End Of Days 2003: The End is Nigh!

In a couple of days we will be saying goodbye to 2014 and ringing in the New Year 2015.  Simple math should show you that if you are still running Windows Server 2003, it is long since time to upgrade.  However here’s more:

When I was a Microsoft MVP, and then when I was a Virtual Technical Evangelist with Microsoft Canada, you might remember my tweeting the countdown to #EndOfDaysXP.  That we had some pushback from people who were not going to migrate, I think we were all thrilled by the positive response and the overwhelming success we had in getting people migrated onto either Windows 8, or at least Windows 7.  We did this not only by tweeting, but also with blog articles, in-person events (including a number of national tours helping people understand a) the benefits of the modern operating system, and b) how to plan for and implement a deployment solution that would facilitate the transition.  All of us who were on the team during those days – Pierre, Anthony, Damir, Ruth, and I – were thrilled by your response.

Shortly after I left Microsoft Canada, I started hearing from people that I should begin a countdown to #EndOfDaysW2K3.  Of course, Windows Server 2003 was over a decade old, and while it would outlast Windows XP, support for that hugely popular platform would end on July 14th, 2015 (I have long wondered if it was a coincidence that it would end on Bastille Day).  Depending on when you read this article it might be different, but as of right now the countdown is around 197 days.  You can keep track yourself by checking out the website here

It should be said that with Windows 7 there was an #EndOfDaysXP Countdown Gadget for the desktop, and when I migrated to Windows 8 I used a third party app that sat in my Start Menu.  One friend suggested I create a PowerShell script, but that was not necessary.  I don’t remember exactly which countdown timer I used, but it would work just as well for Windows Server 2003 – just enter the date you are counting down to, and it tells you every day how much time is left.

The point is, while I think that migrating off of Server 2003 is important, it was not at that point (nor is it now) an endeavour that I wanted to take on.  To put things in perspective, I was nearing the end of a 1,400 day countdown during which I tweeted almost every day.  I was no longer an Evangelist, and I was burnt out.

Despite what you may have heard, I am still happy to help the Evangelism Team at Microsoft Canada (although I think they go by a different name now).  So when I got an e-mail on the subject from Pierre Roman, I felt it important enough to share with you.  As such, here is the gist of that e-mail:

1) On July 14, 2015 support for Windows Server will come to an end.  It is vital that companies be aware of this, as there are serious dangers inherent in running unsupported platforms in the datacenter, especially in production.  As of that date there will be no more support and no more security updates.

2) The CanITPro team has written (or re-posted) several articles that will help you understand how to migrate off your legacy servers onto a modern Server OS platform, including:

3) The Microsoft Virtual Academy (www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com) also has great educational resources to help you modernize your infrastructure and prepare for Windows Server 2003 End of Support, including:

4) Independent researchers have come to the same conclusion (IDC Whitepaper: Why You Should Get Current).

      5) Even though time is running out, the Evangelism team is there to help you. You can e-mail them at cdn-itpro-feedback@microsoft.com if you have any questions or concerns surrounding Windows Server 2003 End of Support.

      Of course, these are all from them.  If you want my help, just reach out to me and if I can, I will be glad to help! Smile  (Of course, as I am no longer with Microsoft or a Microsoft MVP, there might be a cost associated with engaging me Smile)

      Good luck, and all the best in 2015!

The Kobayashi Maru of Desktop Deployment

A couple of years ago I was asked to write an article on desktop deployment.  Back then Windows 7 was reasonably new, and there was a lot of chatter about the fact that you could not upgrade from a Windows XP machine directly to Windows 7.

Recently a lot of people have asked me about desktop deployment, what with Windows 8 becoming more widely accepted, and the end of support for Windows XP (#EndOfDaysXP) less than eight months away.  Although I am not doing a lot of deployment work these days, I reread this article that I wrote for the Springboard Series and decided it was still relevant.  I hope you like it!

The Kobayshi Maru of Desktop Deployment

Windows 8: Keeping it Clean!

While I am usually fond of the extra apps that Microsoft puts into Windows 8, I know that for most IT environments they will be more of a hassle than anything.  The following is the PowerShell script that Ben Hunter (SOLUTION ARCHITECT, Desktop – Microsoft Corp.) uses to remove the built-in applications.  Of course, you are free to edit this script to pick and choose the ones you want to leave in; it is a great exercise in getting used to longer scripts for the uninitiated! (Scroll down to the bottom for a simpler but less adaptable version)

# This script removes the pre provisioned packages
# in Windows 8 RTM

if([IntPtr]::Size -eq 4){
# This is an X86 OS – remove for all users
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package  Microsoft.Bing_1.2.0.137_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.BingFinance_1.2.0.135_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.BingMaps_1.2.0.136_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.BingNews_1.2.0.135_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.BingSports_1.2.0.135_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.BingTravel_1.2.0.145_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.BingWeather_1.2.0.135_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.Camera_6.2.8514.0_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      microsoft.microsoftskydrive_16.4.4204.712_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.Reader_6.2.8516.0_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_16.4.4206.722_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      microsoft.windowsphotos_16.4.4204.712_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.XboxLIVEGames_1.0.927.0_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.ZuneMusic_1.0.927.0_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.ZuneVideo_1.0.927.0_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.Media.PlayReadyClient_2.3.1662.0_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
#Remove from Local Admin
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.Bing_1.2.0.137_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.BingFinance_1.2.0.135_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.BingMaps_1.2.0.136_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.BingNews_1.2.0.135_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.BingSports_1.2.0.135_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.BingTravel_1.2.0.145_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.BingWeather_1.2.0.135_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.Camera_6.2.8514.0_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package microsoft.microsoftskydrive_16.4.4204.712_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.Reader_6.2.8516.0_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_16.4.4206.722_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package microsoft.windowsphotos_16.4.4204.712_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.XboxLIVEGames_1.0.927.0_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.ZuneMusic_1.0.927.0_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.ZuneVideo_1.0.927.0_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.Media.PlayReadyClient_2.3.1662.0_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe
# This is an X64 OS – remove for all users
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package  Microsoft.Bing_1.2.0.137_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.BingFinance_1.2.0.135_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.BingMaps_1.2.0.136_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.BingNews_1.2.0.135_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.BingSports_1.2.0.135_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.BingTravel_1.2.0.145_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.BingWeather_1.2.0.135_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.Camera_6.2.8514.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      microsoft.microsoftskydrive_16.4.4204.712_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.Reader_6.2.8516.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_16.4.4206.722_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      microsoft.windowsphotos_16.4.4204.712_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.XboxLIVEGames_1.0.927.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.ZuneMusic_1.0.927.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.ZuneVideo_1.0.927.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.Media.PlayReadyClient_2.3.1662.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -package      Microsoft.Media.PlayReadyClient_2.3.1662.0_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe -online
#Remove from Local Admin
remove-AppxPackage -package     Microsoft.Bing_1.2.0.137_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.BingFinance_1.2.0.135_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.BingMaps_1.2.0.136_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.BingNews_1.2.0.135_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.BingSports_1.2.0.135_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.BingTravel_1.2.0.145_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.BingWeather_1.2.0.135_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.Camera_6.2.8514.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package microsoft.microsoftskydrive_16.4.4204.712_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.Reader_6.2.8516.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package microsoft.windowscommunicationsapps_16.4.4206.722_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package microsoft.windowsphotos_16.4.4204.712_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.XboxLIVEGames_1.0.927.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.ZuneMusic_1.0.927.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.ZuneVideo_1.0.927.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.Media.PlayReadyClient_2.3.1662.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe
remove-AppxPackage -package Microsoft.Media.PlayReadyClient_2.3.1662.0_x86__8wekyb3d8bbwe

Michael Niehaus (Senior Product Marketing Manager, Windows Commercial – Microsoft Corp.) piped in with a shorter solution.  He writes:

Import-Module DISM
Get-AppXProvisionedPackage -online | RemoveAppxProvisionedPackage –online
Get-AppXPackage | Remove-AppxPackage


Fair Winds and Following Seas…

For the last seven years I have been in awe of Michael Niehaus and the work that he has done on Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (nee Business Desktop Deployment).  When I met him five years ago I was in awe, and am glad to have had the opportunity to get to know him over the past few years.

Michael announced on his blog yesterday that he will be leaving the MDT team to join the Windows organization as a product marketing manager for enterprise deployment. (See post http://blogs.technet.com/b/mniehaus/archive/2012/08/02/one-journey-ends-another-begins.aspx)

I am sad that Michael is leaving the team, and wish him luck in his new role (where I expect I will still be able to work with him occasionally).  At the same time I want to wish him luck in his new role.  He is one of the good guys at Microsoft.

There was a time when my impression of Microsoft Deployment had two faces: Tim Mintner and Michael.  Tim left a couple of years ago, and then there was Michael.  And now there is a void.

Good luck to you Michael… I look forward to hearing all about the great new endeavours you will be working on… and I am glad you will still be blogging!

Everything you Wanted to Know and Ask about Windows Deployment!

For those of you who are interested in deploying Windows (and with 707 days left until #EndOfDaysXP who isn’t?) there are a couple of incredible webinars coming up that you definitely should not miss!  Stephen Rose will be holding a couple of discussions with MDT Product Manager Michael Niehaus (if you have ever heard me talk about him you know that I hold him in extremely high regard!) and Deployment guru Johan Arwidmark (a fellow MVP and a really nice guy).  They are in May and you should mark your calendars and register now because you should definitely not miss.  Here are the details… and tell them I sent you!

TechNet Webcast: Everything You Wanted to Know and Ask about Windows Deployment (Part 1)

Registration URL: http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=9807963  or  http://bit.ly/JLTQLM

Date/ Time:    Tuesday, May 15, 2012 – 9-10am (Pacific)

Abstract: In this demonstration-rich, question and answer webcast, Windows Product Manager Stephen Rose moderates an open conversation with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit Product Manager Michael Niehaus and deployment guru Johan Arwidmark. They discuss the new Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 release as well as tips and tricks from the experts about using the Windows Deployment Toolkit.


TechNet Webcast: Everything You Wanted to Know and Ask about Windows Deployment (Part 2)

Registration URL: http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=9807964   or  http://bit.ly/Kgny8y

Date/ Time:    Thursday, May 17, 2012  – 9-10am (Pacific)

Abstract: In this demonstration-rich, question and answer webcast, Windows Product Manager Stephen Rose moderates an open conversation with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit Product Manager Michael Niehaus and deployment guru Johan Arwidmark. They discuss the new Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 release as well as tips and tricks from the experts about using the Windows Deployment Toolkit.

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 Released!

Today at MMS Microsoft released MDT 2012. MDT 2012 is the newest version of Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, a Solution Accelerator for operating system and application deployment. MDT 2012 supports deployment of Windows 7, Office 2010 and 365, and Windows Server 2008 R2 in addition to deployment of Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP. Once upon a time we called it BDD (Business Desktop Deployment).  To download it click on this link: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=25175&WT.mc_id=rss_windows_allproducts

Mastering Windows 7 Deployment–a Review

This week I was teaching the Deploying the Optimized Desktop class for the Microsoft Partner Network, and one of my students asked me if there was a good book on the Windows Automated Installation Kit.  While I am not aware of a book specific to that product, I told them about the book Mastering Windows 7 Deployment (SYBEX Publishing) by Aidan Finn, Darril Gibson, and Kenneth van Surksum.  It is, for my money, the most comprehensive book on desktop deployment available today.

While it is easy to look at Desktop Deployment and decide that it is the tools that deploy the operating system are most important, I disagree.  Planning is key to the process because without a proper plan it is easy to go astray.  This book discusses the planning and acknowledges that aspects such as application compatibility, licensing, and activation tools are just as much a component of the deployment process.  As I review the requirements for the exam 70-681 (TS: Windows 7 and Office 2010, Deploying) one of the skills measured is Configuring Activation (This objective may include but is not limited to: Windows 7, Office 2010, Key Management Service (KMS), Multiple Activation Key (MAK), Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT)) so if Microsoft thinks it is important, why wouldn’t you?

I do fewer deployment consulting mandates today than I did two years ago simply due to the amount of teaching I do, but this book should be required reading, in addition to a handy reference source, for anyone deploying Windows 7 to their environments, whether they do it once or twenty times.  Simply being able to flip to the Index and find what I am looking for – as I did last night when looking for information on the Windows AIK – makes it worth the price of admission.

The only thing I would change, and this is for purely selfish reasons, is I would love to have an e-book copy of it.  I don’t need it for the Kindle or whatever, but to have a PDF copy that I could keep with me all the time (as I do a plethora of others that I reference as needed) then it would be easier for me.  However I am a bit of a hypocrite with this, because I always want to have the physical book on my shelf… call me a modern quasi-traditionalist Smile

One of the great things about this book is that it covers the tools and the methodologies, so not only is it good for Windows 7, but a lot of what is discussed will also backwards-apply as far back as Windows XP, and from what I can tell a lot of it will apply to Windows 8 (as we are currently referring to it).  This book is useful for now, and should be for a long time to come.  Of course, I am sure they will refresh it for Windows 8, but the knowledge gained from this version should tide you over.

The price is right at $59.99 (Canadian) and it is available from Wiley at http://ca.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470600314.html, or of course from Amazon for as low as $1.49. (http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Windows-Deployment-Aidan-Finn/dp/0470600314/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321462510&sr=8-1).  If you are a Deployment pro, Windows pro, or interested in deploying Windows 7… pick it up!

Command Line Switches

One of the skills that you will need to know to be good at Desktop Deployment using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT 2010) is the ability to discover and maintain a list of command line switches that you use frequently.  At the request of some of my students, I am going to post a few of my more common ones here.

Adobe Acrobat Reader 10

install_reader10_en_air_gtbd_aih /sAll /rs /l /msi"/qb-! /norestart ALLUSERS=1 EULA_ACCEPT=YES SUPPRESS_APP_LAUNCH=YES”

Adobe Flash Player 11: msiexec /i "install_flash_player_11_active_x.msi" /qb-!

Adobe Shockwave Player: msiexec.exe /i "sw_lic_full_installer.msi" /qb-!

Cisco WebEx: msiexec /i "atmcie.msi" /qb-!

Cisco AnyConnect: msiexec /i "WinSetup-Release-web-deploy.msi" /qb-!

Sun Java v6 u22: jre-6u22-windows-i586-s.exe /passive

Microsoft Visio Viewer: visioviewer.exe /quiet

This is the list I have on hand… If I come across more I will post them in this space… and if you have any you would like to add, just put them into your comments of e-mail them to me and I will add them in!

End of Days for Windows XP.

Quite a number of people have asked me why I continue to tweet the number of days until Microsoft ends support for one of it’s most successful operating systems ever, Windows XP.  Especially knowing that we seem to be a long way off – today is Friday August 12, 2011 and we are 969 days away from that day, nearly three years as someone recently pointed out.

The truth is that if you have one or two or even ten computers under your responsibility then planning and implementing the deployment plan of a new operating system is not that difficult or time consuming.  However if you have hundreds or thousands of them – numbers not uncommon even among small business IT consultants who service several clients, let alone IT Pros managing desktops for MORGs, LORGs, and Enterprises – then it is something that takes a great degree of forethought and planning.  Issues such as application compatibility, hardware lifecycles, and licenses must be determined, managed, and accounted for. 

How many companies are out there who don’t actually know what they have?  I often ask at my seminars what reasons people have for not having moved to Windows 7 yet, and among the most common (along with cost and application compatibility) is that it is daunting.  The thought of what people need to consider for such a project can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you have, because frankly how can you know where to start?

I used to work for a man named Jacob Haimovici who always said that if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.  It is absolutely true, especially in the world of IT where so often you cannot touch your assets, and the assets you can touch may contain any number of disparate components (hardware). 

The Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit is a free tool from the Microsoft Solution Accelerators team is your first step to having an easier life as an IT Pro.  It is an agentless inventory, assessment, and reporting tool that can securely assess IT environments for various platform migrations—including Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and even virtualization with Hyper-V.  It inventories your environment including hardware and software, and lets you know what you have.  It creates spreadsheets for you of all of your assets, and lets you know what components are ready for Windows 7, which need mitigations, and which will need upgrading or replacing. 

I ran the MAP tool on the network at Meadowgreen Academy in Mississauga, Ontario before I embarked upon my migration plan, and determined quickly that none of their video cards supported Aero Glass; also a number of the machines did not have enough memory.  These were easily mitigated with a purchase order, and the school administrator was pleased that I discovered all of this up front, and did not wait until it was too late and they had to decide with a proverbial gun to their heads.

The MAP toolkit will also prepare the proposal documents with graphs and charts that speak the language of CxOs, which so many IT Pros cannot do.  Even those who do to a man hate preparing reports and proposals, so the MAP toolkit can be a real godsend.

I was golfing with a client in California a year ago and he told me he had to do a network inventory that afternoon for a new client.  When I asked him what tools he used he told me ‘a pen and paper.’  After I told him about MAP, he told me that before he took me to see the client he needed to run it by the boss.  The boss wanted to see it in action, so I pulled out my netbook (that’s all it takes – fully contained on a 1 GB netbook!), plugged it into their network.  Once they supplied me with the credentials the tool took a few minutes to run and generate the reports.  They were astounded to see the cost savings they could realize by virtualizing their servers!  When we looked at the count of client computers they told me I was off by five… until we determined that the sales team were at an off-site… with their laptops.

Of course, you may need more, and if you do, there are plenty of courses available to help you with your skills, including the highly popular ‘Updating Skills for Windows 7’ by Raymond Comvalius and myself, published by MVP Press.  There are certifications for Windows 7 as well as for Windows deployment, and if you look up the exam 70-681 you will see what the prerequisites are to become an MCTS: Windows 7 Deployment.  If courses aren’t right for you, check out books like Mastering Windows 7 Deployment by Aidan Finn, Darril Gibson and Kenneth van Surksum, which covers everything you will need, and more!

If you are the type to just hack away and figure it out, Microsoft has a whole plethora of free and simple tools that will help you with your deployment plan, including MDT, WDS, WAIK, SCCM, App-V, ACT, and more.  As we say, you can’t spell Deployment without them!  Believe me, once you take the first step, deployment is not as daunting as it might seem now.

Windows MultiPoint Server 2011: The future of the classroom and so much more!

One of the things I love about coming to events like TechEd is that I am able to see and learn about new products, as well as meet new friends and reconnect with old ones.  On the second day of TechEd 2011 I had the opportunity to do all three simultaneously!  I interviewed Dean Paron (whom I’ve known for years) and Michael Kleef (whom I met Sunday evening) about Windows MultiPoint Server 2011, a new offering that more than any product I have ever seen blurs the divide between the server and the client.

As a trainer I see this technology as the way every classroom I ever work in should be configured.  It eliminates the need to have a PC at every station, giving way to a simple thin client.  It allows the teacher to control the environment in a way that is both simpler and more robust than any other such tool I have ever seen.  Rather than writing a long, drawn-out explanation, I recorded the video for you to see what I got to see.  Check it out! –M


Mitch interviews Dean & Michael on MultiPoint Server 2011 at TechEd 2011

The Wonder that is TechEd

The quiet of the Exhibitor Hall is disturbed by the sounds of preparation.  To my left there is a crew frantically working to fix something with a carpet.  There is some hammering, more yammering, and the sounds of carpet tape being unfurled. To my right there are two security agents talking, but they are too far off for me to know what about.  Somewhere in the distance the beeping of a crane reminds us that conference centres are a weird mix of indoors and out. Slowly… VERY slowly, the vendors and the booth bunnies are filtering in, mostly sitting around, many checking e-mail, others chatting quietly.

Day Two of TechEd North America is underway upstairs, with sessions and breakouts and hands-on-labs.  I rather suspect that many of the people attending those sessions are moderately hung-over, which would be par for the course for any major IT convention.

Thirteen hours ago, midway through my last shift in the Microsoft Springboard Booth, there were thousands of people milling about.  A great mixture of people wanting to learn, wanting to teach. A lot of people were out to collect swag for sure – at our booth they would range from asking for a box, reaching in and taking a box, to reaching in and trying to take a handful of boxes.  A few actually asked what was in the boxes, but to many that mattered less than getting something for free.  Some people, when they asked, would get a spun yarn about the contents… it breaks up the monotony. 

In truth, the best thing that we are giving away at the Springboard booth does not come in a box.  It doesn’t even come on the lanyards in the form of passes to the hottest party at TechEd (the Springboard Community Event!) but rather a link… www.microsoft.com/springboard, which is the link to the Springboard site, the best place for the IT Pro to learn about all things related to Windows 7, Office 2010, Internet Explorer 9, Desktop Deployment, Application Compatibility, and the Optimized Desktop.  It has articles, KBs, forums, and blogs.  Whether you are just now thinking about transitioning to Windows 7 and you need help planning your deployment, or if your entire org is on Windows 7 and you have questions about support, it’s there.

Of course TechEd is much bigger than our booth… the Microsoft pavilion is the center point, but if you look to the left and right (as well as the front and back!) you will see vendor booths, community booths, and more.  HP is here in full force, as is EMC… I count at least three CPLSes represented as well as several on-line and video learning companies – companies that sell practice exams and other exam-prep material.  There are vendors demoing their hardware, others selling software.  Of course the new trend is people selling cloud-based solutions, which until recently was geek-speak for vapourware, but now is a very real and viable solution, and critical in this day and age.

There is an entire section of the Exhibitor’s Floor dedicated to community… the MCT Lounge, the MVP Lounge… Blogger’s Row, Microsoft Learning, GITCA and other User Group services.  There is a stage where I saw Richard Campbell interviewing Mark Minasi yesterday, and of course the Microsoft Company Store, your one-stop shop for Microsoft-branded crap, but also a 20% discount off all books which ROCKS!

Upstairs there is a section devoted to exam-crams, as well as an entire exam center where I know of several people who have taken my advice to GET CERTIFIED!  One friend, I hope, will be taking his FIRST EVER certification exam exam today or tomorrow… and I will be there to be the first to congratulate him and welcome him to the MCP fold.

What are you looking for? If it has to do with IT then it is here in Atlanta, at Microsoft TechEd 2011 North America!

Get on the Bus!

For the third year in a row the Springboard Bus Tour will hit the road leading up to TechEd.  If you have never met the bus you are missing out, because it delivers expert advice, great learning, and huge career benefits to IT Pros.  It delivers answers to questions you may have been having about desktop deployment, virtualization, managing consumer-devices in the office, cloud solutions such as Intune and Office 365, Application Compatibility, and much more! MSW-Tour-CityBanners

This year I am very excited, because my city (my adopted city, really…) has been chosen as the launching point!  That’s right, on May 2nd we will be taking over the MaRS Centre, South Tower at 101 College Street in downtown Toronto, CANADA!  (Yes, I know there’s a typo on the registration page… we’re fixing it!

So if you live in the Golden Horseshoe – or really anywhere from London to Kingston, Buffalo to Orillia, come join us for a great day of Windows 7, Office, MDOP, and more!

REGISTER NOW and save your seat for this free day of technical demos, Q&A sessions, and real-world guidance from Microsoft experts. We’ll see you on the road… and make sure to come say hi to me, Sean, and the rest of the STEP MVPs!

Oh, and remember… if you are not in or around Toronto, the Springboard Series Tour Bus is making stops in Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, Dallas, and Columbus… so you still have a chance to catch up and learn!


Creating a Multi-OS Deployment Point with MDT!

Hey folks,

I know for months you’ve been on me because the screen shots in my Multi-OS Deployment Share post were lost. Today I am glad to say that I have created a video of it for the DPE team, and am glad to share it with you here!

Remember, this video creates the deployment point only; in order to put it onto a USB key, you would follow the instructions in my post Creating a Bootable USB Key.

I created this demo using my trusty HP ProLiant server running Hyper-V, and as always relied on Camtasia Studio for recording the video. Thanks to HP and TechSmith for the help… couldn’t have done it without you! –M

The Student Has Become The Master!

Monday evening I attended the monthly user group meeting of the Wellington Waterloo IT Pro User Group (http://www.wwitpro.com/) in Kitchener, Ontario.  The topic for the evening was called Windows 7 Deployment as presented by Sean Kearney (yes, THE Sean Kearney, a.k.a. The Energized Tech, a.k.a. (the former) Friday Funny Guy!) from SWMI Consulting Group and www.powershell.ca.  The title of his presentation was ‘Busting the Myths: There is no simple way to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7.’  It was a great presentation… for a couple of reasons. 

In truth I know this presentation cold because I have presented it dozens of times… I brought it to Canada (it was originally a TechEd session done by Jay Ferron, Jeremy Chapman, and friends) for TechDays Canada, and have since presented it to dozens of audiences.  However to sit through it as presented by my colleague, who ‘learned deployment at my knee’ was great, to see not only that he really did get it, but also took my presentation, and truly made it his own.  It was great.

I have been working with Sean for a few years, and watching him evolve from the Friday Funny Guy into the Energized Tech has been great.  He truly has come a long way, to the point that I am willing to (and proud to!) have him represent my company, knowing that my reputation is at stake!

I met Sean about the same time that I met another good friend, Jacqueline Hutchinson.  At the time – early 2007 – I was visiting Toronto, and Jacqueline had recently taken over the president of WWITPro.  The group had been dropped in her lap, and she was doing her best to keep it going. Rick Claus asked me to spend a few hours with her and her team.  We sat down over Mongolian cuisine, and I gave them whatever wisdom and guidance I could.

Whatever challenges that user group leaders encounter (and there are plenty!) the greatest challenge to most groups traditionally has been what happens when the leader leaves.  Most groups are founded by people with strong personalities, and when they leave the void created has more often than not been the downfall of most groups that have tried.  To visit WWITPro, five years and three leaders later, and find it alive and well and thriving is really a testament to the power of community.

To be clear, I did not come to Waterloo to support Sean… he doesn’t need it; he knows his stuff, and does not need to be propped up.  I came to watch and enjoy (and deliver goodies and prizes from Microsoft and HP!), and to show my ongoing support for the IT Pro community in Canada.

I want to thank Sean for being such a huge community resource; he is a credit to his company, to the Microsoft MVP program, and to the Springboard Technical Experts Panel (STEP).  I also want to thank Terry Edwards, who stepped up and took over the group when it would have been just as easy to hope someone else would.  Being a user group leader may have its rewards, but it is also extremely taxing and demanding – and takes a huge chunk of time from their personal life.  Thanks Terry, and the rest of your team whose names I wish I knew to list here.

Oh… and thanks for the pizza!

A Do-it-Yourself SWMI? No sweat!

Ok, let’s be honest.  We all know that we need to secure our Active Directory infrastructures, but many of us are not entirely sure how.  You may even know that Group Policy is a great tool to do it centrally, but with literally thousands of Group Policy settings available in Windows Server 2008 R2, where should we start?  You may even be advanced enough to realize that you should probably secure different OUs differently… but what policies should we apply to our Domain Controllers? to our Virtualization Hosts? to our Clients? and so on…

If you have the time (and the money) I strongly suggest taking Jeremy Moskowitz’s course on Group Policy… a one week deep-dive into Group Policy, and you will likely be an expert.  For the rest of us, Microsoft has created the Security Compliance Manager tool which will actually create the appropriate Group Policy Objects (GPOs) for you, list the settings for you in an easy-to-manage Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheet, and then allow you to apply them to the appropriate Organizational Units.

Don’t get me wrong… you should probably dedicate a day or two to getting to know this tool, but once you do, you’ll be done Smile  Check it out at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc514539.aspx and take the first step toward a Secure, Well-Managed Infrastructure!