Friday, June 28, 2013

Upgrade my Surface RT to Windows 8.1 Preview

As mentioned in my blogpost before, Windows 8.1 Preview is available for download. I choosed to upgrade my Surface RT already, because You'll be able to upgrade to the final edition of Windows RT 8.1 when it becomes available. If you're currently using Windows RT, you won't be able to uninstall Windows RT 8.1 Preview. Just enjoy the new Windows 8.1 experience!

I prefer to create a USB Recovery Drive first. This is very handy when your Windows RT device will not boot properly. It can be used to recover back or repair your Surface RT.

Let's get update my Surface RT. First you need to install a Windows Update which will - after reboot - make the necessary connection to MS Store. After selecting "Download" the update process is starting.

Just wait till the update process is finished. There will be a few necessary restarts during the update process. In my situation it all went fine. After a few hours (didn't watch at time) it was finished.

Just great to have Windows 8.1 Preview ready on my Surface RT now! What I didn't expected is a 3GB more free space available then before (from 12GB to 15GB free space). How's that possible?

First experience seems very good to me!

Update 16-7-2013: If Windows 8 users decide to simply wait until the final version of Windows 8.1 is released, and bypass installing the preview build, the good news is that they won't have to reinstall their apps. Some more good news: Windows 8.1 is expected to use less hard drive space compared to Windows 8, thanks to Microsoft making the move to remove older and temporary files, along with improving NTFS compression. Source:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Guide to create a USB Recovery Drive for Windows RT

When you want to install Windows 8.1 (Preview) on a Windows RT device, but not sure how to recover back just follow this guide. It can be used for repair also, so having a USB Recovery Drive is always a good option! In my case I use it for a Surface RT 32GB.

To create a USB Recovery Drive for Windows RT, simply use the step-by-step guide below:

1. Plug in a USB drive with at least 4GB of free space to your Windows RT device (Surface).
2. While in Windows Desktop, open Windows Explorer, click Desktop and select Control Panel.
3. From Control Panel, select "System and Security" and then "File History".
4. Next, in the bottom-left corner of the window, tap "Recovery", and then select "Create a Recovery Drive".

The recovery wizard will launch and guide through, then it will copy the recovery partition to the USB drive. After that it's possible to delete the recovery partition to clean up diskspace on your Windows RT device (Surface). I didn't do that, just for sure..

With the recovery partition you can repair Windows RT anytime! When Windows RT will not boot, use these steps for repair:

Warning: Be advised that following these instructions will reset Windows RT to factory settings, which means that all data and settings will be wiped out! Proceed with caution.

1. Shut down your Windows RT device (Surface) and insert the USB Recovery Drive.
2. While holding down the "Volume Down" switch, press and release the Windows RT Start button. After a few moments, the device will start and loads the recovery partition.

Follow the onscreen instructions to reset your Windows RT device.

The USB Recovery Drive is very handy when your Windows RT device will not boot properly. It can be used to recover back or repair your device (Surface). Hope it helps!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Subscriber Downloads available

New downloads available for TechNet or MSDN subscribers. Let's download the bits and start installing evaluations!

- Windows Client 8.1 Preview
- System Center 2012 R2 Preview
- Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview
- Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Preview
- SQL Server 2014 CTP1


Windows 8.1 Preview is available for download

Good news, after many announcements yesterday at TechEd 2013 Europe, Microsoft announces Windows 8.1 Preview today during Build conference in San Francisco, CA.

You can go to and download the update for your Windows 8 x86/x64 and RT devices.

You will be prompted to grab a standalone Windows Update install to prepare your system. When that update is installed - and your device reboots - you will get an immediate prompt to head into the Windows Store and download the entire update.

If you are a TechNet or MSDN subscriber you can download the Windows 8 x86/x64 ISO’s immediately. For Windows RT you must go to to get it done.

Let's download the bits and start installing evaluations! Hope to upgrade my notebook and Surface RT soon :-)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

TechEd 2013 Europe announcements

This week TechEd 2013 Europe is held in Madrid, Spain. Instead of Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) this year, there were a lot of announcements to make. TechEd 2013 North America & Europe seems a better choice this year for new System Center sessions. In this blogpost I will mention the downloads available already.

TechNet Evaluation Center

Windows Server Evaluations
Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview for IT Professionals
Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview on Windows Azure
Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview for Developers
Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Preview

The Admin password for the Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview VHD is R2Preview!

System Center and Windows Intune Evaluations
System Center 2012 R2 Preview Datacenter/Private Cloud
System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager & Endpoint Protection Preview
Windows Intune 30 Day Free Trial

SQL Server Evaluations
SQL Server 2014 Community Technology Preview 1

SQL Server 2014 Community Technology Preview 1 on Windows Azure

Windows Azure Evaluation
Windows Azure Free Trial

Windows Azure Pack
Windows Azure Pack

Windows 8.1 Preview
Windows 8.1 Preview (available tomorrow)
Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 8.1 Preview
Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows 8.1 Preview

Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 Evaluation Guide

Let's download the bits and start installing evaluations!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Updates and New Features in ConfigMgr 2012 R2

Last week I was at Windows Management User Group (WMUG) NL day with Wally Mead. Wally Mead has been with Microsoft for more than 21 years, and working with Systems Management Server since SMS 1.0 was in development. The following Updates and New Features for ConfigMr 2012 R2 were mentioned: 

What’s new in ConfigMgr 2012 R2
  • Cumulative Updates will be released quarterly
  • R2 will be RTM end of year, Beta release coming soon (!)
  • There is no change in SQL Collation during installation
  • Reassign Site feature possible for multiple sites scenarios
  • Multiple network access accounts per site are supported for untrusted forests
  • There will be better detailed messages so no need to look at logfiles every time :)
  • New report: Distribution Point usage (clients accessed, requests process, bytes send)
  • With Pull Distibution Points you can save bandwidth during synchronizing
  • Upgrade to R2 is possible only from ConfigMgr SP1 with Windows ADK 8.1
  • Windows 2012 R2 and 8.1 support, VHD management, MDT integration
  • Native integration of some MDT actions by default, without MDT integration needed: MDT validate action, MDT gather action, Set PowerShell execution policy actions
  • Maintenance windows specific to updates and ADR filter query preview
  • Two new software updates templates for patch Tuesday and definition updates
  • Enrollment UI for MAC computers, no command line needed anymore

Deploying and Managing Windows 8.1 with ConfigMgr 2012 R2
  • Resultant client settings in console when having multiple policies  (RSOP)
  • Uninstall ADK 8.0 and install ADK 8.1 when using ConfigMgr SP1
  • For R2 a minimum of Windows Server 2008 R2 OS is needed
  • No support for Windows XP in Windows ADK 8.0 & 8.1 anymore
  • Support for Windows PE 3.1 boot images above of Windows ADK 8.1
  • VHD upload to Virtual Machine Manager, no VHD deployment possible
  • Surface Pro May 2013 driver pack, OSD guide for MDT and CM available
  • PXE support for Surface Pro OSD available by USB dongle only (!) 

Unified Device Management: ConfigMgr 2012 R2 Integrated with Windows Intune  
  • Windows Intune, less than 7000 devices and 4000 users supported
  • Choice between Company-owned or Personal-owned to decide management; Personal devices, inventory of deployed apps only; Corporate devices, inventory of all apps possible (exception for Apple)
  • Unified Modern Device Management is the new name for ConfigMgr 2012 R2 integrated with Intune
  • Windows Intune can be used standalone or integrated in ConfigMgr 2012 R2 to support more devices & users
  • There will be a native company portal app for Windows, iOS and Android in ConfigMgr 2012 R2 with Intune integration
  • Registering and Enrolling devices with Workplace Join and Windows Intune through the cloud
  • VPN profle management, Wi-Fi support and Certificate management
  • New site role, certificate registration point

ConfigMgr 2012 R2 will provide a lot of new functionality above of existing ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 features. R2 will be RTM end of year, Beta release coming soon (probably this week already).

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cumulative Update 2 for ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 released

Today Cumulative Update (CU) 2 for ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 is released. It contains 18 fixes and updated support for Linux and UNIX clients. With CU2 it's possible to add WinPE 3.1 boot images for VMWare Workstation and ESX Server support. More about that issue here: BSOD in VMware 4.1 when booting with WinPE 4.0 images

Here's a list of the issues that are fixed:
- Administrator console (2 fixes)
- Application Virtualization (2 fixes)
- Operating system deployment (4 fixes)
- Asset Intelligence (1 fix)
- Mobile device management (1 fix)
- Software distribution (3 fixes)
- Updated list of supported Linux and UNIX clients
- Site systems (3 fixes)
- Configuration Manager SDK (1 fix)
- Client (1 fix)
- Cumulative Update Setup Wrapper (Installer)

Just install it in your environment when experiencing problems described in this article. When not affected by these problems, Microsoft recommends to wait for the next service pack that contains this update.

This update replaces Cumulative Update 1 for System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Service Pack 1

For more information or download the update have a look here:
Microsoft Support

Offline Image Servicing in ConfigMgr 2012 SP1

Within ConfigMgr it's possible to inject software updates in a reference image. This feature is called Offline Servicing. That way a default Install.wim can be used and updated within ConfigMgr without using a Build and Capture task sequence. It's really a great feature, which saves you multiple hours updating images with monthly updates. It will probably take multiple hours to mount the image, inject the updates and unmount the image again. Don't forget the last step needed after Offline Servicing: Update the Distribution Point (as usual). This because the proces doesn't do that for you. Otherwise the reference image will be deployed again, and no updates will be seen in Windows. This has happened to me more than once, so take advantage of this.

On the image properties Installed Updates can be seen. There's a tab for Servicing also, to see which updates are scheduled.

After deploying the image, software updates will be displayed in Control Panel as usual. No difference at all with a default installation.

Source: Offline Image Servicing in ConfigMgr 2012

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Workaround for installing Office updates during task sequence

Last week I created a new task sequence used for App-V Sequencer deployment. Therefore I created a new Windows Server 2008 R2 image without updates, and installed them later by offline servicing the reference image. The total number of updates that were succesfully applied on the mounted image was 134 in total. Because of MS Office 2010 installation, it was needed to deploy additional Office updates during the task sequence installation also. Because installing software updates during deployment isn't that easy, I used a script for that. Let's have a look at it now.

Create a new file on your ConfigMgr server named OfficeUpdates.vbs and copy beneath content in it.

Const ForAppending = 8
Set oFSO = CreateObject ("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
Set oLogFile = oFSO.OpenTextFile ("C:\ConfigOfficeUpdates.txt", ForAppending, True)
oLogFile.WriteLine "Starting execution of VBScript to configure Office to use Microsoft Updates"
Set ServiceManager = CreateObject("Microsoft.Update.ServiceManager")
ServiceManager.ClientApplicationID = "My App"

' add the Microsoft Update Service by GUID
Set NewUpdateService = ServiceManager.AddService2("7971f918-a847-4430-9279-4a52d1efe18d",7,"")
oLogFile.WriteLine "Script completed successfully"

Create a new package of the above file, without a program, and place it on your Distribution Point. Now add a Run Command Line step in your task sequence, with command "cscript OfficeUpdates.vbs" and select the new package created. Trick is to install MS Office 2010 first, then run the above script, and use a default "Install Software Updates" step after that, selecting "All Software Updates". When you change order, it won't be functional. Because of running the above script, Office updates will be installed only!

After using this script 38 Office updates were installed successfully in my environment! Love it :-)

Source: Workaround for Installing Office Updates During an Image Build

Friday, June 14, 2013

Controlling Configuration Manager 2012 Using Hidden Files

There are some files that you can use in order to activate or deactivate some features in ConfigMgr 2012 on client side or server side, such as preventing Software Inventory for a particular folder or preventing the installation of ConfigMgr files on a machine. Here’s some information on some of those files and how you might use them to control your Configuration Manager environment.  The files are as follows:
Let's have a look at them.
SKPWI.DAT: This file can be used for skipping the Software inventory Process for a partition or for a folder. If you want to prevent software inventory on a drive/partition or folder you can create a hidden file named SKPWI.DAT and place it on the root of the drive/partition/folder.
NO_SMS_ON_DRIVE.SMS: This file is used to prevent ConfigMgr from installing binaries to a volume. By default, when you install ConfigMgr on a remote Site System, the SMS Site Component Manager Service installs the binaries (files and folders) for the Site System on the NTFS-formatted volume that contains the most free space. You may want to use an NTFS volume other than the default volume for your remote Site Systems by preventing ConfigMgr from enumerating certain NTFS volumes.
ARCHIVE_REPORTS.SMS: This is a client side file and is used when Hw/Sw inventory troubleshooting needs to be done. When troubleshooting ConfigMgr client software or hardware inventory, you might want to retain the XML files that contain details on what the latest scan discovered (regardless whether the scan was a full scan or just a delta).

More information on this can be found on MS TechNet.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Move a Distribution Point Content Library Between Drives

When installing a Distribution Point (DP) during ConfigMgr installation, it will be placed on the disk with the most free diskspace. When you install it afterwards a selection of disks can be choosed. Even better is to place a NO_SMS_ON_DRIVE.SMS file on all drives where you don't want a DP. They will be excluded next time.

When the DP is already installed on the wrong drive or when it must be moved to another location, ContentLibraryTransfer.exe can be used.

ContentLibraryTransfer.exe is a tool that will move a distribution point’s content store from one drive to another. That's it, and it is a very simple process.

The syntax used with the tool is – ContentLibraryTransfer.exe –SourceDrive <Current Drive Letter> -TargetDrive <New Drive Letter>

The ContentLibraryTransfer.exe respects NO_SMS_ON_DRIVE.SMS files. In other words if the drive specified as the TargetDrive contains a NO_SMS_ON_DRIVE.SMS the ContentLibraryTransfer.exe will not copy the content library to this drive.

More information on this can be found on MS TechNet.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Common mistakes during ConfigMgr installation

During my daily work I do a lot of ConfigMgr installations. Because every installation is different (because the design and infrastructure is different) it's still fun to do! Most of times all go well, but there are sometimes a few challenges to pass. In this blogpost I will mention some common mistakes and how to solve them.
First of all, make sure preperation is done well! An installation isn't that hard, but both ConfigMgr and SQL needs a good preperation. You can find other posts about prerequisites HERE and HERE. It depends also if ConfigMgr and SQL are installed on the same server or different servers. And it depends if a SQL default instance or named instance is used, if SQL clustering is used, and so on.
Common mistakes I experienced last months are: 
  1. ConfigMgr Setup requires that the site server computer has administrative rights on the SQL Server and management point computers. SQL Sysadmin permissions are needed also. Just make sure that the needed permissions are in place. More information about possible issues can be found HERE.
  2. Make sure that McAfee Access Protection is not active during ConfigMgr Setup, because boot images won't be created or updated. More about that HERE and HERE.
  3. When the Windows Firewall is active on the ConfigMgr and/or SQL server, access must be configured as soon as possible. More about that on "Configure the Windows Firewall to Allow SQL Server Access" (MSDN).
  4. When using a SQL named instance instead of a default instance, (all) dynamic ports must be removed. This because dynamic ports are not supported in ConfigMgr. Open SQL Server Configuration Manager for that and change the (used) dynamic port to a TCP fixed port.
  5. As long as boundaries in ConfigMgr are not added to a boundary group, they won't be active. Systems must be part of boundaries to manage them. Best choice for boundaries is to use IP-ranges, and not IP-subnets.
  6. When User Account Control (UAC) is active on the ConfigMgr and/or SQL server, things will go wrong during Setup. This because needed permissions are not there, and will mess up all. A good example for this is WSUS (no synchronization possible) and Reporting Services (no ConfigMgr user roles available).
  7. IE ESC for admins is a bad thing also. Just disable the setting quickly in Server Manager.
  8. When installing Reporting Services for ConfigMgr integration, it's possible that no reports shows up in the ConfigMgr console. This because a domain user (as recommended) is used, and no additional permissions are set on that account. More about that can be found HERE.
  9. When installing a Distribution Point (DP) during ConfigMgr installation, it will be placed on the disk with the most free diskspace. When you install it afterwards a selection of disks can be choosed. Even better is to place a NO_SMS_ON_DRIVE.SMS file on all drives where you don't want a DP. They will be excluded next time.
  10. And last for now is the SQL Server Browser service. This is disabled by default. When the error "The server was not found or was not accessible. Verify that the instance name is correct and that SQL server is configured." is displayed during installation, just start the service to make it functional again.

Just use ConfigMgr logfiles and event viewer a lot during troubleshooting. Most information can be found there. That's all for now, hope you found something useful in this blogpost.

Monday, June 10, 2013

TechEd 2013 North America announcements

Last week TechEd 2013 North America was held in New Orléans. Instead of Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) this year, there were a lot of announcements to make. In this blogpost I will mention the highlights, and what to expect for the next months. It will be a great year with lot's of new functionality!

What can we expect later this year?
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • System Center 2012 R2
  • Windows Intune 5.0 (Wave E)
  • SQL Server 2014 (wow, that's fast!)
  • Windows 8.1 (with Outlook RT)
  • Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2013

There will also be new features available:
  • Windows Azure Pack for Windows Server
  • Intune: Workplace join, Selective wipe, Android support
  • Azure: No charge for stopped VM's, per minute billing
  • Azure: Live migration Compression (faster then default)
  • Azure: Live migration RDMA (faster then Compression)
  • Hyper-V recovery manager (site by site replication)

Hope you are as excited as I do!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Usage of Microsoft Office 2010 KMS Host License Pack

Another blogpost about KMS again. Before this 2 other blogposts where available, just have a look at that one also:
Key Management Services (KMS) explained
Using KMS Client Setup Keys during deployment  

When setting up KMS a Windows Server KMS key can be installed at first try. When using a Office (2010) key afterwards an error message is displayed.
Error: 0xC004F050 The software licensing service reported that the product key is invalid

This because the Microsoft Office 2010 KMS Host License Pack must be installed first. It can be downloaded at this location: Download Center. During installation the Office 2010 KMS key can be imported succesfully.

More information can be found on Microsoft TechNet also.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How to disable Adobe and Java update notifications

Last month I did a new ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 installation. In the task sequence used for OS deployment, Adobe Reader, Flash, Shockwave and Java was installed also. When doing a default deployment of these tools, all will auto-update after deployment. Most of times users don't have permissions for installing these updates, so that's definitely not what you want. Let's have a look now!
Let's start with Adobe Reader first. Adobe has a Customization Wizard available, for configuring Reader during deployment. One of the options is to disable auto-update of Reader. Just deploy the MSI with the created MST file and you're done!
For example: msiexec /i AdbeRdr11000_nl_NL.msi TRANSFORMS=AdbeRdr11000_nl_NL.mst /qn
Second one is Adobe Flash. Because many updates are released, disable auto-updates is needed. This time no Customization Wizard is available. Just create a file with the name mms.cfg that contains AutoUpdateDisable=yes.
During deployment copy the file with the following commands:
32-bit Windows editions: xcopy %0\..\mms.cfg “%Windir%\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash” /I /Y
64-bit Windows editionsxcopy %0\..\ mms.cfg “%Windir%\System32\Macromed\Flash ” /I /Y
Verify settings in Flash Player Settings Manager within control panel.

Third one is Adobe Shockwave. This time another approach is needed again. Because no Customization Wizard is available, just use registry for that. Navigate to the registry section and modify the value of the following two keys:
Key: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Adobe\Shockwave 11\AutoUpdate > Value: n
Key: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Adobe\Shockwave 11\collectstats > Value: n
Verify via: Right click -> Shockwave Settings

Fourth and last one is Java Runtime. Because many updates are released, disable auto-updates is needed. Just use registry again for that. Navigate to the registry section and modify the value of the following two keys:
Key: HKLM\SOFTWARE\JavaSoft\Java Update\Policy
EnableJavaUpdate REG_DWORD 00000000
EnableAutoUpdateCheck REG_DWORD 00000000

After using this Adobe and Java update notifications are gone!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

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System Center 2012 R2 announced today!

Today at TechEd 2013 North America many announcements where done.  Microsoft introduced upcoming releases of it's key enterprise IT solutions for hybrid cloud: Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014. Available in preview later this month! Let's have a overview at ConfigMgr R2 first.

ConfigMgr can be integrated with Windows Intune to support cloud management of mobile devices. This enables IT to deliver a rich set of configuration policies as well as deploy applications to various devices and platforms, regardless of whether they’re corporate-connected or cloud-based. Note: The Mobile Device Management capabilities of ConfigMgr 2012 R2 Preview require the integration of the next release of Windows Intune, which is not available for preview!

Benefits of ConfigMgr 2012 R2 are: 
  • ConfigMgr enables organizations to deploy and manage Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Administrators can also configure and deploy WiFi profiles, VPN configurations and certificates.
  • ConfigMgr supports maintenance windows exclusively for updates, and provides UI improvements for filtering and automation update deployment rule management.
  • ConfigMgr optimizes content distribution, providing clearer summary messages, and offering new distribution point usage data reports to help with infrastructure planning and troubleshooting.
  • ConfigMgr helps make virtual hard drive (VHD) management easier by enabling the creation, modification and offline servicing of VHDs and the uploading of VHDs to System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager.
For more information have a look at: System Center 2012 R2
Source: System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager