Windows 10 Devices Launch

Microsoft is launching Surface Pro 4, the Lumia 950 & 950 XL phones, Band 2, and maybe more. Read on – here’s my live blog of the event.

Already, thanks to a snafu by Microsoft, we know the specs of the new Lumia flagship handsets:

Lumia 950

We also know that there will be a dock for these handsets to leverage Windows 10 Mobile’s Continuum feature, basically turning your phone into a desktop device with a monitor and Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

The Surface Pro 4 is expected to be an evolution of the Surface Pro 3 (which is defeating tablet trends by increasing sales quite a bit year on year), and now Microsoft has copped on and started sales through the partner channel.

Questions I have:

  • Will the phones be sold unlocked through the channel if business is the intended market, as we suspect (Continuum)?
  • Will Surface Pro 4 offer Hello, and if so will it be fingerprint or camera (the phone uses an Iris scan)?
  • Will Microsoft announce something else, maybe a bigger Surface or a laptop?
  • Will Joe Belfiore continue to try to convince us that the Surface is “lap-able”?
  • Will they have a new cool demo of HoloLens?
  • Will there be a demo of Windows 10 on Xbox One?
  • Will the challenge the Wallstreet Journal reporter (a big Apple fan) to take home and use a Surface again?

We do know that Windows 10 head honcho, Terry Myerson, is feeling confident:


Stay tuned and we’ll find out more …


Before the Show

Petri Executive Editor, Brad Sams, isn’t impressed by the wi-fi at the venue in downtown New York – so it’s no different to any recent Microsoft conference:


Paul Thurrott isn’t impressed either. Seriously, if you’re going to invite the tech press to a live event then don’t you want them to communicate about what your are showing?


The Intro

Here we go … it’s all about “moments” … “we live in one of those moments”. “Let’s inspire. Create new experiences and new possibilities. Let’s empower everyone to go further. To do great things. Changing how we touch. ”. And the stream died. Sorry.

Microsoft should look into building a cloud scale data center facility with content delivery networks and media streaming … oh … Seriously, why the frak do they use 3rd party streaming services?

Terry Myerson

Following Twitter, after 10 weeks there are 110 million activated Windows 10 machines. 8 million business PCs running Windows 10. There have been 1.25 billion Store visits on Windows 10. Devs making 4 times more money. Facebook is building new universal apps for Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger.


New devices are the next chapter of Windows 10. Features like Cortana and Continuum are software + hardware, Windows 10 + new hardware. Today is the “start” of that next generation hardware (MSFT is doing cooperative launches with OEMs in the coming weeks).

All Xbox One machines will get Windows 10. Some special editions and the pricey gaming controller coming for Christmas.


Next up HoloLens. They want to show us something different that they’ve developed internally … mixed reality gaming on HoloLens:

Turn every room into your house into a video game level. They show us Project X-Ray, he’s going to defend the stage from an alien invasion.


He has a wearable hologram – a hologram you can hold. FRAK!


Spatial sound so you can use sound/direction. The robots know the room and use it. Me want!


Starting today they are taking registrations for the developer kit, costing $3000 and shipping in Q1 2016.

That’s the audience warmed up.

Microsoft Band 2

Eh. The new prison band from the future from a movie of the past. Sorry, I’m checking my Twitter feed and checking my mail. At $249 it’s the same price as the top end FitBit – you can pre-order today. Hard to win against a brand like that if you’re the same price, even if you have more features.


Surface & Lumia

Surface is worth 3.5 billion dollars per year. Now on to Panos Panay, the new leader of the entire devices family.

Panos Panay

He feels blessed – HoloLens has him and the crowd excited – how new for a devices event at Microsoft!!!



The Lumia 950 family:


Two antennas in the handsets to get “always on connectivity”. They will give you the best connection they can find. 950 5.2” is a hex core and the 950 5.7” XL is a octo core CPU. Liquid cooling was added from Surface to make these phones as powerful/productive as possible.


He is blowing through the specs – “you guys wrote about this already” and jokes with the media in the room.

He’s pushing the Windows 10 piece of the phones and how it uses the OLED to show info without unlocking the phone.

The camera is next (Lumia heritage). Triple LED natural flash (“no redye” and true colour). 20 MP sensor with Zeiss PureView lens. Optical stabiliser. And the usual dedicated camera button.


He’s a stickler for the little design details. He pushes the button (natural reflex)- 4K video, which goes straight to the cloud.

32 GB storage with SD expansion up to 256 GB, and it will support 2 TB when it eventually comes out – wow!

The connector is USB type C to support 5 Gbps transfers. In less than 30 minutes you get more than 50% charge – great in the morning when you forgot to charge it and you can get it topped up while getting ready.

All this power and cooling and Windows 10 … the phone is a PC. Office, Skype, OneDrive, Edge, … it’s the same package that you’ll use on your PC. Continuum baby.

Bryan Roper

Hello is blowing his mind and making some noise.


Unlocking the phone: you just look at it – the Hello beta.

The Microsoft Display Port is shown – how you connect the phone to your monitor, keyboard and mouse.


The phone is docked, and the start screen of the phone is the start menu on the desktop. He starts using Office and Outlook, using it with a mouse and keyboard. Welcome to the future.


The navigation experience is consistent with the desktop. He app switches, etc. He lifts the phone and he can still do all the phone stuff (texting, etc). Universal apps can scale between screen sizes (phone and monitor).

He does some productivity stuff, like editing a Word doc, copies a table, does Alt-Tab, goes to PowerPoint and pastes a table. It’s the same as the PC, just with the universal app version of Office.

The Display Dock supports removable media such as a USB stick. He inserts one with pictures on it and browses the photos on the monitor via the phone.

He has full audio and 1080p. He plays the Jurassic World trailer on the big screen with surround sound in the theatre. And that’s coming from the phone.

Panos Panay

Back on stage to wrap up. The 950 is $549 and and the 950 XL is $649.



They want to make these the most productive devices on the planet. Surface Pro 3 has grown. We’ve seen this (as distributors to resellers). There’s a video of a small CAD/CAM business using Surface to it’s potential (touch, pen, CPU, mobility).

“Competitors are chasing it; it’s pretty cool”.

Do they double down and bring the thunder? Yup. Thunderstruck.

6th generation Intel SkyLake CPU that is 50% faster than the MacBook Air. Up to 16 GB RAM and 1 TB storage. It’s Surface Pro 4. Thinnest Core PC ever shipped. 12.3” diagonal screen (by reducing the size of the bezel so it’s the same size device). 267 PPI screen – 5 million pixels on screen, keeping the screen the best in the biz, IMO.

PixelSense technloogy. 0.4 mm gorilla glass. 1.1mm backlight. Custom chipset called G5 made by Microsoft. Takes the optical stack and brings “best pen & touch experience on any product”.


The pen has an eraser on the back. He jokes that there’s a pencil out there without an eraser, sorry Apple! 1024 levels of pressure. 1 year of battery life in the pen – rechargables break the flow of productivity. The pen connects to the Surface via a magnet by the looks of it – no loop required.


Office & OneNote are integrated. You can quickly launch OneNote and copy content to OneNote using clicks on the pen. An attempted Cortana demo tries to show off the new Microsoft Store in Manhattan – he doesn’t get a spoken result and looks like he was stumped for a second, before recovering.

Inter-changeable pen tips are being introduced. You can select a tip that suits how you work – pencil, ballpoint pen, felt-tip pen, etc.

Surface Pro 4 is 30% faster than the Pro 3. He compares it to the MacBook Air – 50% faster than the Apple.


They stopped thinning the device at 8.4mm so there’s still a USB port there! They demo the Surface Pro docking station – it also supports Surface Pro 3. Four USB 3.0 connectors, 2 x 4k display ports, Ethernet. It looks more like a hub, moving away from the big docking station of the past.

There is a new Surface Pro Type Cover. It is lighter, thinner, and stronger. There is a “pro key set” moving away from the older type keyset. This is also compatible with the Surface Pro 3. The touch pad is 40% larger.

On to Windows Hello:


He shows how his kids use Windows Hello on a Surface to get a unique experience for each of them. Parents will love this. There’s a finger print reader on the keyboard.


The front facing camera appears to support Windows Hello. The starting price is 899. You can pre-order now and it’s available on October 26th.

Catch the promo video on YouTube:

Surface Laptop

Oh yeah – I want this.

“We made the ultimate laptop – we made Surface Book”.


It’s … grey.


13.5” diagonal screen. 6 mp. 267 DPI. Pixel Sense. It has a pen and touch experience. Optically bonded screen. Top quality visuals. The typing experience was a big deal for them.

He jokes that we laughed about lap-ability. The typing is quiet. 1.6mm of travel – they’re using their 20+ years of keyboard experience. The trackpad is optimised by the Windows 10 team – it’s made of glass. 5 points of touch on the screen.

12 hours of battery. GDDR5 memory. Tuned NVIDIA GForce GPU – tuning via XBox team. This thing “is for the game than plays League of Legends”. This is not a $200 laptop. This is the “fastest 13 inch laptop ever made”. And remember – 12 hours of battery.

How does it compare to a MacBook Pro? It’s 2 times faster than the MacBook Pro. The Surface Dock also works with the Surface Book – one chord (the Surface Connector). He copies 3 GB of data from a drive to the desktop in around 3 seconds. They then show Gears of War playing on the Surface Book – It looks smooth. Some movie editing in Premier Pro – it’s happy doing it with full GPU rendering and no glitches.


They start with a case and machine it to 10s of microns – every Surface is unique because of this manufacturing process.


2 USB , SD, backlit keyboard.

Starts at $1,499, available for pre-order now, and also out on October 26th.

“We are relentless … and we can’t just stop”.

Surface Pro 4 was about bringing the thunder. This product is about reinventing categories. We re-watch the Surface Book video. Ah – the tablet undocks from the keyboard – and can be docked backwards. The Surface Book is a convertible, not a traditional laptop!!!!!

It weights 1.6 Lbs. It is 7.7mm thin. It is modelled on the A4 page for a natural feel. The expandability (USB etc) is in the keyboard. The GPU is in the base.

Muscle Wire is used instead of levers and clicks to lock in the screen. You simply pull off the screen from the base. It’s some sort of clever electrical charge thing.


Catch the Surface Book on YouTube:

Satya Nadella

Out comes the CEO.


“We’re making great progress” with the vision they shared in January. This is by far the fastest adoption of a Windows release. A new chapter of Windows 10 is beginning with new devices built for Windows 10 by Microsoft and partners – a new era of more personal computing that focuses on mobility of experience where  you persist, not the device. No single device will be your hub forever – you are the hub so your apps, settings and data need to be mobile with you. This is why they built Windows 10 they way it is, a unified platform for people, developers and IT, on devices from the Raspberry Pi to the HoloLens.

They aren’t just building h/w for h/w’s sake. They consider new forms and functions simultaneously. They plan to invent new personal computers and new personal computing.

Microsoft is now building the most productive phone on the planet. And lots of caring, and envisioning, and … they should have wrapped up on a demo high IMO.

But overall – this was a very successful launch. I need to get our Surface manager to organise me some *cough* demo stock.

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Microsoft News – 28 September 2015

Wow, the year is flying by fast. There’s a bunch of stuff to read here. Microsoft has stepped up the amount of information being released on WS2016 Hyper-V (and related) features. EMS is growing in terms of features and functionality. And Azure IaaS continues to release lots of new features.


Windows Client


System Center

Office 365




Driver Updates By Windows Update Are Ruining Windows 10 For Me

In previous posts I talked about how Windows Update was breaking the Intel HD graphics adapters in my Lenovo Yoga and Toshiba KIRAbook Ultrabooks, and I also posted a solution that should prevent Windows Update from downloading drivers. Well … nothing has worked, and I regularly face broken graphics drivers on my Ultrabooks.

The only solution that I have to solve the issue is:

  • Uninstall the device in Device Manager
  • Refresh
  • Manually install a driver that I downloaded from Intel – I keep this driver for regularly carrying out this process.

I’ve found that Windows Update can silently install the updated fault driver during the middle of a presentation, and suddenly I am no longer sharing my display with the projector/screen – that’s an interesting problem, that requires 5-10 minutes of fixing.

Some folks have suggested that I use the solution in KB3073930, How to temporarily prevent a Windows or driver update from reinstalling in Windows 10. I did, and that worked for 5 days, until Microsoft shipped replacement versions of the driver, the block rule lapsed, and I was back to Square One.

This is the only issue I’m having with Windows 10 … but it is absolutely driving me nuts.

It’s no wonder that Samsung felt like they had to block all Microsoft updates to give customers a stable Windows experience. Please Microsoft, stop shipping frakked up drivers, or give me actual control over these updates on Windows 10, not just the illusion of it!!!

Let me be very clear: the only source of driver updates should be from the PC manufacturer. Microsoft has always sucked at this, and their new “we know best” model with Windows 10 shows how out of touch they are with this subject.

MS15-105 – Vulnerability in Windows Hyper-V Could Allow Security Feature Bypass

Microsoft released a security hotfix for Hyper-V last night. They describe it as:

This security update resolves a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows. The vulnerability could allow security feature bypass if an attacker runs a specially crafted application that could cause Windows Hyper-V to incorrectly apply access control list (ACL) configuration settings. Customers who have not enabled the Hyper-V role are not affected.

This security update is rated Important for all supported editions of Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems, Windows Server 2012 R2, and Windows 10 for x64-based Systems. For more information, see the Affected Software section.

The security update addresses the vulnerability by correcting how Hyper-V applies ACL configuration settings. For more information about the vulnerability, see the Vulnerability Information section.

KB3091287 does go into any more detail.

CVE-2015-2534 simply says:

Hyper-V in Microsoft Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, and Windows 10 improperly processes ACL settings, which allows local users to bypass intended network-traffic restrictions via a crafted application, aka “Hyper-V Security Feature Bypass Vulnerability.”

Affected OSs are:

  • Windows 10
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows Server 2012 R2

No Windows 8 or WS2012 – that makes me wonder if this is something to do with Extended Port ACLs.

Credit: Patrick Lownds (MVP) for tweeting the link.

Microsoft News – 7 September 2015

Here’s the recent news from the last few weeks in the Microsoft IT Pro world:


Windows Server


System Center


Office 365



  • Meet AzureCon: A virtual event on Azure on September 29th, starting at 9am Pacific time, 5pm UK/Irish time.

Prevent Windows From Downloading Broken Drivers From Windows Update

Edit: the solution here does not work. The Windows Update Blocker offers a solution that works until Microsoft releases a new broken version of the broken driver. Frustrated much?

The release of Windows 10 has reminded many of us that Windows Update is usually the worst place to get a driver for your device, be it an Intel HD graphics adapter in your tablet or laptop, or a NIC in a Hyper-V host. The best driver always comes from the maker of your computer (HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc) because they distribute drivers for your specific and,  usually, customised chipset.

Recently I upgraded my 2 ultrabooks, a Lenovo Yoga S1 and a Toshiba KIRAbook, from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. A trip to Device Manager found that the Intel HD graphics cards were broken and I was unable to share my display – projectors are a big part of my job!

I found a fix – but then a day or two later Windows Update decided to reapply Microsoft’s distribution of the driver and I was stuck once again with broken Ultrabooks. I took to Twitter and then I got a response from a Microsoft employee with a solution that should work.

Method 1 – Manual Change

Open up System > Advanced System Settings > Hardware > Device Installation Settings.  Set it to No, Let Me Choose What To Do and set Never Install Driver Software From Windows Update.


Method 2 – The Registry

Open REGEDIT and set both of these REG_DWORD values to 0:

  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\Windows\CurrentVersion\DriverSearching\SearchOrderConfig
  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\Windows\CurrentVersion\Device Metadata\PreventDeviceMetadataFromNetwork

Method 3 – Group Policy

The above are fine if you have one or two machines to modify, but what if you have dozens or hundreds of machines to update? Hopefully these machines are domain members; if so then you can deploy a GPO to them to make the required changes.

Look for a setting called Specify Search Order For Device Driver Locations in Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Device Installation. Enable the policy and set Select Search Order to Do Not Search Windows Update.


You should also enable Prevent Device Metadata Retrieval From The Internet at the same location in GPO.


Updating Drivers

Yes, you do need to update drivers – drivers and firmware are the cause of many issues on PCs, Hyper-V hosts, etc. On my PCs/laptops I install the OEM’s updating tool and regularly run a check/update. So where can you get drivers from in a larger environment. Well; always form the OEM. How do you distribute them?

  • Manually
  • A shared folder
  • Cluster Aware Updating – see what Dell has done
  • System Center, possibly even with OEM additions

Intel HD Graphics Family Disabled By Windows 10

I upgraded a couple of Ultrabooks to Windows 10 in the last week and both displayed (sorry!) the same issue; the graphics driver was not working correctly. My Toshiba KIRAbook couldn’t share to an external display. My Lenovo Yoga S1 had the same problem.

I opened Device Manager and saw the above issue –  a yellow exclamation on the Intel HD Graphics device. Opening the properties revealed that:

Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problems.

Ah, so it appears that Microsoft shipped an untested driver for the most common graphics adapter in laptops and tablets. Is it any wonder that the likes of Samsung prevents Microsoft from updating their drivers?

FYI, Microsoft ships a lot of bad drivers and you should always get the device-specific drivers from the manufacturer of your device.

I checked for software updates from Toshiba and Lenovo and had none, so I went to the source. Intel has a set of drivers shared online. I downloaded “Intel® HD Graphics Driver for Windows® 10 64bit (3rd Gen & BYT)”, published on 7th August (hard to tell with you Americans and your non-standard date formats). I:

  1. Downloaded the zip file
  2. Extracted it to a temporary location
  3. Ran the setup executable from there.

Trying to update the driver from Device Manager didn’t do anything – Windows claimed that the Microsoft driver was more up to date. It might be, but it’s sh1te. Running the setup program fixed the problem.


Please read this follow up post on how to prevent installations of Microsoft-supplied drivers from Windows Update.

Note: I later did a clean installation on my Yoga after installing an SSD. The default driver from Microsoft actually worked out of the box. So there appears to be different behaviour on upgraded machines than on cleanly installed machines.

There’s no need to tell us if you saw no problems at all.

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Microsoft News 13-August-2015

Hi folks, it’s been a while since I’ve posted but there’s a great reason for that – I got married and was away on honeymoon 🙂 We’re back and trying to get back into the normal swing of things. I was away for the Windows 10 launch, happily ignoring the world. Windows 10 in the businesses is not a big deal yet – Microsoft needs to clear up licensing and activation for businesses before they’ll deliberately touch the great new OS – I’ve already had customers say “love it, but not until we get clarification”.


Windows Server



System Center

Office 365


Some Thoughts & Comments From WPC 2015

Here are some things that I thought were noteworthy from Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference 2015 in Orlando this week. Keep reading even if you don’t work for a Microsoft partner, because this stuff affects anyone working in the Microsoft world.

These may be paraphrases because I wasn’t taking precise notes.

“Cortana is everyone’s assistant”

Not it’s not, when on the phone (the most mature version) it’s only supported in 10 countries. You can make it work internationally by screwing up your regional settings. This is what we call The Curse of Zune.

“I love my iPhone”

The Microsoft employee that said this live on a keynote stage was summarily executed backstage. Holy crap on a cracker!

“Cortana Analytics ….. <Snores>”

See The Curse of Zune. I’ll care when Cortana is relevant.

“Cortana Analytics will help businesses all over the planet”

Uh, no. It’ll help the USA at first, and then a max of 10 countries. Don’t believe me? Check out … I dunno … history.

“Sea Otters!!!!”

Apparently, this is why 12,000+ Microsoft partners flew to Orlando this week, according to Terry Myerson. Strange, because Sea Otters are native to the Pacific coast.

“Laissez le bon Windows rollez”

My reaction to Bryan Roper’s Windows 10 demo. OK, he’s Cuban-American and not cajun, but that’s what I thought (and tweeted) at the time. Best demo of Windows 10 I’ve seen yet, and LOVED the energy. The hat beats the hair, easily. We need more Roper in keynotes.

“Microsoft to expand its Surface distributor count from a couple hundred to a few thousand worldwide”

This is huge news. It means nothing to most people, but for the last 3 years my employers have said “sorry, we can’t sell that” over and over and over. To finally open the sluice gates through the channel to business, Microsoft’s new $1 billion business could double or treble in a year.


Seriously, Microsoft, trim those keynotes down to 2 hours. Down … to … two … hours. Oh my!

“Soon you will see premium Microsoft phones designed for Windows 10”

Nice timing – I’m due an upgrade from my provider. Me wanty Continuum.

“CSP program to include Azure, Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) and CRM Online, in addition to Office 365”

Again, means nothing to most of you, but this opens up a joint syndication channel to end customers via the channel. It’ll simplify purchasing, and force big changes in the channel too.

“New sync engine coming to OneDrive for Business”

This is badly needed. Two reasons I hear from partners that use DropBox with customers instead:

  • Constantly failing sync that is costly to repair
  • Problems with file path limitations

“There will be 5 more #Azure regions opening in the next few months”

Wowzas! South Korea is rumoured, though Finland was too. India is to come online with 2 regions before the end of this year.  Canada is getting two in 2016 (Toronto and Quebec City).

“Microsoft cloud partner competencies shifting to adoption instead of sales”

Competencies are the incentive-based expertises that partners must qualify to achieve. One measure has been amount of associated licensing sold to the partner’s customers. This is changing, as it it internally with Microsoft’s sales people, from monetary value to adoption. This is to counter “shadow sales” of cloud services that are more like sneaky discounted inclusions in volume licensing deals rather than requested purchases.

“WPC 2016 will be in Toronto”

Start camping out for your sessions now. The reviews that I heard of of the last WPC in Toronto were horrific – big crowds, tiny rooms, and few people able to attend sessions.

“You’ve got to have technical people dedicated to keeping up with Azure”

Keeping up is my job. It’s impossible for one person to keep up. Either have a team of subject matter experts that have time allocated to do this, or get serious about attending regular tech updates. And this isn’t just Azure, it’s EVERYTHING Microsoft from 2 years ago onwards.

“We’ve got to become more technical”

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner told this to partner sales people, account managers, owners and Microsoft subsidiaries, many of which have drained away technical roles over the last 5 years. Fact is, folks, Azure is a technical sale. No solution design, no pricing, no sale. Please move on.

“Continuum is my favourite feature of Windows 10”

Satya Nadella agrees with me. If Continuum-capable flagship Windows phones can be put into the hands of enterprise users with Office 365, then we have a game changer. But Microsoft needs to fix the channel. Their fascination with telecoms companies ha crippled the phone. Even Apple is selling unlocked phones via distribution now.