W2K8R2 & Windows 7 SP1 Release Candidate Now Available

Today, Microsoft has made available a Release Candidate (RC) for Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7. SP1 includes both a roll-up of operating system updates and several new capabilities for Windows Server.

Microsoft RemoteFX introduces a new set of remote user experience capabilities that enable a media-rich user environment for virtual and session-based desktops. RemoteFX can be deployed to a range of thick and thin client devices, enabling cost-effective, local-like access to graphics-intensive applications. RemoteFX also supports a broad array of USB peripherals to improve the productivity of users of virtual desktops.

SP1 also includes Dynamic Memory, which enables servers running Hyper-V for server virtualization, to be more efficient in the use of memory.  Dynamic Memory pools and distributes memory among the virtual machines running on a physical host, enabling higher consolidation ratios, increasing server utilization rates, and providing more flexible workload management. Furthermore, memory is dynamically added based on the demands of the current workloads and without service interruption.

Expect to see Service Pack 1 released in its final form during first quarter 2011 and whether you’re virtualizing servers or desktops, take a few minutes to learn more about Service Pack 1 here. You needn’t wait for SP1, however – you can join those already enjoying the benefits of Windows Server 2008 R2 by deploying today.

Improve the efficiency and availability of IT resources and applications with the new virtualization innovations provided in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 RC. Dynamic Memory and Microsoft RemoteFXTM, to help businesses further optimize their datacenter and desktops.

  • Dynamic Memory lets Hyper-V administrators pool available memory on a physical host and dynamically distribute it to any virtual machine(s) running on that host.
  • RemoteFX lets Windows Server 2008 R2 administrators provide a rich end user desktop virtualization experience by delivering vivid content, independent of any graphics stack, to server-hosted virtual and session-based desktops.

Businesses can take advantage of these innovations to help deliver new capabilities such as private cloud and VDI. To learn more about Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 RC and the benefits it provides, read the documents, feature overview and FAQs below.

Dynamic Memory Overview

Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V introduces a new feature, called Dynamic Memory, in the Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 RC releases.  It allows customers to achieve increased density when they’re consolidating physical servers into a virtual realm, providing them with predictable performance and linear scalability.

With Dynamic Memory, IT administrators are able to pool available memory on a physical host and then dynamically dole that memory out to virtual machines running on the host, based on current workload needs.

RemoteFX Overview

RemoteFX, a key feature of Remote Desktop Services (RDS) lets IT administrators deliver a rich graphics experience to end-users through virtualized desktops.  Using new protocol enhancements between Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7, end users can now access virtual machines on a wide variety of target devices and still get a rich graphics experience with server-side graphics processing.

Download SP1 here; http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?familyId=C3202CE6-4056-4059-8A1B-3A9B77CDFDDA&hash=wrw75DeobQ1hLeOrOvthYUYCv7PJpk89RMXhKQ3RVng1XsUOVWqxDvThIkaoGa34DtzYCHZTKY4Evdlqyp7X4Q%3d%3d

Sources;
http://blogs.technet.com/b/windowsserver/ 
http://bink.nu/news/windows-7-and-windows-server-2008-r2-service-pack-1-release-candidate.aspx

Free eBooks from Microsoft Press

Of course everybody reads the e-books posted on E-Books.BassQ.nl !? Right?
Well ii found some new books in a post off the blog of steven bink witch i haven’t read yet,

Free ebook: Moving to Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 (10 chapters by by Patrice Pelland, Pascal Paré, and Ken Haines)
Free ebook: Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 (10 chapters by Ross Mistry and Stacia Misner)
Free ebook: Programming Windows Phone 7 Series (DRAFT Preview) (6 chapters by Charles Petzold)
Free ebook: Petzold’s Programming Windows Phone 7 (Special Excerpt 2) (newer than the ebook above; 11 chapters by Charles Petzold)
Free ebook: Own Your Future: Update Your Skills with Resources and Career Ideas from Microsoft (8 chapters by Katherine Murray)
Free ebook: Understanding Microsoft Virtualization Solutions (Second Edition) (6 chapters by Mitch Tulloch)
Free ebook: First Look Microsoft Office 2010 (14 chapters by Katherine Murray)
Free ebook: Windows 7 troubleshooting tips (short ebook by Mitch Tulloch)
Free ebook: Introducing Windows Server 2008 R2 (9 chapters by Charlie Russel and Craig Zacker)
Free ebook: Deploying Windows 7, Essential Guidance (10 chapters from the Windows 7 Resource Kit and 6 TechNet articles)

Source ; http://bink.nu/news/free-ebooks-from-microsoft-press.aspx

Hyper-V Monitor Gadget for Windows Sidebar

Created by Tore Lervik (mindre.net), The gadget can list multiple servers at once and also support vmconnect when double clicking on a VM. The gadget uses WMI to connect to the server so the user might need to follow John Howard’s guide remote WMI access (Step 5) on both the client and the Hyper-V server.

He has created a sidebar gadget so you can see what the Hyper-V server is doing from a workstation. The gadget can list multiple servers at once and also support vmconnect when double clicking on a VM.

PS: The gadget uses WMI to connect to the server so the user might need to follow John Howard’s guide remote WMI access on both the client and the Hyper-V server.

Some of the features are:

  • VM CPU graph
  • Wake on Lan support
  • VM RDP (If the host is running 2008 R2)
  • Multilanguage support.
  • Optimized performance releated to VM-RDP addresses.
  • Added ability to only display a number of VM at the time. (Good for people having more VM than fits on the screen)
  • If a VM not in the screen is off the host’s name will be red, if it’s paused or starting it will be orange.
  • Added ability to minimize a server in the monitor view. Holding mouse cursor over the Host will display information about the VM’s
  • Added option to choose what type of RDP setting to the host on a pr. host basis.
  • Added VM information when holding the mouse cursor over a VM (The gadget needs focus for this to work..)
  • Added Orange background to a VM that is running with the Health-status not beeing OK. (Happens when a VM is booting up by bluescreen)
  • Added Pause button to the VM controls.
  • Wibout Bootsma is now part of the gadget development. :)

Download here;
Hyper-V Monitor.gadget (50 kb)

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Available for Download: Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Beta!

source; http://blogs.technet.com/b/windowsserver/archive/2010/07/12/available-for-download-windows-server-2008-r2-sp1-beta.aspx

We’re at the sold out Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington D.C. talking to our partners about the public beta release today of Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7. We managed to get this puppy out the door a few weeks early, so take advantage and download the code to evaluate the new features and benefits that SP1 can provide for server and desktop installations. The final version of SP1 is due out in the first half of next year.

For partners, we think there is great opportunity here to continue evangelizing the benefits that Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 already deliver while noting for customers that it only gets better when final code for SP1 is released. For example, if you’re a distributor, there’s a great opportunity to grow your business by selling more server and desktop licenses with virtualization solutions based on Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7. If you’re a VAR, you can improve software and solutions sales built on Microsoft software, including Windows Server 2008 R2, with offerings that utilize virtualization and integration with Windows 7.  If you’re an ISV, you can increase your sales and reduce development time by building apps and solutions for the virtualized environment on Windows Server 2008 R2. And if you are a hardware partner, you can increase sales by creating solutions for customers, in particular in the area of desktop virtualization with solutions that take advantage of Microsoft RemoteFX. For partner-related news around RemoteFX, please check out Max’s blog.

The two most important developments in SP1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 are:

Dynamic memory lets Hyper-V administrators pool available memory on a physical host and dynamically distribute it to any virtual machine(s) running on that host. So as the workloads on that physical workload change, requiring more or less memory, Dynamic Memory will let administrators change the memory allocation to their VMs without service interruption. For a deeper look at Dynamic Memory check here.

RemoteFX enhances Microsoft desktop virtualization. RemoteFX lets Windows Server 2008 R2 administrators provide an even richer and user-transparent desktop virtualization experience. RemoteFX delivers rich content, independent of any graphics stack, to server-hosted virtual and session-based desktops, allowing them to support any screen content, including full-motion video, portable graphics stacks such as Silverlight, and 3D applications. Because it can use virtualized graphics on the server and advanced codecs , RemoteFX can deliver those experiences to a much wider array of target devices, including standard desktops and laptops but also an emerging slew of thin clients. You’ll also be able to forward the USB ports of the local client to the virtual machine being accessed on the device – just like you can forward the local printer over RDP today.

Make sure you check out the new SP1 Beta Resource page on Microsoft.com as well as the TechNet SP1 page — and don’t forget to grab the download here.

Dress up your office wall with the Hyper-V component architecture poster!

The poster is a great visual tool to help in the understanding of the key features and components of the Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2.  It highlights key Hyper-V components including:

  • Architecture
  • Virtual Networking
  • Virtual Machine Snapshots
  • Live Migration
  • Storage Interfaces
  • Storage Types
  • Storage Location and Paths
  • Import and Export

This large-format poster provides practical visual depictions of the Windows Hypervisor, live migration process, cluster shared volumes architecture, VMQ data paths, disk storage I/O path, and much more.

Download here ; http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=5567b22a-8c47-4840-a88d-23146fd93151

Print, and Enjoy!

Three Steps to a PXE-Free XenDesktop on Hyper-V

http://community.citrix.com/display/ocb/2010/04/13/Three+Steps+to+a+PXE-Free+XenDesktop+on+Hyper-V

I ran into an interesting situation last week while working with Tony Sanchez from our Global Microsoft Team. He was setting up XenDesktop 4 on Hyper-V 2008 R2. However, the lab he was at used a Windows Deployment Server (WDS) for image management and it relies extensively on PXE. Rather than modify the WDS to support the Provisioning Services PXE boot file, we decided the best solution was to make a boot ISO that will load the OS directly from the Provisioning Services host and then boot the guests from that ISO.

Background

Since not all my readers are familiar with using the Boot Device Manager, I will set the stage. When configuring a virtual machine to boot off of a CD-ROM image for PVS, you need to do three things:

  1. Add a Legacy network card on the host since the Synthetic network adapter is not created until the Operating System loads.
  2. Configure the BIOS boot order so that CD-ROM is first in the list.
  3. Assign a bootable ISO image to the CD-ROM/DVD drive.
Take Note
The PXE boot option is required in order for the NIC Option ROM to stay resident in memory during the pre-boot process. This way, UNDI will be available to the boot device to properly initialize the NIC. Otherwise, the “API not found” message would be displayed by the boot device.

In deployments of XenDesktop where you have more than about 15 machines, the XenDesktop Setup Wizard (XDSW) is normally used to create and link the XenDesktops with Hyper-V. Unfortunately, the XDSW does not support all the possible VM configuration options when duplicating the source virtual machine. One of the properties that is not transferred to the new virtual machine is the ISO in the DVD drive. Normally, this behavior is the preferred because Hyper-V needs a special configuration to support sharing an ISO across multiple guests simultaneously (See this Technet article), which if not configured correctly can cause startup issues.

If you do not want to configure ISO sharing, you can use the VMM server and VMM library to copy the boot ISO to each virtual machine’s folder. If the ISO was large, I would say spend time setting up the sharing configuration; however, in this case the file itself is only 300K and copying it will eliminate the possibility of file sharing/locking issues.

Now you understand some of the challenges, I can tell you the three steps to a PXE-free Hyper-V deployment.:

  1. Create a PVS Boot ISO using the Boot Device Manager
  2. Import that PVS Boot ISO into the VMM Library
  3. Execute a PowerShell script

Step 1: Create a PVS Boot ISO

The Provisioning Services Boot Device Manager is a three-dialog wizard that lets you pre-configure the boot environment just like a PXE server would, except you can then write that to a drive or CD-ROM media. The Boot Device Manager is found on the Start menu of any provisioning server at All Programs >> Citrix >> Provisioning Services >> Provisioning Services Boot Device Manager.

I do not want to spend a lot of time discussing the various options or provide a tutorial on this utility; however, I will provide a few pointers. First, be sure to enable the “Citrix PVS Two-Stage Boot Service” and set it to start automatically on any servers you will use as the targets for the ISO image. Second, if you are using Windows 7, be sure to enable the PAE Mode on the second page of the wizard, like this:

Third, be sure to select Citrix ISO Recorder as the boot device (shown below) before burning the ISO image, lest you accidentally wipe out your local hard disk. For a complete guide on using the Boot Disk Manager, see this Citrix Support Article CTX121331.

Step 2: Import the ISO into the SCVMM Library

Take the ISO you created in Step 1 and save it to the folder where the SCVMM library stores are located. I created a new folder called ISOs at the same level as VHDs and placed the ISO in that folder. Next start the SCVMM Administrative Console and go to the Library tab. Select the MSSCVMMLibrary node and click Refresh on the context-menu to add the ISOs to the library as shown here:

Step 3: Execute the PowerShell Script

Next, you can copy the contents of the PowerShell script below and save it to a file called AttachISO.PS1. I realize that I am not yet a PowerShell guru, so I am aware that several optimizations and error checks could be made to this script. Feel free to modify it for your own use. My goal was provide a working example to help with this issue. The PowerShell script below does the following:

  1. Sets the boot order to CD, PXE (Legacy NIC), IDE, Floppy
  2. Copies the ISO image from the library to the VM’s folder
  3. Creates a DVD drive object at the IDE bus 1:0 if no DVD drive is found
  4. Removes any existing ISO and sets the ISO image to the one specified on the command-line
  5. For larger environments, it lets you know how many VMs it has left to process
AttachISO PowerShell Script
# Purpose:      Attach ISO image from VMM Server Library to Guest Virtual Machine
# Date Written: 12 April 2010
# Author:       Paul Wilson (no implied or expressed warranties)
# Usage:        AttachISO [UNC Path to ISO in Library] [VM Name to Match Criteria]

# Check for the two required arguments and offer command-line assistance if not found

if ($args -eq $null -or $args.Count -lt 2)
{
   write-output "Usage: AttachISO.ps1 UNC_fileName_ISO_File VMNameMatches"
   write-output "Example: .\AttachISO.ps1 ""\\SCVMM\MSSCVMMLibrary\ISOs\pvbt.iso"" ""Desktop"" "
   exit 1
}

# Grab the arguments and store them for later use

$ISOPath = $args[0]
$VMNameMatches = $args[1]

# Get the name of the SCVMM server we are running this on.
# The VMM server could be passed as a parameter as well.

$VMMServer = Get-VMMServer -Computername "localhost"

# Get the ISO image reference object using the ISO path provided earlier. 
# Using the full path guarantees the right object is found. 

$ISOImage = Get-ISO -VMMServer $VMMServer | where { $_.SharePath -eq "$ISOPath" }

if ($ISOImage -eq $null)
{
   write-output "Unable to find ISO: $ISOPath"
   exit 1
}

# Get the collection of VMs that match the name parameters supplied and output that information

$VMs = Get-VM | where { $_.Name -match "$VMNameMatches" }
if ($VMs -eq $null)
{
   write-output "No VMs match the pattern: $VMNameMatches"
   exit 1
}
else
{
   $LeftToGo = $VMs.Count
   if ($LeftToGo -eq $null)
   {
      $matchString = "Only one VM matched the pattern: {0}" -f $VMNameMatches
      $LeftToGo = 1
    }
    else
    {
      $matchString = "{0} VMs match the pattern: {1}" -f $VMs.Count, $VMNameMatches
    }
    write-output $matchString
}

# This loop goes through each VM found and does the following:
#   1. Sets the boot order to CD, PXE Nic, IDE, Floppy.
#   2. Gets the DVD/CD drive object.
#   3. The script will copy the ISO image from the library to the VM's folder.
#      The copy is part of the Set-VirtualDVDDrive and New-VirtualDVDDrive cmdlets.
#   4. Creates the DVD drive object if none found and sets it to the ISO.
#   5. Removes any existing ISO and sets the ISO image to the one specified.
#   6. Outputs the number of VMs remaining to process. Added for large deployments. 

foreach ($VM in $VMS)
{
   $LeftToGo = $LeftToGo - 1
   Set-VM -VM $VM -BootOrder CD,PXEBoot,IDEHardDrive,Floppy
   $current_dvd = get-VirtualDVDDrive -VM $VM
    
   if ($current_dvd -eq $null -or $current_dvd.count -eq 0)
   {
      $newDVD = New-VirtualDVDDrive -VM $VM -Bus 1 -LUN 0 -ISO $ISOImage
      $DVDResultMessage = "Created DVD Drive on {0}. {1} VMs left to go." -f $VM.Name, $LeftToGo 
   }
   else
   {
      if ($current_dvd.Connection -ne "None")
      {
         set-VirtualDVDDrive -VirtualDVDDrive $current_dvd -noMedia
         set-VirtualDVDDrive -VirtualDVDDrive $current_dvd -ISO $ISOImage 
         $DVDResultMessage = "Replaced existing media in DVD Drive on {0}. {1} VMs left to go." -f $VM.Name, $LeftToGo
       }
       else
       {
         set-VirtualDVDDrive -VirtualDVDDrive $current_dvd -ISO $ISOImage 
         $DVDResultMessage = "Successfully attached ISO to the DVD Drive of {0}. {1} VMs left to go." -f $VM.Name, $LeftToGo
       }
    }
    write-output $DVDResultMessage
}

Failover Clustering for Hyper-V with File Server Storage

Overview
In a previous blog post, I described 5 different ways to implement Windows Server Failover Clustering with Hyper-V. Those options included: Parent-based Failover Clustering with two physical servers, Child-based Failover Clustering with two physical servers, Mixed Physical/Virtual Failover Clustering, Failover Clustering with two child partitions on one physical server and Standalone demo laptop with Virtual iSCSI SAN.

However, I failed to mention in that post the option to use CIFS/SMB file server share as your option for Failover Clustering storage. This scenario is so unique (with differences in flexibility, cost and performance),  that I would argue it constitutes a sixth method. Here’s how you can do it.

Before and After Diagrams
As I did with the previous blog post, let me describe the scenario using two diagrams. First, here is a diagram describing the scenario before a failure:

HVFS01

Now, here’s a diagram describing the scenario after a failure in SPTNODE1:

HVFS02

As you can see, we use a file server (called SPTSERVER1) for storing the Hyper-V files. The idea is to store the configuration files, the VHD itself and the VHD snapshots in the \\SPTSERVER1\VMSHARE\VM1 folder. As we do when using a SAN for shared storage, the surviving node will take over and start the VM in case of a failure. We can also use the very same scenario for Quick Migration, making the VM move orderly from one node to another by saving the state to the file share and instructing to other node to take over and restore the VM.

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Hyper-V Failover Clustering Options

There are many ways to implement Windows Server Failover Clustering with Hyper-V. I could actually find five unique methods to do it. Some of them will actually not give you a fully fault-tolerant solution, but most of them actually make sense in specific scenarios (even if only for demonstrations). In any case, just trying to understand and differentiate them will probably be a good exercise.

1 – Parent-based Failover Clustering with two physical servers
In this first scenario, probably the most common one, you implement Windows Server 2008 Failover Clustering at the Hyper-V Parent (Host) level. You will need some shared storage, like a Fibre-Channel or iSCSI SAN.

Here is a diagram describing the scenario before a failure:

HVFC1B

Here is a diagram describing the scenario after a failure:

HVFC1A

As you can see, this can survive the failure of one of the physical servers. In fact, if you have a redundant network and storage infrastructure (not shown above), you can have a truly highly available solution.

Additional details about this solution (including screenshots on how to configure it) are available at http://blogs.technet.com/josebda/archive/2008/04/14/snw-demo-windows-server-2008-core-hyper-v-and-failover-clustering-with-screenshots.aspx

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