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Microsoft – RTM versions of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 now available for MSDN and Technet subscribers

Even though it seemed for a while that MSDN and Technet subscribers would not get early access to the latest Windows versions, Microsoft decided to listen to customer feedback and reconsidered.

As a result, they just made the RTM versions of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 available for MSDN and Technet subscribers. General availability for both Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 is still October 18. For the official statement, read this blog post.

Personally I’m very stoked about Server 2012 R2 and I’m already running the preview version. I especially love the improvements on Hyper-V and de-duplication. For more information about new and improved functionality, take a look at the free e-book : Introducing Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview Release.

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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Windows 8.1 – Use windows store apps when behind an authenticated proxy

With Windows 8 one of the major issues especially when used in an enterprise was that the Windows Store and Windows Store apps wouldn’t work when you were behind an authenticated proxy unless you specifically allowed URLs to pass through the proxy unauthenticated.

I even created a blog post about this before and since it gets many views I believe it is an issue a lot of people are having.

As such I’m happy to inform you that with Windows 8.1 Preview you can configure your authenticated proxy to be used for Windows Store apps. Press Windows key + W and type “Change proxy settings”.

Win8.1_proxy

The settings from Internet Explorer are also automatically used, so existing configurations set using a GPO work as well.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2013 in ICT, Microsoft, Windows, Windows 8

 

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Windows 8 – My view on the re-added start button in Win 8.1 and 2012 R2

As you may have read already, with Windows 8.1 Preview (and Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview) the start button has been re-added:

win8.1_start

Basically by left clicking you will switch between the modern/metro interface and the desktop (similar to pressing the windows key). By right clicking you will get the menu shown in the image above (similar to pressing windows key + X). For more information and tweaks take a look at:
http://www.thewindowsclub.com/shutdown-restart-sleep-hibernate-windows-8-1

Another often requested feature was to be able to bypass the metro/modern interface start screen. This boot to desktop is now also possible: http://www.thewindowsclub.com/boot-to-desktop-windows-8-1

A lot of people have been complaining and discussing the absence of the start button and the start menu and that the shutdown/restart options where too hard to access.

Personally I simply press CTRL+ ALT + DELETE, click the power icon and choose the action to perform. Or I press the physical power button on my laptop, pc or tablet.

I also don’t really need the start button/start menu. I added my most used apps on the modern/metro start screen and/or added them to my desktop and taskbar. Other apps  I simply search for by starting to type on the modern/metro start screen.

The lack of a start button does irritate a lot when you’re accessing Windows 8/2012 through RDP or any other remote method. Trying to access the hot corners to switch between the metro/modern start screen and the desktop can sometimes be hard, especially on laggy connections (ILO/RSA/DRAC). The same is true for accessing the charms bar (which you use to restart/shutdown).

The re-added start button does solve the switching between the metro/metro start screen and the desktop I described above,but the charms bar is still an issue. You can use the start button for restart/shutdown though.

What I hate most though, is that the start button is simply a button. It doesn’t include the start menu people want to access their programs and settings in a way to are accustomed to. To make it even worse the re-added official start button makes it harder to use some 3rd party start button/menu replacements that were working well (but this will probably be sorted out soon since 8.1 has only been released a couple of days). Classic shell still works well though: http://www.classicshell.net/

Even though I think Microsoft has been doing a lot of great things lately, the way they’re handling the start button/start menu isn’t one of them in my opinion. People want the start button and the start menu they’ve grown used to and that has been available for many Windows versions. This start button without the start menu will probably lead to more disappointed users because they expect the start menu to be included with the start button. I think this will also hurt adoption in the enterprise. All in all I think it’s a missed oportunity

The preview version with this start button is not the final version. While I don’t expect Microsoft to re-add the start menu before the finl release, I sure hope they prove me wrong. If you want to have the start menu back, be sure to voice your opinion. This did work for the Xbox one, where Microsoft changed course with regards to Digital Rights Management (DRM).

Even though the start button isn’t what many people have hoped for, there are a lot of other great improvements to Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2 though. I’ll try to post more about it in the next couple of weeks.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in ICT, Microsoft, Windows, Windows 2012, Windows 8

 

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Windows 8 – What’s new in Windows 8.1 and how to prepare for the preview

As some of you might know, the Windows 8.1 Preview and Server 2012 R2 Preview (code name Windows Blue) will become available on the 26th of June. Personally I’m looking forward to both of them and can’t wait for it. Also for those who missed it, The Windows 8.1 / Windows RT 8.1 update will be free. The final RTM version of Windows 8.1 is expected to be available August 1st.

When you’re planning to install a new version, you might want to prepare for it. Even though I tried to keep it as generic as possible, some of the steps described are not applicable to Windows RT but you should be able to understand what the goal is. You can probably also re-use these preparations when you want to update from the Preview version to the RTM version.

Preparations could include, but are not limited to:

  1. Determining if you can/want to install the update.
  2. Determining how you are going to run the Windows 8.1 Preview. Some functionality is best tested on hardware installations, but virtualized installations can be more convenient/flexible.
    • Virtualized (by example using Client Hyper-V)
      • Install Windows 8 already and wait for the 8.1 Preview to become available.
        • Will consume more space.
        • Will allow you to install the 8.1 RTM.
      • Wait for full Windows 8.1 Preview ISO to become available.
        • Will consume less space.
        • Might not allow you to install the 8.1 RTM version.
    • Physical
      • Create a new Windows To Go (WTG) installation.
        • On an officially supported WTG certified storage device.
        • On an unofficial non WTG supported storage device.
      • Create a dual/multi boot environment on a physical disk.
        • Create a new installation.
          • Gather required drivers and store them in an easy to access location.
          • Gather applications you want to install.
          • Install.
          • Installation directly to disk.
          • Use the boot from VHD method
      • Update your existing installation.
        • Ensure your important data is safe prior to updating. Even though the update should not destroy data, there is always a chance that it might.
          • Ensure you have recovery media and/or create a USB recovery drive.
          • Move/backup your data.
            • Verify if the new location / backup contains all your data. With backups, verify if you can restore
          • Sync to cloud services (Skydrive, Dropbox, Google Drive).
            • Realize this is not the same as a backup.
        • Document the installed applications (using PowerShell):
          • For Modern/Metro applications:
            Get-AppxPackage | Export-Csv -NoTypeInformation -path “C:\MyMetroApplications.csv”
          • For regular applications:
            Get-ItemProperty HKLM:\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\* | Select DisplayName, DisplayVersion, Publisher, InstallDate, HelpLink, UninstallString | Export-Csv -NoTypeInformation -path “C:\MyRegularApplications.csv”
        • Check if your current Windows 8 installation is healthy and if it is not, make it healthy again before installing the 8.1 Preview.
        • Install 8.1 Preview when it is available through the Windows Store
          • In the past I’ve seen issues with Service Pack updates caused by anti-virus solutions. So you might want to disable it until the installation has completed.
          • If you get an error “The windows 8.1 preview isn’t available right now. Please try again later.” take a look here.

With TechEd Europe 2013 in Barcelona and the Microsoft Build 2013 in San Francisco this week there’s probably a lot more news coming. So you might want to keep an eye on news on all websites. You can also check live streams on Channel 9.

I hope this was informative. If you have any other questions, suggestions or just want to share what you’re looking forward to the most, please leave a comment.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2013 in ICT, Microsoft, Windows, Windows 8

 

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Summary of 2nd Dutch PowerShell User Group – DuPSUG meeting with additional resources

Future events

Before starting with my summary of 2nd DuPSUG meeting, I want to inform you about some future events first:

  • Dutch PowerShell User Group Meetings
    • To keep track of news, use the links  to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the RSS feed on the DUPSUG website.
    • In the future, the plan is to meet every June and November.
    • The next meeting will probably be at November 7th at VX Company.
    • The idea is that community members will also present their own experiences, use cases, scripts, tools, methods. If you want to do so, please contact the DUPSUG group.
      • Remko Weijnen | Blog | Twitter | LinkedIn might be one of the people presenting at a future DUPSUG meeting.
    • Jeff Wouters might be able to arrange one or more copies of the PowerShell Deep Dives book from Manning since he’s contributing to it. The book isn’t complete and released yet, but Manning has an Early Access Program which means that you will get access to the completed chapters now and will get the full version when it’s done. Until June 13 there’s even a promotion to get a 40%-50% discount and it also applies to other great PowerShell books.
  • Inter Access Microsoft Summer Summit (Hilversum, July 2nd 2013 17:30-22:00 CET)

This event

Last Thursday I attended the second Dutch Powershell User Group meeting in Hilversum hosted at Inter Access and sponsored by Sapien Technologies Inc.

Just like I mentioned in the summary of the first meeting there were manu interesting sessions that provided me with more insight and inspired me for practical uses. It was also great to discuss current developments with other knowledgeable and passionate people. The main differences with the previous meeting was that:

  • This meeting was completely in Dutch, while the previous one was completely in English. As such, the workshop descriptions were also in Dutch and you needed to bring your own laptop.
  • The format of this meeting was more of a workshop, while the previous one was mainly presentations.

Thanks go out to all attendees, especially those presenting, organizing and sponsoring the event. Special thanks to Daniel Bot for helping me fix a (stupid mistake in a) script I was working on 🙂

Goodies and giveaways

Workshops / presentations

And now on with the really interesting stuff, the sessions/workshops. Below are the sessions with some info about the speakers and their sessions. I also added notes I took and other information I looked up afterwards. If you come across any errors or have comments, please leave a reply so I can fix it.

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Windows 8 tablet considerations including Windows RT and Windows 8 comparison

[Update 14-12-2013]

It’s been more than a year since my initial post, so here are some updates from my point of view:

  • Tablets and ultrabooks are coming closer together due to all the available form factors. Tablet, clam shell, slider, convertible, dockable / detachable, etc. This provides more choice, but makes it also harder for people to choose the device that is most appropriate for them.
  • Cheaper Windows 8.1 based tablets (based on the new Intel Atom processors) have become available that make it a more viable alternative to Android and iOS based tablets.
  • Windows tablets based on AMD processors seemed interesting to me last year because of their added graphical power, but they didn’t seem to get any traction up until now.
  • High end Windows based tablets (Intel Core i5/i7 based) are still relatively expensive.
  • Many companies that previously produced Windows RT tablets, stopped making them (Asus, Samsung, HP, Lenovo, HTC. The only companies that are still producting Windows RT tablets are Microsoft, Nokia (largely backed by Microsoft) and Dell.
  • Rumours are floating around that Microsoft will be reducing the number of Windows versions and in my opinion it would make sense to get rid of Windows RT.
  • The new and improved Intel Atom (quad core processors) are making ARM based Windows RT devices even less interesting because they provide better performance and use less energy than the previous versions while allowing people to run x86 programs.
  • Windows tablets have become available in smaller sizes (8 inch) and Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 have updated to better work with this.
  • Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 have been released and many minor adjustments made it more tablet optimized.
  • Most major apps have been released as a “Metro”/Modern app for Windows 8 / Windows RT, but it’s still lagging behind Google’s Play Store and the Apple App Store.
  • The graphical performance included in processors is increasing, reducing the need for seperate GPUs for generic use and bringing more options for apps.
  • Google Android based tablets are still going strong and provide a lot of bang for buck. Also the Android OS is still getting many useful updates. Security and OS version sprawl is still an issue though, especially in the enterprise. Also there’s a big gap in user experience because there are still very cheap tablets with lots of disadvantages, while the normal and high end models are very good in general.
  • The Apple iPad (hardware) and operating system (iOS) received updates and they’re still doing very well what they’ve always done while providing great stability and improving battery time and performance. To me however it’s more of the same without much added value over previous versions. I’m curious to see if, how and when Apple will make their devices more popular for people that want to be able to do more. Maybe some kind power tablet running OS X with touch and iOS options ?

If you have something to add or if you think something that’s incorrect, please leave a comment.

[Update 14-12-2013]

Since I’m seriously considering buying a Windows based tablet, I’ve been very closely following all developments. Even though a lot of information has become available, it’s often spread across many different websites and articles and is often incomplete in my opinion. Since the Microsoft Surface RT tablet is available for pre-order and will be sold when Windows 8 will be available on the 26th of October I decided to write this article.And even though a lot of people have complained about this on various sites, most sites don’t have one article that covers all the things to look out for. In this post I try to do just that. One of the most useful resources I’ve used are the articles from Paul Thurrott on his website supersite for windows.

Also it’s not just consumers that are having trouble understanding / explaining the differences between Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets though, Microsoft employees are also still being trained to properly handle questions.

In this post it’s important to realize that Microsoft Surface RT is not the same as Windows RT, Microsoft Surface RT is a tablet from Microsoft (hardware) that runs Windows RT (software). Microsoft Surface Pro is another tablet from Microsoft (hardware) that runs Windows 8 (software).

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