The Windows Server Notebook


January 3, 2013  3:20 PM

December in review: The top SearchWindowsServer news and features

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

In our monthly feature, we round up our top content from the previous month and share it with you.

December’s most popular content featured the year’s final Patch Tuesday, our roundup of the year’s best Windows Server tips and what to expect with the release of System Center 2012 SP1.

Windows 8 support added to System Center 2012 SP1

After months of discussion, System Center 2012 SP1 hit RTM and added support for managing Windows 8.  The major downside for admins? They’ll need to perform a clean install to use it, even if they already installed the beta.

December’s Patch Tuesday has critical fixes for IE and Office

The last Patch Tuesday of the year had fixes for remote code execution vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer and Office. Experts also noted the continuing trend of releasing fewer patches and the consistency in which they were released.

PowerShell dominates best 2012 tips of Windows Server

The best tips from SearchWindowsServer in 2012 regularly covered the features in PowerShell admins should begin to learn. Experts also regularly highlighted the newest enhancements in Windows Server 2012.

AWS includes Windows Server 2012 and PowerShell features

In a move to perhaps undermine the services Azure offers, Amazon Web Services included key features from PowerShell and Windows Server 2012. Some experts say this move could setback Microsoft’s efforts to break into the public cloud space, but the company won’t be out for the count.

Q&A highlights management features in System Center 2012 SP1

This expert Q&A looks at what admins should expect with the release of System Center 2012 SP1 early this year. One thing admins can look forward to having is support for both Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8, which wasn’t included when System Center 2012 was first released in 2012.

December 28, 2012  3:39 PM

Who is jockeying to replace Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer?

Toni Boger Stuart Johnston Profile: Stuart Johnston

The pending retirement of a prominent senior Microsoft executive, announced this week, may provide clues as to who is likely to take the reins of the company when CEO Steve Ballmer retires in a few years.

Whoever ultimately ends up in Microsoft’s corner office promises to change the face of computing for better or worse in the years to come.

The executive, 20-year company veteran Craig Mundie, will retire in 2014 when he turns 65. In the meantime, he will serve as senior advisor to Ballmer.

What may be most important in shakeups like this one, however, is often not who leaves but who stays.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates named Ray Ozzie and Mundie in 2006 to replace himself, when he left his day-to-day role at the company. Ozzie, who had founded Lotus and has the respect of both businesspeople and developers alike, had visions of a “meshed” world where all of a user’s information is available on any device, anywhere, any time. His job title was chief software architect, Gates’ former title.

Though not often mentioned these days, Ozzie also championed Windows Azure, Microsoft’s public cloud offering, before leaving the software giant in 2010.

Mundie, meanwhile, has held the title of chief research and strategy officer, which included oversight of Microsoft Research (MSR) as well as performing the role of the company’s policy liaison to domestic and international institutions and governments.

Perhaps most notably, however, Mundie’s replacement will be another 20-year Microsoft veteran, Eric Rudder, who recently received the title of chief technical strategy officer. Overseeing MSR is one of his new responsibilities as well as Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing initiative.

What’s more, until a few years ago Rudder was one of a handful of Microsoft senior executives on what was considered the shortlist to replace Ballmer when he retires. But the presumed front runner for the past several years was Steven Sinofsky, the vice president responsible for launching Windows 8 in October, Windows 7 three years ago, and head of Office for more than a decade. He departed Microsoft — some say he was pushed out — almost immediately after last fall’s launch.

For several years, Rudder’s star seemed to be in decline after a stellar start as chairman Bill Gates’ technical assistant. Over the years, Rudder also has garnered broad experience in both the technical and business aspects of running growing tech businesses. His job roles have included senior vice president of server and tools — today, still one of the anchors of the company’s nearly $70 billion bottom line. He missed several promotions though and virtually dropped out of sight.

Rudder is respected by both business and technical people, and he has a general good temperament — not aggressive or confrontational like Ballmer and Gates before him.

The reshuffling was outlined in a memo sent in mid-December by Ballmer, a copy of which was obtained by TechTarget. The story went public earlier this week in published reports that cited changes made to online biographies for Mundie and Rudder on Microsoft’s executive bios site.

Microsoft and Rudder aren’t saying if he would get the nod, or whether he would even want the chief executive’s title.

Of course, Rudder isn’t the only name floated by company observers as a possible replacement for Ballmer, when the day comes. One rumored candidate for the job is Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s chief operating officer.

In contrast to Rudder, however, Turner does not come from a primarily technology background — but rather from retail. Before joining Microsoft, Turner logged almost 20 years at consumer giant Wal-Mart. Because of that perception that he’s more of a bean counter than an inspiring technological leader, many employees think of Turner as CEO as potentially ruinous.

But at this point, Rudder’s star seems it may on the rise again as the company begins to redefine and reposition itself to focus on business customers, or on consumers, or possibly even a combination of the two. What course is best for IT customers is an open question.

Who would you pick to replace Steve Ballmer?


December 14, 2012  6:18 PM

System Center 2012 SP1 RTMs, on track to ship early next year

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Microsoft might want to add a 13th milestone to that video it posted yesterday, as its System Center 2012 SP1 product has hit RTM.

After the first version of the system management suite shipped in May, some early adopters of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 wanted to better manage those machines. They should be able to do just that when  the suite becomes generally available.

The news comes from a post (via Mary Jo Foley) on a Microsoft forum. In it, Microsoft employee Mike Jacquet details upgrade paths, SP1 brings tighter integration with Intune for device management.

There was disappointment that Hyper-V tools would not emerge until the first service pack, but now that SP1 is released to manufacturing, administrators will be able to take advantage of the tools.


December 13, 2012  7:42 PM

Microsoft looks back on busy 2012 in new video

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Microsoft’s ambitious 2012 is coming to a close, and the company can’t help but be a little nostalgic.

The company today posted a video summing up the year in Microsoft releases, news and events into 12 key milestones. Check it out:

If you don’t like videos for some reason, this page has a convenient slideshow of the events.

Of course, there are the obvious hits with the Surface tablet and the Windows 8 launch, but it’s nice to see Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 being pinnacle achievements over the course of the last year.

But more importantly, the company rightly boasts about its giving campaigns. Its Youth Spark program intends to help 300 million youth with employment opportunities over the next three years.

The company also put out a list of top searches on Bing. Some of the top news stories: iPhone 5 and Kindle Fire. Absent from the list: the Surface (ouch).

Does any particular milestone stand out to you? What are you looking forward to in the year ahead? Let us know in the comments or send us a tweet @SearchWinServ.


December 6, 2012  7:15 PM

Last Patch Tuesday of 2012 to bring fixes to Windows Server and Office

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

Microsoft will be spreading some holiday cheer to admins this month with increased protection against security threats.

In an advance security bulletin released this week, the company said December’s Patch Tuesday will include seven bulletins. Five bulletins are marked as critical and two are marked as important.

All of this month’s critical bulletins will address remote code execution vulnerabilities. Windows RT, Internet Explorer and multiple versions of Windows Server and Microsoft Office will be affected by these bulletins. Service packs for Windows Server and Office will also be affected by critical bulletins.

The important bulletins will address a remote code execution vulnerability and a security feature bypass vulnerability. These will affect Word Viewer and multiple versions of Office service packs.

This is the second month in which Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 will be affected by critical bulletins. November’s Patch Tuesday marked the first appearance of these OSs.

What do you think of this month’s patches? Let us know in the comments on this post, or on Twitter @SearchWinServ.


December 3, 2012  5:17 PM

November in review: SearchWindowsServer’s top content, features and news

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

In our monthly feature, we round up the most popular content from the previous month and share it with you.

For November, our most popular pieces involved the changes to the Windows Server 2012 interface, high availability with shared-nothing live migration and a two-part series about what Microsoft’s product releases this year mean for its future.

A tour of the Windows Server 2012 user interface

Admins may be hesitant to embrace the changes to the UI in Windows Server 2012, but this photo story walks through them and explains why they aren’t as scary as they seem.

Windows Server 2012: Microsoft offers everything but the kitchen sink  

The first part of this series looks Microsoft’s release of Windows Server 2012, its abundance of features and why some admins are waiting to make the upgrade or completely forego it.

Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft’s ‘Cloud OS’ ambitions

The second part of this series looks at Microsoft’s approach to creating a ‘Cloud OS’ and if its move will encourage its customers to accept the approach.


First patches issued for Windows 8, Windows Server 2012

For November’s Patch Tuesday, Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 received their first patches for remote code execution vulnerabilities. Some patches were rereleased for signing errors. See also: our guide to 2012′s Patch Tuesdays.

High availability and shared-nothing live migration

This tip looks at what changes admins should expect with shared-nothing live migration, including some of the tradeoffs they may not anticipate after making the move.

What content of ours helped you in November? Let us know in the comments on this post, or on Twitter @SearchWinServ.


November 29, 2012  5:30 PM

Windows Azure adds federation support for Windows Server Active Directory

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Microsoft is making strides in making Azure more accessible to hybrid infrastructures. This week, it rolled out a change that could benefit those who authenticate with Windows Azure.

The Azure Management Portal now integrates with Windows Azure Active Directory (WAAD) and adds federation support for admins with on-premises Windows Server Active Directory, said Alex Simons, the director of  Microsoft’s Active Directory program in a blog post on the company’s site.

He said the immediate benefit for IT professionals is that the Azure subscription could be tied to an employee’s status at a company. If the employee leaves, deactivation on the local AD would be reflected in Azure.

The same is true of setting policies. Any change made to password requirements made through Windows Server AD would be passed on to WAAD.

Plus, for those weary of having to remember or manage a large number of passwords, this integration means that Single Sign-On (SSO) is possible. Passwords on Windows Server AD are never moved to the cloud; they are validated on-premises.

The blog post explains how to get all of these changes up and running.

Are you going to test federation support? Let us know if you have any success in the comments below or on Twitter @SearchWinServ


November 27, 2012  8:45 PM

Y2K + 12? Some Windows Server 2003 users experience time rollback glitch

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

November 19, 2000. The U.S. still didn’t know who the president-elect was and “hanging chads” were a relevant term. It was also the date some administrators saw last week when machines connected to a timeserver rolled back system clocks.

You could say it was a Y2K redux for some admins, with some adverse effects: this rollback caused processes like Active Directory replication to fail.

It was caused by a timeserver at USNO.NAVY.MIL providing the incorrect time after an issue with a routine upgrade, Mary Jo Foley reported this week.

If the forest contained domain controllers that were running Windows Server 2003 and were connected to that timeserver, it could have caused the problem.

Microsoft provided a guide to address the issue — and it’s no simple fix. A Microsoft team penned a blog post on the Ask Premier Field Engineering platforms blog detailing the steps to go through.

One of the most important: Don’t reboot — at least not right away. It goes against some of the conventional wisdom when doing troubleshooting (“Did you turn it off and turn it back on?” is quite a common refrain), but the team says it can exacerbate some of the issues.

It also includes the warning that admins should carefully read each step because of the complex situation and “don’t skip ahead or you’ll make the problem worse.”

Did you run into this issue and experience any adverse effects as a result? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SearchWinServ


November 20, 2012  8:25 PM

Amazon AWS adds support for Windows Server 2012

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Admins evaluating running an instance of Windows Server 2012 have one more option: Amazon Web Services.

It’s a new addition to the popular cloud service, which already served Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, said Tom Rizzo, general manager for Amazon’s AWS Windows team and former Microsoft employee in a company blog post.

Users will be able to take advantage of all the new features in Windows Server 2012 in Amazon’s cloud infrastructure.

Amazon offers a free tier, so that users can evaluate Windows Server for 750 hours in a Micro instance. If a customer decides to use it in production, they can restart on a larger instance without any data loss, Rizzo said.

The company also added support for Windows Server 2012 to its Elastic Beanstalk feature. That means .NET applications crafted for Windows Server 2012 will run on the service and be deployed from the AWS Management console.

Microsoft, of course, offers its own cloud services with Azure (see how they compare).

Amazon will be holding Windows-focused sessions at its re:Invent conference next week in Las Vegas.


November 8, 2012  8:11 PM

Windows Server 2012 to receive its first critical fix in November Patch Tuesday

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

For the first time since its release in September, Windows Server 2012 will receive critical patches during this month’s Patch Tuesday.

According to an advance security bulletin released this week, November’s Patch Tuesday has a total of six bulletins. Four of this month’s bulletins are marked at critical with one important bulletin and one moderate bulletin.

The critical bulletins, including the bulletins for Windows Server 2012, and the important bulletin address remote code execution vulnerabilities. Admins currently running Windows Server 2012 will keep an eye out for those critical patches.

The critical bulletins and the moderate bulletin affect older server and desktop versions as well as service packs for them.

The important bulletin affects Windows RT and service packs for multiple versions of Microsoft Office.

Internet Explorer is also named in one of the month’s critical bulletins. This is no surprise since critical vulnerabilities affecting the popular web browser have continued to be patched throughout this year. However, it is the first new patch for IE since August.

What do you think of this month’s patches? Let us know in the comments on this post, or on Twitter @SearchWinServ.


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