Windows 8 Consumer Preview (Desktop and Server) now available for Download

And if you want some videos:

Windows 8 Desktop Consumer Preview ISO files (.iso) are provided as an alternative to using Windows 8 Consumer Preview Setup. If you are on a PC running Windows and want to install the consumer preview on another partition, another PC, or a virtual machine, i recommend you download Windows 8 Consumer Preview Setup and use the built-in tools for converting an ISO image into installation media, such as a DVD or USB bootable flash drive. You can find additional information, including a list of supported upgrades, in the FAQ.

English 64-bit (x64) Download (3.3 GB) Sha 1 hash — 1288519C5035BCAC83CBFA23A33038CCF5522749

English 32-bit (x86) Download (2.5 GB) Sha 1 hash — E91ED665B01A46F4344C36D9D88C8BF78E9A1B39

Product Key: DNJXJ-7XBW8-2378T-X22TX-BKG7J

The next release of Windows Server, Windows Server “8″, offers businesses and hosting providers a scalable, dynamic, and multitenant-aware, cloud-optimized infrastructure. It securely connects across premises and allows IT Professionals to respond to business needs faster and more efficiently. Register to access technical product resources such as forums, solution accelerators, white papers and webcasts at the Windows Server “8″ Beta Resource Page.

Download here: Link

Windows Server “8″ beta documentation site is updated, here are some links:

Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 8 Consumer Preview includes Server Manager, Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-ins, consoles, Windows PowerShell cmdlets and providers, and command-line tools for managing roles and features that run on Windows Server “8″ Beta. In limited cases, the tools can be used to manage roles and features that are running on Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008. Some of the tools work for managing roles and features on Windows Server 2003.

Download here: Link

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview Product Guide for Business provides a detailed look at the many new and improved features in Windows 8. The guide is designed as an accurate source of information that can help businesses understand how Windows 8 enables users to be ready and productive practically anywhere, allows for a personalized user experience, and provides IT with more secure, easy-to-manage intelligent infrastructure.

Download here: Link

Remove Favorites, Libraries and Network from Windows 7 / 2008R2 Common File Dialog (Windows Explorer)

Within Windows Explorer you got the common file dialog (Shown @ the screenshot below). Within this dialog you got a favorite link, a Libraries link and a network link. These links are in some cases a security problem. You don’t want users to use the libraries folder witch contains all users folders when they work on systems that share users for example XenApp servers. Also you don’t want users to browse the network or see auto discovered server names…Here is described how you get rid of it!

You can set these registry settings within the 2008 computer policy’s with the registry but there is a problem with the rights. Standard the system and the administrators don’t have rights to set the settings. You have to change the acl to set the registry keys!

1. To remove the Favorites, the key is:

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{323CA680-C24D-4099-B94D-446DD2D7249E}\ShellFolder]
“Attributes”=dword:a0900100

Changing a0900100 to a9400100 will hide Favorites from Navigation Pane.

2. For Libraries, the key is:

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{031E4825-7B94-4dc3-B131-E946B44C8DD5}\ShellFolder]
“Attributes”=dword:b080010d

Changing b080010d to b090010d will hide Libraries from Navigation Pane.

3. For Network, the key is

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{F02C1A0D-BE21-4350-88B0-7367FC96EF3C}\ShellFolder]
“Attributes”=dword: b0940064

This first part is, in the 32-bit world, the solution for the Windows Explorer ánd the Common File Dialog. But in the 64-bit world you need another registry key edited. This is basically the same key, but in the Wow6432Node ‘folder’ within the registry.
The trick!:

1. To remove the Favorites X64 , the key is:

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Wow6432Node\CLSID\{323CA680-C24D-4099-B94D-446DD2D7249E}\ShellFolder]
“Attributes”=dword:a0900100

Changing a0900100 to a9400100 will hide Favorites from Navigation Pane.

2. For Libraries X64, the key is:

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Wow6432Node\CLSID\{031E4825-7B94-4dc3-B131-E946B44C8DD5}\ShellFolder]
“Attributes”=dword:b080010d

Changing b080010d to b090010d will hide Libraries from Navigation Pane.

3. For Network X64, the key is

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Wow6432Node\CLSID\{F02C1A0D-BE21-4350-88B0-7367FC96EF3C}\ShellFolder]
“Attributes”=dword: b080010d

Changing b080010d to b090010d will hide Libraries from Navigation Pane.

Internet Explorer 9 is here!

Microsoft has launched the much anticipated IE9.

To start experiencing a more beautiful web with IE9 and to visit a small set of the top 250 web-sites globally that have created a more beautiful experiences for all of us with IE9, go to http://beautyoftheweb.com/experience.

Internet Explorer 9 has now been downloaded 2.35 million times in the first 24 hours since its Monday night release. That is over 27 downloads every second, or over 240 downloads every 9 seconds. Wow!.

They want to thank everyone around the world for downloading IE9 and the enthusiastic reception. 2.3 million downloads in 24 hours is over double the 1 million downloads we saw of the IE9 Beta and four times that of the IE9 RC over the same time period.

In case you missed it, check out the collection of videos from the SxSW launch event. Ze Frank’s demo of Star.ME is one not to be missed!

You can see all of the demos and the complete launch event by clicking play below. And to download Internet Explorer 9 for yourself, visit http://www.beautyoftheweb.com.

Ze Frank’s demo of Star.ME is one not to be missed!

You can see all of the demos and the complete launch event by clicking play below. And to download Internet Explorer 9 for yourself, visit http://www.beautyoftheweb.com.

 

Announcing App-V 4.6 RC and integration with Office 2010 Beta!

Source: http://blogs.technet.com/softgrid/archive/2009/11/19/announcing-app-v-4-6-rc-and-integration-with-office-2010-beta.aspx

First of all, we are excited to announce the availability of App-V 4.6 RC! In August we announced the App-V 4.6 Beta. Since then we have taken in lots of customer feedback and continue to refine the App-V 4.6 release so that we can deliver a great product!  We invite you to check out the RC release by registering and downloading the App-V 4.6 RC release via Microsoft Connect, where you can also submit feedback directly to the team.

We’re not done though, in addition we’d like to share some great news and also announce our integration with Office 2010 Beta:

Microsoft Office 2010 Beta, Ready to be Sequenced With the Microsoft Office 2010 Beta Deployment Kit for App-V

As you know the Office team just completed a major milestone Microsoft Office 2010 Beta, congrats to the team!  Throughout the process of building Office 2010 the App-V and Office teams have been working very closely to make sequencing Office 2010 Beta possible with App-V 4.6 RC!  We have taken the feedback and requests from post-Office 2007 and App-V 4.5 releases, and have been hard at work implementing a solid integration experience for Office when App-V 4.6 releases in H1 2010.

So what’s Different when using Microsoft Office 2010 Beta and App-V 4.6 RC together?

Office 2010 has introduced a new piracy protection initiative, the Software Protection Platform (SPP) service.  This service uses a machine’s hardware characteristics and product key to activate the installation, which is performed during the first Office application launch.

Since the Office 2010 product activation is linked to the hardware on which Office is originally installed, customers who wish to deploy Office 2010 using App-V must physically install the SPP service on the sequencer machine before beginning the sequencing process – and on any client machines that will stream and run Office 2010.

Our engineering teams have collaborated to address the top customer issues that people were running into when virtualizing past versions of Office.   As a result, Office 2010 has a much more integrated user experience.  The Office 2010 integration delivers key productivity enhancements and a seamless user experience by enabling the following::

· Microsoft SharePoint Integration – You can open, edit, and save Microsoft Office documents using Microsoft SharePoint.

· Microsoft Outlook Fast Search – You can use Microsoft Windows Desktop Search to find specific messages in your inbox.

· MAPI Proxy – You can connect to your inbox using Microsoft Outlook Send To functionality.

· Microsoft Office Document Indexing – You can index your documents so that you can use Microsoft Windows Search to locate files.

· Virtual Mail Control Panel icon – You can use the Email icon in Control Panel to perform advance mail configuration.

· URL protocol handler – You can configure links in the browser and specify the appropriate associated Microsoft Office application.

· Send to Microsoft OneNote Printer driver – You can print documents to Microsoft OneNote.

To help customers facilitate this process, we have created the Microsoft Office 2010 Deployment Kit for App-V (Beta). The Deployment Kit contains both the required SPP licensing component and Office 2010 integration features.

And what’s even more exciting, you can get your hands on it now.

How Do I Sequence Microsoft Office 2010 Beta for App-V 4.6 RC?

1. Download Office 2010 Beta here

2. Download the Microsoft Office 2010 Deployment Kit for App-V (Beta)

3. Download App-V 4.6 RC on Microsoft Connect

4. Read the App-V recipe for sequencing Office 2010 Beta on Microsoft Connect.

For detailed information on whether your environment meets the requirements of Office 2010 and App-V 4.6 RC, please refer to the App-V recipe.

Please note: We are providing a recipe to support the sequencing and testing of these pre-release products on Microsoft Connect.  Please provide feedback via Microsoft Connect, by choosing FEEDBACK once logged into the App-V 4.6 Program.

We look forward to hearing about your App-V 4.6 RC and Office 2010 experience!

Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool v2.1 (VHD)

Source; http://blogs.technet.com/virtualization/archive/2009/12/10/Offline-Virtual-Machine-Servicing-Tool-v2.1-.aspx

Virtualization affects how we plan, build, deploy, operate, and service workloads. Customers are creating large libraries of virtual machines containing various configurations. The patch-state of these virtual machines are not always known. Ensuring that offline virtual machines are properly patched and won’t become vulnerable the instant they come online is critical.

I am therefore very pleased to state that the Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool v2.1 has now been released!

Congratulations to the Solution Accelerator team for this release!

The Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool 2.1 has free, tested guidance and automated tools to help customers keep their virtualized machines updated, without introducing vulnerabilities into their IT infrastructure.

The tool combines the Windows Workflow programming model with the Windows PowerShell interface to automatically bring groups of virtual machines online, service them with the latest security updates, and return them to an offline state.

What’s New?

Release 2.1 is a direct response to customer and Microsoft field requests to support the R2 wave. Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool 2.1 now supports the following products:
· Hyper-V-R2
· VMM 2008 R2
· SCCM 2007 SP2
· WSUS 3.0 SP2
· OVMST 2.1 also supports updates to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual machines.

Download here; Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool  2.1
More info; http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc501231.aspx

Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer 2.1.1

The Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer provides a streamlined method to identify missing security updates and common security misconfigurations. MBSA 2.1.1 is a minor upgrade to add support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

To easily assess the security state of machines in an environment, Microsoft offers the free Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) scan tool. MBSA includes a graphical and command line interface that can perform local or remote scans of Microsoft Windows systems.

MBSA 2.1.1 builds on previous versions by adding support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. As with the previous MBSA 2.1 release, MBSA includes 64-bit installation, security update and vulnerability assessment (VA) checks, improved SQL Server 2005 checks, and support for the latest Windows Update Agent (WUA) and Microsoft Update technologies. More information on the capabilities of MBSA 2.1 and 2.1.1 is available on the MBSA Web site.

MBSA 2.1.1 runs on Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP and Windows 2000 systems and will scan for missing security updates, rollups and service packs using Microsoft Update technologies. MBSA will also scan for common security misconfigurations (also called Vulnerability Assessment checks) using a known list of less secure settings and configurations for all versions of Windows, Internet Information Server (IIS) 5.0, 6.0 and 6.1, SQL Server 2000 and 2005, Internet Explorer (IE) 5.01 and later, and Office 2000, 2002 and 2003 only.

To assess missing security updates, MBSA will only scan for missing security updates, update rollups and service packs available from Microsoft Update. MBSA will not scan or report missing non-security updates, tools or drivers.
Choose the appropriate download below for English (EN), German (DE), French (FR) and Japanese (JA) for x86 (32-bit) or x64 (64-bit) platforms.

Download details Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer 2.1.1 (for IT Professionals)
Source: http://bink.nu/news/microsoft-baseline-security-analyzer-2-1-1.aspx

Remote Desktop 7 Screenshots in Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2, including HD Movie Support

New Enhancements

The upcoming RDP 7 enhancements discussed are as follows:

  • Windows 7 Aero support
  • Direct 2D & Direct 3D 10.1 application support
  • True multi-monitor support
  • RDP Core Performance Improvements
  • Multimedia enhancements
    • Media Foundation support
    • DirectShow support
  • Low Latency audio playback support
  • Bi-directional audio support

Anyone who has been doing server-based computing, remoting, terminal services, Citrix or whatever you want to call it for any period of time.  In this portion they show a 1080p high definition (HD) video being remoted from a Windows Server 2008 R2 Terminal Services.

WOW, is all I can say!  I was left speechless.  It was beautiful, not a single skip or hiccup, and it was beautiful.   Microsoft accomplishes this not through virtual GPUs or server-side GPUs but by sending commands (code) from the server to the client.  The commands are then executed on the local client’s graphics cards vs. the servers which Microsoft calls this, “RDP Client Rendering”.

The following image is a screen shot from the HD movie played over RDP 7.  You will notice the resolution is very high and rich, now imagine it running in full motion with the audio synced.   I never thought I would see the day.

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Through RDP Client Rendering the amount of server-side resources are cut drastically.  This eliminates the classic problem where one or two users running a graphics application at any given time renders the Terminal Servers box unusable.  Not anymore.  As the HD movie played, Gaurav showed us that both the server’s CPU and the network bandwidth utilization were running around 1%.   Again, WOW is all I can say!

In the following image you will you will notice the Windows Task Manager’s CPU Usage and Memory Usage are very low considering a HD move is being remoted.  Heck, mouse movements almost add more CPU… ;)

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Once they were done wooing us with the amazing eye candy in the demo, Nadim Abdo came back to discuss RDP Graphics Internals, the RDP graphics architecture, and which RDP rendering method was used by which applications.

Applications Supported?

As mentioned earlier, in Windows 7 and RDP 7 Microsoft has added the ability for the server to send commands to the Remote Desktop Client and have those commands executed by the local client’s graphics card vs. being required to have them rendered on the server, thus gaining the benefits we talked about above.  But this is not always the case, and it was pointed out in the presentation where applications that run through and/or somehow embed Windows Media Player will take advantage of client -side rendering, called RDP Client Rendering, but that all others methods will not.  For example, Flash media.  We all know there are tons of Flash videos and banners all over the web today.  Even DABCC.com has Flash.  Microsoft commented that in the future we might see other graphics version move from a host rendering solution to a client rendering model.

The following chart shows the media types and whether they are rendered on the server and/or the client:

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RDP 7 Graphics: Bringing it All Together

In the finial demo of the presentation, Gaurav Daga revisits the Direct X 2D and Direct X 3D applications shown earlier in the presentation, but this time he runs them both at the same time, side by side on the screen.

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You will also notice the full Aero glass effect is present and running over RDP 7, notice the translucencies?  Gaurav even showed off the eye candy “Flip 3D” support and it all worked flawlessly over a remote desktop session.  Yes, a RDP session…

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Virtual Desktop Support

One of the more interesting points Gaurav Daga made, which I found very compelling, was around virtual desktops.   He made the point that today most virtual graphics adapters found on virtual desktops do not support truly rich DirectX and Direct 2D / 3D applications but with Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and RDP7, it won’t matter due to the fact the features are built into the operating system (Windows 7) and do not require heavy use of the server side graphics driver.  This also means it does not matter what hypervisor Windows 7 runs on.  All you need is a virtual Windows 7 desktop along with the Desktop Client for RDP7 and the user experience will be all that and a bag of chips.

This makes me think.  VMware and a slew of other desktop virtualization venders use RDP as the remoting protocol for their VDI solutions so in theory they will be able to take advantage of these upcoming features.  But the problem is solutions such as VMware View (formally known as Virtual Desktop Manager (VDM)) have a custom client.  This being said, the VDI brokers will be required to update their current clients to support the upcoming RDP 7 enhancements.  Only the upcoming Microsoft Desktop Services connection broker will be able to take advantage of these features by default.

What Clients will be supported?

At launch time and I can only expect for some time afterwards, the following clients will support all the new graphics and multimedia enhancements:

  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista (Direct X remoting will not work)


The Bottom Line:

The bottom line is that Microsoft is stepping up the game with Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services, and RDP 7.   The enhancements discussed and shown in the demos will go a long way to enhance the “user experience” in both Presentation Virtualization and Virtual Desktop worlds thus allowing wider adoption due to less pushback from users.  (We all know user pushback matters…and delivering an amazing user experience is the key to overcoming user pushback.)

The only big drawback I saw was the fact that Microsoft is still using host rendering for a slew of common formats.  For example, Flash.   Needless to say Flash tends to be everywhere and typically does not perform well on my TS boxes… :)  These new features will not directly benefit Flash video and the other formats of videos still using host based rendering.

Although at the end of the day for me it is simple….. when I can get my hands on this I will be retiring my MacBook Pro notebook and will be replacing it with a laptop running Windows 7!   Sorry Apple… Put that in one in an upcoming “PC vs. Mac” commercial because “I’m a PC”!

Pushing the Limits of Windows: Paged and Nonpaged Pool

In previous Pushing the Limits posts, I described the two most basic system resources, physical memory and virtual memory . This time I’m going to describe two fundamental kernel resources, paged pool and nonpaged pool, that are based on those, and that are directly responsible for many other system resource limits including the maximum number of processes, synchronization objects, and handles.

Paged and nonpaged pools serve as the memory resources that the operating system and device drivers use to store their data structures. The pool manager operates in kernel mode, using regions of the system’s virtual address space (described in the Pushing the Limits post on virtual memory) for the memory it sub-allocates. The kernel’s pool manager operates similarly to the C-runtime and Windows heap managers that execute within user-mode processes.  Because the minimum virtual memory allocation size is a multiple of the system page size (4KB on x86 and x64), these subsidiary memory managers carve up larger allocations into smaller ones so that memory isn’t wasted.

For example, if an application wants a 512-byte buffer to store some data, a heap manager takes one of the regions it has allocated and notes that the first 512-bytes are in use, returning a pointer to that memory and putting the remaining memory on a list it uses to track free heap regions. The heap manager satisfies subsequent allocations using memory from the free region, which begins just past the 512-byte region that is allocated.

Nonpaged Pool

The kernel and device drivers use nonpaged pool to store data that might be accessed when the system can’t handle page faults. The kernel enters such a state when it executes interrupt service routines (ISRs) and deferred procedure calls (DPCs), which are functions related to hardware interrupts. Page faults are also illegal when the kernel or a device driver acquires a spin lock, which, because they are the only type of lock that can be used within ISRs and DPCs, must be used to protect data structures that are accessed from within ISRs or DPCs and either other ISRs or DPCs or code executing on kernel threads. Failure by a driver to honor these rules results in the most common crash code, IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL .

Nonpaged pool is therefore always kept present in physical memory and nonpaged pool virtual memory is assigned physical memory. Common system data structures stored in nonpaged pool include the kernel and objects that represent processes and threads, synchronization objects like mutexes, semaphores and events, references to files, which are represented as file objects, and I/O request packets (IRPs), which represent I/O operations.

Paged Pool

Paged pool, on the other hand, gets its name from the fact that Windows can write the data it stores to the paging file, allowing the physical memory it occupies to be repurposed. Just as for user-mode virtual memory, when a driver or the system references paged pool memory that’s in the paging file, an operation called a page fault occurs, and the memory manager reads the data back into physical memory. The largest consumer of paged pool, at least on Windows Vista and later, is typically the Registry, since references to registry keys and other registry data structures are stored in paged pool. The data structures that represent memory mapped files, called sections internally, are also stored in paged pool.

Device drivers use the ExAllocatePoolWithTag API to allocate nonpaged and paged pool, specifying the type of pool desired as one of the parameters. Another parameter is a 4-byte Tag , which drivers are supposed to use to uniquely identify the memory they allocate, and that can be a useful key for tracking down drivers that leak pool, as I’ll show later.

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