Microsoft Active Directory Design Guide

Microsoft has published an Active Directory design guide

“This guidance provides general recommendations for the design, deployment and management of an Active Directory environment in a healthcare organization according to current best practices. The purpose of this guidance is to accelerate Active Directory design and deployment in a healthcare organization, and provide a framework for a more consistent network operating environment”.

European Union Windows Browser Choice

KB976002 describes what operating systems will receive a choice of Internet browser and how this process will work.  This will bring Microsoft into compliance with the much discussed demands of the European Union on this subject.  Affected OS’s are:

  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows XP Service Pack 3
  • All editions of Windows Vista
  • All editions of Windows 7
  • Future versions of the Windows client operating system that are released within the duration of the agreement with the European Commission

Some more information on the process can be found on Stealth Puppy.  I’ve not seen the update yet but it appears to be delivered by Windows Update.  If you don’t have Windows Update enabled then I guess you don’t get a choice.

If you are running tightly controlled corporate PC’s then you’ll be glad to hear that you can prevent the update from being deployed via WSUS/ConfigMgr/etc.  You can also use the registry, according to KB2019411 (and therefore group policy) to prevent the update from executing:

  • Key: HKLMSoftwareBrowserChoice
  • Value: Enable (REG_DWORD)
  • Possible settings: Enabled = 1, Disabled = 0

Why Should You Go To Minasi Conference 2010?

Everyone knows that budgets are slashed and the opportunity to attend big and expensive conferences so you can stay up to date is probably gone.  Well there is a more economic way to stay up to date.

Mark Minasi (well known TechEd/WinConnections speaker, Windows IT Pro journalist, Mastering Windows Server 2008 R2 author) will once again be hosting a conference in his home town of Virginia Beach, VA, USA.  It’s a low cost, non-profit event that is aimed squarely at the IT Pro.  The registration cost is a measly $450 which is around €330.  It’s 3 days full of techie talk, including Windows Server/Desktop, virtualisation, SBS/EBS, Exchange, SharePoint, PowerShell, Active Directory, security/certificate services, SQL, and a whole lot of fun.

This is not WinConnections or TechEd.  It’s a whole lot smaller and all of the speakers are techies.  Because this event is smaller, everyone is approachable and they’ll try to answer any question.  Every session is very interactive, and most of the speakers can usually be found afterwards in the bar, at breakfast/lunch, or at the party.

It’s not only sessions or classes here.  Intercontinental friendships, both personal and professional, are formed here every year.  Delegates look forward to meeting up with friends again, and with figuring out problems with other delegates.  The opportunity to network is unmatched … everyone is made welcome, we pretty much all have breakfast and lunch together.  And whether you want to party or just hang out for a quiet evening, you’ll have some company.

The speakers include authors, journalists, consultants, administrators, MVP’s, and people respected on the Internet for the experience and willingness to help.  Something quite original was tried last year and it’s being repeated this year.  Mark likes to encourage people to develop their skills, be it technical or otherwise.  Many of the speakers at the conference really only started doing this stuff here.  Most people would run at the thought of speaking for 75 minutes.  So last year we tried running mini-sessions where attendees could talk for 15 minutes about stuff they had done that might be interesting, e.g. a first time delegate spoke about how to build a PC at home for running VMware ESXi.  It was a success and it’s being repeated this year.

We also push outside the usual topics to boost personal development.  A few years ago Mark did a session on how to do technical presentations.  It was a hit and provided great information, some of which I try to use.  This year Eric Rux (an editor with Windows IT Pro) is talking about how to get into writing.  With Mark Minasi, and a bunch of other writers (book and magazine) in the audience also taking part, there’ll be a lot of information. 

Previous attendees will know that each conference is pretty much formed the year before based on feedback.  It really is a conference that is “owned” by the delegates.  A perfect example is PKI/certificate services.  Last year it seemed to be mentioned in half of the sessions and most delegates had no knowledge or experience in dealing with this technology.  A Q&A session on content pretty much steered the speaker recruiting.  So this year we have Roger Grimes (MS security architect) in to talk about it.  Take a peek at the below schedule and you’ll see how much interaction there is: panel sessions, Q&A sessions, etc.  Check it out and see if you’ve got a time slot in May to attend.  Here’s the schedule for 2010:

Sunday – May 2nd 2010

  • Pre-Conference event with Todd Lammle
  • 08:30 – 12:30
  • 12:00 PM – Conference Registration Begins
  • 1 PM – Opening Session led by Mark Minasi
  • 2 PM – Session 1: Mark Minasi – 10 (or more) things that you don’t know about Windows Server 2008 R2
  • 3:15 – Break
  • 3:30 – Eric Rux – “So, you want to be a writer, eh?:  Tips, tricks and other thoughts on getting into the writing game – with open discussion with the other authors in the audience”
  • 4:00 – Mini Session – TBC
  • 4:30 – Break
  • 4:45 – Roger Grimes – Fighting off Malware, the latest attacks and ways to resist them!
  • 6:00 – Welcome Reception in the Hunt Room

Monday  – May 3rd 2010

  • 9:00 – Ultan Kinahan – Disaster Recovery With VMware SRM
  • 10:15 – Laura E. Hunter – Active Directory Federation Services
  • 11:30 – Break
  • 11:45 – Aidan Finn – Using Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2: How to manage Hyper-V
  • 1:00 – Lunch (Provided)
  • 1:45 – Claus Neilsen – Digging into PowerShell V2
  • 3:00 – Mark Minasi – The Active Directory recycle bin.
  • 4:15 – Break
  • 4:30 – Expert Panel:  Project Planning, Design and Documentation (Bring Your Own Questions)
  • 5:45 – Offsite Dinner Organized with Transportation

Tuesday – May 4th 2010

  • 9:00 – Eric Rux – Using Windows in your Home! –  “More fun with Windows Home Server: How to use this versatile product for small business and home entertainment”
  • 10:30  – Mini Session – TBC
  • 11:00 – Roger Grimes – Server 2008 PKI – Certificates are becoming increasing critical – learn how to use them!
  • 12:30 – Lunch (Provided)
  • 1:00 – Nathan Winters – Protection and Compliance with Exchange 2010
  • 2:15 – Break
  • 2:30 – Michael B. Smith – Part 1 – Migrating from 2003 AD and Exchange to 2010 Exchange and 2008 R2 AD – Hands on Demonstration
  • 3:45 – Break
  • 4:00 – Michael B. Smith – Part 2 – Migrating from 2003 AD and Exchange to 2010 Exchange and 2008 R2 AD – Hands on Demonstration
  • 5:30 – Dinner (on your own) at a local restaurant. Last chance to rub elbows.

Wednesday –  May 5th 2010

  • 9:00 – Stacy Hein – SQL Server troubleshooting
  • 10:15 – Short Session
  • 10:45 – Break
  • 11:00 – Joe McGlynn – A look at SBS and EBS – Doing IT right for the SME
  • 12:15 – Closing and Lunch
  • 1:30 – Unofficial Round Table

Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V VHD Performance White Paper

Microsoft has published a whitepaper on VHD performance.  It talks about raw disk, pass through, fixed and dynamic.  It’s must reading if you’re in a Hyper-V engineering/design role.

To be honest, it is more than just a Hyper-V document.  It does talk about VHD in general.  Windows Server 2008 is also included.

Publish Internet Explorer From XP Mode

Do you want to use an older version of IE on Windows 7?  You cannot install an older version natively; you have to use IE8.  Compatibility mode may fix most things but there’s possibly that LOB application that won’t play nice.  You can do things like get the app vendors to update it (maybe they are gone, maybe it takes too long, or will cost too much).  You can run an older generation OS on Terminal Services. 

However, a tidy way to do it is to use XP Mode and use the older versions of IE that will run on XP.  The shortcut can be published to the Windows 7 start menu to make it easy to use for the end user.  We showed this and explained this scenario in some of the Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 launch events in Ireland.  I put it together at the last second in the Dublin events as one of the speakers talked about the scenario … yeah we were that “seat of the pants” and we reacted to questions being asked.  Flexibility rules.

Ben Armstrong (product manager AKA the Virtual PC Guy) blogged how to do this.  It is very easy.

Windows 7 Release Candidate Deadlines Coming Soon

Windows 7 release candidates will soon start to deliberately misbehave.  On March 1st 2010 you will see them shutdown every 2 hours.  On June 1st 2010 they will start the “This copy of Windows is not genuine” experience.

Microsoft urges you to do a clean installation of Windows 7.  Let’s face it, will you really want to go back to Vista or Windows XP?

I’ve still got a laptop running the RC.  It was used while writing the book, Mastering Windows Server 2008 R2.  It was also used for another project that is ending now so I guess I will rebuild it when I get a chance.  Of course, I will be going with Windows 7 Ultimate.

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Got A Slow Hard Disk In Your PC? Try ReadyBoost

ReadyBoost is a feature of Windows Vista and Windows 7 that is aimed at PC’s and laptops that have slow hard disks, i.e. under 7,200 RPM.  It allows you to use a USB stick (or even internal USB) as a cache for files that are read from the hard disk, thus making them quicker to load and improving the performance of your PC.  You can read more here.

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ACT for Configuration Manager

Those Configuration Manager teams in Redmond must be incredibly busy and well managed.  They have two product developments going on (ConfigMgr 2007 R3 and ConfigMgr v.Next) as well as producing add-ons for existing products.

The latest is the Application Compatibility Toolkit for Configuration Manager as blogged about by Jeff Wettlaufer.  The concept is simple enough; using ConfigMgr you can audit your existing desktops to see which applications you have.  You can use this information to assess Windows 7 compatibility.  It will also do the same for device drivers.  This reads like MAP for Windows 7 taking on the power and scalability of ConfigMgr.  MAP would be fine in a single office.  ConfigMgr takes this to the WAN.

That’s another bow to the string for Windows 7 deployment in the Enterprise.

Windows 7 Upgrade Laptop Battery Issues

Paul Thurrot reported on an issue with Windows 7 machines draining the laptop battery.  The issue is with machines that were upgraded.

As Microsoft recommends, and as I wrote in Mastering Windows Server 2008 R2, you should avoid upgrades where possible.  You just end up inheriting bad stuff that can make unpredictable things happen.

The tools are there to make it pretty easy to do a clean install.  Do a complete PC backup.  Export the user state using the tools in Accessories.  Do a clean install of Windows 7 (wipe the hard disk).  Install any applications and restore the user state.  If anything is missing, go ahead and access that complete PC backup that you should have done.  XP users can use the tools I recently mentioned to restore to Windows 7.

Windows User Group Event: Windows 7 Application Compatibility – Prizes For Attendees!

This is quite possibly going to be your sole chance in Ireland to attend an event that will educate you about Windows 7 application compatibility solutions.  Our speaker (a veteran trainer) will be showing you how to get legacy applications working on Windows 7 using the solutions that Microsoft provides.  Some are built into the operating system, some are free downloads and some are in MDOP.

The event is on this Friday, February 5th at 10:00 in Building 1 at Microsoft Ireland EDC in Leopardstown in south Dublin.  It is a completely free event with no strings attached and is being run by the Windows User Group (me) with help from Microsoft Ireland.  Pastries and coffee/juice will be on hand to wake you up and keep you going.

We’ll also have a few prizes to give away including a Microsoft Arc mouse (I use one and it’s fantastic), and a couple of X-Box games to give away: Forza Motorsport 3 and Halo ODST.

Registration is simple and free.

Not everyone can get out of the office or travel to Dublin.  Don’t worry; we will be performing a simultaneous live webcast of the event. Please download and install the LiveMeeting Client in advance. The web client will not support audio so we do recommend the installed version. The event will be available at this link when registration starts.

We look forward to seeing you there or seeing you on the webcast.

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