Microsoft News Summary – 1 October 2014

There’s not all that much news to cover this morning. Oh … hold on …


Windows Server


Windows Client


System Center



Office 365

  • Delivering the first chapter of Groups in Office 365: Grouping of users will be rolled out to all customers that have an Exchange Online or Office 365 commercial subscription, both new and existing. Eligible Office 365 plans include the Office 365 Enterprise E1–E4 subscription plans (including the corresponding A2–A4 and G1–G4 plans for Academic and Government customers, respectively), Office 365 Business Essentials and Business Premium plans, Office 365 Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business plans and Office 365 Kiosk plan.
  • Step-By-Step – Setting up the new Azure AD Sync Tool: AAD Sync is Microsoft’s new directory synchronization tool that simplifies the process of connecting Azure AD to Windows Server AD. It also makes it more simple to connect complex, multi-forest deployments.

The Funnies

  • America’s CBS attempts to out-dumb CNN:


Microsoft News Summary – 17 September 2014

Microsoft’s patch woes continue. A September update for Lync was pulled this week. Please: do not approve updates immediately; wait 1 month and let some other mug find the bugs for Microsoft.



  • Announcing the Message Analyzer 1.1 Release: The completely indecipherable replacement for Network Monitor has just been upgraded to v1.1. I find this replacement for NetMon to be a complete mystery and the UI looks like something Symantec would come up with (random). It’s no wonder WireShark remains the #1 choice.
  • Introduction to Message Analyzer 1.1: A YouTube video to give you a high-level introduction to Message Analyzer 1.1. Includes a run-through of the UI and an overview of general features.


Office 365


Microsoft News Summary – 16 September 2014

Windows 9 steals the headlines this morning. No; it is not out. No; you cannot download a preview yet. And yes; the person you know who says otherwise is an idiot. We know what we know – Microsoft is planning a sneak peek event for the enterprise audience on September 30th. There are no more facts than that.


  • Emulex’s crappy drivers saga goes on: They claimed they fixed the VMQ issue. It looks like they never did any tests involving Live Migration.

System Center


  • It’s Official – Microsoft to Unveil “Next Chapter” for Windows on September 30: I think Paul Thurrott was the first to report this. It will focus on the enterprise audience – the one currently sticking with Windows 7. I guess it will be no more than a show and tell. I still believe TechEd Europe is the bigger reveal, as I reported back at TechEd North America. In the meantime, ignore every rumour and “expert” that you work with or is in the general media.


  • Azure Websites Virtual Network Integration: This is big – Azure Websites is happy to announce support for integration between your Azure VNET and your Azure Websites. Now you can integrate your websites with your VMs – in preview and only for Standard websites with up to 1 VNet connected.
  • How to host a Scalable and Optimized WordPress for Azure in minutes: Deploy the new instance from the preview portal, and be able to scale WordPress out to meet demand. Very nice solution – I could have used that for this site!
  • Azure Active Directory Basic is now GA: Azure AD Basic is now available for purchase through the volume-licensing channel – if like Premium then it will only be available through large enterprise VL programs, i.e. not Open, etc, but I don’t think SMEs want this feature, although they would like Azure RMS.





Microsoft News Summary – 10 September 2014

In other news, Apple proves that wearable devices are a pointless Gartner-esque fad, and those preachy tax-avoiding frakkers, U2, suck donkey balls.


System Center Operations Manager

  • OM12 Sizing Helper: This is a Windows Phone app version of the OpsMgr 2012 Sizing Helper document.



  • Microsoft rumored to be poised to buy Minecraft creator for $2 billion: This blocky game is the hottest thing with kids. I’ve spent many an hour *cough* helping *yes, helping* with constructions & adventures on an iPad and Xbox. And to be honest, it is a good problem solving game and it encourages kids to interact, based on what I’ve observed.

Microsoft News Summary – 15 August 2014

Here’s the latest from the last 24 hours:

ADFS Authentication Via Azure

I’ve recently started doing lots of presentation on Azure thanks to the release of Azure via Open licensing. People wonder what the scenarios ate where an SME would deploy machines in Azure and on premises. Here’s one I came up with this morning (an evolution of one I’d looked at before).

I was chatting with one of my colleagues about a scenario where a customer was looking deploying ADFS to provide Office 365 authentication for a medium-sized multinational company. I wondered why they didn’t look at using Azure. Here’s what I came up with.

Note: I know SFA about ADFS. My searches make me believe that deploying a stretch ADFS cluster with a mirrored SQL backend is supported.


The company has two on-premises networks, one in Ireland and one in the USA. We’ll assume that there is some WAN connection between the two networks with a single AD domain. They have users in Ireland, the USA, and roaming. They want ADFS for single sign-on and they need it to be HA.

This is where companies normally think about deploying ADFS on-premises. Two issues here:

  • You need local infrastructure: Not so bad if you have spare license and hardware capacity on your hosts, but that’s not a given in an SME.
  • Your ISP becomes a risk: You will place ADFS on premises. Your office has a single Internet connection. A stray digger or ISP issue can put the entire business (not just that office) out of action because ADFS won’t be there for roaming/remote users to authenticate with O365.

So my original design was to stretch the network into Azure. Create a virtual network in an Azure region that is local to your Office 365 account (for example, an Irish O365 customer would deploy a virtual network in Azure Europe North). Create a site-to-site VPN network to connect the on-premises network to the Azure VNet. Then deploy an additional DC, in the same domain as on-premises, in the Azure VNet. And now you can create an ADFS cluster in that site. All good … but what about the above multi-national scenario? I want HA and DR.

Deploy an Azure VNet for Ireland office (Azure Europe North) and for the USA office (Azure USA East) and place virtual DCs in both. Connect both VNets using a VPN. And connect both on-premises networks to both VNets via site-to-site VPNs. Then create an ADFS stretch cluster (mirrored SQL cluster) that resides in both VNets. Now the company’s users (local, roaming and remote) have the ability to authenticate against O365 using ADFS if:

  • Any or both local on-premises networks go offline
  • Either Azure region goes offline

As I said, I am not an ADFS person, so I’ll be interested in hearing what those how know ADFS think of this potential solution.

Microsoft News Summary – 11 August 2014

I think we can call today’s issue “What’s New in Azure”:

Microsoft News Summary – 6 August 2014

I’ve done photography in some of the most rural parts of the world, but I’ve never been without phone or Internet for 3 days before. *exaggeration alert*  Being in a dark valley in Scotland over a long weekend was like having an arm removed. Anywho, here’s the news from the last few days. Note that there is an “August Update for …” Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 coming out next week, what the media will probably called “Update 2 for …”.

Microsoft News Summary – 24 July 2014

Very little for you today:

Microsoft News Summary – 3 July 2014

After a month of neglect, I have finally caught up with all of my feeds via various sources. Here are the latest bits of news, mixed up with other Microsoft happenings from the last month.