456E-B1BA-5E45B4CC7E0C Allow Write, Read, Synchronize

    BUILTIN\Administrators Allow FullControl

    NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM Allow FullControl

    NT AUTHORITY\Authenticated Users Allow Modify, Synchronize

    BUILTIN\Users Allow ReadAndExecute, Synchronize

     

    Since the VMWP is an extension of VMMS, VMMS performs a service logon to create an access token that is used to run the VMWP. In order for this to work, the NT VIRTUAL MACHINE\Virtual Machines security group must be granted the Log on as a Service right. In previous versions of Hyper-V, the VMWP ran in the context of a different account, NETWORK SERVICE, which is an account defined by SYSTEM.

    Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Hyper-V Server

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    To find out more information about the NETWORK SERVICE account, review this MSDN resource (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/ms684272(v=vs.85).aspx).

    The error message, previously mentioned, refers to a 'user' not being granted a 'logon type'. That user, again as seen in Task Manager, is the Virtual Machine ID (VM_ID), and the logon type is 'Log on as a Service.'

    clip_image008

     

    Now that we understand the new changes, what needs to be done? A detailed Knowledge Base (KB) article was written in cooperation with the Directory Services team that provides additional details.

    KB2779204
    Starting or Live Migrating Hyper-V virtual machines may fail with error 0x80070569 on Windows Server 2012-based computers
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2779204

    Briefly, one of two things must happen:

    1. Hyper-V Administrators need to get with their Domain Administrators to review Group Policies to see if any involve specific user accounts being granted the Log on as a Service right, and, if so, have the policy modified appropriately
    2. Create an OU in Active Directory and place all hyper-V servers in that OU and block policy inheritance

    Note: Option (2) is recommended by the Hyper-V Product Team

    Tip: Administrators can temporarily, but quickly, recover from this error by opening an elevated command prompt and running gpupdate /force which forces a group policy refresh

    Before we wrap-up, I would like to re-state one of Microsoft's long standing 'best practices' with respect to Hyper-V servers, and that is, the only Roles or Services that should ever be installed on a Hyper-V server is the Hyper-V Role and only those additional Roles or Features that directly support virtualization. The classic example is Hyper-V Failover Clusters where the Hyper-V Role and the Failover Clustering Feature complement each other by providing highly available virtualized workloads, which are the foundation of Microsoft's Cloud Strategy. If this 'best practice' is followed, no user rights modifications that could impact virtualization services should be needed.

    I hope this has been helpful.

    Thanks, and come back again soon.

    Chuck Timon
    Senior Support Escalation Engineer
    Microsoft Enterprise Platforms Support
    High Availability\Virtualization Team

  • Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012: Pooled Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

    Welcome back!  It’s Day 10, and part 2 of our posts on RDS.  Today we are going to discuss Virtual Machine-based desktop deployment, focusing on creating a pooled collection.  There are two primary types of RDS deployments in Windows Server 2012:

    1. Virtual machine-based desktop deployment (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
    2. Session-based desktop deployment (Classic Remote Desktop Services and Remote Applications)

    There are two prerequisites for using the new "Remote Desktop Services installation" type of role installation in Windows Server 2012:

    1. All RDS Servers must be joined to the same Active Directory Domain.
    2. Before you can create a VDI collection, the template (gold image) Virtual Machine must be sys-prepped.

    Required Roles for all RDS deployments:

    1. The RD Connection Broker and RDWeb are both mandatory roles.
    2. Virtual Machine based desktop deployment requires the following roles:  RD Connection Broker, RD Web Access, RD Virtualization Host, and Hyper-V Server.
    3. Session based desktop deployment requires the following roles:  RD Connection Broker, RD Web Access, and RD Session Host.

    Flow Chart of RDS

    clip_image002

     

    Today’s focus is the installation and configuration of RDS:

    Virtual Machine Based Desktop Deployment

    Our objective is to walk through the different steps that are required to complete a successful implementation of the Virtual Machine Based Desktop Deployment or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) deployment.

    We need to decide how we want to deploy the necessary management components of the deployment.  One of the areas that we receive numerous calls in CTS, is concerning “What roles can be deployed on a single component of the RDS management servers?”  The recommendation has been to deploy the components on their own dedicated servers.

    But, we need to address the following questions:

    1. Is this a test deployment?
    2. Is this a Pre-Production Pilot?
    3. Troubleshooting?

    In the case of question 1, the necessity for deploying all roles on their own dedicated server is not as important.  The idea is that this is an experimental set of servers to help with gaining a better understanding of the components and how they all work together and how different the systems are to manage.

    In the case of question 2, we are looking to potentially move this system into production and need to consider the scalability of the solution.  Deploying multiple roles on individual servers can potentially impact the scalability of the different components.  You may want to add additional RD Web Servers to create a highly available RD Web interface.  Having this role on a single server lends itself to being able to configure multiple RD Web servers in a web farm.  Ideally having a server dedicated to each component will allow the ability to scale out much more rapidly and efficiently.

    In the case of question 3, having different components on their own dedicated servers allows for better isolation and troubleshooting of that individual component.

    We will be deploying a test based scenario and will install all the necessary roles on a single RDS server.

    So let’s get right to it by exploring how to deploy a Virtual Machine Based Desktop Deployment.

      1. Open Server Manager (ideally from the Server you want to host the Session Broker role), Click on Add Roles and Features , Select Remote Desktop Services Installation and Click Next

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        2. Select Deployment Type of Standard deployment

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        3. Select Virtual machine-based desktop Deployment and Click Next

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        4. Click Next on the Review of role Services screen

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        5. Specify which server to act as the RD Connection Broker Server and Click Next

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        6. Specify which server to act as the RD Web Access Server and Click Next

        (In our example, we’re elected to host the RD Web Access role on the same host as the Session Broker role.)

        clip_image014

        7. Specify the RD Virtualization Host and Click Next

        In our example we’re using the same host for all 3 roles.  The Hyper-V role will be installed if it isn’t already.

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        8. Confirm Selection and check mark on Restart Destination Server automatically if Required , Click Deploy

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        After completion of this process, you have successfully installed the RD Connection Broker , RD Web Access , RD Virtualization Host.

        Virtual Machine-based desktop Deployment is of two types:

        1. Personal Virtual Desktop Collection – Administrators manually assign virtual desktops to the users.
        2. Pooled Virtual Desktop Collection - Administrators deploy virtual desktops and users are randomly assigned virtual desktops.  At log off virtual desktops are generally rolled back (rollback is optional).

        Creating a Pooled Virtual Desktop Collection

        There are two types of Pooled Virtual desktop Collections:

        1. Pooled Managed  The Virtual desktop machine is created using the Sysprep Template of a virtual machine. We can recreate the virtual desktops from this image at will.
        2. Pooled Unmanaged  We can add the existing virtual machine to this virtual desktop collection from Hyper V pool.

        With either option, the administrator can configure the pool to store the user profiles on User Profile disks separate from the machines.

        Pooled - Managed Virtual desktop Collection

        1. Open Server Manager, Click Remote Desktop Services and Select Overview

        clip_image020

        2. In Deployment Overview Section, Click Tasks and Select Edit Deployment properties.

        clip_image022

        3. Expand Active Directory and Select the Organization Unit if you would like to add the Virtual desktops to the domain , Click Apply

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        4. Select Collections tile

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        5. In Collection Section, Click Tasks and Select Create Virtual Desktop Collection , Click Next

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        6. Type the Name of the Collection and Click Next

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        7. Select the Pooled Virtual desktop collection and Click Next

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        8. Specify the Virtual Desktop Template which you must have already configured in Hyper V (making sure to have syspreped the virtual machine after installing the software required by users) and Click Next.

        Note If you do not have an image then it can be easily created using the following command:

        %windir%\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /generalize /oobe /shutdown /mode:vm

        See the Windows 2012 RDS guides for more information on how to SYSPREP a template VM.

        clip_image034

        9. Click Next

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        10. Specify the unattended installation settings and Select the OU

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        11. Specify the Users and Groups and Specify the Prefix and Suffix for the Virtual Desktop

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        12. Specify Virtual Desktop allocation and Click Next

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        13. Specify Virtual desktop storage and Click Next

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        14. Specify User Profile disk if you want with the UNC Path and Click Next

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        15. Confirm Selections and Click Create

        clip_image048

        16. View Progress and Click Close

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        17. In Collection Section, Right Click VDI( Collection Name) and Select Task Status details

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        This completes the Virtual Desktop Managed Pool deployment.

        Pooled - Unmanaged Virtual desktop Collection

        1. In Collection Section, Click Tasks and Select Create Virtual Desktop Collection , Click Next

        clip_image053

        2. Type the Name of the Collection and Click Next

        clip_image055

        20. Select the Pooled Virtual desktop collection and Uncheck Automatically create and manage virtual desktops , Click Next

        clip_image057

        21. Specifying the Existing Virtual Desktops and Click Next

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        22. Specify the Users and Groups and Click Next

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        23. Specify User Profile disk if you want with the UNC Path and Click Next

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        24. Confirm Selection and Click Create

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        25. View Progress

        clip_image067

        Whew…that was a lot of info (and screenshots)!  With that, this concludes todays post.  Tomorrow we will continue our RDS series of posts and look at Personal Desktop VDI deployments.

        -AskPerf blog Team

      1. Upgrading to Windows Server 2012 - Part 4

        Known issues during an upgrade

         

        Hi everyone,

        Today I want to bring up some known issues in Hyper-V, iSCSI targets, and moving between Full Server, Server Core, and Minimal Server interface. We already have KBs out there to assist you in case you run into any of these issues. I have added links to these articles here:

        Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual machines blue screen/lock up after upgrade to Windows Server 2012:

        In some cases, we have seen that existing Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 virtual machines that were upgraded to Windows Server 2012, fail to boot after the Upgrade. Typically they would show you a blue screen and then reboot automatically, or lock up/stop responding completely during boot. The Stop code shown may be different each time, and dumps may or may not be generated. This may also cause other virtual machines running on the same host to hang or crash.

        One of the reasons that we noticed – is if the hypervisor running the virtual machine is not able to handle the synthetic timer events in a proper fashion. We have released a hotfix that resolves this issue. This hotfix is applicable to both Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, and is a pre-requisite before you create Windows 8 or Server 2012 Virtual machines on these hosts. The below fix replaced KB2526776 that was released for the pre-RTM builds of Windows 8 and Windows Server2012.

        KB2744129
        You cannot run a Windows 8-based or Windows Server 2012-based virtual machine in Windows Server 2008 or in Windows Server 2008 R2

        After an Upgrade, the hypervisor does not start, and complains that the hardware does not meet requirements:

        We have seen multiple instances of this happen, where after an in place upgrade of the hyper-V host, the hypervisor fails to launch. The error warns that the hardware is not compatible, even though it is. The issue was traced and was found to be firmware related. The BIOS showed that some of the virtualization requirements like VT, DEP are enabled, but these were actually not enabled, or their states were misreported to the operating system. Our partners have already issued updated BIOS to fix these, and we released the following KB article for more information.

        KB2762297
        A BIOS update may be required for some computers to install the Hyper-V Role and/or start Hyper-V virtual machines

        iSCSI Target is now available in-box:

        Also, if you are using Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 on your Windows Server 2008 R2, ensure that you migrate the settings for the target and un-install the target before performing the upgrade. The iSCSI target feature comes in box with Windows Server 2012. You do not need to install a software target separately. All you need to do is install the sub-feature to get a fully functional iSCSI target. We published this KB article to run you through the steps:

        KB2756772
        Migrating iSCSI Target 3.3 settings before upgrading Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2012

        Unable to convert WS2012 from Server Core configuration to Full Server configuration if upgraded from WS2008/2008R2 Server Core:

        We talked in brief about the three configurations in which you can run a Windows Server 2012, namely Server with a GUI (aka Full Server), Server Core and Minimal Server Interface (aka: MinShell). Unlike in earlier versions of Windows Servers, you can now move from one configuration to another by adding or removing the shell and management components.

        However, remember that when performing upgrades from a down-level operating system, you can only upgrade to the same configuration levels, i.e.:

        • Windows 2008/2008 R2 Full Server -> Win 2012 Server with a GUI (cannot go to Server Core)
        • Windows 2008/2008 R2 Server Core -> Win 2012 Server Core only (cannot go to Server with a GUI)

        Below is a simple diagram that summarizes how to add/remove the shell and management components to switch between one another. Note that in some cases when adding the feature back to the server, you may get an error stating that the sources are missing. This occurs because you are missing the payload needed for that role, and Windows is not able to automatically download this from Windows Update. In such cases, you may need to use the “–Source” parameter in the command and show where the sources are. Mike Stephen’s blog talks about this in more detail:

        Windows Server 2012 Shell Game
        http://blogs.technet.com/b/askds/archive/2012/09/20/windows-server-2012-shell-game.aspx

         

        clip_image001

         

        On a clean installation of Windows Server 2012, you are very unlikely to run into issues moving from one configuration to another. However, on an upgraded installation, here are some of the issues that were reported to us. If you upgrade from a Full installation of Windows Server 2008/2008R2 to Windows Server 2012 in Server with a GUI mode, and then switch to Server Core mode, and then try to convert back to Server with a GUI configuration – it will fail. Similarly, if you upgrade a Server Core edition of Windows Server 2008/R2 and you try to move this upgraded Server 2012 to Server with a GUI configuration, it would fail.

        The reason for these failures was traced back to some migrated event publishers. You can resolve this by deleting these publishers from the registry. The following can be run from an administrative command prompt to accomplish this:

        reg delete HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WINEVT\Publishers\{bc2eeeec-b77a-4a52-b6a4-dffb1b1370cb}
        reg delete HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WINEVT\Publishers\{57e0b31d-de8c-4181-bcd1-f70e880b49fc}
        reg delete HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WINEVT\Publishers\{8c9dd1ad-e6e5-4b07-b455-684a9d879900}

        After running these commands, restart the upgrade. More details about this issue are published in this KB article:

        KB2775484
        Unable to convert to Server with a GUI from Server Core on an upgraded Windows Server 2012 machine

        In the next blog, we will be talking about known issues related to Remote Management tools. Thanks for reading, hope these get you past any hiccups. Keep commenting below if you notice any issues during your upgrade.

        Regards,
        Vimal Shekar
        Windows Core Team @ Microsoft

      2. Upgrading to Windows Server 2012 – Part 3

        Known Issues during an upgrade

        Issue 1: Compatibility Report shows errors that certain roles are installed even when they are not

        During the Windows upgrade, the Upgrade Compatibility wizard runs a through test of the machine and reports any known compatibility issues. Sometime, the report may show you a particular role installed when it is actually not present.

        clip_image001

        One of the reasons this occurs is due to corruption in the component store, or any registry locations related to the role, that is causing the state of the role to be misreported. In this scenario, CheckSUR shows that there were several missing Deployment Keys in the components hive.

        clip_image003

        Since there is no easy way to fix links to so many keys, we ended up performing an in-place upgrade of Windows Server 2008 R2 using the media. This fixed the issue with the missing registry entries in the components hive and we could verify that running CheckSUR fixed the issue. Once we made sure that the state of all the components and deployment manifests were intact, we could perform the upgrade to Windows Server 2012 without any issues.

        Issue 2: Upgrade fails when there is another volume larger than the C drive on the same disk without a drive letter.

        Consider a partition layout as shown below:

        clip_image004

        The computer could be configured this way for various reasons. For examples, you are having a dual-boot system, and you do not want to have a drive letter for the other system drive. Or, the computer manufacturer configures this volume to store recovery data. In this scenario, the upgrade process fails after the first restart. Additionally, you receive the following error message:
        Setup cannot continue. Your computer will now restart, and your previous version of Windows will be restored.

        In this situation, the setup process temporarily assigns a drive letter to that volume and may use this volume to hold temporary files ($Windows.~BT) because that is the largest volume. But the temporary drive letter assignment is removed during the reboot and it leaves the upgrade without a temporary file location causing it to fail.

        This is very unlikely on a server to have this sort of partition layout, but if you dual boot your client desktop, you may run into this issue. The workaround is simple, just statically assign a drive letter to any additional partitions you have on the disk, except for the System Reserved partition.

        Joseph Conway had written the blog “General guidance before installing Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2” a while back discussing guidance installing Service Packs. The same guidance also applies when performing Server upgrades. Here are some additional things you should keep in mind when upgrading to Windows Server 2012:

        • For Windows Server 2012 upgrades, the Remote Desktop Services role is one role which will not properly upgrade due to the drastic changes in architecture, dependencies and package layouts. This role will need to be removed and re-enabled after the upgrade is completed. For other roles, the specific teams will come out with step by step guidance to help you through the upgrade. Keep a look out on this TechNet link, so that you don’t miss these : http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj574225.aspx
        • If you have Hyper-V installed, make sure all VMs are turned off. Snapshots are ok, but any VMs that are in saved state may not boot after the upgrade.
        • Ensure that BitLocker is suspended, and Antiviruses are disabled. Any backup or data replication software you are running should be paused so that it does not interfere with the upgrade.
        • Make sure that there is no system file corruption. You can use the System File checker tool to do a scan and check for integrity violations. At an administrative command prompt, run : SFC /scannow
        • We launched the “Check System Update Readiness” or CheckSUR tool a few years ago. This tool is continuously updated with the latest payloads and can detect report and fix a variety of corruption issues with the component store. More details on running this tool can be found on Joseph’s blog “Why does CheckSUR take a long time to run?”. Running this tool and looking at its logs, (C:\Windows\Logs\CBS\CheckSUR.log) will tell you if there is any pending corruption that needs to be fixed.

        On a side note: CheckSUR is no longer needed on Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. The number of instances where CheckSUR has fixed CBS corruption was so large, that we decided to include the tool inbox. For more details on inbox corruption repair feature available in Windows 8, check this “Fixing component store corruption in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012”.

        • If you have Remote Server Administration tools installed, it is recommended that you remove this before the upgrade.
        • We also recommend removing any additional language packs that are installed. After the upgrade, you can always install the latest language packs for windows 8/Server 2012.
        • Verify that you are running the latest drivers available for all devices connected to the server. Remove any un-necessary devices before the upgrade and connect them back after you have made sure that the upgrade was completed successfully. Ensure that there are no pending reboots from update or driver installations.
        • Always, take a backup before the upgrade. If this is a virtual machine, you can also create a snapshot before the upgrade.

        The last tip for today – is to pay attention to the errors and warnings during setup. There are significant improvements in the logging as well. If you run into an issue during setup, the SetupAct and SetupErr logs will give you more details. For a complete list of log file check this TechNet article: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh824819.aspx.

        Also watch out for more posts in this series.

        Regards,
        Vimal Shekar
        Windows Core Team @ Microsoft

      3. Troubleshooting Pool Leaks Part 6 – Driver Verifier

        In part 5 we used poolhittag to get call stacks of pool being allocated and freed.  This information is often essential to identifying the cause of a memory leak; however it is not always feasible to configure a live kernel debug to obtain this information ...read more
      4. Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012: Windows To Go

        It’s day 8 of our Launch Series!  Today we are going to talk about creating a Windows To Go device.  Windows To Go workspaces (a new feature in Windows 8 Enterprise client) enables bootable USB thumb drives that essentially act as an additional mobility option within a corporate Windows environment.  Windows To Go provides convenient enterprise-managed work environments from any PC.  Windows To Go can be used to enable several scenarios, for example:

        • A test bed for software development and testing
        • A proof of concept for a deployment environment
        • A more robust remote work scenario while ensuring corporate compliance

        Windows To Go is an available feature in Windows 8 Enterprise client editions.  To ensure activation for Windows To Go environments, Key Management Service server (KMS) is recommended for activation.  Activation technologies, which support Enterprise SKUs, such as Multiple Activation Keys (MAK) also work.  Windows To Go is not an available option for Windows Server 2012 installations or Windows 8 client editions other than Enterprise edition.

        For additional detailed information on Windows To Go see Windows To Go: Feature Overview

        Requirements to Create Windows To Go Device:
        1. A Windows To Go capable USB drive (details in the Feature Overview)
        2. A physical computer running Windows 8 Enterprise edition
        3. A Windows 8 Enterprise ISO or Windows 8 Enterprise bootable media. A corporate image can also be utilized as the Windows To Go image source as long as it was created from Windows 8 Enterprise media.
        Steps to create Windows To Go device:

        The following is a visual walkthrough of creating a Windows To Go using the Windows To Go Creator.

        Step One: Launch the Windows To Go workspace creator: On initial launch the Windows To Go creator (pwcreator.exe) searches for devices plugged into the local USB ports.  All devices are shown to the user but only supported devices will work for Windows To Go workspace creation.

        Figure 1: Windows To Go creator launch screen

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        Step Two: Choose a Windows 8 image: A valid Windows 8 image is required for creating the workspace.  Valid images can be found on Windows 8 client media or from an available deployment share.  If multiple valid images are found, they will all be available.

        Step Three: Enable BitLocker for the workspace (optional): It is recommended that users enable BitLocker on the Windows To Go workspace to protect the drive in the event it is lost or stolen.  Because Windows To Go environments are being built on removable media, physical security of the USB device is a concern.  BitLocker has a new protector available in Windows 8 that is useful for Windows To Go known as the Password Protector.  This protector can be enabled during the creation of the Windows To Go and will be required on boot before access to the drive is available.  The creator will respect any current group policy for BitLocker and not allow for password protectors if they have been explicitly denied in group policy.  Likewise, if BitLocker group policy is set to require use of TPM, this option will not show for users during Windows To Go creation.

        If BitLocker is enabled, the recovery key usually saved or printed out by users of a traditional Windows system, will be saved to the users My Documents folder using the same format currently available for recovery keys.  During workspace creation, BitLocker encryption starts immediately after the partition formatting to ensure that the image encrypts as it is written.  This provides maximum security for the image as soon as it is completed.

        Figure 2: BitLocker options for workspace

        clip_image004

         

        Step Four: Create the workspace: The final step is allowing the Windows To Go creator to begin configuration and creation of the workspace.  Selecting Create will reformat the specified drive and format the drive for workspace usage.  When workspace creation has completed, the user will be given an option to reboot into the workspace or reboot the workspace at a later time.

        Figure 3: Preparing to start workspace creation

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        Figure 4: Workspace creation progress

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        Figure 5: Workspace completion

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        Once the Windows To Go device is created, boot a physical computer to Windows To Go workspace by choosing startup option and boot from USB device.  This concludes our post for today.  Tomorrow we are going to start a 4 part series on RDS, so stay tuned!

        -AskPerf blog team

      5. ....And knowing is half the battle!

        Jonathan here. Chuck Timon over on the AskCore blog has a new post that you folks testing with Windows Server 2012 should know about. If you're playing around with Hyper-V, do yourself a favor and have a read before you call Support. Logon Failures ...read more
      6. Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012: The New Swap File

        Hello AskPerf! Welcome to day 7 of our Launch Series.  Today we are going to talk about the new Swapfile introduced in Windows 8.  You may ask, “Why do we need another virtual page file?”  Well, with the introduction of the Modern App, we needed a way to manage their memory outside of the traditional Virtual Memory/Pagefile method.  With that, the “%SystemDrive%\swapfile.sys” was born.  To view this file (hidden by default), you can go to View | Options | Change folder and search options | View tab.  In the Advanced settings section, scroll down and uncheck “Hide protected operating system files”, then click Apply, OK.

        Swapfile.sys on the %SystemDrive%

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        Swapfile.sys and it’s interaction with the Memory Manager

        Windows 8 can efficiently write the whole (private) working set of a suspended Modern app to disk in order to gain additional memory when the system detects pressure.  This process is analogous to hibernating a specific app, and then resuming it when the user switches back to the app.  In this case, Windows 8 takes advantage of the suspend/resume mechanism of Modern apps to empty or re-populate an app’s working set.

        The sequence of events is described below:

        1. The Process Lifetime Manager (PLM) detects memory pressure in the system and asks the Memory Manager (MM) to empty the working set of a specific process that houses a suspended Modern style app.

        clip_image003

         

        2. MM moves the pages of memory from the working set of the app to the operating system’s modified page list (which is a list of memory whose contents are to be written out to disk before being reused).

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        3. The working set pages on the modified page list are written out asynchronously, as dictated by the usual MM policies (written out opportunistically in the background, writes triggered when under memory pressure).

        clip_image006

         

        4. Even after the suspended app's working set is written to disk, the memory pages removed from a process are left intact on the operating system’s standby list.  This is a cache of useful pages of memory that can be repurposed for other apps, if necessary.  If these pages are immediately needed again by their original process, they are quickly moved back.

        clip_image008

        If a user switches back to the app while its working set pages are still in physical memory (on the modified page list or the standby list), the pages will be added back into the app’s process immediately.  If they are no longer available, Windows will read in the app’s working set from disk in an optimized manner.

        With that, this concludes this post.  Tomorrow we will be going over the new Windows To Go option.  Have a great Day!

        -AskPerf blog Team

      7. Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012: Remote Desktop Management Server

        Welcome to Day 9 of our launch series, and the first of 4 covering RDS.  In todays post, we are going to cover the “Remote Desktop Management Server” (RDMS) interface for creating and managing a Windows Server 2012 Remote Desktop environment.

        What is RDMS?

        In Windows Server 2008 R2, admins have had to use at least four different MMCs to manage a Remote Desktop Environment.  These include the following:

        • Remote Desktop Services Manager (tsadmin)
        • Remote Desktop Services Configuration (tsconfig)
        • Remote Desktop Connection Manager (sbmgr)
        • RemoteApp Manager (remoteprograms)

        In Windows Server 2012, a single interface, Remote Desktop Management Server (RDMS), replaces all above snap-ins and provides centralized management of the Remote Desktop infrastructure.  RDMS is a plug-in to the new Server Manager in Windows Server 2012.

        Additionally, Windows Server 2012 includes a new installation type, "Remote Desktop Services installation".  This new installation type makes deploying and managing your RDS infrastructure much simpler.  Connection Broker is a critical role in an RDS infrastructure that is installed when using the new type.  The RDMS service is also installed on the Connection Broker when the new method is used.  The RDMS service is the engine behind the new UI and cannot be installed using the classic "Role-based or feature-based installation" type.

        Important: You should use the new RDS installation method, even in the case of a single Remote Desktop Session Host.  This is because RDS deployments can now only be managed through RDMS or via Windows PowerShell.  Standalone RDS implementations are possible, but they must be managed exclusively using Powershell.

        We will not walk you through the installation process here, but it is pretty straightforward:

        1. Add the servers to which you want to deploy the RDS roles to All Servers group or a new server group.
        2. Select that group in the navigation pane and run the Add Roles and Features Wizard.
        3. Choose the installation type "Remote Desktop Services installation".
        4. Select "Standard Deployment" (Quick Deployment is used to quickly deploy all of the needed roles to a single server and then create a very simple collection.  To have more control, we recommend using Standard Deployment).
        5. Choose "Virtual Machine based deployment" or " Session-based desktop deployment".
        6. The wizard will ask you which server you want each role installed to and will perform the installations and restart the servers as needed.

        After installing the RD Connection Broker role and the RDMS service using the new "Remote Desktop Services installation" type of installation, the RDMS UI can be accessed from Server Manager by choosing “Remote Desktop Services” in the navigation pane.

        clip_image002

        When you select Remote Desktop Services, there are three options in the middle pane:

        1. Overview
        2. Servers
        3. Collections

        Let’s look at all three of them one by one.

        OVERVIEW:

        clip_image004

        Once the RDS Roles are installed on the Session Host servers and RD web access servers, we see the graphical description of our environment, the roles installed on each of the servers and the FQDN names of each server on the Overview page:

        clip_image006

        From this page additional servers can be added to the deployment and additional roles can be installed using the Deployment overview/Deployment Servers right-click options.  The Gateway and RD Licensing options are reflecting in Green as these roles are not yet installed but can be installed by clicking the Green Plus sign.

        clip_image008

         

        clip_image010

        In order to add certificates, configure licenses and RD gateway settings we can “Edit Deployment Properties”.  Instead of touching every host that’s part of an RDS deployment, the RDMS server accepts a certificate and pushes it to each of the hosts for you.

        clip_image012

         

        clip_image014

        SERVERS:

        The “Servers” page enables us to manage all of the servers belonging to the RDS Environment:

        clip_image016

        A variety of remote management tasks can be performed including adding roles and features.

        COLLECTIONS:

        Collection is a logical grouping of Remote Desktop Servers that provides either session-based or virtual machine-based (VDI) deployments.

        Note Each Session host that’s a member of an RDS collection is limited to only participating in one collection.

        clip_image018

         

        clip_image020

         

        clip_image022

         

        clip_image024

        In this example we’ve named the RDS Collection “RemoteApp”.  On the Collections Page we can see the number of connections, the connection states, which users have remote sessions and the servers on which the sessions are established:

        clip_image026

        If no Remote Apps are created for the collection, then on the RDWeb page users will see the icon with the name of our collection to take a full RDS session to the session host servers:

        clip_image028

        There is no separate Remote APP Manager snap-in to publish or modify remote app settings.  In Server 2012 we use the “Publish RemoteApp Programs” on the Collection Page to publish the remote apps.

        clip_image030

        To modify Remote App programs, there is an “Edit Properties” option under Tasks.  We can also right-click to reach this same Edit Properties option.  On the User Assignment screen admins can now create a folder in which the Remote Apps will be saved.  Prior to Server 2012, in large environments user would see all the remote apps listed on the main RDweb Page.  However, with the folder creation option, admins have the option to segregate the remote apps based on different criteria.

        clip_image032

         

        clip_image034

         

        clip_image036

        Here we have created two folders to differentiate between the Admin Apps (Server Manager) and User Remote Apps (Calculator).

        clip_image038

         

        clip_image040

        Note After publishing Remote Apps, users no longer see the full desktop icon for RemoteApp (the name of the collection).  In Server 2008, users could see the remote apps as well the “remote desktop Icon” on the RDweb page if we checked the option “Show a remote Desktop connection to the RD session host server in RD web access” in the Remote App Manager.

        In order to create a full desktop session to a server that is part of a collection that has RemoteApps published from the RDweb page, there are two options.

        1. Use the tab “connect to remote PC”
        2. Publish “Remote Desktop Connection” as a remote app

        clip_image042

        Configuring load balancing weight, security, encryption levels, Client settings and session limits can all be done from the Edit Collection Properties page.

        clip_image044

         

        clip_image046

        RDMS is one-stop centralized management for RDS environments and is sure to help ease the administrative overhead by simplifying both the rollout and configuration of Remote Desktop Services for everyone.

        This concludes part one of what’s new in RDS.  Tomorrow we take a close look at deploying Remote Desktop VDI environments!

        -AskPerf blog Team

      8. Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012: Faster Boot Process

        Welcome to day 4 of our Launch Series.  Today we are going to talk about the speed at which Windows boots up.

        Windows 8’s fast startup mode is the default option on a Windows 8 client computer.  Windows 8 systems that are built using Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) are more likely to accomplish very fast pre-boot times when compared to BIOS-based machines.

        We originally discussed faster boot times (aka “Hybrid Boot”) in the following blog post:

        Delivering fast boot times in Windows 8

        In today’s post we will discuss how to determine if Hybrid boot is enabled and the steps administrators can take to disable this feature.

        Administrators can determine if Hybrid Boot is enabled using the powercfg utility at an administrative command prompt.  The command is powercfg /a.

        clip_image002

        A full system shutdown is performed by pressing the Shift key at the same time as selecting the shutdown option.  Enterprises who wish to disable Hybrid Boot can use the following methods:

        • Power control panel applet: In the Power control panel applet under the Power Button settings, an option is available to disable Hybrid Boot.  Unchecking the "Turn on fast startup (recommended)" option will disable the ability to perform a Hybrid Boot.

                        Option to disable Hybrid Boot in control panelclip_image004

         

        • Group policy: In group policy, Administrative Templates\System\Shutdown, the "Require use of fast startup" policy is available.  This policy controls how Hybrid Boot is used in an environment.  Enabling the policy requires hibernation to be enabled in the enterprise.  If hibernation is enabled, Hybrid Boot will be enforced.  If this policy is set to disable, the local computer setting is used.
        • Disable hibernation: Hybrid Boot cannot be used in environments where hibernation is disabled.  Hibernation can be disabled using the powercfg command “POWERCFG /HIBERNATE OFF” or via group policy in the Power Management\Sleep Settings node.  If you enable this group policy setting, a hiberfile is not generated when the system transitions to sleep (Stand By).

        clip_image005

        clip_image006

        With that, we are at the end of this post.  We are going to take a look at the new File Explorer in tomorrow’s post.  Until then!

        -AskPerf blog Team

      9. Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012: File Explorer

        Welcome to day 5 of our Launch Series.  Today we are going to talk about the new File Explorer.  For our Developers, they set out to accomplish 3 main goals for the new File Explorer.  These included the following:

        1. Optimize Explorer for file management tasks.  Return Explorer to its roots as an efficient file manager and expose some hidden gems, those file management commands already in Explorer that many customers might not even know exist.
        2. Create a streamlined command experience.  Put the most used commands in the most prominent parts of the UI so they are easy to find, in places that make sense and are reliable.  Organize the commands in predictable places and logical groupings according to context, and present relevant information right where you need it.
        3. Respect Explorer’s heritage.  Maintain the power and richness of Explorer and bring back the most relevant and requested features from the Windows XP era when the current architecture and security model of Windows permits.

        The biggest most significant change to File Explorer is the addition of the Ribbon.  Most commonly found in Microsoft Office products.  Per our Developers, the Ribbon approach offered benefits in line with the following goals:

        • Provides the ability to put the most important commands in very prominent, front and center locations.
        • Makes it easy to find commands predictably and reliably.  Every important file management command could be given a home in the ribbon, and customers would always know where to look for them.
        • Exposes a large set of commands (~200) in one easy and consistent experience and organizes commands into scenario-focused groups without the use of nested menus, popups, dialogs, and right-click menus.
        • Aids command identification with support for grouping, a variety of button sizes and icons, and aids deeper investigation with live previews and expanded tooltips.
        • Takes a similar approach to Office, Microsoft Paint, and Windows Live Essentials, which means that many of our customers will be familiar with the model and not have a lot to learn.
        • Provides a consistent, reliable UI that doesn’t degrade over time like traditional toolbar and menu-based user interfaces do.

        As you will find, the Ribbon has been incorporated not only to File Explorer, but Paint and Wordpad as well.  Let’s take a look at the new File Explorer and Ribbon:

        Computer tab under File Explorer

        clip_image002

        View tab File Explorer

        clip_image004

        Manage tab with C: selected

        clip_image005

        The Ribbon

        A ribbon has been added to File Explorer which exposes many (~200) of the top level features in File Explorer, including several that were previously hidden in context menus that were only available with a Shift+Right-Click.

        • Every command in the ribbon is given a keyboard shortcut.  Press Alt to reveal them.
        • Users can pin their favorite commands to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).
        • Ribbon is collapsible to maximize vertical screen space.  Even with the ribbon visible, more vertical screen space is provided in the default configuration than File Explorer in Windows 7.
        • The ribbon is minimized by default.
        • File menu includes options for things like opening a Command Prompt as an administrator, opening a new File Explorer window, and accessing the folder and search options.
        • Contextual tabs are shown when selecting certain areas or file types in File Explorer.

        This concludes our first look at the new File Explorer.  We will go into deeper topics surrounding File Explorer later in the year so stay tuned!

        Tomorrow we will be going over The New Task Manager.  In the meantime, check out the original Windows 8 File Explorer blog here:  Improvements in Windows Explorer

        -AskPerf blog Team

      10. Upgrading to Windows 8 - Part 1

        Things to consider before the upgrade

        Hi Everyone,

        Windows 8 is coming and there is a lot of buzz about it already. Many of you have already used Windows 8 while it was in its Release preview. A lot have changed in this version of Windows, it’s a whole new operating system designed to meet the needs of the future. If you are planning to upgrade your environment to Windows 8, this blog series will help you with doing that. This first post will talk about the various upgrade options and things you should consider when performing an upgrade and also the common. The next ones will discuss walkthroughs, known issues, dual boot and rollback options.

        What hardware do you need?

        Nothing new - Windows 8 will install on almost any hardware that supports Windows 7. All you need is a 1 GHz or higher – 32-bit or 64-bit processor with 1 GB of memory, a hard disk with at least 20 gigs of free space, and a video card that is DirectX 9.x capable. Certain features in Windows 8 need additional support from the hardware:

        • To get the fully functional Windows Store and Windows Store Apps, the minimum screen resolution should be 1024x768.
        • To Enable BitLocker, your hardware should have a TPM 1.2 compatible BIOS/UEFI. BitLocker is only available in the Professional and Enterprise SKU.
        • To get the advanced security features like Secure boot, BitLocker network unlock and Extended Secure boot, you should have a UEFI Specification version 2.3.1.
        • Windows To Go is a Windows 8 Enterprise SKU feature and it is only supported on USB 3.0 compatible hard drives that are detected as fixed drives. Window To Go is not supported on Windows RT.
        • To make full use of the built-in virtualization (Hyper-V), the processor should support Second Level Address Translation (SLAT).

        SKU considerations:

        We announced in the Windows Team blogs earlier about the different SKUs that Windows 8 will be available in. For those of you who missed it, here is a summary -

        • The Windows 8 SKU is the mainstream SKU available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. This edition includes the new platform advancements such as touch, new user interface, the Windows store and the new metro-style applications. It will run on PCs of different form factors ranging from desktops to Ultra books and tablets powered by x86 processors. You can purchase a machine with Windows8 pre-installed by OEMs, or you can go buy Windows 8 off the shelf from one of our retail distributers.
        • Windows 8 Professional SKU targets enthusiast and small business customers. It offers additional features over the Windows 8 SKU, like BitLocker, Virtualization through client Hyper-V and domain-join capabilities. Windows 8 Professional is offered via retail, OEM and Volume Licensing channels. Windows Ultimate edition available in Windows 7 is now being retired and is merged into the Professional SKU.
        • Windows 8 Enterprise SKU targets enterprise customers and is only available through volume licensing channels to customers who have signed Enterprise Agreements (EA). The evaluation variant of this SKU will be made available publicly for download, and can be used for 180 days.
        • Windows 8 RT SKU is an OEM only SKU designed to run on ARM-based devices, including our own Microsoft Surface. This edition cannot be purchased through retail or installed manually by the end user, and will be shipped installed on the device. Look through this blog to understand the differences in features between the different SKUs.

        Upgrade types and considerations:

        The Windows 8 Setup has been revamped to improve the workflow and be more user-friendly. Depending on what operating system you are starting the installation from, and depending on what SKU you are installing, the UI shown to you will change. You will see one of the following when you launch the setup from within a down level operating system client:

         
          clip_image002

        Here is what each of these options mean:

        • Windows settings, personal files and apps: This setting captures all Windows settings, personal files (files held in the C:\Users directory) and any applications installed on the system. This is equivalent to performing an in-place-upgrade.
        • Just personal files: This setting migrates items located in the \Users directory. No applications or user settings are migrated.
        • Nothing: This setting does not migrate any data and is effectively a clean install of Windows. The old operating system moves to the Windows.old directory.

        You can performing an in-place-upgrade to Windows 8 and keep your Windows settings, personal files, and applications from Starter, Home Basic, and Home Premium editions of Windows 7.

        You can perform an in-place-upgrade to Windows 8 Pro from Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate editions.

        You can in-place-upgrade to Windows 8 Enterprise from Professional and Enterprise Editions of Windows 7.

        Some old rules still apply - You cannot upgrade a 32-bit version of windows to a 64-bit version. Upgrade from the release preview version or pre-RTM builds of Windows to the RTM build is not supported. You cannot upgrade or "Keep Windows Settings personal files and Applications" when running setup from Windows Vista or XP. You can migrate your User data folders or perform a clean installation.

        The following table lists what options would be available in the Setup page when you are on a down level OS. For more details on the upgrade paths, visit this TechNet article.

         

        Upgrade Options to Windows 8

        Keep Windows Settings, Personal files and applications

        Keep Windows Settings and Personal Files

        Keep Personal files only

        Nothing

        Windows XP (SP3 or higher)

        NO

        NO

        YES

        YES

        Windows Vista RTM

        NO

        NO

        YES

        YES

        Windows Vista (SP1 or higher)

        NO

        YES

        YES

        YES

        Windows 7 (RTM or higher)

        YES

        NO

        YES

        YES

        Windows 8

        YES

        NO

        YES

        YES

        Cross-architecture install (32bit to 64bit)

        NO

        NO

        NO

        NO

        Cross language Windows Vista (SP1 or higher)

        NO

        NO

        YES

        YES

        Cross Edition type (i.e. K to N) Windows Vista (SP1 or higher)

        NO

        NO

        NO

        YES

         

        Hope this post was informative. There is more coming under this series soon, to introduce you to all things new in Windows 8. If you want to have a sneak peak at the user interface, you may also want to check this post on our AskPerf blog. We hope you love running Windows 8 as much as we do bringing it out for you!

        Vimal Shekar,
        Beta Support Engineer,
        Windows Core team @ Microsoft

      11. Upgrading to Windows 8 - Part 2

        Hi again,

        Welcome to the second part of this series. In this blog, we will run through a clean installation of Windows 8 by booting off the installation media. The aim of this post is to walk you through the screens that are new in Windows 8 and explain the settings and differences.

        As with earlier versions of Windows, you can install Windows 8 from a bootable media like a DVD or a USB, or even using network based deployment options. The first few steps are not very different, you would be asked to choose the keyboard layout, and would normally choose the Install Now option.

        clip_image002

        Once that is done, you are prompted for the product key, presented the end user license agreement. Retail editions of Windows will not allow you to proceed until a product key is entered, volume licensing editions like Windows 8 Enterprise will skip the product key page.

        clip_image004

        You cannot choose to upgrade your current edition of Windows if you have booted off the media, the only option available is to perform a “Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)” installation. In the next screen, you should choose the hard drive where you want to install Windows.

        Note: If this is a UEFI/EFI based machine – you may see three partitions created, including the EFI boot partition. We will cover changes in UEFI boot process in a later blog.

        clip_image006

        Once, the partition created, Windows begins to expand its files onto the partition. Logging at this point is available in the $Windows.~BT\Panther folder in the root of the boot drive. Quickest way of checking the log in case of any errors, is to use the <Shift><F10> key combination to launch a command prompt. Start Notepad and choose the File and Open dialog box to browse the drive. For more details on Windows setup log files, see the following Knowledge Base article:

        Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Vista setup log file locations
        http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927521/EN-US

        Once the file expansion is finish, the machine will restart and boot into the newly installed Windows partition. During the first boot, Windows begins identifying the hardware and initializing the settings and take you through the Personalization pages. This is the point from where you will begin experiencing Windows 8’s wave of change.

        clip_image008

        You start by choosing the color for the background of the Start Screen and provide a name for the PC. This can be changed at any time even after you log in – by launching the start charm, clicking settings and then clicking “Change PC Settings”.

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        Personalization of settings occurs after selecting the color pallet. Settings are available for items such as Windows Update, Customer Experience Program and content filtering. You can use either the default options or Customize, for this demo – I am choose the Customize option.

        clip_image012

        For computers with an active network connection, the Network Selection Screen would appear, from where you can choose to connect to a wired or wireless network. This replaces the previous network selection option from Windows Vista and Windows 7. The options included here are:

        · Yes, turn on sharing and connect to devices: The same as choosing Work or Home as the network type in Windows Vista or Windows 7

        · No, don’t turn on sharing or connect to devices: The same as choosing a Public network type in Windows Vista or Windows 7

        The following screen will give you options to configure Windows Update, configure smart screen filtering for safer internet experience. Automatic Updates and Smart Screen filters are enabled by default. You can disable them if not required.

        clip_image014

        Windows update and Smart Screen protection


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        Customer Experience Improvement Program

        The next screen gives you options to send Microsoft anonymous feedback through the Customer Experience Improvement Program. This helps us improve Apps, identify malicious activity, and provide better services in future.

        clip_image018

        Check online for solutions to problems

        These settings allow the Windows Error Reporting service to collect data about system or application failures on a computer. Options here include the opt-in for the Windows Error Reporting service, allowing Windows to download the latest troubleshooter from the Internet when troubleshooting failures and using Internet Explorer Compatibility mode to improve online browsing experience. All settings are set to ON by default and can be modified by the user.

        clip_image020

        Using your Microsoft Account to Sign in

        So then – let’s login to the PC. Oops, did I say Login, I meant Sign-in…

        If your machine is connected to a network, then this is the screen that will let you enter your Microsoft Account details (enter your Hotmail, Windows Live or Outlook account).

        Windows 8 has a bunch of cloud services offered through your Microsoft account - this includes SkyDrive, Windows Store, and many more. You can also connect multiple social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Windows Live etc. and synchronize your contacts to the People App. This lets you follow updates from people you care about and post to multiple of these sites at the same time. Using a Microsoft account also lets you synchronize your PC settings like IE history and favorites, the Start screen and Desktop backgrounds, Contacts, App specific data etc. across your Windows Phone, Windows Tablets or other Windows PCs. You will not get these features with a local account, unless you decide to connect it with a Microsoft Account later. You can also convert a third party email id to a Microsoft account – in that case - you would run through a different set of screens that ask for a similar to the one below:

        clip_image022

        Creating a Microsoft Account using a different email

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        Creating a Local Account to Sign in

        If you prefer not to use a Microsoft Account but go for a local account like the one you did on Windows 7 machine, you can choose the option at the bottom that says, “Sign in without a Microsoft Account”. If you wish to create a new Microsoft account, you can do that using the “Sign up for a new email address” option. If you do not have an active network connection, setup will failback and go to the local account page.

        clip_image025

        Additional Details prompted by a Connected Account.

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        First Time Sign in Animation

        Once you fill in the additional details for your Microsoft Account, Setup will proceed with creating your user account and installing applications. You will see a startup animation during this process. When it’s done, you will be taken to the new Start Screen. This is your new home screen, the starting place for anything you want to do on Windows 8 – including searching the web, searching for apps, searching within apps, searching for people, news, music, photos, etc.

        clip_image029

        Welcome to Windows 8

        Well, that’s it for now, we will be back with more tomorrow.

        Regards,
        Vimal Shekar
        Beta Support Engineer
        Windows Core Team @ Microsoft

      12. Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012: The New Task Manager

        It’s day 6 of our Launch Series.  Today we are going to talk about Task Manager and the new benefits it provides.  For our Developers, there were 3 main goals that they focused on for the new Task Manager.  These included the following:

        • Optimize Task Manager for the most common scenarios.  Focus on the scenarios that the data points to: (1) use the applications tab to find and close a specific application, or (2) go to the processes tab, sort on resource usage, and kill some processes to reclaim resources.
        • Use modern information design to achieve functional goals.  Build a tool that is thoughtful and modern by focusing on information design and data visualization.
        • Don’t remove functionality.  We explicitly set a goal to not remove functionality, but rather to augment, enhance, and improve.

        As part of these new changes, it has been given a simpler basic interface design, as well as a much more capable detailed view.  Its expanded capabilities better match the way it is used for troubleshooting. Specific changes include the following:

        • Simple initial interface with list of running apps and End task option.
        • Detailed interface with these new capabilities:
          • Clearer relationship between apps and processes.
          • Easy to read performance metrics per process.
          • Expanded PC performance information – similar to Resource Monitor default view.
          • App performance history.
          • List of Startup programs, with option to disable.

        Windows 8: Processes tab

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        Windows Server 2012: Processes tab

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        There are obvious differences between each OS.  Notably, the App history and Startup tabs missing from Server 2012, as well as the Disk and Network columns.  With that, let’s take a look at each tab.

        Processes

        This tab shows running apps and background processes.  Where a process has multiple windows open, this is shown to the user as a number following the process name, and a control to expand the view to see these window names.  Processes are listed in alphabetical order in groups, by default.  The order can be changed by clicking on any of the column names.  The status of Modern apps is not shown by default, but can be enabled by selecting View, Status values, Show suspended status.  Some background and system processes also provide an option to expand and view child objects.  This is the case for processes that are hosting a service.  Expand the process to see which service(s) are running in the process.  This should help make service performance issues much easier to diagnose, compared with previous versions of Task Manager, which showed processes and services separately.

        Performance

        The Performance tab shows graphs and details of the 4 key PC performance metrics.  Also note the Open Resource Monitor link at the bottom, providing a path to this other interface when you need to do additional troubleshooting.

        Windows 8: Performance tab

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        Windows Server 2012: Performance tab

        clip_image007

        This tab gives clear information about the key performance metrics that are relevant to Windows, and presents the information in a clearer, more direct way.  CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network resources have their own subpages on this tab, and new information has been added to the display.  Previously, the Networking display was a separate tab, and there was no graphical display of memory or disk resource usage.

        NOTE The Disk counter has been removed from the Performance tab in Windows Server 2012.  This is because there is significant performance impact to collect Disk metrics on a Server due to the overhead Task Manager may cause in querying each Disk IO for each process/thread on individual disk.  Disk metrics are very useful while troubleshooting performance related issues on the server.  An easier way to check Disk metrics is to use Resource Monitor.  This is a simple tool to use which can show you Disk Activity filtered by each process and storage details as shown below:

        clip_image009

        App history

        The App History tab shows the total resources used by individual apps since Windows was installed, or since the last time the usage history was deleted.  Clearing that usage history is an option just above the list of apps.  This tab can be useful to understand which apps may be using a large amount of network bandwidth, or finding which may be reducing battery life by consuming a lot of CPU time.

        Windows 8: App history tab

        clip_image011

        Startup

        The Startup tab is another useful troubleshooting feature in the new Task Manager.  In addition to showing all of the non-system startup items in your configuration, there is a startup performance impact assessment.  This will show as “Not measured” for some time when new items are added to the startup configuration.  When sufficient data has been collected, this will show an impact level – High, Medium or Low.  To disable an item, simply right-click and select Disable.  This can help make Task Manager a useful tool not only for cleaning up the running configuration, but also to help in ad-hoc startup troubleshooting.

        NOTE this tab is not present on Windows Server 2012

        Windows 8: Startup tab

        clip_image013

        Users

        The Users tab is where you can go to view the processes running in each user’s session.  This differs from the old Task Manager interface where all users’ processes were shown on the Process tab.

        Windows 8: Users tab

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        Windows Server 2012: Users tab

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        Details

        The Details tab is where the new Task Manager interface provides the same column selection choices and process list as in the old Task Manager.  This is useful for viewing all processes together, or if sorting by a cumulative performance metric is needed.

        Windows 8: Details tab

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        Windows Server 2012: Details tab

        clip_image020

        Services

        The Services tab is the last tab in the details interface.  As shown below, this gives a view very similar to the old Task Manager.

        Windows 8: Services tab

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        Windows Server 2012: Services tab

        clip_image024

        This concludes our first look at the new Task Manager.  Tomorrow we will be going over the New Swap File.  In the meantime, check out the original Windows 8 Task Manager blog here:  The Windows 8 Task Manager

        -AskPerf blog Team

      13. Upgrading to Windows 8 – Part 3

        Dual boot and other installation options

        Hello Again,

        Today’s post is for a different reason. I know many of you love your Window 7 PCs so much that you are not ready to upgrade it yet. Then why not test drive Windows 8 in a boot from VHD or dual boot configuration? This way you can test drive and experience the Windows 8 change. We are sure that once you have some hands-on you would definitely want to see Windows 8's more personal interface on your PC every day!

        1) Dual Booting into Windows 8:

        Setting up a dual boot is simple - All you need is a second partition on your hard disk for the Windows 8 installation and the setup will take care of the rest. Be aware that after the installation, the Windows 8 boot manager will replace the Windows 7 boot manager, but that does not affect your work in any way, and going back is easy too.

        Step 1: Create a new partition

        Before you start the installation, you need a new partition where Windows 8 can put its system files. This can be a new hard disk or a 20 GB (minimum) partition on the same disk. You can also use you existing data volume, if you have one. If you do not have a data partition, you can shrink a portion of your existing drive and create a second partition.

        You can use Windows Disk Management to set up this partition.

        • Click on Start, in the search box, type diskmgmt.msc and hit Enter.
        • In the "Disk Management" mmc that pops up, find your system's hard disk. If you do not have free space at the end of the volume, you can shrink the current volume.
        • Right-click and then click "Shrink Volume". Shrink it down so you have at least 20GB of space left on the end of the drive, and then click OK.
        • Then, click on the "Unallocated" block of that drive that appears and click "New Simple Volume". Follow this wizard to complete the creation of the new partition.

        Step 2: Back up your BCD store

        Since the installation is going to change your boot files and BCD, it is a good step to back up your BCD store. The boot files are always retrievable. Run the following command from an elevated Command prompt to back-up the bcdstore:

        bcdedit /export "C:\Data\BCDBackup"

        Step 3: Install Windows 8

        If you have not already, you can download the Enterprise evaluation edition of Windows 8 from our website. You can then either burn the ISO file into a DVD, or create a bootable USB drive and use this for the installation.

        • After you insert the DVD, run setup, and choose “Install Now”. Choose to skip the dynamic update.
        • Accept the license agreement, and choose – “Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)”
        • In the next screen, point to the volume where you plan to install windows 8.

        clip_image001

        • Now Windows begins expanding the image to this new volume and goes for a reboot.

        Step 4: Reboot and jobs done!

        On the reboot, you will see two entries, one to boot into windows 7, and the second to boot to Windows 8.

        clip_image003

        Another way of doing this - instead of following Step 3, you can also opt to shut down your machine, boot back into your Windows 8 DVD. Just pick your language, hit "Install Now", and choose "Custom" when asked what type of install you would like to perform. Then choose the new partition created in Step1.

        2) Dual boot into Windows 8 on a VHD:

        So what would you do if you do not have space for another partition? You can install and boot your entire Windows 8 out of a Virtual Hard drive (VHD) that resides on your Windows 7 machine's file system, then set up a dual boot to boot from this VHD. Boot from VHD is not new to Window 8, and there are a lot of blogs that tell you how to boot from VHD. Personally, I like the way one of our early adoption customer’s, Shannon Fritz from Concurrency, does it.

        DISCLAIMER: The blog mentioned here is from a third party  site not controlled by Microsoft.  Microsoft makes no warranties and provides the information on an “AS IS” basis.

        • Reboot your Windows 7 machine and boot into the Windows 8 DVD.
        • At the setup Page, press Shift+F10 to launch the command prompt.
        • In the command prompt, type and press enter after each commands from below:

        diskpart
        list disk
        sel disk #          <<--- Where # is the disk number from the earlier output
        list vol               <<--- Check the drive letter of your Windows 7 drive
        create vdisk file=d:\win8vhd.vhd maximum=300000 type=expandable
        sel vdisk file=d:\win8vhd.vhd
        attach vdisk
        exit

        • Once done, continue with the install and choose the VHD drive you just created as the destination drive to install Windows.

        3) Creating a Windows To Go Drive:

        Windows To Go workspaces is a new feature in Windows 8 Enterprise client, that enables you to create a bootable USB drives. This bootable drive will contain a full installation of Windows. This can be plugged into a machine and will boot just like a regular windows installation. Your files, applications and settings installed on the Windows To Go device are stored on the same drive, so you can carry these where ever you go.

        Windows To Go was designed to be a new mobility options for enterprises. However, you can also use Windows To Go installation to test drive windows experience. The following article gives more details about Windows To Go, you can visit http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831833.aspx.

        You can also opt to run Windows 8 on a suitable virtualization platform. Windows Virtual PC cannot run Windows 8; however, you can host this on hyper-V or use a third party like Virtual Box or VMware.

        Regards,
        Vimal Shekar
        Beta Support Engineer
        Windows Core Team @ Microsoft

      14. Breaking down the "Cl" in !irp

        Hey there NTDEBUGGERS my name is Randy Monteleone and today we are going to talk about IRPs. In the past we have talked about the IRP structure in passing and showed a field here and there that can be pulled out and used to find answers to stalled IO ...read more
      15. Upgrading to Windows Server 2012 - Part 2

        Performing an in place upgrade

        Hi Everyone,

        Today, I want to walk you through the screens of performing an upgrade to Windows Server 2012, and talk about the logs you can look at in case an upgrade fails. Before performing the Upgrade, ensure that you check the pre-requisites, you can refer to the previous post: Upgrading to Windows Server 2012 – Part 1

        To do an in place upgrade of a Server, insert the Windows Server 2012 media and run setup.exe from the root of the media. Unlike a clean install, upgrade installs do not prompt for language options because the current language setting will be used for the installation process. You will run through the following Phases when you perform an in place upgrade:

        Down level Phase:

        =============

        clip_image002

        Select Install now to begin the update process

        After you choose Install now, setup copies the required files to $Windows.~BT on the root of the C: drive and proceeds with the installation. The first screen (called Dynamic update) lets you download and install the latest hardware drivers and security updates before starting the upgrade process. Dynamic update will only work on systems that are connected to the Internet.

        clip_image004

        Dynamic update options

        After Dynamic Update performs any driver or update processing, users are presented with the product key and edition selection screens. Windows Server 2012 can be installed either in the “Server with a Gui” configuration or a “Server Core” configuration.

        clip_image006

        Operating System Installation choices

        - Server Core installations lack a user interface and takes the least amount of disk space. Server Core installations also have binaries of most features removed using the new Features on Demand process, allowing them to be installed later (or not at all).

        - Server with a GUI installations give you the full user interface and stages the binaries for most roles or features, so that they are available post installation.

        Windows Server 2012 has a restructured component model that allows you to switch between Server Core and Server with a Gui configuration or go to the Minimal Server Interface configuration by simply adding or removing the GUI shell and management tools. We will talk about this in a later post.

        clip_image008

        License Agreement

        Once you choose the operating system you want to install, you will be presented with the License terms and setup will only proceed once you accept the agreement. If you purchased Windows Server from a retail distributor, it will also prompt you for a product key and you will not proceed beyond this page until the key in entered,

        Next, you may choose whether you want to upgrade the current server - keeping files settings and applications (Upgrade: Install Windows and keep files, settings and applications), or install a fresh build of Windows Server 2012(Custom: Install Windows only).

        clip_image010

        Installation type

        Once you choose the Upgrade option, Setup runs the compatibility checker to look for any potential compatibility issues. The result saves to the desktop as an “.htm” file. The report displays information about potential applications, roles, features, drivers and devices that will not or may not work when the upgrade is completed. The report is pretty verbose and will point out the issue right away. Here are a few screenshots of errors and warnings where setup complains that you are trying to upgrade a Server with a GUI to Server Core.

        clip_image012

        Errors when upgrading 2008 R2 Full Server to Server 2012 Server Core modes.

        clip_image014

        Compatibility report example where it points that devices may not be compatible

        Once the compatibility report is reviewed and next is selected, the upgrade process begins. Next Setup collects information about installed roles files settings. Users can still cancel the upgrade process by selecting the red 'X'. This will roll them back to their earlier installation. Setup then copies bootable files to the system partition and make an entry in the BCD for Windows Setup, so that it can boot to this on the next reboot. After this activity is done, setup will reboot the server. Any logging until this point goes to the C:\Windows\Panther and C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\ locations.

        clip_image016

        Upgrade process

        An entry is added to the BCD for the setup - before the reboot. This will show up during the following boot, Setup will resume automatically if there is no user interaction. If you choose to go back to the earlier installation at this point, you would have to manually delete the entry from the BCD. You can do this by running the msconfig,exe utility, choosing the Boot tab and deleting the entry here.

        clip_image018

        clip_image020

        clip_image022

        Continuing with the installation

        After the reboot, the older operating system moves to Windows.old folder. Information collected from the older operating system is present in $Upgrade.~OS folder located in the root of the system drive. Before the machine reboots again, an entry is made in the BCD for Rollback. The machine reboots again and goes to the First Boot or Online Configuration phase. Till this point – the older operating system is completely restorable by choosing the rollback option during the reboot.

        clip_image024

        Roll back option

        Online Configuration phase:

        ===================

        After the all binaries are expanded to the destination drive, Windows will restart and begin device detection and installation. During this phase, a circular progress indicator is shown to users as device drivers are installed on the system.

        clip_image026

        Finalizing the Installation

        If you run into an issue here, the following logs will be what you need to look at:

        clip_image028

        clip_image030

        Welcome to Windows Server 2012!

        When the device installation completes, you will be presented with the log on screen and the upgrade is now complete. Welcome to Windows Server 2012!

        That completes today’s post, watch out for more posts in this series soon.

        Regards
        Vimal Shekar,
        Beta Support Engineer,
        Windows Core team @ Microsoft

      16. Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012: Start Screen and User Interface Part 1

        Welcome to day 2 of our Launch Series.  This is part one of a two part series regarding the new Start Screen and User Interface in Windows 8.  Today, we will look into tiles and groups.

        The Start screen replaces the Start menu from previous versions of Windows.  Instead of using static icons to represent applications like its predecessors, the new Start screen makes use of active tiles that can dynamically show notifications and updates at a glance.  You can organize the Start screen to suit your preference.

        When you log into Windows 8, you will be greeted with a screen similar to the one below.

        Figure 1: Sample Start Screen

        image

        You can switch to the familiar desktop by selecting the Desktop tile, but you’ll notice the removal of the Start button which has been around since Windows 95.

        Figure 2: Start button removal

        image

        The Start screen was designed from the ground up to be “Touch First”, meaning the best method to interact with the interface is with a multi-touch display. However, you may still use a keyboard and mouse.  Desktop mode allows you to use applications which were not designed for touch.

        Tiles

        In Windows 8 you launch applications using tiles, instead of icons. You can have Windows Store apps tiles, which allow for richer content to be displayed dynamically, such as the current weather for a weather app.  This allows you to glance at the tile for information without having to open it.

        Figure 3: Weather Tile

        image

        For applications that are not Windows Store apps, the tiles may also be displayed on the Start screen, but they are static and only display the applications icon and the title. The screenshot below is an example of what some of the Office 2010 apps look like on the Start screen.

        Figure 4: Desktop Apps Tiles

        image

        Tile Size

        Tile size may be small or large, meaning a small tile is a single square, whereas a large tile is rectangle (two square tiles long).

        Figure 5: Small Tiles

        image

        Figure 6: Large Tile

        image

         

        Interacting with Tiles

        • Single tap or single click – Launches application
        • Tap and hold or right-click – Brings up the properties of the tile. Depending on the type of tile, different options are displayed. For Windows Store apps, you may see some of the options below.

        Figure 7: Windows 8 Windows Store app options

        image

        With Windows Store apps tiles, you can turn off live tile notifications or make the tile smaller or larger depending on what app you select.

        Desktop apps will have different options, including the ability to “Run as administrator”.

        Figure 8: Desktop app options

        image

        Arranging Tiles

        The Start screen is arranged into columns and groups.  Each column is two small tiles or one large tile wide.  When more tiles that can fit vertically have been added to the column, the tile overflows to a new column next to it.

        Figure 9: Weather tile overflows to new column on the right side

        image

        You can also arrange tiles into groups.  Groups allow for a logical separation of tiles and have a large space dividing them.  When moving a tile between groups, you will see a bar appear, signifying you are moving it into a different group.

        Figure 10: Bar appearing between groups when moving Weather app to a new group

        image

        Once tiles have been arranged to your liking, the Start screen allows for group names which can be helpful in associating similar tiles.  To name groups, you must zoom out of the Start screen by doing one of the following:

        • On a touch display, zoom out by using pinch-to-zoom
        • With mouse and keyboard, use the CTRL button and the scroll wheel
        • With the keyboard, use CTRL and minus key (plus key to zoom back in)
        • ­With the mouse, select the small minus on the bottom right corner of the Start screen

        Figure 11: Minus at the bottom right corner of Start screen

        image

        Once zoomed out, you may select the group and name it accordingly.

        Figure 12: Naming groups

        image

         

        Figure 13: Start screen after naming groups

        image

        As you can see, you are able to personalize the Start screen to fit your needs and make it your own.

        This concludes part one of the new Start screen.  Tomorrow we will be going over other aspects of the new Start screen, such as switching between apps, the new Snap feature, and charms.

        -AskPerf blog Team

      17. Upgrading to Windows Server 2012 – Part 1

        Things to consider before the upgrade

        Hi Again everybody,

        Windows Server 2012 was launched in August this year. With an innovative user interface, powerful remote management tools, a big bunch of new features, major enhancements to existing ones, and a focus towards cloud, this is perhaps the most significantly enhanced release of Windows Server operating system ever. This blog series will focus on things you need to consider while upgrading your existing Window Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 infrastructure to Windows Server 2012 and will discuss some of the top issues for which customers call Microsoft support.

        SKU considerations:

        When it comes to choosing the right SKU in earlier versions of Windows Servers, you had a lot to think about in terms of features that are available, number of processor and memory support. In Windows Server 2012, we have made it easier for you to make this decision. Windows Server 2012 comes in 4 SKUs:

        Windows Server 2012 Datacenter and Windows Server 2012 Standard are the fully functional editions of Windows Server 2012. There is no difference between the two in terms of processor/memory support, features and functionality. What differentiates the two is the number of virtual machines you can run without paying for additional Windows licenses. The Datacenter edition is meant for virtualization and private cloud deployments and includes unlimited virtualization rights. The Standard edition is meant for application hosting on physical servers with minimized virtualization; hence, the Standard license will entitle you to run up to 2 virtual machines on up to 2 processors. For more information about licensing and price check this guide.

        Windows Server 2012 Essentials is the next version of Windows Small Business Server (SBS). This is a powerful and flexible solution that is ideal for Small business. Some of the features are stripped down, and additional features that support a small business are added to this edition. To get more details about this product check this link.

        Windows Server 2012 Foundation provides a general purpose server experience and has no virtualization right and is limited to 15 user accounts. This is available through OEM only.

        Hardware Considerations:

        To install Windows Server 2012 at minimum, you need a 1.4 GHz 64-bit processor, 512 MB of RAM, 32 GB of disk space, DVD Drive, Super VGA (800x600) or higher resolution monitor, keyboard and mouse. Depending on the mode you install (Server core or server with a GUI), the Windows installation typically takes anywhere from 8GB to 16 GB, however we always recommend that you keep 32Gigs of disk space or more, so that you have sufficient space for paging and servicing. There will also be additional requirements depending upon the roles and services that this server will host.

        Upgrade Path Considerations:

        There are upgrade paths to Windows Server 2012 from both Windows Server 2008 SP2 and Windows Server 2008 R2. The following table summarizes the available upgrade paths.

        Upgrade Options

        Windows Server 2012

        Standard

        Windows Server 2012

        Datacenter

        Windows 2008 Standard/Enterprise with SP2 (x64)

        Yes

        Yes

        Windows 2008 Datacenter with SP2 (x64)

        No

        Yes

        Windows Web Server 2008

        Yes

        No

        Windows 2008 R2 Standard or Enterprise with Sp1

        Yes

        Yes

        Windows 2008 R2 Datacenter with Sp1

        No

        Yes

        Windows Web Server 2008 R2

        Yes

        No

        The same old rules still apply. In-place upgrades from 32-bit edition of Windows Server 2008, upgrades from one language to another, from one build type to another (chk to fre) are not supported. You also cannot perform an in-place upgrade from any pre-RTM builds of Windows Server 2012 (like the Release Preview build) to the RTM build. Depending on the role you are running, an upgrade would be blocked from being performed. As an example, having Failover Clustering as an added role in Windows 2008 R2 will block an upgrade.

        Installation Modes:

        When you perform a Windows Server Installation by booting of the media, the setup will give you two modes of installing your Windows Server. You can either opt to install Windows in full server mode with the GUI, or in the Server Core mode without the GUI experience.

        clip_image002

        Server Core is what we recommend customers to move to since this requires fewer resources, has a smaller attack surface, and a smaller patch footprint. Since the Server Core does not have the Server Manager or any other MMCs to manage roles and features, management must be done either remotely from a client machine or through the command prompt or Powershell at the console.

        Minimal User Interface:

        In Windows Server 2012, we also introduce an intermediate mode of operation called the Minimal User Interface. Minimal User Interface is similar to server core as there is no Explorer. However, it lets you use the Server Manager and most of the management MMCs for roles and features on this machine without installing the explorer shell. This way, you can still use the management tools locally. This article discusses about the minimal user interface and how you can transition to this from the server core mode: http://blogs.technet.com/b/canitpro/archive/2012/10/02/from-server-core-to-gui-to-minshell.aspx

        Other considerations:

        If you have an existing Server Core for Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 2 (SP2) or Windows Server 2008 R2 installation, you have to upgrade this to Windows Server 2012 Server Core. Once upgraded, you then have an option to install the GUI if required. Similarly, you must first upgrade full server installation of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2012 (Server with a GUI). After the upgrade is done, you can then remove the graphical shell as needed. The following KB article talks about a specific issue on the upgraded Windows Server 2012:

        2775484 Unable to convert to Server with a GUI from Server Core on an upgraded Windows Server 2012-based machine

        In earlier versions of Windows Servers, once you install the server in Core or with GUI mode, you could not switch to the other. The only option was to rebuild the server from scratch. In Windows Server 2012, we have changed the package hierarchy in such a way that you can choose to add or remove the GUI at any point of time. So you can actually install a full server, then configure it using the full blown UI. Once everything is done, you could just remove the graphical shell and convert your Windows Server to Server Core. Similarly, if you are running a Server 2012 Core machine, you can install the Graphical Shell, and management tools, to go back to the Full Server mode. The option to add/remove the GUI when needed, makes troubleshooting far easier on your server core. We will discuss this in more detail in a later post.

        That’s it for now, keep an eye out for more Upgrade Issues and troubleshooting information. If you haven’t done this already, get your copy of the Windows Server 2012 today. If you do not have a TechNet/MSDN subscription or volume licensing agreement, feel free to try the fully functional, time limited evaluation versions here.

        Regards,
        Vimal Shekar
        Beta Support Engineer
        Windows Core Team @ Microsoft

      18. So long and thanks for all the fish

        My time is up. It’s been eight years since a friend suggested I join him on a contract at Microsoft Support (thanks Pete). Eight years since I sat sweating in an interview with Steve Taylor , trying desperately to recall the KDC’s listening port (his ...read more
      19. Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012: Start Screen and User Interface Part 2

        Welcome to day 3 of our Launch Series.  This is part two of the new Start Screen and User Interface in Windows 8.  In part one, we covered tiles and groups.  Today, we will look into switching between applications, the Snap feature, and charms.

        The corners of the Start screen are “hot” and are the best way to perform some of the most commonly used actions in Windows 8.

        • Upper-left corner –Switch between apps.
        • Lower-left corner – Toggle between the Start screen and your app
        • Upper and lower right corners – Displays the Charms Bar.  The Charm Bar will disappear after a few seconds if you do not move towards a charm. If moved towards a charm, the Charms Bar will remain visible and allow you to select a charm.

        Switching Between Apps

        Apps enter from the left side of the screen.  If you are running multiple apps, you can switch between apps several ways.

        Using Touch

        The gesture begins with a swipe from the left edge of the screen.  Thumbnails are displayed on the left side for apps that are running.  As you swipe from the left to finish the gesture, the thumbnail will expand to fill the screen.  Repeat this gesture to cycle through the currently running apps.  To switch to a specific app, swipe the left edge without lifting your finger, you will see a list of your recent apps.  Select the app you want to run and swipe it in from the left.

        Using the Mouse

        Move the mouse pointer to the upper-left corner and click.  This will bring in the next app.  If there is more than one app running, you will notice the other app outlines if you do not click.

        Figure 1: Switch to next app

        clip_image002

        If you move your pointer to the upper-left corner and move down the edge, the App Switching bar shows up.  Point to and click the app you want to run.

        Figure 2: App Switching Bar

        clip_image004

        Using the Keyboard

        If using the keyboard, pressing the Windows and Tab keys will switch between the current and last used app.  If you press and hold the Windows key and tap the Tab key, the App Switching bar is displayed.  Keep tapping the Tab key until you switch to the app you want to run.

        Note Desktop applications are not shown individually, but rather as one Desktop app.

        Pressing the Alt + Tab keys will show a pane in the center of the screen, similar to what you may be familiar with in previous versions of Windows. Desktop apps are shown individually in this view.

        Figure 3: Pressing Al+Tab will bring up this pane

        clip_image005

        Snap

        The Snap feature allows for two applications to share the screen.  An app can use one third of the screen, while the second will take up the remaining two-thirds.  You can keep an app at one-third, two-thirds, or expand to full screen.  Two Windows Store apps can be run side-by-side or one Windows Store app and the Desktop using this feature.

        Note In order to use the Windows 8 Snap feature, your display must support a minimum resolution of 1366 x 768.

        To snap an app, both applications must already be running.  Swipe or move your mouse pointer to the left side of the screen until you see the app you want to snap.  Drag the app until a divider appears and release.

        Figure 4: Weather and Bing app using the Snap feature

        clip_image007

        Figure 5: Move the divider to make the Weather app larger

        clip_image009

        Figure 6: You can also snap the Desktop and a Windows Store app

        clip_image011

        Charms

        The Charms Bar provides several actions that you can apply against an app that is currently running or get back to the Start screen.  It is accessible no matter which app you are in and will appear as a vertical bar on the right side of the screen.  If using a touch display, you can swipe in from the right side of the screen to activate the Charms bar or use the keyboard or mouse to activate.  To activate with the keyboard, press the Windows + C keys.  To activate with a mouse, hover over the top or bottom edge of the right screen and move the pointer towards the center until the background turns a solid black.

        Figure 7: The Charms Bar background turns black when activated

        clip_image012

        The charms available are:

        • Search
        • Share
        • Start
        • Devices
        • Settings

        Search Charm

        The Search Charm allows you to quickly find items and the results returned depend on the scope you define.  By default, the Apps scope will be selected unless you are in a Windows Store app that has registered with the Search service.  In that case, the scope will be within that app.

        Scopes you can select are:

        • Apps – Search for apps by name
        • Settings – Search for all settings across the Start screen settings or the desktop Control Panel
        • Files – This will use the Windows Search service to find items in your search index. You can use the desktop Control Panel to add additional folders to include.
        • Individual Apps – If an app has registered with the Search charm, you can search for your item against the application without having to open it first.

        Figure 8: Using Search Charm to find the Bing app

        clip_image014

        Share Charm

        The Share Charm can be used to quickly share content.  Applications can register with this charm and allow content to be shared quickly.  What is shared depends on the app.  For applications that run on the desktop, sharing a screenshot may be the only option.  If you are using the Bing app, you can select the Share Charm and will see the following options.

        Figure 9: Using the Search Charm with Bing

        clip_image016

        Start Charm

        The Start Charm will open the Start screen from whatever app you are in.  Selecting it again will take you back to the app you were previously using.  This is identical to pressing the Windows key shortcut.

        Devices Charm

        The Device Charm allows you to send content from the app you are in to an attached device such as a printer or share with another device using Near Field Communication (NFC).  For instance, if you are in Internet Explorer 10 and select the Device Charm, you will be able to print to an attached printer:

        Figure 10: IE 10 Devices Charm

        clip_image018

        The Device Charm can also be used to configure your multiple monitor configurations.

        Figure 11: Devices Charm multi-screen options

        clip_image019

        Setting Charm

        What you see in the Setting Charm will depend on the current app.  This charm is where Windows Store apps make their configurable options available to the user.  You will also see the “Change PC settings” and a few Windows related options at the bottom right of the charm.

        For instance, if you are running the Internet Explorer 10 app, you will see a page similar to the one below.

        Figure 12: IE 10 Settings Charm

        clip_image021

        The Windows settings will persist no matter which app you are currently using. They consist of:

        • Name and state of the network you are connected to
        • Volume control
        • Brightness control
        • Notification control
        • Power button (you can Sleep, Shut Down, or Restart)
        • Keyboard control to switch between different languages
        • The Change PC settings

        One last item I would like to cover is the handy Quick Links menu.  If you move towards the lower-left part of the screen, the Start screen overlay shows up.  This will allow you to quickly switch to the Start screen or toggle back to the previous app you were in.

        Figure 13: Start screen overlay

        clip_image023

        If you right-click the Start screen overly or press the Windows + X keys, it will bring up the Quick Links menu. This is a quick way to bring up the most common admin tools and settings.

        Figure 14: Quick Links menu

        clip_image024

        This concludes part two of the first look at the new Windows 8 Start screen. Tomorrow we will be going over the new Faster Boot Process.

        -AskPerf blog Team

      20. Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012: Upgrade Paths and Editions

        Welcome to day 1 of our Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012 Launch Series!  We hope you will enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoyed putting the content together.  With that said, our first post is going to talk about the upgrade paths and editions for Windows 8 and Server 2012.

        Client editions of Windows 8 will come in four distinct SKUs, each with several variations. The following table lists the client edition matrix and the rough equivalent of the Windows 8 SKU to the Windows 7 counterpart.

        SKUs

        Windows 7 Equivalent

        Variations

        Windows 8

        Home Premium

        Windows 8 N, Windows 8 Single Language, Windows 8 China

        Windows 8 Professional

        Professional, Ultimate

        Windows 8 Professional N, Windows 8 Professional with Media Center

        Windows 8 Enterprise

        Enterprise

        Windows 8 Enterprise N, Windows 8 Enterprise Evaluation, Windows 8 Enterprise N Evaluation

        Windows RT

        N/A

        N/A

        So, how can you upgrade to Windows 8?

        Upgrade to Windows 8

        You can upgrade to Windows 8 and keep Windows settings, personal files, and applications from the following Windows operating system editions:

        • Windows 7 Starter
        • Windows 7 Home Basic
        • Windows 7 Home Premium

        Upgrade to Windows 8 Pro

        You can upgrade to Windows 8 Pro and keep Windows settings, personal files, and applications from the following Windows operating system editions:

        • Windows 7 Starter
        • Windows 7 Home Basic
        • Windows 7 Home Premium
        • Windows 7 Professional
        • Windows 7 Ultimate

        Upgrade to Windows Enterprise (Volume License)

        You can upgrade to Windows 8 Enterprise (Volume License) from the following operating system editions:

        • Windows 7 Professional (Volume License)
        • Windows 7 Enterprise (Volume License)

        For Information regarding Windows 8 upgrade please see TechNet article Windows 8 Upgrade Paths.

        Windows Server 2012 will ship the following Server editions:

        • Standard Edition
        • Datacenter Edition
        • Windows Server 2012 Essentials

        So, how can you upgrade to Windows Server 2012?

        If you are running:

        You can upgrade to these editions:

        Windows Server 2008 Standard with SP2 or Windows Server 2008 Enterprise with SP2

        Windows Server 2012 Standard, Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

        Windows Server 2008 Datacenter with SP2

        Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

        Windows Web Server 2008

        Windows Server 2012 Standard

        Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard with SP1 or Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise with SP1

        Windows Server 2012 Standard, Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

        Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter with SP1

        Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

        Windows Web Server 2008 R2

        Windows Server 2012 Standard

        For Information regarding upgrade please see TechNet article Evaluation Versions and Upgrade Options for Windows Server 2012.

        With that, this concludes our first Launch Series post. Tomorrow we will be talking about the new Start Screen and User Interface.

        -AskPerf blog Team

      21. Digging a little deeper into Windows 8 Primary Computer

        [This is a ghost of Ned past article – Editor] Hi folks, Ned here again to talk more about the Primary Computer feature introduced in Windows 8. Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed this lonely beta blog post and if you just want a set-by-step ...read more
      22. Windows 8 and Server 2012 Upgrade Blog Series coming

        Welcome to our Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012 Launch Series! We hope you will enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoyed putting the content together.  With that said, this 8-part series will talk about things to consider, walkthroughs, dual boots, etc.

        Below is the series of blogs that we will be posting each day beginning tomorrow over the next couple of weeks.  As each new series post is added, I will be updating this blog with the links to the particular parts.

         

        Upgrading to Windows Server 2012

        Part 1: Things to consider before the upgrade

        Part 2: Walkthrough of the upgrade

        Part 3: Known issues during the upgrade and Post Upgrade tasks (multiple sub-parts)


        Upgrading to Windows 8

        Part 1: Things to consider before the upgrade

        Part 2: Walkthrough of the upgrade

        Part 3: Dual boot and boot from VHD

        Part 4: What to do if an upgrade fails

        Part 5: Known issues during the upgrade and Post Upgrade tasks (multiple sub-parts)