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Microsoft – Troubleshooting Key Management Service (KMS) activation

Today I helped a colleague troubleshoot a couple of systems were unable to activate using Key Management Service (KMS). Basically for this situation it boiled down to this:

Determine for the KMS service

  1. Which server is hosting the KMS service.If an SRV record has been added for KMS DNS auto discovery, run from CMD: nslookup -type=srv _vlmcs._tcp
  2. If the server hosting the KMS is functioning correctly:
  • Check if the server is up and running.
  • Check if the “Software Protection” service (sppsvc) is running.
  • Verify if the KMS service is listening on port 1688: telnet localhost 1688
  • Verify the KMS status. Run from CMD: slmgr.vbs /dli
  • Verify if a KMS key is installed and activated.
  • Verify if the minimum threshold for activation is being met.
  • Verify if other clients are able to activate using KMS. Even though the output of “slmgr.vbs /dli” gives you an indication, you can use the “Volume Activation Management Tool” (VAMT) for more insight and functionality.
  • Verify that a VLK key is being used.

For clients that are not able to activate

  • Verify if the correct KMS server can be resolved correctly:
    nslookup -type=srv _vlmcs._tcp
  • Verify if the KMS can be contacted:
    telnet <KMS FQDN or IP> 1688

    •  If this is not the case, perform a traceroute to determine potential causes. Reasons could include:
      • No default gateway configured on the client to reach the KMS.
      • No route configured on the client to reach the KMS.
      • Firewall on the client is blocking the traffic.
      • Firewall on the server is blocking the traffic.
      • If it is a VM, the virtual network might be misconfigured.
      • Routing on the network is not correct.
      • Firewall on the network is blocking traffic.
  • Clear any previous (mis)configuration: slmgr.vbs /ckms
  • Attempt activation: slmgr.vbs /ckms

NOTE: If you have lots of systems where you need to clear configuration and then attempt activation, you can also perform slmgr.vbs on remote computers using:
slmgr.vbs TargetComputerName [username] [password] /parameter [options]

Additional information

If you haven’t been able to resolve the issue, you might want to take a look here:

 

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Excel – Determine monthly payments for weekly activity with variable number of participants

For some time now, I’ve been playing indoor soccer with friends and colleagues on a weekly basis. To do so, we rent a location and split the costs. Because the people and the number of people vary, it is tedious work to keep track of who needs to pay how much. Especially because not everyone can/will pay at the same time.

Since I’m lazy, I’ve created an Excel spreadsheet to help with that:
http://bjornhouben-web.sharepoint.com/Lists/Files/DispForm.aspx?ID=18

Here’s what it looks like (click for full image):

It is easily customizable, so I hope it is useful to you as well.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2013 in Excel, ICT, Microsoft, Office, Office 2013

 

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Office 365 – My wave 15 / 2013 service upgrade experience

About 3 weeks before the upgrade took place, I received e-mails informing me about the upcoming update. It included the plan date and also mentioned I could postpone the update. As the date of the upgrade approached I also received mails with information of new features and what had to be done.

The upgrade itself took place on the date that was communicated to me and when it was done I got a mail informing me that the upgrade had been completed. When I logged on to the Office 365 admin center (https://portal.microsoftonline.com/) I immediately found this to be a big improvement. It also showed me some alerts containing links to information about changes and tasks that still needed to be performed like upgrading SharePoint sites.

I didn’t expect any big issues, but I was a bit worried if my SharePoint customizations would keep working correctly:

It is possible to leave the SharePoint site the way it is (at least with this upgrade), but you can also upgrade it and take advantage of the new options. If you are considering upgrading the SharePoint site, you can perform a health check and you can also request an upgrade evaluation copy of the site collection before you actually upgrade.

Probably because of my customizations, the Site Collection Health Check found some problems related to Customized Files that could result in unexpected visuals or behavior.

For now, everything seems to be working fine though on my upgrade evaluation copy of the site collection, so I’ll probably upgrade my site collection soon. If you want to, you can take a look at both the pre-upgrade SharePoint site and the post-upgrade SharePoint site. The evaluation post-upgrade version will only be available until the 23rd of June.

What I did notice, is that the interface of the services have improved and have also been changed to better suit for touch devices. By example the white space between navigation items seems to have increased and everything is a bit bigger.

After the upgrade, I also had to restart some Office 2013 apps once.

Of course the upgrade to Wave 15 provides many more advantages, but in this post I only wanted to share my service upgrade experience without really changing anything. All in all, I think the upgrade experience went very well.

 

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Office 365 – Full Office Web Apps have been added to my E1 account for free

Back in February I posted that as part of the new Office 365 service, changes would be made to the Office 365 plans.

These changes are in effect right now. In short this means that the E1 and K1 plans that previously were only able to read with the Web Apps have gotten the full Office Web Apps (view, edit, create). This replaces the old E2 and K2. So basically:

  • Old E1/K1 have gotten E2/K2 functionality at the same low cost.
  • Old E2/K2 customers will keep the same features, but at a lower cost (E1/K1).
  • Old E2/K2 will be replaced by E1/K1 since they will then have the same functionality.

The new situation has become like this:

New Office 365 Enterprise Plans overview

New Office 365 Enterprise Plans overview

PS: I love the Office 365 service and I’m looking forward to the new Office 365 features that will be added when Office 365 will start using the Office 2013 (Wave 15) versions of SharePoint, Outlook, Lync, Office Web Apps. I’ve gotten a mail that I’m planned to be upgraded within the next 4 weeks, so more about that soon. I’m especially curious if my SharePoint customizations will continue to work.

 
 

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Office 365 – E1 and K1 plans getting full Office Web Apps (view, edit, create), replacing E2 and K2 at lower cost

As part of the new Office 365 service, changes will be made to the Office 365 plans. In short this means that the E1 and K1 plans will get full Office Web Apps (view, edit, create) replacing E2 and K2:

  • Current E1/K1 will get E2/K2 functionality at the same low cost.
  • Current E2/K2 customers will keep the same features, but at a lower cost (E1/K1).
  • E2/K2 will be replaced by E1/K1 since they will then have the same functionality.

The new situation will become like this:

New Office 365 Enterprise Plans overview

New Office 365 Enterprise Plans overview

PS: Besides the lower prices I’m also looking forward to the new Office 365 features that will be added when Office 365 will start using the Office 2013 (Wave 15) versions of SharePoint, Outlook, Lync, Office Web Apps. More about that soon.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2013 in Cloud, ICT, Microsoft, Office 365, Public Cloud

 

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Office 2013 including Exchange, Lync and Sharepoint has been released to manufacturing (RTM)

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, Microsoft is working hard to get new and better versions of their software released as soon as possible.

Last week Microsoft announced that the Office 2013 suite reached released to manufacturing (RTM) including:

  • Office 2013 for workstations (Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access, OneNote, Project, Visio)
  • Server software (Exchange 2013, Sharepoint 2013, Project 2013, Lync 2013, Visio 2013)
  • Cloud versions of the above mentioned software (Office 365).

The availability is dependent on the platform and your licensing type. More information about this can be found here:
http://blogs.office.com/b/office-news/archive/2012/10/11/office-reaches-rtm.aspx

I have to admit I didn’t expect them to reach RTM status already. I also hope that beta exams won’t be released anytime soon, because then I won’t have enough time to properly prepare 😦

 

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My re-modeled room

As most of you probably know, I spent a lot of time behind my PC for my work, learning and entertainment. Also because of my hobbies, I have a lot of gadgets and technology with lots of cables.

After re-painting my room, I thought it might be a good idea to re-model my room as well. In the process I threw away a lot of stuff, installed a wallmount for my tv and tried to minimize cable annoyance.

The result can be seen below:

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Personal

 

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How to get access to free Microsoft beta exams

When Microsoft creates new (versions of their) software, they also create new exams to become certified. Part of this process includes testing the exams, determining the passing score, getting feedback and improving the exams based on the feedback (deciding which questions to use, removing questions, re-phrasing, etc.). More information can be found here.

To get feedback, Microsoft offers access to these beta exams for free. They do this publicly using by example the born to learn blog or privately using mail to select subject matter experts (SME) based on their profiles on Microsoft Connect. So if you’re interested in taking beta exams, update the information on the Microsoft Connect site to get private invites to the latest beta exams that are relevant to you. More information about the invite procedure can be found on the Born To Learn blog. Also keep in mind that public invites might be limited using a first-come, first served principle so check on a regular basis.

Advantages and disadvantages of taking beta exams:
+ It is free if you received an invite. Nowadays you can also take beta exams if you haven’t had an invite, but then you need to pay for the exam.
+ You have a chance to become one of the first people to become certified for the new software.
+ If you pass a beta exam, you passed it legitimately because there are no answers to download online.
+ Even if you fail the beta exam, you’ve still learned a lot about the new (version of the) software.
– In general there are no books available yet and you have to get all your information from hands-on experience, blogs, technet, websites, etc.
– The time frame you have to prepare for the exams can be (very) limited. For example with the last invites for the Server 2012 beta exams I had only 2 weeks to prepare for multiple exams.
– After you’ve taken a beta exam, it might take 2-3 months before you get the result.

Beta exams I’ve taken recently include those for Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012 and Office 365. I expect the next beta exams to cover mainly Office 15/Office 2013 related products like by example Sharepoint, Exchange, Lync. So if you’re interested in these beta exams be sure to keep a close eye on the beta exams and start working with and learning about the products already.

I hope this was informative and that it well help you and/or your company gain a competitive advantage.

 

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