TechNet UK

Useful tools, tips & resource for IT professionals including daily news, downloads, how-to info and practical advice from the Microsoft UK TechNet team, partners and MVP's

August, 2012

UK  TechNet Flash Newsletter
  • Announcing the Windows Server 2012 UK Technical Launch Event & Competition

    We have just got the initial details of the Windows Server 2012 technical launch event that is due to happen here in the UK.  Get into your diaries and save the date! 25th September 2012!!! Trust me you NEED to be there! I’m still twisting arms to get the details of where this event will be but for now get the date in your diary.

    To go along with this event we are running a couple of competitions.  The first is a bit of a geeky design competition and I think it’s right up your alley!  Here’s why…

    imageWe have 29 HP ProLiant MicroServer’s to give away in association with Servers Plus at the Windows Server 2012 Launch event in association with Servers Plus for attendees at the launch event on 25th September 2012 (Terms & Conditions available here). But that’s not all!!! There’s a second competition!!!

    It’s summer time and everything should be bright and fun -that includes the MicroServer! That’s where the design competition comes in!!! You will need all your design skills to the ready as you will need to personalise, pimp or otherwise customize the server! Be as wicked and wild with your designs as you like!

    Here are the judging criteria for the design:

    • Your design must be unique & original.
    • Inspire, amuse and entertain us with your design.
    • Incorporate something to do with Windows Server 2012 within the design in some way.

    To help you with creating your design we have a template that provides you with the dimensions that you are designing for. Here’s the template (PDF).  The design here was one used by Servers Plus from a competition they ran last year and submitting it does not count as an entry!

    To enter the competition:

    • Create your MicroServer case design – Consider using the template to help.
    • Upload your design to somewhere public online
    • Leave the link to your design, your name and email address in the comments area of this blog post (We will use this email address to contact you if you win so please use a valid email address.)

    You can also share your amazing designs with one another on our Facebook Page or on Twitter.

    You can use the MicroServer for your own testing and personal use. Why not install Windows Server 2012 either standard or the bare metal version. Try setting up a virtual server host and guest, create a storage pool or simply familiarize yourself with the new management console. If you are feeling a little daring try your hand at some PowerShell with the new PowerShell console and one of the many new commandlets.

    So get designing now! And remember to sign up for the technical launch event to claim your prize in person and see who wins machines with your design on them!

    Windows Server 2012 Design Competition Terms & Conditions

    1. ELIGIBILITY. This promotion is open to any person resident in the United Kingdom who is eighteen (18) years of age or older at the time of entry. Employees of Microsoft or its affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising or promotion agencies are not eligible, nor are members of these employees’ families (defined as parents, children, siblings, spouse and life partners).

    2. ENTRY. Visit and submit a link to your design, name and email address.

    To the extent that entry requires the submission of user-generated content such as photos, videos, music, artwork, essays, etc., entrants warrant that their entry is their original work, has not been copied from others, and does not violate the privacy, intellectual property rights or other rights of any other person or entity.

    Entries will be ineligible for the prize draw if they:

    · are incomplete;

    · exceed the maximum number of entries allowed per person;

    · violate the rights of any other person or entity; or

    · are received outside of the Promotion Period set out below.

    Only one (1) entry per person will be accepted. No purchase necessary to enter the promotion. Entry constitutes full and unconditional acceptance of these Terms and Conditions. Microsoft is not responsible for lost, corrupted or delayed entries. Microsoft reserves the right to disqualify anyone who violates these Terms and Conditions.

    3. TIMING. This promotion runs from 12.01:00 am GMT on Start date, 1st August 2012 until 11.59:59 p.m. GMT on End date, 26th August 2012 (inclusive) (the “Promotion Period”).

    4. USE OF YOUR ENTRY. Personal data which you provide when you enter may be used for future Microsoft marketing activity if you indicate your consent on the entry form (if applicable). Otherwise your personal data will be used by Microsoft and agents acting on Microsoft’s behalf only for the operation of this promotion.

    5. SELECTION OF WINNERS. All valid entries will be judged as a finalist.

    Winning entries will be determined by a panel of judges with at least one independent judge on 27th August 2012. Judging will be based on:

    · Originality & Uniqueness of entry

    · Inspirational, amusement and entertainment of entry

    · Cleverness of incorporating aspects of Windows Server 2012 into the design

    A maximum of one prize per eligible entry is allowed. Winners will be notified by email to the address provided by the potential winner by 25th September 2012. If a potential winner has not confirmed receipt of the notification within TEN (10) days after the first attempt, an alternative winner will be selected on the same basis as described above (either at random for prize draws or according to the same judging criteria for competitions). Winners may be asked to provide identification proving their eligibility before they are entitled to receive the prize. Winners may be required to participate in further publicity or advertising.

    6. PRIZE(S). There will be one prize in total. The prize will be as follows:

    · One HP ProLiant MicroServer with winners design printed on decal (£230 approximate value)

    Prizes are as stated and are not transferable. No cash alternatives available. Microsoft reserves the right to substitute the prizes with prizes of equal or greater value. All prizes will be sent by Microsoft or its agent no later than 28 days after the prize draw has been made by Microsoft. Unless otherwise stated, all prizes are subject to their manufacturer's warranty and/or terms and conditions.

    Prizes may be considered as a taxable benefit to the winners. Winners will be directly responsible for accounting for and paying to HMRC, or other relevant tax authority, any tax liability arising on their prize. Please contact for any query related to the taxable amount for reporting to HMRC, or other relevant tax authority.

    7. WINNERS LIST. Each winner consents to his/her surname being made publicly available upon request. Winners names will be available for a period of 28 days after the selection of winners by written request to

    8. OTHER. No correspondence will be entered into regarding either this promotion or these Terms and Conditions. In the unlikely event of a dispute, Microsoft’s decision shall be final. Microsoft reserves the right to amend, modify, cancel or withdraw this promotion at any time but only before the delivery of prizes, without notice.

    Participants in this promotion agree that Microsoft will have no liability whatsoever for any injuries, costs, damage, disappointment or losses of any kind resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly from acceptance, misuse or use of a prize, or from participation in this promotion. Nothing in this clause shall limit Microsoft’s liability in respect of death or personal injury arising out of its own negligence or liability arising out of Microsoft’s fraud.

    Microsoft cannot guarantee the performance of any third party and shall not be liable for any act or default by a third party.

    9. SPIRIT OF THE COMPETITION. If an entrant attempts to compromise the integrity or the legitimate operation of this promotion by hacking or by cheating or committing fraud in ANY way, we may seek damages from that entrant to the fullest extent permitted by law. Further, we will disqualify that entrant’s entry to this promotion and may ban the entrant from participating in any of our future promotions, so please play fairly.

    Promoter: Microsoft Limited (“Microsoft”), Microsoft Campus, Thames Valley Park, Reading, RG6 1WG, England

  • Windows Server 2012 IT Camps Dates & Locations Announced

    The UK IT Pro Team will be back on the road as of September delivering IT Camps to venues up and down the UK.  After a brief break during the summer the team are back to deliver technical content in an IT Camp format.

    We are pleased to announce the first set of dates to coincide with the launch of Window Server 2012.

    Event info

    Register by following the link below or booking by phone:


    7thSept – Microsoft London  - Register

    Or Book By Phone: 0870 166 6680 ref – 3785

    13th Sept – DeVere New Place Hotel, Southampton – Register

    Or Book By Phone: 0870 166 6670 ref – 3895

    14th Sept – Jersey – Details TBC

    18th Sept – The Lowry Hotel, Manchester – Register

    Or Book By Phone: 0870 166 6670 ref – 3897

    19th Sept – Etc Venues Maple House, Birmingham - Register

    Or Book By Phone: 0870 166 6670 ref – 3898

    26th Sept – Novotel London West – Register

    Or Book By Phone: 0870 166 6670 ref – 3910

    28th Sept – Etc Venues One Drummond Gate, Victoria –  Register

    Or Book By Phone: 0870 166 6670 ref – 3786

    These hands-on session will give you an introduction to Windows Server 2012 and ample opportunity to discuss any specific issues and concerns you may have with Microsoft experts Simon May and Andrew Fryer as well as professional peers working near you.
    The agenda will be set by you, but here are some topics that are likely to be covered:


    What’s new in Windows Server 2012


    How to create Virtual Machines


    High availability with clustering

    We hope to see you there, but please be aware this is a zero-fee event and places usually go fast, so register early to avoid disappointment.  If for any  reason you can’t attend then please let us know, your non-attendance may have deprived someone else from attending.

    Register Now

  • 25 Years On - Microsoft have a new Logo!

    Would you believe it, Microsoft have had the same logo for 25 years and they have chosen today to unveil a shiny new design!

    This new design comes at a time where we are releasing a range of new technologies and hooks into the consistent design used in this. The look and feel is all about new beginnings.

    Read all about the logo and the process behind it’s creation over on The Official Microsoft Blog where Jeffrey Meisner, General Manager, Brand Strategy, Microsoft provides more information.

  • Announcement: Windows 8 & Windows Server 2012 are almost here!

    The Windows team have just announced that Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 have both been released to Manufacturing!  The wait is almost over!

    Windows Server 2012 RTM

    For those of you interested in Windows Server 2012 get out your calendars and free up some time on September 4. That’s when Windows Server 2012 will be generally available for evaluation and purchase by all customers around the world. On that day we will also host an online launch event where our executives, engineers, customers and partners will share more about how Windows Server 2012 can help organizations of all sizes realize the benefits of what we call the Cloud OS. You will be able to learn more about the features and capabilities and connect with experts and peers. You’ll also be able to collect points along the way for the chance to win some amazing prizes. You don’t want to miss it. Visit this site to save the date for the launch event.

    Also whilst you have your diaries out get the UK Technical Launch event date pencilled into your diary! It’s the 25th September. We’ve also announced a couple of competitions that we are running that relate to this as well!!!

    Windows 8

    People will be able get Windows 8 starting on October 26th either by upgrading for $39.99 or on a new PC or device. And if you buy an eligible Windows 7 PC today, you will be able to purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99 (U.S.) through the Windows Upgrade Offer.

    For Windows commercial customers, IT professionals testing Windows 8 in organizations will be able to access the final version of Windows 8 through your TechNet subscriptions on Aug. 15. Customers with existing Microsoft Software Assurance for Windows will be able to download Windows 8 Enterprise edition through the Volume License Service Center (VLSC), allowing you to test, pilot and begin adopting Windows 8 Enterprise within your organization and Volume License customers without Software Assurance will be able to purchase Windows 8 through Microsoft Volume License Resellers on Sept. 1.


    In the meantime, if you’d like to give a pre-release version of Windows 8 a test-run, feel free to download the Windows 8 Release Preview! You can also read about my personal experience with the Windows 8 Release Preview here

    Here’s the announcement on the Windows Team Blog

    Download Windows Server 2012 RC
  • Guest Post: How to use Fine-Grained Passwords in Windows Server 2012

    This post is brought to you by Ed Baker, Windows Server Instructor at Firebrand Training

    Prior to Windows Server 2008, to allow different groups of users to have different password requirements or lockout policies, the user would have to implement multiple domains or password filters. Both of which were complex and costly.

    In the 2008 flavour of the Operating System, Microsoft provided a work-around to this. This was also complex and convoluted, to say the least. It was almost as if it had been grudgingly allowed, but was so difficult to implement that most of us wouldn’t bother trying.

    The R2 implementation added some ease-of-use functionality, but with Server 2012 Microsoft has finally embraced the concept as a day-to-day admin requirement.

    What’s the purpose of Fine-Grained Passwords?

    Well, for a large organisation with many levels of user and security, it is often necessary to set different requirements for the password complexity and for the lockout policy. For example, the office admin assistant may not require the same levels as the research and development department.

    The solution in Windows Server 2012 is implemented entirely through the Active Directory Administrative Center (ADAC). ADAC was available in Server 2008 R2 but was generally ignored by ‘true admins’. It is essentially a GUI front-end to PowerShell Cmdlets - allowing creation, editing and deletion of any Active Directory object in the ntds.dit database.

    ADAC is back, and it’s on a mission. The tool is now the only place to carry-out several important administrative functions (apart from PowerShell version 3.0, where you can now do just about everything to do with Server management and administration).

    How do I get this working?

    To implement Fine-Grained Passwords you have to deploy a Windows Server 2012 Domain Controller, with the domain functional level set at Windows Server 2008 or above. You can now accomplish this task in ADAC (provided you ‘run as administrator’).

    To be able to develop your skills in this area, it is also best practice to create a number of test groups and users, so that any changes you make do not impact on your day-to-day work. It’s better to test this on a sandbox set up, but if one is not available, having test accounts, groups and OUs will prevent any disasters.

    In the scenario below, I have set-up FGP_User1, FGP_User2, FGP_GP1, FGP_GP2 - you can name yours as you choose. This can be done in AD Users and Computers, in ADAC or in PowerShell 3.0.

    Now fire-up the Server Manager application…

    In the application, select Tools and ADAC. In the ADAC window select Tree View (easier to see what’s important), then select the domain you want to work with. Expand the tree until you can select the System container, expand that and select Password Settings Container.

    Right-click and select: New à Password Settings.



    The Create Password Settings window opens. There are several mandatory selections, most of which are pre-selected - you have to enter name and precedence. (Note: the lower the precedence number, the higher its priority!)

    Here you can amend all the settings for this password object (Length, Lockout etc. - see image below).

    Best practice is to enter a description of the policy, then click Add in the Directly Applies To area. Select your previously created group from the AD, and make sure that your policy has all the correct settings which relate to the password and lockout.


    In this example I have added my User to a group with two FGP policies applied with different precedence settings


    To determine which the valid password setting object is, select the user concerned, and right-click:



    Choose View resultant password settings... This opens the policy that is active. For those of us who lived with the old way – this is a huge leap forward in usability.

    Editing and deleting policies

    Editing a policy is as simple as expanding the AD tree and selecting the correct policy within the Password Settings container. Right-click Properties; or double-click opens the policy for editing.

    To delete a policy (not forgetting that by default AD objects are protected against accidental deletion) remove the check from the Protect From Accidental Deletion box. Save the policy, then right-click it and select Delete.

    Unlike Users, it is not possible to enable or disable a policy. If it exists, it is active for any object that it is directly applied to. Don’t forget you can apply Policies to users or groups, as can be seen in the following image. This also allows you to see what will be affected when you delete the policy.

    image clip_image009

    Part of the Big Five

    This is set to be one of the Windows Server 2012 ‘Big Five’ areas of functionality. The ability to add and remove Fine-Grained Passwords at will - with little difficulty or deep-down AD knowledge - is a huge boost to those who have asked for the feature year-on-year.

    To refresh your memory, when this feature was first implemented in Windows Server 2008, it was necessary to use ADSIEDIT to create the new Password Settings Object AND all the attributes of that object (in this case Length of Password, Lockout details, etc.). It was also necessary to set the ‘applies to’ objects in ADSIEDIT. Not a friendly tool at the best of times.

    Microsoft has implemented a much-wanted feature and developed a tool that now has much more usability than its first few variants.

    And remember, ALL of these steps can be carried out with PowerShell 3.0, with relative ease.


  • Register Now for the UK Windows Server 2012 Launch Event

    The details have been finalised and we are all systems go for the UK Launch of Windows Server 2012 on 25th September 2012 in London!  Join us at this exclusive Microsoft event in partnership with UK MVPs, Partners and the Windows Server User Group!

    You will gain a first look at the coolest new features and functionalities within Windows Server 2012. We will be unveiling all of the capabilities in full for the first time, including keynotes from the technical experts within Microsoft’s UK and Corporate Server Divisions.  We will have hosting partners in attendance and will be running a competition for attendees to win one of 29 custom micro servers.

    This event is a must-attend for all technical specialists aligned to server.

    Here’s what to expect:

    • Technical sessions on Windows Server 2012
    • Opportunities to ask Microsoft your questions
    • Networking with Microsoft, Partners, and MVPs
    • Competitions to win great prizes
    • Information on resources to get certified

    Let your colleagues and friends know that you’re attending this event by clicking below or using the social buttons in the sidebar.

    Tweet: I’m attending the Windows Server 2012 Launch Event:  #ws2012uk


    09.00   Welcome & Registration

    10.00   Keynote & Kick-off
    11.00   Beyond Virtualization

    12.00   Lunch

    13.15   Power of Many Servers Simplicity of One
    14.15   Any App Any Cloud

    15.15   Break

    15.45   Anywhere Working
    16.45   Closing Drinks & Networking


    Be in with a chance to win one of 29 MicroServers by attending this event! (Terms & Conditions)

    Design the Vinyl Decal that will go on the 29 MicroServers given away at the Launch Event. The winning design will also win a MicroServer!!! Get the full Competition Details here. (and the Terms & Conditions)

  • Guest Post: Microsoft Word Research - Providing SharePoint Search features

    imageMVP LogoGeoff is a SharePoint MVP, and likes to be known as a “Hands on” Technical Evangelist and works as a SharePoint Solutions Architect. He has published many articles, guides and books about SharePoint. With over 25 years of experience in information systems, he is a Fellow of the Institute of the Analysts and Programmers, a Fellow of the Institute of Computer Technology, a Member of the Institute of Management Information Systems, a Prince 2 Practitioner, with MCDST, MCSD, MCTS, MCITP Microsoft certifications and is M.O.S (Microsoft Office Specialist) Certified.

    Geoff specialises in SharePoint Architecture, Design, Implementation and Automation. He also focuses on Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, Service Delivery, Migration, Network Architecture, Software Management and Development – all in the land of SharePoint. When not playing the saxophone, riding horses or even flying, Geoff enjoys writing articles, speaking at conferences and aiding organisations get SharePoint – properly.

    Blog: Twitter: @geoffeve

    As you may be aware as a SharePoint worker, that there are many integration points between SharePoint and Microsoft Office, particularly as SharePoint becomes closer and closer to becoming a crucial part in the Microsoft Office product line. This presents many new opportunities for improving value to users, and also means that the path to ‘User Adoption’ of SharePoint made simpler, and enhanced, by evangelising Microsoft Office features that exposes SharePoint integration.

    One of those features is within Microsoft Office Word, known as Research, which allows individuals to customize options to suit their research needs. This feature can be used to expose SharePoint search, meaning that individuals can locate information they have access to on SharePoint within Microsoft Office Word, without having to go to the SharePoint site.

    This means that information workers could lookup anything they want directly within Word, without having to go somewhere else for viewing extra articulation over desired document content.

    This article summarises the basic configuration of the Microsoft Research option. There is a more detailed article going into detail on doing the same using Microsoft 2010, 2013 and Office 365 including Preview – download that at the end of this article.



    To work with SharePoint, the Research feature needs to connect to SharePoint search services. These search services are available from any SharePoint site. You can connect and register to these services on an on-premise SharePoint site collection and an Office 365 Public or Private site.

    The service to connect and to register into Word is search.asmx, which is a Query Web Service for SharePoint.

    The procedure is as follows:

    1.  Launch Microsoft Office Word 2010

    2.  In the Ribbon, click the Review tab to open up the Review section in the ribbon:


    This will display the Research option located in the Proofing section of the Review section. If that button is not there you will have to provision it using the Backstage and customize the ribbon to include the Research option.

    3.  Click the Research button to display the Research pane to the right of the application display.

    The research pane looks identical whether in Office 2010 or Office 2013. This is further discussed in the full article available as a download at the end of this blog.

    4.  At the foot of the Research panel, click the Research options link (clip_image004) to display the Research options dialog.

    5.  At the foot of the Research options dialog, click the Add Services button

    6.  Now the real important part. This is where you need to register the relevant search service which as mentioned before is part of the callable http address of the SharePoint site you wish to invoke search from.

    In the Address prompt, enter the site http, then /_vti_bin/search.asmx

    Using the example URL above (http://intranet) I would enter this:


    7.  Click the Add button at the foot of the dialog.

    Note. You may be asked to authenticate - check that you have access to the site that you wish to register the search service with.

    8.  If you have successfully connected to the search service, the Microsoft Search Service 2010 Setup dialog will be displayed, along with the site search service that has been registered, and below the Title of the site.

    9.  Click the Install button to complete the registration then the success dialog will be displayed:

    10.  Click OK to complete the procedure.

    Ok, so that is all that is required to register the search web service using the Research option in Word 2010.

    You may have noticed when looking at the research pane for the first time that a message 'You can also press ALT and click a word to start a search' is displayed.

    This is a good shortcut key to use!

    This means that if there is text in a document, by positioning the mouse over a word, pressing ALT and clicking the word will automatically copy the word into the search entry point in the Research page and start a search based on the service selected.

    This can also be carried out for selected text too. For example, highlighting a group of words, then pressing ALT and clicking that selected group of words will copy that into the search entry point.

    Finally, some points to mull over:

    If you plan to use this with Office 365, and finding problem signing into the account (like I did!) ensure that your Microsoft Online Services Sign-in Assistant is up to date. Go to", click at "desktop setup", click at "set up" and follow the wizard. This will bring up the "Microsoft Online Services Sign-in Assistant" to the current version.

    Do not rush to implement this feature to information workers who are new to SharePoint. Instead, teach this feature as part of their introduction to using SharePoint (otherwise this feature may give them an excuse not to use SharePoint at all!)

    Download the Full Article (PDF Format - 12 Pages)

  • Case Study: Postal Agency Reduces Costs by 20% with Automated Deployments and Private Cloud

    Country or Region: United Kingdom
    Industry: Government—Postal agencies

    Royal Mail Group is responsible for universal mail collection and delivery in the United Kingdom. It delivers more than 62 million items to 28.8 million addresses every working day.

    The organization was preparing to upgrade to the Windows 7 operating system and hoped to transform its manual data backup process and time-consuming software deployments into more efficient processes.

    Working with Microsoft Partner Network member CSC, Royal Mail Group implemented Microsoft System Center 2012 system management products, built a cloud storage solution, and expanded its use of Hyper-V.


    • Reduces costs
    • Increases IT efficiency
    • Enhances IT security
    • Improves user experience

    Read the full case study here.

  • Offer: Get 30% discount on Microsoft certification training – including Virtualization Admin in 1 week

    Now’s the time to get Hyper-V certified fast. Or get your hands on one of the brand new MCSA or MCSE certifications.

    Firebrand is offering 30% discount on all Microsoft courses. Act fast - this offer must end Friday 14 September 2012.

    Firebrand is an official Microsoft Gold Partner.

    Get your 30% discount now.

  • Windows Server 2012 IT camps

    I have been out in the US for the past four weeks, and during my absence the rest of the UK TechNet team have filled my diary with various events including the next series of IT camps.  These camps will all be  on Windows Server 2012 specifically around how virtualisation changes in this release not just with Hyper-V but other supporting technologies such as SMB 3, Networking, Active Directory and of course Powershell.

    The dates and venues for these camps are:

    London, 07 September – Cardinal Place


    Southampton, 13 September – De Vere New Place


    Manchester, 18 September – The Lowry Hotel


    Birmingham, 19 September – Etc Venues, Maple House


    London, 26 September – Novotel London West


    London, 28 September – Etc Venues, One Drummond Gate


    If you have been on one of our camps before you will have got the idea that these are designed to be interactive:

    • It’s very informal and is for smaller groups
    • You get to set the details of the agenda
    • You can participate if you have a laptop - it can’t have bitlocker or other drive encryption enabled and should have 25Gb of space and support Hyper-V.
    • We will only use PowerPoint to share links, scripts and not as something we simply read from.
    • You don’t need to know too much about Hyper-V, but you should be familiar with server virtualisation in some form.

    Separate to this is the launch event for Windows Server 2012 on 25th September which like our camp on 26th September is at the Novotel in Hammersmith. How does this event differ from a camp?  The launch event is a larger scale affair where the agenda is set, the content is at a higher level for a wider audience and runs along similar lines to our other TechDays and launch events we have always done.  You could of course go to both and that might be a good thing as the launch event will brief on the why and the what of Windows Server 2012 while at the camp we delve more into the how.

    All of these events will fill up fast so you’ll need to book yourself in now, and please, please let us know if you can’t come, not only does it hep us plan but also allows those on our waiting lists to come along.