System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3 is out now!

Today marks the release and availability of System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3!  R3 includes a complete set of power management tools for more Green IT, mobile device management capabilities, and other enhancements.

Below are a few key points on what’s new with R3.  Go here to download the evaluation software, view demonstrations or try R3 via Microsoft’s virtual labs.

  • Centralized Power Management: Allows IT organizations to centrally manage the power settings of Windows 7, Vista and XP computers, helping reduce energy consumption and costs.  Detailed reports of trends and settings help IT pros make smart power management choices, and also validate Green IT projects with summaries of power, money and CO2 savings.  Learn more here.
  • Mobile Device Management: Licenses for System Center Mobile Device Manager allow users to run comprehensive asset inventories, deploy software, manage settings and enforce password policies for Widows phones.
  • Enhanced Scalability and Performance: Configuration Manager R3 is more scalable than ever, increasing the number of supported clients to 300,000 per site.  R3 is also more efficient in the way it communicates with Active Directory, helping you discover user or machine changes more quickly and allowing custom queries to define user, system or group attributes.

Additionally, just like Configuration Manager R2, R3 will be the foundation for the upcoming Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010.  By bringing endpoint security into overall endpoint management, users can reduce costs and inefficiencies, and also improve security and compliance..

Source;

http://bink.nu/news/system-center-configuration-manager-2007-r3-released.aspx
http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/en/us/configuration-manager/cm-r3.aspx

The new look of RES Software

Hot off the press: As previously announced, wonderful things are happening over at RES. Today 5pm CET, RES Software has changed the website, logo and messaging, but that’s not all. Product names and categorizations have changed too! More below. There are many other significant changes underway, which will be revealed over the course of this week. To help you make sense of it all, here is a quick breakdown on what’s going on so far:

  • New website. Have a look at the new RESsoftware.com, which is live now.
  • New logo. Gone is the old blue-white-black. You can view the new shaded logo in all it’s glory by clicking on the miniature in the upper left corner of this article.
  • New product suite: As of today, all the current products are considered part of ONE  suite, called the RES Dynamic Desktop Studio. See the illustration on the right.
  • The product now formerly known as RES PowerFuse will from today be known as the RES Workspace Manager, part of the Dynamic Desktop Stuido.
  • RES Wisdom will from today be known as the RES Automation Manager. also part of the suite
  • Orchestra aka Orchestraton Pack for Wisdom is now known as the Service Orchestration Module in the Automation Manager.
  • The Workspace Extender aka Subscriber will from today be known as the Virtual Desktop Extender, or VDX.
  • VDX will be available as a stand-alone product from January 2011.

All this information and more is available in the New RES FAQ, available here.

As mentioned there will be made more, important announcements during this week, so keep an eye out for them here at the ‘Guru. In the meantime, you can see what the  new names and logo’s for the components of the Dynamic Desktop Studio will look like. Click on the individual components to jump to the corresponding product page.

Source ; http://resguru.com/

There are a variety of ways to experience the power of RES Software solutions – check out the evaluation and free product downloads below.

RES Workspace Manager 2010 SR2 – Free 60 day trial version (formerly RES PowerFuse 2010 SR2)
Download a 60-day trial version of RES Workspace Manager 2010 and see how user workspace management software will work for your business. The trial version allows you to evaluate the Enterprise-, Standard- or MyWorkspace Edition of RES Workspace Manager 2010.

RES Workspace Manager 2010 SR2 Express Edition – Free Download (formerly RES PowerFuse 2010 SR2 Express Edition )
Download a copy of the free, production-ready Express Edition for delivering a personalized, secure and reliable user workspace to your end users. Supports up to 100 concurrent users.

RES Automation Manager 2011 RC – Free 60 day trial version (formerly RES Wisdom)
Download a free 60-day trial version of RES Automation Manager 2011 Release Candidate and see how run book automation for Windows will work for your business.

Web page to search group policy’s from Microsoft

So.. have you ever tried to find the registry setting for a specific group policy setting, or just tried to actually find the group policy setting you needed and couldn’t quite remember where it was?

Under MSDN Microsoft has launched a new site called http://gps.cloudapp.net this site is awesome! The site will allow you to search for group policy settings, filter by Internet Explorer version, office version and others and browse by registry or by policy.

But this tool makes it much easier to find the right settings and apply them either with registry hacks or policy objects.

This is a quick example of a search on hide drives which is pretty commonly used but still..

image

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IE9 will never run on Windows XP

Microsoft‘s new browser, Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), will not run on Windows XP, now or when the software eventually ships, the company confirmed Tuesday.

The move makes Microsoft the first major browser developer to drop support for XP, the world’s most popular operating system, in a future release.

Although Microsoft excluded Windows XP from the list for the IE9 developer preview, it sidestepped the question about which versions of Windows the final browser would support. In an IE9 FAQ, for example, Microsoft responded, “It’s too early to talk about features of the Internet Explorer 9 Beta” to the query, “Will Internet Explorer 9 run on Windows XP?”

 dialog box

This dialog box pops up during attempts to install IE9 Platform Preview on Windows XP.

That caused some users to demand a straight answer. “Please tell whether the final version will run on Windows XP SP3 or not,” said someone identified as “eXPerience” in a comment to a blog post by Dean Hachamovich, Microsoft’s general manager for the IE team. “If not, please be clear about it. Really, enough is enough of keeping users in the lurch about Windows XP support.”

Others bashed Microsoft on the assumption that IE9 would never run on XP. “Dropping Windows XP support is one of the worst decisions ever taken by [the] IE team, probably even worse than disbanding the IE team back in the IE6 days,” claimed an anonymous commenter.

Microsoft had offered up broad hints that IE9 was not in Windows XP’s future, however. Tuesday, a company spokeswoman said the new browser needs a “modern operating system,” a phrase that hasn’t been paired with Window XP for years. “Internet Explorer 9 requires the modern graphics and security underpinnings that have come since 2001,” she added, clearly referring to XP, which appeared that year.

Windows XP’s inability to run the Platform Preview or the final browser stems from, IE9’s graphics hardware acceleration, which relies on the Direct2D and DirectWrite DirectX APIs (applications programming interfaces). Support for those APIs is built into Windows 7, and was added to Vista and Windows Server 2008 last October, but cannot be extended to Windows XP.

Some users worried that by halting browser development for Windows XP, Microsoft would repeat a current problem, getting customers to ditch IE6 for a newer version. “Those who choose to stay with XP will be forced to [then] stay forever on IE8, which will become the new IE6,” said a user named Danny Gibbons in a comment on Hachamovich’s blog.

Tough, said Sheri McLeish, Forrester Research’s browser analyst. “This is the stick to get off XP,” she said. Windows XP users will solve the browser problem themselves when they upgrade, as most eventually will, to Windows 7. “What are they going to do, go to Linux or run XP forever?” she asked.

Still, IE9’s inability to run on Windows XP will prevent it from becoming widespread until the nearly-nine-year-old OS loses significant share to Windows 7. According to Web metrics company NetApplications’ most recent data, if IE9 was released today, it would be able to run on just over a quarter — 27% — of all Windows machines.

No other major browser maker has announced plans to stop supporting Windows XP, but several have dropped other operating systems or platforms. Last month, for instance, Mozilla said it would not support Apple’s Mac OS X 10.4, known as “Tiger,” in future upgrades to Firefox. Google‘s Chrome for the Mac, meanwhile, only runs on Intel-based Macs, not on the older PowerPC-based machines that were discontinued in 2006.

The IE9 Platform Preview can be downloaded from Microsoft’s site. It requires Windows 7, Vista SP2, Windows Server 2008 or Windows 2008 R2.

Patch support for Windows XP SP2 ends tomorrow….

Windows XP, the stalwart OS that kept Microsoft chugging through the rollercoaster days of Windows Vista, will be officially taking versions of XP running SP2 off the patch schedule tomorrow. This comes as no surprise, as Microsoft has already laid out a clear timetable for gradually removing support from XP. The schedule has Microsoft completely pulling support from all XP products in 2014. While upgrading to SP3 is free and not too difficult, users running 64-bit versions of XP will be stuck with SP2, and their important security updates for programs like Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, and Windows Media Player, are going to stop coming tomorrow.

According to Computerworld, however, you can still run XP SP2 while staying safe and secure, if you’re so inclined. First, they suggest getting rid of Internet Explorer altogether. While that browser won’t be getting any more security updates, other browsers, like Firefox and Chrome, will. They also suggest actively upgrading all your third party applications and plugins to their latest versions. Don’t depend on your software’s auto updating capabilities for this task. Many vulnerable and oft exploited programs, like Adobe Flash Player plugins, aren’t automatically updated, and constantly upgrading that software will require some diligence on the part of the user.

Microsoft may not be releasing any more patches, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to ignore XP altogether. In fact, many security bulletins posted before or on Microsoft’s patch Tuesday include information that’s applicable to many, if not all, versions of Windows, and can be fixed with manual workarounds in the absence of an official patch.

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
}

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