Archive for October, 2009

Windows 2008R2 and Exchange 2007 – Supported or not…??

Server administrators be warned; if you’re looking at Windows Server 2008 R2 you need to be aware it is not currently supporting Microsoft Exchange 2007 on this platform. Instead, you must upgrade to Exchange 2010.

This news was made public via the Microsoft Exchange Team blog when discussing rollup 9 for Exchange Server 2007 service pack 1.
Specifically, the Exchange Team note that one of the fixes in the RU is “Support for Windows Server 2008 R2 Domain Controllers in the environment” adding the disclaimer “Note: Exchange Server 2007 itself is not supported to be installed on a Windows Server 2008 R2 system.”

[read more at blogs.technet.com]

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Want Windows 7? Everyone in London sure does!

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Known for our queuing, the British lined up in scores this morning to get their hands on Windows 7.  PC World has launched a scheme similar to our car scrappage scheme, wherein you bring your old machine to them and instantly £100 off of your new machine with – yep, you guessed it – Windows 7.

If only the guys above knew that a subscription to TechNet Plus would have gotten them Windows 7 so much earlier and without the hassle ;)  I guess they all know what to ask for at Christmas time now! :)

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Windows 7 Themes – more more more

uk-theme Introduced in to Windows 7 was the concept of themes – multiple backgrounds, a sound scheme, power management settings, the whole monty all “zipped” up for a better lack of terms.  For those of you who tested Windows 7 there were limited themes available, but now it is at GA, as part of the launch, they’re offering loads more themes…more countries, more backgrounds and even sponsored themes – like Coca Cola, Ducati, and Ferrari.

Check out more and download some of the new themes over at the Windows Personalisation Site:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/downloads/personalize

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Amazon: Windows 7 Out Hexes Harry Potter in the UK!

So it’s launch day, and the news is out…Amazon UK has had more pre-orders for Windows 7 than the previous #1 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows

http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/44377/140/

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Getting Your Windows 7 Problems Sorted

So we’re T-2 days away from the GA of the biggest OS launch in Microsoft’s history – Windows 7.  Everyone wants it, everyone is talking about it and everyone wants it to work in ways (Vista) other operating system’s didn’t.  They want continuity, they want security, they want they want – oh yeah, you want!  Well, in order to do that, we’re here to help.  The MVP’s, the MCT’s, Microsoft support and even you the community are helping each other in order to get the niggly bits sorted in ways they weren’t before.  So, what options do you have if you want support?  Well, let’s have a quick look:

Firstly, there’s Microsoft Answers:

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http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/category/windows7

It’s a forum for end users who have questions surrounding Windows 7.  My printer doesn’t seem to be detected…which is the best Anti-Virus programme to use…How does Aero Peek/Shake/Snap work…All the questions surrounding the daily usage of your OS in your private environment.

Next, we’ve got the TechNet Forums:

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http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/category/w7itpro

TechNet is for those of you who are IT Pros and looking for solutions as to how to deploy, better configure and better manage your IT infrastructure or estate at work.  Same topical matter, but with a different perspective as many who visit answers won’t have tools like SCCM, MDOP, MDT, be using BitLockerToGo or other enterprise tools.

Lastly, you can always visit our flagship location – one stop shop if you will – that has resource after resource after resource for helping you with the client OS needs.  Yep, you got it – Springboard!

 

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Infact, you all should know it so well by now you don’t need the URL, but just in case you’ve never been there before:

http://www.microsoft.com/springboard/

Give these locations a once over and I’m sure you’ll have your answers and more information to be dangerous quicker than you can say Windows 7 Rocks!

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Need .hlp? Got Win7? You’ll need winhlp32.exe

help-icon In the early days (wow has it been that long we’ve all been using Microsoft OS’s 😉 help files came in the form of .hlp files.  Over time they changed to .chm files which in turn had their own opener (albeit most are “security aware” now and lock themselves), however some of the legacy .hlp files are still lurking out there.  At any rate if you come across an old .hlp file and need to open it – Windows 7 no longer supports them.  The reader hasn’t been updated for ages, therefore it wasn’t included in Windows 7 (it wasn’t included in Vista either).  So, if you want to open one of these bad boys, pop on over to Microsoft’s download area and pick up winhlp32.exe (the viewer).

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=258aa5ec-e3d9-4228-8844-008e02b32a2c

Should you be interested in the KB article that covers this, you can check it out too:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/917607

Happy Helping (or being helped)

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Performance Testing Guide for Windows 7

A key goal for Windows 7 is to improve performance in common customer scenarios. To increase system responsiveness and performance, Windows 7 adapts over time to user behaviour and takes advantage of the machine’s idle cycles to perform background tasks. Although Microsoft focused on making “in-box” background tasks efficient, these tasks can nevertheless create challenges for those who want to test performance in a controlled environment.

This paper provides information about running performance tests on Windows. In particular, it explains how the system adjusts its behaviour and how the system services and settings affect performance measurements. By understanding these details, you can ensure consistent results and address issues during testing.

[Click Here to Download the WhitePaper]

[Click Here to Read More from Microsoft.com]

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Networking Security in a Virtual World

17856_lg When you think about a virtual switch, do you envision a black or dark-blue box that consumes 1U or 2U at the top of server racks? That ever-present device from Cisco, 3Com or Juniper creates the networking fabric within which your IT infrastructure communicates. Built into its network hardware is a mature Internetwork Operating System that enables the complex routing, switching and access control that users have come to expect from production networks.

Yet any vision of a virtual switch that exactly mirrors a physical one is only fantasy with today’s technology. The virtual switches within virtualization platforms such Microsoft’s Hyper-V might resemble their real-world counterparts, but virtual switches today provide only a subset of the capabilities of physical servers.

That lack of functionality can be a problem for organizations that make assumptions about virtual network security. Simply put, virtual networks are not physical networks, and they need special attention to be secured properly. First and foremost, Hyper-V’s virtual switches are "Learning Layer 2" devices, which means they route their packets based on Media Access Control addresses. It also means that Hyper-V’s switches don’t understand and can’t process the more-advanced IP-based routing and access-control features commonly found in today’s Layer 3 switches. In essence, an access control list (ACL) can’t be applied to an internal Hyper-V virtual switch using current technology.

Hyper-V’s virtual switches are also limited because they lack support for third-party monitoring and enforcement of virtual network traffic. Once traffic leaves a physical network and enters Hyper-V’s internal virtual realm, it disappears from any external intrusion prevention or detection systems.

Thus, a Hyper-V networking environment requires a few workarounds to duplicate the high levels of security found in some physical servers. First, network ACLs that restrict traffic to Hyper-V hosts will need to be designed with the recognition that they’ll be limited to the boundary of the physical network infrastructure. Conversations between individual virtual machines (VMs) on the same host won’t respect those network-based ACLs. Each virtual machine will need its own installation of an operating system-level firewall and intrusion-detection software if those components are required by your security policy.

Microsoft’s guidance for Hyper-V security also strongly recommends that a dedicated network adapter be used for connecting the host’s primary partition (its "management OS") to the network. This protects the primary partition’s OS from traffic that is sent along the interface used by virtual machines. From a security perspective, virtual machine traffic is always considered to be at a lower trust level than the primary partition because protecting the primary partition is critical to ensuring that VMs stay operational. Environments with very high security requirements may consider restricting primary partition management traffic not only to its own network interface but also to its own protected subnet.

Microsoft has strengthened security in Windows Server 2008 R2 with the introduction of a new setting in virtual switch management. In R2, the Hyper-V Virtual Network Manager includes a new check box marked "Allow management operating system to share this network adapter." This check box further ensures that management OS traffic is isolated from virtual machine traffic. By leaving this check box blank, created virtual networks are not exposed to the primary partition.

Environments that need high availability with Hyper-V will also require some form of shared storage between cluster nodes. For many, this involves implementing an iSCSI-based storage-area network for the storage of Hyper-V VMs. It is a best practice to always separate iSCSI network traffic from production network traffic. At the same time, iSCSI traffic should generally be placed into its own subnet to prevent denial-of-service conditions during periods of overuse as well as to further isolate the different types of traffic from each other.

Many people seek to improve system-availability metrics through network interface teaming. To that end, Microsoft itself does not support the teaming of interfaces for high availability. This has often been panned in the media as a major limitation in Hyper-V for production environments. However, note that Microsoft has never supported interface teaming — even in physical environments. Notwithstanding, vendors such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard have for years developed their own set of teaming drivers, many of which will function in a Hyper-V environment. Obviously, you’ll need to verify the level of support that the OEM for such drivers will provide.

In short, the move to virtualization atop Hyper-V is much easier when there are plenty of network interfaces on Hyper-V hosts. It is not unheard-of to see Hyper-V hosts with up to 10 network interfaces as organizations use dual four-port network cards in addition to the typical dual network interfaces built into today’s server motherboards. Having this many network interfaces ensures that enough are available for redundant production networking, storage and management, as well as a few left over for any "interesting" network configurations that may be needed down the road.

Networking can be a hidden danger, but there’s a danger too in how your virtual machines colocate atop Hyper-V hosts. Particularly problematic in clustered environments where VMs can live migrate around for failover and load balancing, VM colocation can be a security as well as a compliance problem or your IT environment.

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Windows 7 – Just 11 days away

There has been much anticipation leading up to October 22, 2009. It’s Microsoft’s biggest release of an Operating System ever. Windows 7. The wait is over, is it as good as you thought it was going to be? Has it filled gaps that previous versions didn’t? Let’s take a look back through the timeline of Windows and see what Microsoft did different this time around to “round the troops” and get everyone excited about Windows 7.

The Other 6 Versions

On April 6, 1992 we were introduced to the first graphical Windows – Windows 3.1. It was very picturesque and liked by many – a stepping stone in to the world of Operating Systems. Its successor, Windows 95 came to us in August 1995, just three years later and was much anticipated by many as it was beginning to connect us to the Internet more easily than ever before and also add features and functionality that was only talked about in years past. It was what seemed to be a truly revolutionary operating system as it gave us a “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) interface and also introduced us to the “start” button, which still exists today. It was heavily built upon and in June 1998, again three years on, we were introduced to Windows 98. This was more streamlined and began to appear not only in homes but in the workplace in certain instances as it could be networked. Then came what many consider the disaster to Windows. What was to be released as a stop gap between Windows 98 and Windows XP, on September 14, 2000, Microsoft introduced us to Windows ME (Millennium Edition). Dubbed by many as Windows ME (Millions of Errors), it only saw the light of day for a year or so before crawling in to a hole (and hopefully never coming back again). Quickly replaced in August 2001 with Windows XP, the fifth iteration of the Microsoft desktop OS, Windows XP took networking to the next level. It built upon the foundations of Windows 2000 – the professional younger brother of XP – and allowed people to get jobs done more easily, effectively and efficiently. It was deployed in mass by many and loved by all. Windows XP was so robust and worked that well, that it took Microsoft almost 6 years before releasing Windows Vista, which was to be the new operating system of the 21st century. However, Vista, similar to ME wasn’t accepted with such open arms and as such Microsoft found themselves struggling to keep this operating system’s head above water. It took more memory than its predecessors, had a new architecture that wasn’t friendly to external devices and was very slow and cumbersome. Something had to be done to gain the trust back of the user base that was slowly converting their systems to other companies or even just sticking with Windows XP in fear of Vista’s wrath.

Windows 7 Community Involvement

Microsoft promised within three years of Vista’s release date – January 30, 2007 – they would have a new operating system for the mass market. It had to be an operating system that would hopefully cure the woes of the public and bring them around. In order to do this though, they had to figure out a way to make Windows 7 more successful than the previously released Operating Systems. It had to have something different and most of all, it had to work and be loved. On January 9, 2009, Microsoft made publically available to the entire world, the beta of Windows 7. This was a first, as previously if you wished to trial any previous beta software from Microsoft you had to register and potentially be screened before being allowed to trial the upcoming software releases. This was different because in order to succeed, Microsoft needed the feedback from the users and those closely connected to the usage of the new OS.
After listening to the community during the 5 month beta, on May 5, 2009 the release candidate for the software was also made freely available to the world and in order to ensure the bugs were sorted out and everyone felt comfortable using it, Microsoft started a forum for the RC software. These forums as well as other Microsoft websites and communities – such as Springboard – started to give the users what they needed most – a voice and answers. Windows 7 was turning out to be what everyone wanted.

Performance

One of the other key critical elements of Windows 7 compared to other operating systems is that it is the first OS not to require a hardware upgrade. This means that almost 90% of the equipment out there today running either Windows XP or Windows Vista (9 years of hardware) can suitably run Windows 7. In fact, statistics have shown that Windows 7 actually out performs both Operating Systems on the same hardware in more than 3 of every 4 tests.

Usability

In order to make sure Windows 7 also worked better, the user interface was streamlined and made more friendly. It was to take on the same look and feel as their recent Office 2007 release. It was to have a ribbon and make things easier to use and get to. Not only did it streamline the interface, but it integrated search capabilities in to the OS so you could find things quicker and with less effort.

Conclusion

Windows 7 has been drastically changed on the outside, yet the inside is still a Microsoft Operating System. In the past 18 years of Operating Systems, we’ve had some highs and lows seen some changes for the good and also some detrimental ones. This iteration of an Operating System has taken on board the most important aspect of anything, and it isn’t a technical facet, it’s the power of the community. It’s been tried, tested and most of all, the team developing it listened to ensure this one will be one for the archives and works better than any of the previous ones and will be one the community, us who made it work the way it does, embrace it like no other.

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