PowerShell 2.0 Is Available For Download (XP and Windows 2003 Also!)

Following quickly on the heels of the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 launches (they have PowerShell 2.0 built in), Microsoft has released version 2.0 for all flavors of Windows since XP:

Windows Management Framework, which includes Windows PowerShell 2.0, WinRM 2.0, and BITS 4.0, was officially released to the world this morning. By providing a consistent management interface across the various flavors of Windows, we are making our platform that much more attractive to deploy. IT Professionals can now easily manage their Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2 machines through PowerShell remoting – that’s a huge win!

PowerShell v2 has finally been released for ‘legacy’ OSes (Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008)! I’m saying legacy OSes because the latest OSes are Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. You could also say the out-of-band releases have been released. This happened somewhere in the end of October 2009.

If you are having a hard time finding those, that’s because it is in included in the Windows Management Framework.

The Windows Management Framework includes:

  • Windows Remote Management (WinRM) v2.0
  • Windows PowerShell v2.0
  • Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) v4.0

Read more about it here.

Windows Management Framework Core (WinRM 2.0 and Windows PowerShell 2.0)

Windows Management Framework BITS (BITS 4.0)

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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

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New tool Sysinternals, disk2vhd!

I am a big fan of sysinternals tools and I use these tools quite often to debug OS related issues. These tools are quite useful when you want to understand internals of OS. Mark and his team has been doing a great job in keeping these tools up to date and adding new features once in a while. One such new tool that got released yesterday is Disk2VHD. You can download it here. Here is how TechNet link decribes this new tool.

Disk2vhd is a utility that creates VHD (Virtual Hard Disk – Microsoft’s Virtual Machine disk format) versions of physical disks for use in Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs). The difference between Disk2vhd and other physical-to-virtual tools is that you can run Disk2vhd on a system that’s online. Disk2vhd uses Windows’ Volume Snapshot capability, introduced in Windows XP, to create consistent point-in-time snapshots of the volumes you want to include in a conversion. You can even have Disk2vhd create the VHDs on local volumes, even ones being converted (though performance is better when the VHD is on a disk different than ones being converted)

disk2vhd

I downloaded this tool in the morning and experimented a bit on my Windows 7 system. Usage of this tool is straight forward. You see a dialog with all disk partitions as listed in the screen shot here. All you need to do is select all the partitions you want to export to a VHD and click “Create”. The VHD export will take sometime based on the overall disk size you selected. For my experiments, I just selected first two partitions. This is because I have all the BCD information on partition 1 and without that my new VHD will be meaningless. You may see lot of CPU/memory utilization while the export is in progress. On my system, it looked something like this.

Once the export is complete, I rebooted my system in to Windows Server 2008  R2 and created a virtual machine and attached the exported VHD. That is it. My virtual machine is ready with installed OS and all the applications I was running on the physical Windows 7 system.

As I powered on the VM, the first screen showed me the boot menu I usually see on my physical machine. This is because I never removed the additional multi-boot entries I had in the BCD stored on first partition.  This entries — if selected — won’t work because I did not export the partitions containing those OS images to the VHD.

resmon

At this point, I continued selecting the Windows 7 entry and started booting OS. Within a few seconds, I could see the user selection screen and after I logged in using my regualr user account, I could see all the applications working as usual. I also have Windows Virtual PC with WinXP mode in the VHD image. But — as I expected — that did not work as it requires hardware assisted virtualization which is something that will not be availble inside a virtual machine.

vmbootmenu

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Windows Server Update Services 3.0 SP2 released!

Windows Server Update Services 3.0 Service Pack 2 (WSUS 3.0 SP2) delivers updates to corporate environments from Microsoft Update. This release adds new features and fixes issues found since the release of the product.

WSUS 3.0 SP2 delivers important customer-requested management, stability, and performance improvements. Some of the features and improvements include the following:

  • Integration with Windows Server 2008 R2.
  • Support for the BranchCache feature in Windows Server 2008 R2.
  • Support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 clients.
  • Compliance Report
  • Windows Update Agent (WUA) offers a collection of performance enhancements, user experience improvements, and bug fixes software updates.

WSUS 3.0 SP2 can be installed alone, or as an upgrade of WSUS 3.0 SP1.
This package installs both the WSUS 3.0 SP2 Server, WSUS 3.0 SP2 Administration Console components and WUA client for down-level operating system. You must install the server components on a computer that is running on Windows Server 2003 SP2 or later versions. You may install the Administration Console on a remote computer that is running one of the supported operating systems, see below the Supported Operating Systems section.
WSUS 3.0 SP2 Server Installation on Windows Small Business Server 2003
If you are installing the WSUS 3.0 SP2 product on Windows Small Business Server 2003, follow the instructions in Installing Windows Server Update Services 3.0 on Windows Small Business Server 2003.

Download Here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=a206ae20-2695-436c-9578-3403a7d46e40#tm

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Great Microsoft Virtualization Free E-Book

understanding-microsoft-virtualization-solutionsToday I have another great ebook to share with you. If you are interested in Microsoft virtualization solutions, then book “Understanding Microsoft Virtualization solutions” will be great resource for you. It is available as a free pdf download, and it covers Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5, Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization, and Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. It’s been written by Mitch Tulloch with the Microsoft Virtualization team, it’s been published by Microsoft Press, it has 431 pages and it is available as FREE DOWNLOAD.

Download “Understanding Microsoft Virtualization solutions – from the Desktop to the Datacenter” free pdf ebook

Original article: Microsoft Press – Microsoft Virtualization Solutions Free E-Book by Brian Johnson

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Microsoft will soon unveil free virus software

* Microsoft getting ready to unveil free anti-virus service

* Software maker says will soon put beta version on website

* Company employees testing it internally

Microsoft Corp is getting ready to unveil a long-anticipated free anti-virus service for PCs that will compete with products sold by Symantec Corp and McAfee Inc.

A Microsoft spokesman said on Wednesday that the world’s biggest software maker is now testing an early version of the product with its own employees and that it will “soon” make a trial version available via its website.

Microsoft has said that it will only include basic features for fighting viruses, which would likely make it comparable to the least-expensive products sold by Symantec and McAfee.

More at Paul Thurrott’s Super Site

http://community.winsupersite.com/blogs/paul/archive/2009/06/10/microsoft-will-soon-unveil-free-virus-software.aspx

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Windows XP Mode within Windows 7

Windows 7 ‘s new XP Mode lets you seamlessly run virtualized applications alongside your regular Windows 7 applications—so your outdated software will continue to work. Before we begin, you’ll want to make sure your system meets the requirements:

  • Processor: Processor capable of hardware virtualization, with AMD-V™ or Intel® VT turned on in the BIOS.
  • Memory: 2GB of memory recommended.
  • Hard disk requirement: 20MB hard disk space for installing Windows Virtual PC . Additional 15GB of hard disk space per virtual Windows environment recommended.

Make sure that your processor supports hardware virtualization, and double-check that the hardware virtualization setting is enabled in your BIOS (the setting is often not enabled although your processor may be supported). You can use the official Intel Processor Identification Utility if you are running Intel, or you can can use previously mentioned SecurAble to determine whether or not your AMD or Intel processor will support XP Mode.

Next, you’ll need to install two software packages on your PC:

  1. Download and install the Windows Virtual PC Beta , which is the virtualization software that powers "XP Mode".
  2. Download and install the Windows XP Mode Beta , which is a specially crafted XP virtual machine .

Once you’ve completed those steps and restarted your computer, run the Virtual Windows XP item in the start menu, add in a password and make sure to choose to remember the credentials if you want the integration features to work smoothly.

Once the wizard is complete, hopefully you will see a dialog that sets up XP for use, which will take quite a while. If you receive a message that hardware virtualization is not enabled, reboot your computer and check that the BIOS option is enabled, usually found under the advanced settings page.

If all goes well, you’ll see a Virtual Windows XP window, complete with a notification to install antivirus software—since XP Mode is nothing more than Windows XP in a virtual machine, you should take the advice and install your favorite antivirus application, especially if you’ll be downloading files in the VM.

At this point you will need to install your applications in Windows XP, and make sure to choose "All Users" anytime you are asked who to install the software for—the integration features won’t work with software that installs just for your user account. If you can’t install for everybody, you can simply choose "Open All Users" on the start menu, and copy a shortcut to the application into the start menu’s programs folder.


Once your applications are installed and shortcuts are in the All Users start menu, they will magically show up in the Windows 7 start menu under the Windows Virtual PC -> Virtual Windows XP Applications folder.


Depending on the state of the virtual machine, you will be prompted to close it in order to switch into "virtual application" mode. If the virtual machine was hibernated, you will see a slightly different prompt, but the general idea is that it can’t be running while you are in application mode.


And now, success! The Chrome window in the front is an XP-mode window—you’ll notice that windows running in XP mode don’t seem to take advantage of the slick Windows 7 drop-shadows, and you won’t see a thumbnail preview in the taskbar or Alt-tab.

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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.

Continue reading

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