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Microsoft – Page 4 – Regular IT guy

Category - Microsoft

What to do in Houston for TechEd 2014

I can’t believe I still get the “TechEd is in Houston? Awww, what am I going to do in Houston during TechEd?”. I was kind of in that boat, since I had never been to Houston except once for an overnight and all I saw was the airport hotel and a training center. Let me tell ya – My perception of Houston has been completely changed after shooting The Countdown Show there a couple of months back. When I inquire about their opinions a bit further – the initial comment about Houston is inevitably clarified with a secondary statement that they’ve never been there and are going on someone else’s comments OR they have been there before – but a long time ago and didn’t find Houston all that appealing. hummm… same as me. I follow up and ask them if they’ve seen the Countdown Show episodes where Joey and I take you along a tour of our new favorite places in Houston. They inevitably answer no – so I have to get them to check them out AND subscribe to The Countdown Show in order to stay up to date. I got tired of sending them to multiple spots, so here is your ONE STOP SHOP for those videos and how to subscribe to The Countdown Show.

Part One: The One With Things Not to Miss in Houston

Part Two: The One With More Things Not To Miss in Houston

Part Three:The One We Finish the Things Not to Miss in Houston Trilogy


And – if you are looking for the One Stop Shop for all the LOCATIONS we visited, here are their coordinates and more info.

Lets just say – I’ve discovered there are a LOT of very passionate people in Houston who are eager to share their passions for craft beer / coffee / great food and more. Just come prepared to check your pre-conceived notions at the door. I can’t WAIT for TechEd in Houston May 12th to 15th.

Have YOU registered yet? Get with it!

Hyper-v Extensible Switch in Windows Server 2012 R2

A while back, when Windows Server 2012 was codenamed “Windows Server 8”, I sat down and talked with Bob Combs, a Sr. Program Manager on the Windows Core Networking Team about the newly released “Hyper-V Extensible Switch”.  Well, now that Windows Server 2012 R2 has been released and planning has already begun for whatever comes next – I decided it was time to pay Bob a visit and get the details on what was new in Extensible Switch land…

Pretty cool stuff.

This is the start of a bunch of video interviews I’ll be doing over the next while. Let me know if you have teams / topics you’d like me to reach out to and see if they are interested in sitting down to chat.


Digging up Resources for Technical Communities

Those of you who know me from my previous job as a Technology Evangelist in Canada know that there is one thing I STONGLY believe in… User Communities of all shapes and sizes.


I remember when I first started my job – one of the things we tried to do was gather people of similar interests together and facilitate them into creating their OWN communities that had some sort of sustaining passion to keep things going.  Some have survived and thrived, others have evolved to ad-hoc gatherings around events and still some have faded away all together.  No matter what their current state – a sense of community is present in the people that were part of it and the relationships created by being part of a community are still very much used when the opportunity arises.

I’ve found some communities have evolved from in-person events to include online gathering places and forums or social networks like twitter, Facebook or Google+. But something just can’t replace the face to face connection you get while at an event accompanied by a good old fashioned handshake.

Part of my role here at The Mother Ship (a.k.a. Microsoft HQ) is working with the programs team who provide all sorts of resources you might know about and use on a regular basis (TechNet vLabs, Eval Center and Microsoft Virtual Academy to name a few) and some you might not.

From the “Might not know of” category is “Microsoft Technical Communities” program. It’s got something for you if:

  • You are looking for a local group / technical community of like minded people – you can find one of over 1400 registered communities worldwide (and growing).
  • You are running a technical community – you can sign up and register your group and gain access to resources to help grow your membership
  • You are a technical speaker or subject matter expert – you can register and connect with community leaders who are seeking speakers for their communities

Besides being a central resource point to connect people and communities together – the Microsoft Technical Communities program also provides benefits to it’s Community leaders to help grow their group memberships and sustain the organizational structure that keeps their group together.

  • eBooks for members
  • Office 365 subscriptions to help executives coordinate and collaborate resources
  • Promotion efforts on external sites like Facebook and Linked’in
  • Visibility of upcoming meetings on sites like TechNet and MSDN.
  • Access to “TechTrax”  webcasts and exclusive Q&A with experts to help deliver content
  • PowePoints / Demo Scripts / Demo setups for re-delivery
  • …. and more

Are you looking to connect with other Like Minded technical folks? To find a community or a user group event in your area, try the events calendar and the community list.

If you run a user group or speak regularly at events, sign up for the program at www.technicalcommunity.com!


One last note: we’re always looking for ways to make things better.  Got ideas on what we can do to improve the Microsoft Technical Communities Program? Drop me a comment below or if you prefer – shoot me an email (rick.claus@microsoft.com) – I’ll make sure to pass it along.

Need a quick lab/sandbox to try out MSFT technologies?

One of the best parts of my job is talking with IT Professionals / SysAdmins / Students from all over. It doesn’t matter if they are independent IT consultants, staffers / lifers at “company x” or someone just getting started in the IT field – they all at some point ask me about “spinning up a lab” for one thing or another.

That’s when I let them in on a little secret: The Microsoft Virtual Labs Experience.


I use our Virtual Lab Experience when I need to quickly get something up and running. Why?

  • It’s a virtualized Sandbox that can be yours to play in for the duration of the lab time – FOR FREE.
  • It comes with a pre-defined lab including step by step instructions that allows you to test drive all sorts of Microsoft Technologies and solutions
  • Better yet, even though it comes pre-configured – you are NOT RESTRICTED on what you can do within it!

(Yes – I am encouraging you to colour outside the lines)

What can you find in this plethora of sandboxes (as one size does not fit all)? Just over 500+ Hands On labs most providing 2 hours of lab access!!! 60+ labs from TechEd North America 2013 were just posted earlier this week. More RTM updated labs with Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 were recently added as well.

You can mix and match which ones to try, select different technologies or scenarios for whatever tickles your fancy. You can even rate the labs and sort them by most popular or most relevant to your searches. Heck – you can get social and share out what environments you are trying out with your various social networks.

Being that I am very passionate about the Windows Server 2012 R2 stack, here is one more tip. You can get a good “trial” by registering to kick the tires with a simple 4 part series:

  1. Windows Server 2012 R2 – Configuring and Managing Servers
  2. Windows Server 2012 R2 – Storage Infrastructure
  3. Windows Server 2012 R2 – Network Automation using IPAM
  4. Windows Server 2012 R2 – Exploring Hyper-V Server

Check out the labs and start giving the team your feedback and opinions using the post-lab survey. They are just down the hall, tell them I sent ya.

If you are like me and are curious by nature about how all this back end virtualization works… check out this interview I snagged with Corey Hynes, architect from HOL systems. They are the guys and gals who host this virtual lab experience for us.


They have a very cool Windows Server powered solution that handles all the heavy lifting to get these spun up on demand when you click on “Launch Lab”.

How To: Delete windows.old from Windows Server 2012 R2

I’ve been updating my various environments from Windows Server 2012 RTM or Preview releases (build 9431) of Windows Server 2012 R2 to the final bits. On some boxes I just use my scortched earth policy of leveling the partitions and starting from scratch – others I will do an install and use the same partition. You get the following dreaded message – which you dismiss and move on.


Sure – I’ll just go and delete that directory after a while and go about my merry way.

Unfortunately it is not that easy.

In Windows client environments, you can just kick off a “disk cleanup” routine and have it removed – saving you a dozen or more GB of space. Unfortunately, that Disk Cleanup does not exist in Windows Server 2012 / 2012 R2 Full GUI install, unless you add Desktop Experience.


Fear not. Once you have confirmed you need nothing from that old c:windows.old directory structure, you can manually delete it, with a little bit of extra effort.

Here’s how you do it.

1) Download Junction.EXE from Sysinternals. I extracted and saved it to c:source. You will use this tool to generate a list of all the junctions that have to be removed.

2) create a reference file that lists all the junction points and symbolic links in use by opening up a command prompt, changing into C:source and running

junction.exe –s –q c:windows.old >junctions.txt

3) open up PowerShell ISE administrator rights and run the following script to remove all symbolic links and junction points in c:windows.old.

foreach ($line in [System.IO.File]::ReadLines(“c:sourcejunctions.txt”))
if ($line -match “^\\”)
$file = $line -replace “(: JUNCTION)|(: SYMBOLIC LINK)”,””
& c:sourcejunction.exe -d “$file”

You should get the following scrolling by…


Now it’s some simple taking of ownership, granting rights and deleting windows.old to get your space back.

4) to take ownership use

takeown /F C:windows.old /R /D Y

5) delete c:windows.old – you now have permissions and ownership.

How much space you get back will change based on your particular situation.  My last run at this saved me 15.5 GB of space on my OS drive.

Note: Kudos to Peter Hahndorf’s response on ServerFault.com on which this article was based.

Re-Attach Virtual Disks automatically from StoragePools

I’ve been rebuilding some of my lab and demo machines running WS2012 R2 preview with RTM bits. As they are Cluster-In-A-Box systems, they have shared disk between them and an already configured Storage Pool. Once I did a clean install one node of the CiB with Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM bits – it sees the old storage pool disks and recognizes there is a storage pool available on the disks. I want to preserve the Storage Pool and its data, so it’s really an Import Storage Pool action I am looking to accomplish.

I found these steps from Martin Lucas on the AskPFE blog. (How to import a StoragePool)

  1. Make the physical disks available to the server (I’ve already done that).
  2. Right click the Storage Pool and choose Set Read-Write Access. Choose the server you want to enable Read-Write access.
  3. Attach the Virtual disks back. Each disk has to be selected and re-attached.
  4. Online the Volume (logical disk) to get it operational once again.

This works great, until you restart your system – at which time it recognizes the Storage Pool, but the Virtual Disks are not re-attached automatically. You can do this with a little PowerShell, since the GUI does not have the option to modify the “IsManualAttach” property.

Open your administrative level PowerShell prompt and type in the following.

Get-VirtualDisk | Where-Object {$_.IsManualAttach –eq $True}


This lists off your virtual disks where the IsManualAttach property is turned on and the disks will not auto-reattach on restart. You can see I have four of them for this demo box I use.

Now run the line again but include the following:

Get-VirtualDisk | Where-Object {$_.IsManualAttach –eq $True} | Set-VirtualDisk –IsManualAttach $False

There won’t be any output, since you are piping the results into the Set-VirtualDisk command which will modify the IsManualAttach property to false.


My Imported StorageSpace will now re-attach my drives correctly, even on restart!

How To: Fix SysPrep 3.14 error for Windows 8.1 Enterprise

imageNOTE: This error does not manifest itself in 8.1 RTM. It only affects “Preview” and “Preview Apps”. See comment below for a simpler fix.

I’m in the middle of a project where I am tasked to create a standardized Virtual Machine image for developers based on Windows 8.1 Enterprise “Release Preview”. This image will be used by a variety of people in the form of a Client Hyper-V guest VM, a Boot-To-VHD VM, a VDI pilot and possibly a Windows-To-Go bootable stick.

Sounds easy enough, eh?

Create the VM, install the software, install the updates, let the customer try it out and further customize it and then signoff on it’s configuration.  Once that is all done – Package it up and make it available for use in a variety of forms (as mentioned above).

That would be easy – but there is a bug in the Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview build 9431 which rears it’s ugly head if you:

  • Install ModernUI apps NOT provisioned for all users (like built in apps)
  • Update ModernUI apps there were NOT provisioned for all users (like built in apps)
  • Let the system run for an unspecified period of time while having internet connectivity and it updates something.

Any of these criteria and you’ll get the Sysprep 3.14 error.


If you check the logs at c:windowssystem32syspreppanther (the setupact.log) you’ll see something similar to:

    • 2013-08-02 15:02:17, Error SYSPRP Package Microsoft.WindowsReadingList_6.3.9431.175_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe was installed for a user, but not provisioned for all users. This package will not function properly in the sysprep image.
    • 2013-08-02 15:02:17, Error, SYSPRP Failed to remove apps for the current user: 0x80073cf2.
    • 2013-08-02 15:02:17, Error, SYSPRP Exit code of RemoveAllApps thread was 0x3cf2.
    • 2013-08-02 15:02:17, Error, [0x0f0082] SYSPRP ActionPlatform::LaunchModule: Failure occurred while executing ‘SysprepGeneralize’ from C:WindowsSystem32AppxSysprep.dll; dwRet = 0x3cf2

Basically you are out of luck – for THIS image and Preview Release.

My solution for this? Here’s my process for getting SysPrep to work on Windows 8.1 Entperise “Preview Release”. In my case – I am not deploying any Modern UI applications with this image.  If I was – I’d make DAMN sure they were provisioned for ALL users – not just local users, as this seems to be the issue causing Sysprep to fail.

To be specific:

  • Create the machine from scratch (if you are trying to troubleshoot this with an existing image – sorry, it’s a rebuild)
  • Disconnect it from the network / internet connectivity for the install process
  • DO NOT associate it with a Microsoft account at this time – Create a local account. This prevents the Store and ModernApps from updating themselves and breaking SysPrep in this Preview Release.
  • Once at the Desktop, open an administrator privileged PowerShell prompt.
  • Run “Get-AppxPackage | Remove-AppxPackage” at the PowerShell prompt. This will list all default installed Appx packages (which are installed per user) AND since it it piped to Remote-AppxPackage, it will remove them all.
    • you will get RED errors – this is expected due to dependencies.
  • From the Start Screen, right click and UNINSTALL the xBox music app. This app has dependencies with prevent all AppxPackages from being uninstalled
  • Run “Get-AppxPackage | Remove-AppxPackage” at the PowerShell prompt again to ensure all have been removed.
    • you will get RED errors – this is expected due to dependencies.
  • Connect back to the network / internet once again.
  • DO NOT associate a Microsoft Account for the entire time you are finishing this software install. Leave that for the SysPrep process.

I installed Visual Studio 2012, Visual Studio 2013, 20 odd components from Web Platform Installer, 3rd party software AND ran Windows Update for all products on the system.  Once I was all done – ran Sysprep with the Generalize switch and all worked FINE this time around!


Now I can use the VHDX file for a VDI pilot, Boot-From-VHD and Windows-To-Go, all as expected with this Preview Release.

Interview with Brad Anderson – behind the scenes of PCIT

I get to talk to some very cool people in my role at Microsoft. I managed to get some time with Vice President of Windows Server and System Center – Brad Anderson.  I learned about the concept of how Microsoft goes about planning out it’s releases of software with the concept of Pillars made up of uber-scenarios addressing customer issues – Way cool stuff!

I chat with Brad about the People Centric IT pillar and some of the scenarios and technologies that fall under that Pillar with regards to the preview release of Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2.

Brad has a blog that he’s using to cover these pillars in more depth (providing context) and linking out to all sorts of Engineering blogs who cover more technical details around the technologies supporting these scenarios. This portion of the blog series has two guest posts By Paul Maydield:

  • Post 1 about users data on all sorts of devices (ms and non ms)
  • Post 2 about the consistent management experience and user experience.

The whole blog series can be viewed in his “In The Cloud” blog.

Some of the topics covered in this interview:

  • [00:58] How Microsoft approaches building product and services.
  • [04:42] Where did the design pillars come from?
  • [06:39] Going deeper into scenarios from People Centric IT.
  • [14:41] What software revisions are required to enable these technologies?
  • [19:03] What’s involved to get these blog posts crafted?
  • [23:43] In The Cloud Blog, comments and Next Steps section.
  • [25:08] WorkFolders example for People Centric IT scenario
  • [28:05] Any “Ah-ha moments” from the Demos used in your keynotes?
  • [29:18] What’s planned for the next posts in the series?

Ports and More for Remote Management of Server 2012

I was delivering a quick session on the wonder that is Multi-Server Management for WIndows Server 2012 and I got asked the question – What Ports are required to be open when managing a system remotely.

ARGH… I always forget the port number – as it’s a non-standard port in the 5000 range.

Well – some quick Bing’ing – and I found this great article that lays out ALL the details on remote management capabilities using ServerManager. Lots of details on managing all sorts of systems and methods of managing them remotely.

Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see the port:

Windows Remote Management (WinRM) listener settings

Server Manager relies on default WinRM listener settings on the remote servers that you want to manage. If the default authentication mechanism or the WinRM listener port number on a remote server has been changed from default settings, Server Manager cannot communicate with the remote server.

The following list shows default WinRM listener settings for managing by using Server Manager.

  • The WinRM service is running.
  • A WinRM listener is created to accept HTTP requests through port number 5985.
  • Port number 5985 is enabled in Windows Firewall settings to allow requests through WinRM.
  • Both Kerberos and Negotiate authentication types are enabled.

The default port number is 5985 for WinRM to communicate with a remote computer.

For more information about how to configure WinRM listener settings, at a command prompt, type winrm help config, and then press ENTER.

New things in Group Policy for Windows Server 2012

I was on point for The Edge Show recently and decided to talk with my buddy Zach Alexander a PM on the Group Policy team on what’s new and cool in Group Policy these days. Three things immediately came to mind:

  • Infrastructure Status
  • Remote Update on client systems
  • Improved Resultant Set of Policy.

I helped him do some screencasts of the three demos a while ago for the group policy blog so I called in my favour to have him come on the show and talk shop. Have a look at this episode.

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