Friday, December 28, 2012

Samsung ATIV S review

Last week I found a great review on Samsung ATIV S mobile phone. Besides of Nokia and HTC, Samsung is the third vendor with a Windows Phone 8 device. Because of the business kind of look and great specs this is the device I want. The device will be in January for sale in the Netherlands. In Europe the pricing will probably be 549 euro.

Samsung was the first manufacturer to officially announce a Windows Phone 8 device, but has since been suspiciously quiet about its plans. Plagued by delays and a missed launch period with HTC and Nokia, Samsung’s carrier deals, release dates, and exact pricing haven’t been forthcoming. Microsoft rarely mentions the company's devices in marketing materials, and it feels like Samsung's Windows Phone 8 efforts have been all but forgotten.

Source: Samsung Ativ S review

Searching on the web I found the specifications for Samsung ATIV S with Windows Phone 8. Here it is:

A Windows Phone 8 comparison between HTC, Nokia and Samsung phones can be found HERE also.

Delayed till 2013: The ATIV S could be delayed to begin January for Europe! The ATIV S uses the same display as the Galaxy S III. Because the Galaxy S III is extremely hot at the moment. Samsung could have decided to move back the ATIV S for public release because of production switch in build and materials.

Nokia Lumia 620 specifications

After unveiling two big Windows Phone 8 powered devices, Lumia 820 and Lumia 920, Nokia has announced a budget Windows Phone 8 device for the masses. Nokia unveiled Nokia Lumia 620 at Paris on December 5 with a price tag of $249 only. This made us all aware that like Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8 devices can also have budget models.

Lumia 620 is the third and most affordable Windows Phone 8 device by Nokia. With its price tag, it will be a highly competitive smartphone. Lets take look at the smartphone.

Nokia Lumia 620 press pictures (all colors):

Searching on the web I found the specifications for Nokia Lumia 620 with Windows Phone 8. Here it is:

Another search shows browser benchmarks (Sunspider and BrowserMark 2), where Lumia 620 beats the Galaxy S III:

In Europe the pricing will probably be 259 euro. The 620 will be released in January in Asia and the Middle East. Then comes the phone to Europe, but exactly when is not known. The Lumia 920 and 820 are in the Netherlands in January in sales.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Upgrade ConfigMgr 2012 to Service Pack 1

Last week on december 12, Service Pack 1 (SP1) was available on TechNet or MSDN subscriptions. Because my lab environment is running on SP1 Beta, I thought the whole installation must be done again. Good news is that the upgrade from SP1 Beta to SP1 RTM can be done without any issues at all. The only thing important is, it isn't supported in any way. But because it's my lab environment that doesn't count.
Let's have a look at the upgrade:
Choose "Upgrade this Configuration Manager site" to start installation
A new feature in SP1 is that more Server languages are available now
 During Prerequisite check a new warning message is shown on collections
And finally after a "few" minutes waiting the installation is done! :)
Very nice to have a lab environment with ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 now!!
Just start to download the bits and experience the new features and functionality yourself. More on the new stuff can be found HERE. Hope you like it as much as I do! More to come about SP1 later.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

System Center 2012 SP1 available now!

Great news! System Center 2012 SP1 is available now! It can be download on Microsoft TechNet if you have a TechNet or MSDN subscription. Lucky me I have one because of my Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) status.

With Service Pack 1, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 support are available. Just connect to Microsoft TechNet and download the bits!

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Updates and New Features in ConfigMgr 2012 SP1

Last month I was at System Center User Group (SCUG) NL day with Wally Mead. Wally Mead has been with Microsoft for more than 20 years, and working with Systems Management Server since SMS 1.0 was in development. The following Updates and New Features for ConfigMr 2012 SP1 were mentioned: 
Deployment of Windows 8:
  • Core OS Deployment Scenarios (Windows 8/ 2012 support)
  • Windows To Go support (create and build by ConfigMgr)
  • Managing Windows 8 Apps (for both x86 and RT)
  • Always-on Always connected (preserves battery life)
  • Metered Connections support (for paid networks)
  • Used Space BitLocker (saves time during OSD)
  • Bitlocker pre-provisioning from WinPE mode (5 minutes versus 3 hours)
Management Capabilities of Windows RT and Windows Phone 8:
  • Windows 8 Apps (easier and faster to deploy)
  • Windows 8 Apps in the Windows Store (new type of software)
  • Pull Software Distribution (MDM)
  • Settings Management (with ConfigMgr policy)
  • Compliance Monitoring (MDM)
Embedded Device Support in SP1:
  • Better support for write filters
  • Write filter orchestration for updates and OSD
  • SCEP support for installation and updates
  • Desired Configuration Management extensions
  • OS deployment optimized for embedded devices
And many many more:
  • User Data and Settings Management (User policy)
  • Windows Intune management in ConfigMgr console (!)
  • Distribution Point for Windows Azure (in the cloud)
  • Database Replication Controls (make the hierarchy easier to control)
  • Security and Compliance for Endpoint Protection
  • Real-time Administrative Actions (force machine policy)
  • Support for App-V 5.0, PowerShell, Non-Windows devices
  • Support for SCEP on MAC, UNIX and Linux systems
Service Pack 1 isn't just an update on ConfigMgr. It will provide a lot of new functionality above of existing ConfigMgr 2012 features.
The General Availability release of System Center 2012 SP1 is scheduled for early January.

Monday, December 17, 2012

System Center 2012 SP1 release date

System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 has reached RTM, Microsoft announced recently. RTM refers to feature-complete products. The General Availability release of System Center 2012 SP1 is scheduled for early January. Because Q1 2013 was mentioned last months, this is way earlier then expected. 

Windows Intune is set for an "early 2013" update also. With Windows Intune, Mobile Device Management in ConfigMgr becomes available.

A few notes to make the upgrade path crystal clear: 

  • General Availability is targeted for early January;
  • Upgrade from SP1 Beta is only supported for TAP customers who installed RC;
  • Non-TAP customers will only be able to upgrade from DPM 2012 RTM to DPM 2012 SP1 RTM;
  • There is no upgrade path from BETA SP1 to RTM SP1, you must reinstall DPM 2012 RTM, then upgrade to SP1 RTM.

Availability of SP1 RTM for SA costumers is probably January 3, 2013. Great news we can download the bits within a few weeks from now!

Update 2-1-2013: System Center 2012 SP1 is now available for download from the Microsoft Volume Licensing site.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How to update ConfigMgr 2012 RTM to SP1 (Beta)

Next year (Q1 2013) System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1) becomes available. This Service Pack will be released for System Center 2012 and not just for ConfigMgr only. SP1 for ConfigMgr will bring a lot of new features and functionalities, which are described HERE.
To update a ConfigMgr 2012 RTM environment to SP1 (Beta) the following is needed: 
  • Uninstall Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK)
  • Download Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) for Windows 8 which is available HERE
  • Install Windows ADK by adksetup.exe and choose Install (which download the files needed online first) or choose Download (which download all files for offline usage)
  • The only features needed are Deployment Tools, Windows PE and USMT.
  • Upgrade the SQL Server installation from SP1 CU4 to SP2 which is available HERE or SP1 CU6 which is available HERE
After that the prerequisite check should not display any errors anymore:

When both Deployment Tools and Windows PE must be installed on other Site servers too, it's because of multiple SMS Providers that are installed. Otherwise you will be fine and setup can be started immediately.

During installation boot images will be upgraded from WinPE 3.0 to 4.0 automatically. Just remember to update ALL Distribution points after the upgrade, because this will not be done automatically (!)

Remember: After the upgrade all ConfigMgr 2012 RTM clients must be updated to SP1 (Beta) too. Not that it won't work otherwise, but because new features and functionalities will not be functional then.
It can be done automatically with Site Hierarchy settings (Client Installation Settings).

SP1 for ConfigMgr will bring a lot of new features and functionalities!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Microsoft Management Summit 2013 Registration Open

Today I received the following message:

Microsoft Management Summit 2013 Registration Open

Why Attend MMS?
At the Microsoft Management Summit the brightest and most skilled IT professionals from around the world meet to increase their technical expertise. It's an intensive week of technical training, so get your geek on. You'll be first to test drive new products and solutions, accelerate your career, and you'll experience the power of community. Pretty sweet, huh?

About MMS

The Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) brings together the brightest IT professionals from around the world to increase their technical expertise through deep hands-on training, best-practice sharing, and interaction with innovators in desktop, device, and datacenter management, as well as cloud technologies.

When we say deep, we mean it – with session content delving into the 300 and 400 level. Only hard-core geeks will feel comfortable in this exclusive setting. With keynotes, sessions, hands-on labs, certification opportunities, and face-to-face access to Microsoft and industry experts, MMS provides a “can’t-miss” opportunity to be among the first to learn about new technologies.

Register now:
April 8-12 @ Mandala Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada

Hope to be there for the third time! For me it's the best event on Microsoft System Center & Client Device Management.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book review: ConfigMgr Administration Cookbook

Recently I received a review request for the "Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Administration Cookbook". For me a change to review a ConfigMgr 2012 book and acquire some new skills. This practical cookbook shows you how to administer ConfigMgr 2012 and understand how to solve particular problems/scenarios.

Packed with over 50 task-based and immediately reusable recipes, this book starts by showing you how to design a ConfigMgr Infrastructure. The book then dives into topics such as recommended SQL configuration for ConfigMgr, deploying Windows 7 with OS Deployment, deploying Applications and Software Updates, managing Compliance Settings, managing Sites and managing Inventory amongst others.

In addition to its cookbook style, which ensures the solutions are presented in a clear step-by-step manner, its explanations go into great detail, which makes it good learning material for everyone who has experience in ConfigMgr and wants to improve. The book is designed in such a way that each recipe is presented as a separate, standalone entity and reading of other, prior recipes is not required.

The authors are Brian Mason (a Systems Engineer at Wells Fargo where he manages over 350,000 resources with ConfigMgr) and Greg Ramsey (a Systems Engineer specializing in global systems management for Dell Services). A book page link can be found HERE.

Note: Personally I think it's a good book for administrators who are familiar with ConfigMgr, and want to improve their knowledge on known and also new functionalities. Therefore a lot of recipes are added, which can be used for practical purposes. That way both theory and practice are combined in this book, which is certainly an added value.

Friday, November 23, 2012

ConfigMgr 2012 Site Backup failure

In ConfigMgr 2012 Site Maintenance, the Backup Site Server can be enabled. That way a backup is created from your ConfigMgr Site Server. ConfigMgr provides a backup maintenance task that runs on a schedule and backs up the site database, specific registry keys, and specific folders and files. The Backup Site Server maintenance task does not include a backup for the content library or the package source files. When a site server fails, the information about the content library files is restored to the site database, but you must restore the content library and package source files on the site server.

During backup the SMS Writer service is used. This is a service that interacts with the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) during the backup process. The SMS Writer service must be running for the Configuration Manager site back up to successfully complete. Just make sure that this service is running!

When creating a Maintenance plan in ConfigMgr there is a choice for Destination options. When selecting "Network path (UNC name) for site data and database" a UNC path is needed where both ConfigMgr data and SQL data is saved. Just create one folder, place a (hidden) share on it, and data will be saved. When selecting "Local drives on site server and SQL server" a local drive on both ConfigMgr and SQL server is needed for backup. Backup data for ConfigMgr will be saved on the local drive specified on the ConfigMgr server. Backup data for SQL will be saved on the local drive on the SQL server.

Microsoft recommends as a best practice, to keep multiple archives of the backup snapshot. You can create the AfterBackup.bat file to perform post-backup actions automatically after the backup maintenance task runs successfully. The AfterBackup.bat file is most frequently used to archive the backup snapshot to a secure location. However, you can also use the AfterBackup.bat file to copy files to your backup folder and start other supplemental backup tasks.

Sometimes there are ConfigMgr alerts created, that no Site Backup is possible. Error message: "Backup folder does not exist or backup service does not have permission to access the folder." Just make sure that NTFS and Share permissions are in place and the following workaround is used: Create a sub-folder under the existing Backup folder and configure the backup task accordingly to this folder. Note: This issue is schedule to be addressed in Service Pack 1 and is described HERE.

Additional information on Backup Site Server task can be found HERE. Hope it helps!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Windows 8 support in ConfigMgr 2007 SP2

For ConfigMgr 2007 their a lot of hotfixes available. Besides of having Service Pack 2 (SP2) and Release 3 (R3) installed, a lot of issues can be solved with installing hotfixes. These can be found on this website:
List of Public KB Articles and Hotfixes for Configuration Manager 2007 SP2

Last week a new hotfix was released for ConfigMgr 2007. This time Windows 8 support for client computers becames available. Very nice, because Windows 8 support wasn't planned for ConfigMgr 2007 first. Let's have a look at the features.
Additionally, this update adds Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 to the supported platform list in the following features:

- Software distribution;
- Software update management;
- Desired Configuration Management (DCM).

This update also fixes the following issues:
- Discovery Data Manager (DDM) does not create Client Configuration Requests (CCRs) for Windows 8-based computers that are discovered by using the Active Directory System Discovery.
- When the system processes a new power profile, the SMS Agent Host service (Ccmexec.exe) or the WMI Provider Host service (Wmiprvse.exe) stops unexpectedly.

This means that the ConfigMgr client can now be installed on Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 systems. On these systems applications and software updates can be deployed and DCM can be used. In ConfigMgr 2012 this isn't supported yet. Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 support will be added in System Center 2012 SP1 (Q1 2013).

Very nice to have more possibilities in ConfigMgr 2007 again. 
Hotfix Request

Thursday, November 8, 2012

ConfigMgr 2012 Service Pack 1 features

Next year (Q1 2013) System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1) becomes available. This Service Pack will be released for System Center 2012 and not just for ConfigMgr only. It containes updates for compatibility with Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 and other enhancements including support for Azure VM and capabilities for Hosted Service Providers. For ConfigMgr 2012 it will be a big step forwards, because of multiple new features and functionalities!

In this blogpost I will mention these:

– Support for Windows 8 (for both ConfigMgr/SCEP client installation and Operating System deployment);
– Support for Windows To Go (Full Windows 8 installation on a certified 32GB USB-stick);
– User data & profile configuration by means of folder redirection, offline files & roaming profiles;
– New deployment types for Windows 8 applications, including standalone applications and links to the Windows Store;
– Support for Windows Server 2012 (for both ConfigMgr client installation and Operating System deployment);
– Support for SQL Server 2012 (installation of ConfigMgr database);
– ConfigMgr client installation on MAC computers, Linux and UNIX servers;
– Possibility for Windows PowerShell cmdlets (to automate ConfigMgr tasks);
– Support for cloud services, including a new Distribution Point for Windows Azure;

– A more flexible hierarchy management for Central Administration Site (CAS) and Primary Site servers;

– Support for multiple Software update points (SUPs), with automatic  redundancy (same as Management points);
– Console Extensions integration in ConfigMgr console (downloading computer policy and initiating a malware scan to be performed as soon as possible);
– Support for virtual environments that allow multiple virtual applications (App-V packages) to share file system and registry information instead of running in an isolated space;
– Email alert subscriptions are now supported for all features, not just Endpoint Protection (useful for the Application Catalog);
– Multiple application types for Software Catalog usage and deployment, Mobile Device APP stores and App-V 5.0 (!) support;
– Support for App-V 5.0 packages (release: Q1 2013);
– Windows Intune integration (finally a Mobile Device Management solution for cloud device management);
– Support for Windows Embedded devices, because of Windows Embedded Device Manager (WEDM) integration.

As you can see a lot of new features and functionalities are added in ConfigMgr 2012 SP1. I'm very enthusiastic that this already great product (compared to previous versions), will be more advanced with every release. Stay tuned for more information early next year!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Files necessary to run the Office Customization Tool were not found

When starting Setup.exe /admin from Microsoft Office 2013 RTM, I got the message "Files necessary to run the Office Customization Tool were not found.  Run Setup from the installation point of a qualifying product." When doing the same in Microsoft Office 2010 the Office Customization Tool (OCT) is started. With OCT you can create a MSP (answer) file for silent installation.

Looking on the web I found the following solution for this HERE.

This occurs when the admin folder is missing from the installation point. For it seems Office 2013 Preview Administrative Template Files are needed to start the Office Customization Tool. Just download the tools (x86/x64 choice) and start it to create a admin and admx folder. The admin folder must be copied in the Office 2013 source afterwards. After that OCT is working as usual again. Strange thing that admin files are not included by default!?

The Office 2013 Preview Administrative Template files (ADMX/ADML) and Office Customization Tool can be download HERE.

Monday, November 5, 2012

How to install a multiple SMS Provider in ConfigMgr 2012

In ConfigMgr the SMS Provider is installed during installation. The SMS Provider is the interface between the ConfigMgr console and the Site database. In ConfigMgr 2007 there can be only one SMS Provider installed per ConfigMgr Site. In ConfigMgr 2012 however multiple installations of the SMS Provider are supported. Just remember: It cannot be installed on a clustered SQL server database server or on the same computer as the SMS Provider for another site.

For example: ConfigMgr 2012 is installed already and the SMS Provider is installed on your Primary Site server. Now you want to install another one on your SQL server, which isn't installed on a clustered SQL server database server. Here are the steps which must be followed:

1) Open the Start Menu on the ConfigMgr server and select Microsoft System Center 2012 > Configuration Manager > Configuration Manager Setup
2) Getting Started > Select "Perform site maintenance or reset this Site" and click Next
3) Site Maintenance > Select "Modify SMS Provider configuration" and click Next
4) Manage SMS Providers > Select "Add a new SMS provider" and "Enter the FQDN of the server where the SMS Provider is to be installed" and click Next
5) Configuration > After a few minutes the SMS Provider will be installed on another server

Good news that the SMS Provider can be installed multiple times now, and isn't a Single-point-of-failure anymore! With above steps multiple SMS Providers can be installed or uninstalled. Just choose to divide ConfigMgr roles also to have a High Available ConfigMgr environment.
Good luck with your installation!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection (part 3)

Last time I wrote a blogpost about System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection (SCEP) functionality. I mentioned the installation/configuration and deploying SCEP agents (Part 1), and deploying antimalware policies & definition updates (Part 2). This time the SCEP series continues with monitoring, dashboard views and reports. When antimalware policies and definition updates are in place, it's time to have a look at monitoring the SCEP agents. There are multiple functionalities for that.

Let's start with the SCEP dashboard first.

Beneath Monitoring, the "System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection Status" can be found. This is THE dashboard for viewing Security State (Client status, Malware remediation status, Top 5 malware by number of computers) and Operational State (Operational status of clients, Definition status on computers). It can be viewed for all collections where an anti-malware policy is deployed too. Because I deploy it to ALL servers and clients (most of time), I've selected the "All Desktop and Server Clients" collection here.

Nice thing is, it's completely dynamic. You can click on all Links and graphical stuff to go to the relevant system(s). After clicking a Link or graphical item, a specific SCEP collection is showed with systems and ALL (Deployment state, Policy name, Policy application state, Definition last version, Remediation status) Endpoint Protection information. From default collections there are buttons for SCEP available too. Both Endpoint Protection status and Malware details can be watched here. SCEP is integrated on multiple places in the console.

When looking at Reports, there are six SCEP reports available. Most usable ones are "Antimalware activity report" and Dashboard. Both have a nice graphical layout by default. When rightclick on a report it's possible to select "Create Subscription", which generates a report on a scheduled time. Reports can be delivered by Windows File Share and E-mail this way. You can define the Render format also, which can be: XML, CSV, TIFF, PDF, (M)HTML, RPL, Excel and Word files.

My personal conclusion:
Microsoft did a great job with SCEP integration in ConfigMgr 2012, with: automatic SCEP client deployment, multiple policies which can be merged, a very nice dynamic dashboard, automatic deployment rules for definition updates & beautiful reports which can be delivered multiple ways and saved in multiple formats! Therefore I recommend customers for using SCEP all the time. SCEP integration in ConfigMgr 2012 is the best antivirus solution there is!

Monday, October 29, 2012

System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection (part 2)

Last time I wrote a blogpost about System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection (SCEP) functionality. I mentioned the installation/configuration and deploying SCEP agents. This time the SCEP series continues with deploying antimalware policies and definition updates. With a SCEP agent installed it's time to manage them with antimalware policies, and make sure definition updates will be installed every 8 hours (if available).

Beneath "Assets and Compliance" there's a folder for creating and managing Antimalware and Windows Firewall policies. Looking at antimalware policies there is a Default Client Antimalware Policy. Just leave it at default settings and create a new policy. Just rightclick and choose "Create Antimalware Policy" or "Import". In my case I'm using Import, and choose default policies for all type of servers being used. That way most values and exclusions are set by default, which can save you a lot of configuration time.
Nice thing is you can merge multiple policies to one single policy now. That functionality wasn't available in the earlier Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP) 2010 release. When importing (for example) both Domain Controller, DNS Server and DHCP Server policies, you can merge them to one single policy when needed. You can select a Base policy and New policy name also. That way it's a lot easier to create new antimalware policies. Just have a look at the screenshot how it looks like.
Another important step is to configure automatic definition updates. In ConfigMgr 2007 with FEP 2010 it was needed to use the "Definition Update Automation Tool" in combination with a Task Scheduler. More about that in the following blogposts HERE and HERE. In ConfigMgr 2012 you can use "Automatic Deployment Rules" for that. Just create a new rule, select Search criteria based on FEP 2010 and deploy it. In my case I deployed it on the "All Desktop and Server Clients" collection. That way all clients with a SCEP agent will automatically receive new updates.

Both antimalware policies and definition updates are in place now!

My next blogpost will be about deploying monitoring, dashboard views and reports. Stay tuned for more!

Monday, October 22, 2012

System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection (part 1)

Last week I installed System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection (SCEP) at my office. SCEP is built on Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) 2012, creating a single infrastructure for deploying and managing endpoint protection. SCEP uses the same industry-leading antimalware engine as Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender (Windows 8), to protect systems against the latest malware and rootkits. SCEP is previously known as Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP) 2010.

In this series of blogposts I will mention the installation/configuration and deploying SCEP agents (1), deploying antimalware policies and definition updates (2), monitoring, dashboard views and reports (3).

Let's mention the installation/configuration first.

In ConfigMgr 2007 it was needed to install and integrate FEP 2010 within the ConfigMgr console. More about that HERE. In ConfigMgr 2012 it will be a lot easier than that! Just install the Endpoint Protection point role on your ConfigMgr Site server. That way it will be activated in your environment. No need to create a software package or something like that. This will be created by default also.

Beneath "Assets and Compliance" there will be a folder for creating and managing policies. Beneath "Monitoring" there will be a Dashboard for SCEP 2012 status. In Reports there will be six reports to run. During ConfigMgr 2012 agent install, the CCMSETUP folder will be used for ConfigMgr and SCEP installation. The file SCEPInstall.exe will be download by default also. This file is used for SCEP agent installation.

Normally, SCEP installation is disabled within the ConfigMgr agent policy. Beneath "Administration" there is a Client Settings policy. Just leave it at default settings and create a new Client Settings policy. Within this new policy, enable Endpoint Protection and deploy it on a collection which must have Endpoint Protection. In my case I deployed it on the "All Desktop and Server Clients" collection. That way ALL clients with a ConfigMgr agent will also have SCEP installed automatically.

Both installation/configuration and deploy SCEP agents are done now!

My next blogpost will be about deploying antimalware policies and definition updates. Stay tuned for more!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

ConfigMgr 2012 Component add-ons and Extensions

Last week I installed ConfigMgr 2012 and SCEP again at customer location. It's true that ConfigMgr 2012 has a lot of build-in functionality, but it can be even better. In this blogpost I will mention a few additional Component add-ons and Extensions. Here they are:
ConfigMgr Console Extensions
The ConfigMgr Console Extensions (formerly Right Click Tools) are a set of freeware right-click tools for the Microsoft ConfigMgr 2007/2012 console designed to help make our SCCM administration lives a little easier. The following tools are added to both collections and systems:

  • Trigger Client Action (10x ConfigMgr Policy update)
  • ConfigMgr Client Tools (ConfigMgr Client management)
  • System Tools (Ping, Wake-On-Lan, Reboot, Shutdown, Schedule reboot/shutdown)
  • Trigger Client Action (10x ConfigMgr Policy update)
  • ConfigMgr Client Tools (ConfigMgr Client management)
  • System Tools (Manage Computer, Ping, Wake-On-Lan, RDP to Console, Remote CMD, Connect to C$, System detail, Reboot, Shutdown, Schedule reboot/shutdown)

Nice feature is that Wake-On-Lan (WOL) also support unicast, subnet-directed broadcast, and additional ports now!

Package Conversion Manager (PCM)
The Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Package Conversion Manager allows for converting packages and programs into applications and deployment types in System Center Configuration Manager 2012. There is a migration feature which will be released with the Configuration Manager 2012 that allows packages to be migrated from 2007 to 2012.

Once you have migrated your package objects and installed PCM then it is just a matter analyzing your packages in order to determine which readiness state each are in, and then converting those packages that are in the appropriate readiness state.

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Toolkit
The Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Toolkit contains nine downloadable tools to help you manage and troubleshoot Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager. The following list provides specific information about each tool in the toolkit.
  • Client Spy - A tool that helps you troubleshoot issues related to software distribution, inventory, and software metering on ConfigMgr 2012 clients.
  • Policy Spy - A policy viewer that helps you review and troubleshoot the policy system on ConfigMgr 2012 clients.
  • Security Configuration Wizard Template - The Security Configuration Wizard (SCW) is an attack-surface reduction tool for the Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system. Security Configuration Wizard determines the minimum functionality required for a server's role or roles, and disables functionality that is not required.
  • Send Schedule Tool - A tool used to trigger a schedule on a client or trigger the evaluation of a specified DCM Baseline. You can trigger a schedule either locally or remotely.
  • Power Viewer Tool – A tool to view the status of power management feature on ConfigMgr 2012 clients.
  • Deployment Monitoring Tool - The Deployment Monitoring Tool is a graphical user interface designed help troubleshoot Applications, Updates, and Baseline deployments on ConfigMgr 2012 clients.
  • Run Metering Summarization Tool - The purpose of this tool is to run the metering summarization task to analyze raw metering data
  • Role-based Administration Modeling and Auditing Tool – This tool helps administrators to model and audit RBA configurations.
  • License Tracking PowerShell Cmdlets - The PowerShell cmdlet “Get-ConfigMgrAccessLicense” is used to get license usage information for all the servers and clients within scope of ConfigMgr 2012. The cmdlet returns a list of licensable features and a list of unique users and devices per unique licensable feature.

Hope you like these tools, which adding additional value to ConfigMgr 2012. ConfigMgr will be even more better this way!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

No reports available in ConfigMgr 2012 console

ConfigMgr 2012 has reporting functionality build-in, based on SQL Reporting Services (SRS). Today I had a issue that reports aren't available in the ConfigMgr console. What's going wrong here?

When looking at SRS on the SQL Server everything was configured fine. In Reporting Services Configuration Manager a Service Account was set (a domain user, which is a best practice), and the Report Manager URL was displayed fine also. All ConfigMgr reports were displayed here!

First a few captures to display the issue:

A Windows domain user account is configured in RSCM

Starting the Report Manager URL shows no errors..

But no reports are displayed in the ConfigMgr console

Searching on the web I found an recommendation to use the Local system account as SRS Service Account. I changed above configuration from Windows domain user account to a Local system account and it's working again. Strange thing that Microsoft recommends to use a Windows domain user account, but it's not working that way.

The following captures displays the solution:

Configure the Service Account to use Local system in RSCM

After change have a look in the ConfigMgr console again

Nice to have 423 items in Reports again. Just use Local system in SRS Service Account from now on, to pass this issue.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Microsoft Surface: Windows RT vs Windows 8 Pro comparison

This week there's a lot of information about Microsoft Surface and Windows RT. But what's Surface and Windows RT actually?

Microsoft Surface
Microsoft Surface is an upcoming series of tablets designed and marketed by Microsoft itself. Microsoft Surface will be available in two versions, Surface and Surface Pro. The Surface model will run Windows RT and use an ARM CPU. The Surface Pro model will run the Windows 8 Pro and use an Intel CPU. More details in the comparison.

Windows RT
Windows RT will be a version of Windows 8 for ARM devices such as tablets. The RT acronym does not officially stand for anything, much like NT or XP in past Windows branding. It will officially only run software available through the Windows Store or included in Windows RT. Among the applications included with Windows RT will be Microsoft Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote 2013 RT.

Windows 8 Pro succeeds Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate and is targeted towards enthusiasts and business users; it includes all the features of Windows 8 and many more.

Microsoft has officially confirmed that it will release its upcoming Surface tablet to coincide with Windows 8 US availability on October 26th. It starts at $499 for the 32GB version, but will not come with the touch-cover. Those who want one, would need to pay $100 more. The 64GB version will cost $699 (with touch-cover included). The touch-cover comes in 5 colors: blue, white, black, pink and red.

I'm very excited about the upcoming Microsoft Surface and Windows Phone 8 releases. Hope you like it also! More information about Surface can be found HERE.

Monday, October 8, 2012

MMS 2013 Dates Announced

Today the final dates for MMS 2013 has been announced:
MMS returns to Las Vegas, NV April 8-12, 2013!
That means the date mentioned on MMS 2012 last year:
June 2013 in New Orléans, isn't valid anymore.

Be one of the first to know when registration opens: sign up to receive MMS news & updates. We hope to see you in Las Vegas in April!

For those who have never been on MMS before:
At Microsoft Management Summit the brightest and most skilled IT professionals from around the world meet to increase their technical expertise through deep hands-on technical training, sharing of best practices, and interaction with innovators and pioneers in desktop and device management and datacenter and cloud technologies.

Expect to have a lot of Microsoft Private Cloud and System Center 2012 (SP1) sessions there!

And yes, I hope to be at MMS next year again! :)

Windows Phone 8 comparison for HTC, Nokia and Samsung phones

Last week I posted a few mobile phone comparisons. One for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, and one for Nokia Lumia phones. This time I want to post an Windows Phone 8 comparison for HTC, Nokia and Samsung phones. As for now Google's Android and Apple's iOS are most popular, accounted for 85% of all smartphones shipped in Q2 2012. Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 made gains, but BlackBerry OS and Symbian lost ground. It's time for Microsoft now to make a big step towards Google and Apple, with Windows Phone 8.

At the moment both HTC, Nokia and Samsung announced mobiles Phones for Windows Phone 8. Searching on the web I found a good comparison which includes them all. Here it is:

Nice to see all Windows 8 phones in one overview, don't you think? The HTC 8X, Lumia 920 and ATIV S are the high-end Windows 8 devices. The HTC 8S and Lumia 820 are mid-level devices. A comparison by size can also be found on the web. Here it is:

Now we must wait another month (till November) for release and pricing. Can't wait to have a Windows 8 phone myself! :)

Nokia Lumia 920 vs Lumia 820 comparison

AT&T announces last week the Nokia Lumia 920 is exclusive, and will be launced in November with the Lumia 820. The Lumia 920 will be available on AT&T exclusively according to the carrier. This in red, black and white colors, and through online orders in yellow and cyan colors. The Nokia Lumia 820 will be available in black only, but AT&T will stock additional colored shells. There's no word on pricing or exact availability for both models, but AT&T says they'll be available in November.
Nokia Lumia 820 press pictures (all colors):

Nokia Lumia 920 press pictures (all colors):  

And pictures from the Cyan version too: 

Searching on the web I found a comparison for Nokia Lumia 920 vs Lumia 820 with Windows Phone 8. Here it is:

In Europe the pricing will probably be 649 euro (Lumia 920) and 499 euro (Lumia 820) at Vodafone, T-Mobile and O2/Telefonica. More on this later when final pricing is available.

Update 8-1-2013: The Nokia devices are available for pre-order in The Netherlands.  The final pricing will be 599 euro (Lumia 920) and 499 euro (Lumia 820). The Lumia 620 will be just 259 euro. Nice to see that the Lumia 920 will be priced 50 euro less then expected!

Update: Have a look at Nokia Lumia 620 specifications also.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mobile phone comparison for iOS, Android and Windows Phone

Within a few months it's time to order a new mobile phone again. At the moment I have a cheap Samsung Galaxy Ace phone with Android installed on it. Not that Android isn't good, but the Operating System performs pretty bad on it. It crashes all the time and it's very slow. Also there's too little free memory available on it to install a lot of apps. Time to have a good comparison now, and don't order a phone quick because a lot of colleagues have ordered it also :) Let's have a look.
At the moment the most popular phones are: 
  • Apple iPhone 5 (iOS 6)
  • Samsung Galaxy S III / HTC One X (Android 4.0)
  • Nokia Lumia 920 (Windows Phone 8)

These high end mobile phones are all really fast and have enough free memory available on it too install a lot of apps. Searching on the web I found a ultimate comparison, for the most popular phones including BlackBerry 10 (without specifications). Here it is:

There's also another comparison which contains the most popular phones, except the HTC One X is missing. Nice to see that the Nokia Lumia 920 has wireless charging built-in. Here it is:

Based on above comparison(s) and other news I found on the web, I'm very curious about the Nokia Lumia 920. It will be available November 2012 in Europe, so it's not yet available at the moment. It's time for a change and Windows Phone 8 is most likely the winning one for me! Question is, will it be the black, white, grey, yellow or red one :)
Expect more on this topic soon!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Unknown computer bug in ConfigMgr 2012

When re-deploying an already deployed system with ConfigMgr 2012, an error message is sometimes displayed: "Failed to Run task sequence, There are no task sequences available for this computer". This because the system is already available in the ConfigMgr console as a "unknown" system. Because of that the "All Unknown Computers" deployment isn't used and a deployment on a known computers collection isn't used also. This because in system properties: "Unknown Computer = 1" is detected. No way to install this system again!?

As a workaround it's possible to delete the created object in ConfigMgr collections to re-deploy a system again. After deleting the system(s) the error message: "Failed to Run task sequence, There are no task sequences available for this computer" will be gone. Unfortunately after re-deployment the same thing happens again, so it's no real solution to this problem. Another solution to resolve this is mentioned HERE. It says: Add a query rule to the Collection that grabs new computers where the System Resource “Unknown Computer” property = “1”.

I tried that solution myself also, but it don't seems to work either. A "Unknown Computer Bug Update" can be found HERE. It mentions: 
"The final response back from Microsoft via Connect was that this would be submitted to the Product Group as a Design Change Request". Hope it will be solved soon! Strange enough I don't have this issue at all ConfigMgr 2012 implementations? Anyone?

Update: For it seems this is only a problem when working with workgroup systems. When working with domain members there isn't any error message. That explaines why I haven't see this problem before.

Update 16-6: Unchecking "Unknown Computer Support" on the DP/PXE in question restarting the executive on the Primary and then reselecting "Unknown Computer Support" on the DP/PXE in question and restarting the executive resolves this issue. The problem you're running into is an corrupt policy on the MP. By Unchecking the option mentioned this will create a new policy and your unknown systems should pick up the TS when in WinPE.

Friday, September 28, 2012

New System Center 2012 VHDs available

Yesterday Microsoft has released System Center 2012 VHDs, based on Service Pack 1 (beta). Thay way it's very easy to have a look at all new functionality in a demo environment. The downloads consists of files that must be extract into a single pre-configured VHD file for this System Center component. The VHD enables you to create a virtual machine to evaluate the different System Center components.

The VHDs can be found on the following locations:

System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Beta – Data Protection Manager – Evaluation (VHD)

System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Beta – Operations Manager – Evaluation (VHD)

System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Beta – Orchestrator – Evaluation (VHD)

System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Beta – App Controller – Evaluation (VHD)

System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Beta– Service Manager – Evaluation (VHD)

Unfortunately no VHD is available for System Center 2012 Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) with Endpoint Protection. Maybe it will be released at a later moment. Just have fun with the already available ones!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

How to create a reference image in ConfigMgr

In ConfigMgr 2007 and 2012 the most used functionality is Operating System (OS) deployment. With OS deployment it's possible to migrate or install an unknown or known system, which can be a server, fat client (desktop or notebook), thin client or virtual desktop. To migrate or install an unknown or known system, a reference image is needed. This is the image created on a (virtual) system, which is prepared for deployment. Unfortunately you can't use the Install.wim from the Windows XP, Vista or Win7 ISO file, because it will be installed on the D: drive by default. That's the Microsoft way for creating images :)

A reference image can be created with a Build and Capture task sequence, which is the preferred way. All Windows files from a ISO file must be imported in ConfigMgr to use this task sequence. A Windows OS will be installed on the host system, Sysprep is running which reboots the system, Windows PE will start automatically and a reference image will be uploaded to the ConfigMgr server. A default Build and Capture can be created within the task sequence wizard. The ConfigMgr client will be installed in this reference image (mandatory step).

Another possibility is using ConfigMgr Capture media on an already installed system. That way the system must be joined to a workgroup and Sysprep files must be present on the host OS. In Windows 7 or Windows 8 this isn't needed, because Sysprep is build-in. When ConfigMgr Capture media is started (within Windows, because it isn't bootable) Sysprep is running which reboots the system. Windows PE will start automatically after reboot and a reference image will be uploaded to the ConfigMgr server. No ConfigMgr client will be installed this time.

A reference image contains software updates and maybe a few applications like DotNet Framework for example. It's not a best practice to install user-specific applications in the reference image. Just keep it as clean as possible! That's also the reason to create it on a virtual machine, because less drivers are needed. When using ConfigMgr 2007 it's needed to install software updates during Build and Capture to have an updated image. In ConfigMgr 2012 it's not needed anymore to install software updates during installation. Just build the image and use Offline Servicing in ConfigMgr 2012 for offline update integration.

With Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 (which will be supported in ConfigMgr 2012 SP1), no reference image is needed anymore. Within Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 it's possible to mount an ISO file by richtclick and mount it, without the need for additional software. Just copy the Install.wim from the (mounted) ISO file and import it in ConfigMgr 2012 SP1. Use Offline Servicing for offline update integration and you're done! That way you can save a lot of time which can be used for all new awesome functionality in ConfigMgr!

That's it for now. If there are still questions about this topic, use comments below.