Surface RT Office & Blurring The Licensing Lines

As usual, don’t bother emailing or commenting with licensing questions. They will be deleted and ignored, no exceptions, and this includes you with your special situation.  Please ask you reseller – that’s why they exist.

As you may be aware, Windows RT (the OS installed on the Surface RT and a few other Windows tablets) comes with a copy of what is effectively (features, license-wise, and rights-wise) Office Home & Student 2013.

Office 2013 has a peculiar limitation because of its relatively low price: you cannot use it in the workplace.  To use Office Home & Student at work, it needs to be “upgraded” to a business version via a license purchase.  This isn’t actually a feature limitation – the versions of Word, Outlook (Windows 8.1 RT has Outlook), etc, all will connect to Exchange, Sharepoint, etc just fine without any upgrades.  What you need is an additional license … something you record that you’ve purchased for that device in a spread sheet (like we need more of those!).

Is there a way to mark a Windows RT device as licensed?  Nope.  I was about to write “Use a custom GPO to add a registry value” but I remembered that Windows RT cannot join a domain.  Is there a way to detect unlicensed machines?  Nope.  Can you stop end users connecting to services with their Windows RT … only if you put in networking measures (NAP, NAQ, etc) to actually prevent BYOD.

Ooooooookay then.  I guess Microsoft are pretty clear on this?  Ehhhhhh actually it’s quite the opposite.  When talking heads go on podcasts they’re saying things like “Surface RT is great in the office because you don’t need to buy additional expensive software like Office”.  That line isn’t uncommon from MSFT out in the world.

This reinforces or reminds a few things:

  • Never EVER listen to a Microsoft person when it comes to licensing Microsoft software.  If that person is allowed to talk to the public then they clearly do not work hands-on with Microsoft licensing policies (read the PUR to understand what I mean).  Taking that person’s word as policy will get you audited, stung, penalised, and fired.
  • Windows RT has no place in business.  It’s a consumer device.  In the long run it’ll be cheaper to buy an Atom tablet (yes, it’s not as powerful as a laptop, but it you want a laptop, buy a laptop instead of a tablet) + Office for business (that can also run other programs) than Surface RT + Office for business + other “paper"-based” licensing controls.
  • Microsoft licensing is a mess.  While things like Server and System Center are pretty easy (if you can’t count then may I suggest a career in drooling?) the new licensing that was added for Windows 8 is a complete and utter cluster-f**k – and yes, that is the official licensing term.

As usual, don’t bother emailing or commenting with licensing questions. They will be deleted and ignored, no exceptions, and this includes you with your special situation.  Please ask you reseller – that’s why they exist.

Doing An Online Update From Windows 8 Pro to Windows 8.1 Preview

PLEASE NOTE: Not all machines are supported by Windows 8.1 Preview at this time.  Via Paul Thurrott.

I started an update of the office demo Surface Pro to Windows 8.1 Preview using the online update process.  I started by browsing to, and clicking Get It Now.

Note: you can also download the ISOs (x86 and x64) from the site (tomorrow) and from MSDN and TechNet.


This downloads and runs an update installer.  This is a small update to Windows.  In the case of the Surface Pro, it spent ages at “Configuring Windows features 100% …” after the reboot.

I then logged into Windows 8 again.  A banner appeared, offering me the Windows 8.1 Preview.  I clicked on Go To The Store in the banner.

Windows 8.1 Pro Preview was there for me to install.  Nice.  I clicked Download to get the 2.44GB installer.  I forgot to change the power plan of the Surface Pro and it went to sleep.  I went back in, changed the plan, and the download picked right up after a few moments.

After about 1 hour 20 minutes, the progress was at around 40% on my 8 Mbps ADSL (considered fast in Ireland Sad smile).

10 minutes later it jumped to around 66%.  This acceleration might have been due to the Build keynote stream that was aborted by Microsoft that I had been watching.

And then after 1 hour and 40 minutes I was prompted to reboot the Surface Pro.  Oooh exciting!  It then rebooted into a Setting Up <XX>% screen.  Less than 3 minutes later that was done and a another reboot.

Now the Surface was Getting Devices Ready.  That was quick, just 30 or so seconds.  Then Getting Ready appeared, and then Applying PC Settings.  That flew up to 100%.  And another reboot.

It then was Setting Up A Few More Things with another % count.  We were done within a minute.  Then it was Getting Ready.  Ooof!  Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?

Wait …. License terms Confused smile  I wonder what happens if you don’t accept the license terms!  Now it wants my password and dual factor phone number.  A security code is instantly texted to me and I verify the machine.

Next up: Skydrive.  I choose to use Skydrive.  There’s nothing more than that apparently.

Now it’s the “Hi, we’re setting up things for you”.  Damn you!  You’ve already set up lots of things for me Open-mouthed smile  It’s been 10 minutes since the machine “finished” installing.  A minute later and the Start Screen appears with my previously installed apps.  And we’re done!


We’re not done.  There’s up to 71 MB of updates to install.  Now we’re done.

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Build 2013 Keynote

Steve Ballmer

An estimated 60,000 watching via webcast.  They’re going to show lots of Windows 8.1, Windows Phone, and Windows Azure.

Windows 8.1 Preview is out now on  You can do an online update or you can download the ISOs.  I just saw that MSDN has the ISO downloads and one for .NET 4.5.1 Preview.

Steve Ballmer shows some Windows Phone handsets.  They are going to show small tablets.  MSBuild attendees are getting the Acer 8” tablet.  More are on the way.  Ballmer “wouldn’t call them PCs”. 

He admits that most PCs last XMas didn’t have the touch that was emphasised in Windows 8.  Since then, touch has become the norm.  True enough, for mobile devices, for most brands.  Some Asian brands have still been slow to catch up.  Hmm, Windows 8 customers on touch devices are “happier than Windows 8 customers on non touch devices” and “even happier than Windows 7 customers”.

He talks up the hybrid device.  That’s what I use … great for work and play.

He then talks about apps.  To be honest, apps are improving.  The quality of games is up too.  Facebook are bringing out a Windows 8x app.  The NFL is bringing out a fantasy app for Windows 8.  That’s a huge international market.  Tesco (UK version of Wallmart) have an app too. 

Microsoft “pushed boldy in Windows 8” and desktop application users told Microsoft to “refine the blend” (in his coffee terms). 

He reminds us that the Start Button (not menu) is back.  You can choose to boot to desktop.  You can quickly get to your apps.  There are more multitasking options with how apps share screen space.

Bing is built into Windows rather than being an app.  It’s there for devs to build on, just like Google is in Android (for the DoJ and EU Commission Smile).

Julie Larson Green

Here comes the worst presenter in the Microsoft executive level, in my opinion.  She starts the demo on an Acer.  First up … Nook … Ouch, Barnes and Noble.  Twitter looks decent in portrait mode … Oh, it was designed for this form factor apparently.  Oh nice feature, swiping on the space bar seems to autocomplete or something.  Now we can slide up on the top qwerty row to enter numbers.  Very nice – others will copy this. 

The Mail app now includes social features, e.g. Facebook updates.  It appears (it is a demo) that you can easily delete a common selection of junk mail with a swipe. 

Search can bring results from everywhere using Bing.  No need to explicitly select a Bing app.  In the demo, finds a restaurant, maps it, selects it, and can book a table.  A search of a band finds loads of info, and can quickly start playing music via a completely redesigned XBox music.  Redesigned for playing instead of the previous searching emphasis.  Goes to a regular music webpage.  Lists all the bands of a festival.  Shares via charms to the Music app.  The Music apps creates a playlist from the band list on the site.  Very impressive example of app contracts.

The Start Screen is more customizable.  You can now get to All Programs by swiping up in the Start Screen.  You can sort the apps, e.g. by date installed.

I looked away, I think I saw JLG swipe a screen without touching.  The Start Screen tiles smoothly appear on your desktop wallpaper, reinforcing the Start Menu “plus” functionality.

We get a demo of 50/50 snapping of apps.  The split can be any size you want by sliding the splitter.  You can right-click on a link to open a new window … now it’s 3 apps on screen!  Apps on more than one screen at once.  Was surprised this wasn’t on Windows 8 tbh.

A preview version of PowerPoint running on Windows RT.  Browses Skydrive to get a file (default location).  Smooth transitions and video on Windows RT.  This is a PowerPoint app

“Windows 8.1 is Windows 8 refined” appears to be the mantra.

Antoine Leblond.

Boring developer stuff.  Am going into hibernation for a while.

The Windows Store is updated to make it easier for people to find and download/buy apps.  Apps are now updated automatically.  Thank God!  The spotlight rotates.  Lots more apps are on the main screen via better use of space.  Your app history/ratings are used to prepare “Apps for you”.  The screenshots are bigger.  Related apps are shown in the description info.  You can change categories, etc by swiping from the top.

Hmm, the app bar seems to allow much more controls now.

Each monitor can have it’s own scaling factor to make the most of the space.  This is done by Windows and has no app requirement.

Tiled resources is a programmable page table for graphics acceleration.  In other words, be able to render huge objects that don’t fit into the memory of your GPU.  Games can run with unprecedented level of detail.  They show a video of an object with 9 GB of data on a retail DX11 GPU.  They zoom in, and you can see the rivet detail of a glider in flight.  This feature is also in Xbox One apparently.

A 3D printer is appearing in MSFT stores soon.  Another one coming to Staples for under $1300.  Out comes a Lego Mindstorms robot.  He uses a Windows tablet to communicate with a tablet in the robot.  The on-robot tablet controls the robot by USB interface. 

The crazy 3200 * 1800 Samsung something something something ultrabook with Haswell processor is shown.  It gets 12 hours from a single charge allegedly.  The Lenovo Helix convertible is next.  Acer Aspire P3 (1.74 lbs) with Core i5 CPU with a detachable protective cover keyboard.  A sub $400 touch Acer laptop with dual core AMD CPU. 

JLG Comes Out With Surface Pro

And there’s the 2nd giveaway … Surface Pro with Windows 8.1 Preview and Visual Studio Preview.

And the webcast fails because it “has not yet started”.

And that is that. 

Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for Windows 8.1 Preview

Want to manage your WS2012 R2 Preview servers from the comfort of your PC?  The end solution is, of course, System Center 2012 R2 Smile  But to get you there you need RSAT.  A preview release is available now. 

As always the new version of RSAT will only support the newest desktop OS … and that is Windows 8.1 Preview (allegedly out on Wednesday 26th June).  64-bit and 32-bit versions of RSAT are available.

Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 8.1 Preview includes Server Manager, Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-ins, consoles, Windows PowerShell cmdlets and providers, and command-line tools for managing roles and features that run on Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview. In limited cases, the tools can be used to manage roles and features that are running on Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008. Some of the tools work for managing roles and features on Windows Server 2003.
The following tools can be used to manage roles and features that are running on Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview, but are not supported for managing roles and features on Windows Server 2012.

  • IP Address Management console
  • Hyper-V tools: Although you are not blocked from using Hyper-V cmdlets for Windows PowerShell in this release of Remote Server Administration Tools to manage Hyper-V running on Windows Server 2012, this scenario is not officially supported. Managing Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012 by using GUI-based tools in this download is supported.

You also need to remember that you can only run one version of RSAT on a PC:

Only one copy at a time of Remote Server Administration Tools can be installed on a computer.

The new version of Hyper-V Manager does work with Hyper-V on WS2012 – it’s still WMI v2.

Upgrading From Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V To Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V

This post is being written before the preview release is out, and before guidance has been written. It is based on what we know from TechEd NA 2013.

Upgrading a non-clustered Hyper-V host has never been easier.  Microsoft did some work to increase compatibility of VM states between WS2012 and WS2012 R2.  That means you don’t need to delete snapshots.  You don’t need to power up VMs that were in saved states and shut them down.  Those files are compatible with WS2012 R2 Hyper-V.

There are 2 ways to upgrade a WS2012 R2 Hyper-V host.

Do An In-Place Upgrade

You log into your WS2012 R2 host, shutdown your VMs or put them in a saved state, pop in the WS2012 R2 media, and do the upgrade.  The benefit is that you retain all your settings, and the VMs are right there in Hyper-V Manager with no effort.  The downside is that any crap you might have had on the Management OS is retained.  Microsoft always recommends a fresh install over an in-place upgrade.

Replace The Management OS & Import/Register The VMs

I prefer this one.  But be careful – do not use this approach if any of your VM files/settings are on the C: drive of the host – I hate those default locations in Hyper-V host settings.

You shutdown the host, pop in the media, and do a fresh install over the C: drive of the host.  This gives you a completely fresh install.  Yes, you have to rebuild your settings but that can all be scripted if you’re doing this a lot.  The final step is to import the VMs using the register option.  This simply loads up the VMs, and then you start up whatever VMs you require.

Upgrading to Windows 8.1 Client Hyper-V

This is a little off-topic but it’s related.  You can upgrade a PC from Windows 8 with Client Hyper-V to Windows 8.1.  The upgrade will automatically put running VMs into a saved state.  After the upgrade, the previously running VMs will be running.

Integration Components

The final step in any Hyper-V upgrade is to upgrade the Hyper-V Integration Components in the guest OS of each virtual machine.