Wednesday, August 08, 2007

2nd Deployment Summit at TVP

Taking your first look at Windows Vista or Office 2007 and the deployment challenges ahead? The team will be running a 2nd free community Deployment Summit on the 12th September where you can find out more about Business Desktop Deployment, Application Remediation and Office 2007 deployment.

You can register for the event from this page

Sunday, June 17, 2007

BDD 2007 (Patch 1)

The first patch for BDD 2007 is now available or for those of you just getting started it is now included as part of the main download. Improvements to driver injection and support for USMT 3.01 are just a few of the updates. Check out the release notes for installation tips and more information.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Application Readiness for Vista

A great new resource is available online for deployment teams looking at application compatibily. The database is an online version of the compatibility information used by ACT, so if you don't want to run the tool you can just quickly check an individual application against the list.


Friday, April 27, 2007

BDD in Server Management Magazine

Interested in getting started and finding out more about Business Desktop Deployment (BDD), A good starting point would be to read my article in this months Server Management Magazine.


UK Community Deployment Summit

Thank you to all of you that were able to join Keith, Jason and myself for the 1st UK Community Deployment Summit in Reading. We had some fantastic presenters at the event to "Talk Deployment" which included Garry Corcoran, Paul Schnell, Paul Butterworth, Steve Green, Steve Reay and Davidson Baron. It was great to meet so many people and for those of you that were unable to attend watch this space for news of any future events.

I have uploaded pdf versions of the presentations for all of the sessions and they are available on the site.

Session 1: Desktop Deployment Challanges
Session 2 & 3: BDD 2007 Sessions
Session 4: Application Remediation
Session 5: SSCM 2007
Session 6: Office 2007 Deployment
Session 7: Microsoft SoftGrid


Longhorn Public Beta 3 Available

Interested in getting a first Look at Windows Longhorn Server. Beta 3 is now available to the public for download. Don't forget to check out some of the new WDS features !


Sunday, April 15, 2007

BDD 2007 Source Code Available

The source code for Buiseness desktop deployment (BDD 2007) has now been made available for download on the Microsoft site for partners and customers that may need to make modifications.


Saturday, March 31, 2007

UK Microsoft Management Summit

The Microsoft Management summit in Reading will provide a selection of the most valuable content from the year’s global Microsoft Management Summit event held in San Diego March 26-30th.

Register Online


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Configuration Manager Beta 2

System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (SMSv4) Beta 2 has now been released via the connect site. Time to start looking at a Zero Touch deployment solution for Windows Vista using System Center, if you have not already.



BDD 2007 Updated Components !

Your BDD workbench should give you the latest info:

Final versions of other deployment tools are now available! Use BDD 2007 to download, install and manage them via the component page.

Application compatibility Toolkit 5.0 - Analyze and mitigate your application compatibility issues.

Office Migration Planning Manager - A group of tools designed to help administrators during the planning and testing phases of a 2007 Microsoft Office system deployment.

Windows Vista Hardware Assessment - The newly released Windows Vista Hardware Assessment solution accelerator is an agentless assessment tool that makes it easier for customers and IT consultants to quickly assess their existing PCs' readiness for Windows Vista migration.

Volume Activation Management Tool – Automate and centrally manage the volume activation process using a Multiple Activation Key (MAK). VAMT can perform both MAK proxy and MAK independent activation of single or multiple remote computers running volume editions of Windows Vista at once.

Key Management Service (KMS) – Enable KMS on a Windows Server 2003 environment. KMS enables customers to host a local service within their environment which can be used by volume editions of Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Enterprise for activation.

KMS Management Pack for MOM 2005 – Monitor and report the health of the KMS hosts fulfilling the activation requests within their organization. System administrators can create alerts for conditions that could indicate KMS outages or impending problems


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Virtual PC 2007 Released

Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 has been officially released, which includes some significant improvements including support for both AMD and Intel Virtualization.



Monday, February 05, 2007

Vista Deployment Summit

Taking your first look at Windows Vista and the deployment challenges ahead? I will be running a free community Deployment Summit in April where you can find out more about Business Desktop Deployment, Application Remediation, Office 2007 deployment and also more information on Microsoft SoftGrid.

Check out the press release last week which has all the details


Into the Grid

What do you know about Microsoft SoftGrid, Application Virtualization?

There is some great documentation available now online to help bring you up to speed on this technology. Take a look inside and then take some time to consider how significant this product could be in the future.

Get into Microsoft SoftGrid


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Vodafone Mobile Connect "Vista Version"

Great news, I have just found on the Vodafone website the latest release candidate for a Vista Compatible Mobile Connect package.

Download Vodafone Mobile Connect Vista RC

Once downloaded, unzip the folder to the local drive and make sure you have uninstalled any old drivers you may have already tried. Results look good at the moment, drivers installed without any problems and I am able to establish a GPRS connection. I am not in a 3G area today so that trial will have to wait until tomorrow, but the device driver problems appear to have been resolved.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Longhorn Server Beta 3 "Get Ready"

If you are looking to get early sight of the next Server release codenamed "Longhorn", then now is the time to sign up as the public Beta 3 phase approaches.

Register for Beta 3 here


Thursday, January 18, 2007

BDD 2007 Final Release

A major milestone has been reached for all Microsoft Desktop deployment specialists with the final release of BDD 2007. This is a fantastic achievement and for those of us that have worked with earlier versions of BDD the change is significant.

BDD 2007 Final Release


Sunday, December 10, 2006

BDD 2007 RC 1 Available

The latest release of the Business Desktop Deployment toolkit (BDD 2007) has just become available for download. Anyone taking a long look at Vista Deployment should start with this download first.

Business Desktop Deployment (BDD 2007 RC1)


Monday, December 04, 2006

EVO Cinema Tour

I have just come back from a great morning at the Bristol IMAX with the Microsoft team. If you have not had chance to take a look at Vista, Office 2007 System's or the new Exchange 2007, then take some time out this week to attend one of the Microsoft Partner Cinema sessions. There were some cool demo's in particular deploying Vista to a Laptop from a 4GB USB pen stick in 8 minutes !

Worth a look, check out locations and times for this week.

Business Evolution Cinema Tour

Microsoft Partner’s looking for more information on the Vista Deployment tools BDD check out “Doing Vista Deployment Right


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Windows Vista Product Guide

Microsoft has released the final version of the product guide for Windows Vista. It is a great introduction to the new features and functionality that Vista provides. A recommended read for any technical person thinking there is not much new in Vista.

Vista Product Guide


Friday, November 17, 2006

Windows Vista Downloading !

Windows Vista final release downloads now available on MSDN.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Windows Vista RTM

Windows Vista Release to Manufacturing has been announced, the mile stone has been reached. Check out the announcement on the Windows Vista Technical team blog.


Vista: Doing Deployment Right!

I am delivering a sequence of events for Partners on the deployment tool set for Windows Vista. These sessions are a great opportunity to get offline and spend some time exploring the tools in a solutions lab environment.

Check out the dates on the Partner Readiness Site


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

ACT 5.0 RC1 Available on Connect

The Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT5.0 Release Candidate 1) has now been released onto the Microsoft Connect site. If you are starting to look at application compatibility for Windows Vista then this is the first toolkit to download.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Vista RC1 Update, Build 5278

Microsoft has released an update to RC1, build 5278 which is available to the public as part of the Customer Preview Program.

Download Vista RC1 Update, Build 5278

Customer Preview Program


Monday, August 14, 2006

Using HTA to Hide Credentials

This is an example of a recent HTA I created for starting a script using alternate credentials. Service desk staff often need to run scripts using support accounts that they are not logged on to as standard. This HTA provides a simple way to hide the input of credentials and pass it as arguments to a script or it could be used to launch a script using runas.

<title>Provide Credentials</title>


Sub Window_onLoad
window.resizeTo 500,250
End Sub

Sub Runscript
On Error Resume Next
Dim UserString, UserPassword, WSHNetwork
UserString = login.Value
UserPassword = password.Value
Set objshell = CreateObject("WScript.Shell") "cscript test.vbs /user:"" & UserString & ""/pwd:""& UserPassword"
'Clear the boxes now that we are done using the info
login.Value = ""
password.Value =""
End Sub


<body STYLE="font:14 pt arial; color:white; filter:progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Gradient (GradientType=1, StartColorStr='#000000', EndColorStr='#0000FF')">
<h1>Provide Credetials</h1>
<table align="center">
<tr><td>Username:</td><td><input type="text" name="login" size="30"></td></tr>
<tr><td>Pasword:</td><td><input type="password" name="password" size="30"></td></tr>
<tr><td colspan="1" align="center"><input id=runbutton type="button" value="Run Script" name="run_button" onClick="Runscript"></td></tr>
<span id = "DataArea"></span></center></body>


Saturday, July 29, 2006

Getting to Grips With HTA

Working with scripts is great as we all know, however have you started to convert some of your scripts over to HTA for a simple interface for service desk style activities. Here is an example of a simple service control script I wrote today for someone. Copy this into notepad and the save the file as a hta and then start to experiment with the script elements, enjoy.

<title>Restart Spooler Service</title>


Sub Window_onLoad
window.resizeTo 600,200
End Sub

Sub RestartSpooler
On Error Resume Next
Server = ServerName.Value
ServiceName = "Spooler"
if Server = "Please Select Server From List" then
msgBox "Please Select Server Name from drop down list"
Set Locator = CreateObject("WbemScripting.SWbemLocator")
Set ServiceSet = Locator.ConnectServer(Server,"root\cimv2").ExecQuery("select * from _ Win32_Service
where Name='"& ServiceName &"'")
if Err.Number <> 0 then
MsgBox Err.Description

For each Service in ServiceSet

RetVal = Service.StopService
if RetVal = 0 Then
msgbox "Service stopped successfully"
elseif RetVal = 3 Then
msgbox "There are other services that depend on this service that must be stopped first"
elseif RetVal = 5 Then
msgbox "Service was already stopped"
end If

RetVal = Service.StartService
if RetVal = 0 Then
msgbox "Service started successfully"
elseif RetVal = 3 Then
msgbox "There are other services that depend on this service that must be started first"
elseif RetVal = 5 Then
msgbox "Service was already started"
end If

ServerName.Value = "Please Select Server From List"
end If
end if
End Sub



<body bgcolor="white"><center>

<body STYLE="font:14 pt arial; color:white; filter:progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Gradient (GradientType=1, StartColorStr='#000000', EndColorStr='#0000FF')">

<h1>Restart Spooler Service On Server</h1>
<select size="1" name="ServerName">
<option value="Please Select Server From List">Please Select Server From List</option>
<option value="FILESVRA">FILESVRA</option>
<option value="FILESVRB">FILESVRB</option>
<option value="FILESVRC">FILESVRC</option>
<option value="FILESVRD">FILESVRD</option>
<input id=Go_Button type="button" value="RestartSpooler" name="Go_button" onClick="RestartSpooler">


Thursday, June 29, 2006

AD Replication Health Check

If you have reported replication problems with a Domain Controller what diagnostic tools are in your toolkit to help diagnose the problem? Stage one would be to identify any simple connectivity problems on the machine, the netsh command is a great way to run a quick test.

Netsh diag show test

As Domain Controller’s communicate using GUID’s rather than machine name’s it is important to ensure that DNS records are in place for the Domain Controllers in the environment and that the DC’s in question is able to resolve them.

Dnslint /s localhost /ad

If connectivity and name resolution is in good shape the next step would be to look at active directory for any errors that may have occurred. The DCDiag utility is a great way to health check a machine.

DCDiag or to get futher detail dcdiag /verbose

Be careful when reading the DCDiag information to look for the date of the error when considering any messages, often problems may have occurred because of a connectivity problem which has since been solved. From DCDiag you may then need to investigate the eventlogs, FRS replication using Sonar, Replication using replmon or repadmin.

Another important utility that is available allows you to check the consistency between two domain controllers. This can quickly provide a high level of confidence that replication problems have been resolved or identify where there are large discrepancies between Domain Controllers. Remember that when comparing machines between sites there will naturally be a discrepancy until the next scheduled cross site replication which may be every 3hrs for example.

Dsastat –s:DC1;DC2

You can use Replmon or repadmin to force replication across site links and the use Dsastat again to confirm that the two Domain Controllers have converged.


Friday, June 23, 2006

ADModify Utility

ADModify is a great utility for Exchange and Active Directory users looking to make bulk changes to user attributes in Active Directory. Well worth investigating.

Click here to download


WMIC to enable Remote Desktop

Using the Windows Management Instrumentation Command line can be useful to enable remote desktop on servers that have already been deployed without the feature enabled.

wmic /node:SERVERNAME rdtoggle WHERE servername="SERVERNAME" CALL SetAllowTSConnections 1

WMIC is worth investigating further, I comes with a large list of pre-configured WMI commands with simple aliases. Open a command Windows on any XP or Windows 2003 server and type WMIC then type /? to explore some of the capabilities.

The /node is the switch that enables you to work remotely e.g:


Will display the hotfix levels between two machines for comparison


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Display SID History Information

A useful tool worth investigating if you are using the SID History function during a migration is acctinfo.dll. This utility is part of the Windows 2003 resource kit and can also be found in the Account lockout tools.

Copy acctinfo.dll into the System32 directory and register using:

Regsvr32 acctinfo.dll

Once registered an “Additional Information” tab is available through Active Directory Users and Computers. This Tab allows you to see extra useful information for example when the user’s password was last set, password expiry date, the users SID and importantly any information stored in the users SID History.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Reset User Passwords using DSQuery

Reset a complicated collection of users passwords the easy way using DSQuery. First use the Saved Queries function within Active Directory Users and Computers to narrow down the query and ensure you have the users required; for example all of the Bristol Office Staff.

The edit Copy the Query String from the Saved Query you have created and use it the following way from the command line:

dsquery * -filter "(&(objectCategory=user)(physicalDeliveryOfficeName=Bristol*))"

This will then return all of the users as in the saved query

The add the following to the end of the line which will then dsmod all of the users to reset the passwords.

dsmod user -pwd "P@ssword"


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Debug GPO Application Deployment

Investigate group policy application installation problems by enabling diagnostic logging in the registry to help identify problems:

Key: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\Current Version\Diagnostics

Name: AppMgmtDebugLevel

AppMgmtDebugLevel = Hex 9b

The log file is located in the %systemroot%\debug\Usermode folder called Appmgmt.log

In addition to this consider enabling Windows Installer logging on the local machine using group policy.

Computer Configuration\Admin Templates\Windows Components\Windows Installer

Enable logging

The log file msi.log will be in the temp folder on the system drive


Friday, June 09, 2006

Multiple Local GPO's in Vista

Windows Vista now supports multiple local GPO's. If you are exploring the new Beta 2 checkout creating a local GPO through the normal MMC Group Policy object editor snap-in, however when it displays "Local Machine" use the browse button and the select the users tab. Very interesting feature for standalone machines kiosks, library machines etc.


Reporting Local Security Settings

If you are having problems reporting local security settings on machine's and want a simple utility then Dumpsec is worth investigating. SomarSoft provide this FREE useful utility that allows you to remotely dump security settings on machines. Cool utility, which whilst having security limitations, is a great tool for a Security Administrator.


Public Download of Vista Beta 2

Windows Vista Beta 2 is now available for Public download.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Vista Beta 2 Video Drivers

If you are having problems loading drivers for the nVidia Quadro FX350 on Vista Beta 2, there is a work around. If you are faced with the message "Could not find a compatible card…" then go manual.

Through device manager update the video driver and use the have disk approach to use the extracted nVidia driver set and they load without any problems providing the full Aero experience.

Also worth a look is the offer of free anti-virus software for Vista Beta 2


Friday, June 02, 2006

Scripting Fun with Speach API (SAPI)

Add a little fun to your scripts using the Speach API.

set objVoice = createobject("SAPI.spVoice")
objVoice.Speak "I'm sorry Dave, I'm affraid I can't do that"

Thanks goes out to Brian for this one.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Security Policy Problem

I came across an interesting problem today with a machine not processing the security element of Group Policy (Secedit.sdb).

The error was as follows:

"Security policies are propagated with warning. 0x4b8 : An extended error has occurred. Please look for more details in Troubleshooting section in Security Help."

Using esentutl /g c:\Windows\Security\database\secedit.sdb displayed that the database was corrupt.

Using esentutl /p c:\Windows\Security\database\secedit.sdb solved the problem and the security element was re-applied to the machine.

Investigating .pol files

Using the resource kit tool regview.exe you can display the registry changes that are contained within any group policy .pol file.

e.g regview C:\Windows\system32\GroupPolicy\User\registry.pol

Will display any registry values contained within the user element of local policy for the machine. This can be a quick an easy way to investigate and compare local policies on different machines.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Exploring GPMC Scripts

It is worth exploring the scripts provided with the GPMC to save some time documenting and automating the backup of GPO's. Open a command prompt in the C:\Program Files\GPMC\Scripts folder and explore in the lab.

A great example is producing a report to document all of your GPO's. This command will generate an XML and HTML report of all of you GPO's. Very useful for documentation or passing on to people that do not have access to GPMC.

cscript getreportsforAllgpos.wsf c:\Reports

How about this script to schedule a regular backup of GPO's

cscript BackupAllGPOs.wsf c:\Backup


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Using log files to Debug Group Policy

If your having difficulty getting to the bottom of Group Policy problems having used GPOTool to check consistency and RSOP to check processing, logging is the next step. Enabling this logging tracks all changes and settings applied to the machine as it starts and the user as they log on.

The log file is located in the %windir%\debug\UserMode folder called Userenv.log

Key: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\Current Version\Winlogon
Name: UserEnvDebugLevel

UserEnvDebugLevel = Hex 10002 enables logging
UserEnvDebugLevel = Hex 30002 enables Verbose logging

I recommend that you remove any existing log file and then use gpupdate /force to re-apply group policy or restart the machine for a complete Machine Start and User logon debug.
Carefully review the log for problems and errors. If you are having difficult interpreting the log file consider reading this article.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

GPOTool to Check GPO Consistency

One of the most common group policy problems which produces hidden policies or inconsistent results is when SYSVOL may not be replicating correctly. Using the resource kit tool GPOTool is the best way to ensure that replication of Group Policy is occurring

The utility will report all “Policies OK” if all Domain Controllers SYSVOLS are up to date and current. It is worth considering scheduling this process to occur and report early in the morning as a standard maintenance check.

SYSVOL replication or convergence can take some time in larger organisations, however if the problem still remains after more than 24hrs you need to start investigating the FRS service which is responsible for replicating SYSVOL.

Start by using the sonar utility from the resource kit to see if it exposes any errors with FRS. This tool interrogates the FRS service on all of your Domain Controllers and reports back status and errors in a GUI tool. Then start to investigate the error messages you find.


Troubleshooting Offline files

The local Offline files database does not work well when server folders are moved and this problem is common. The best approach is to re-initialize the offline files on the clients with problems. This functionality is build in but hidden. On the client hold down "control" and "Shift" at the same time before clicking the delete files button in the Offline files tab. This will remove all records of shares and files from the local machine in the cache.


Great ADM file Resource

A great guide for creating ADM file's for registry based policy changes. Details all of the format required and has some examples. Useful resource.