The Windows Server Notebook

February 5, 2013  9:20 PM

Microsoft delivers Configuration Manager add-ons and extensions

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Microsoft released a pair of add-ons for System Center Configuration Manager 2012 and an update to an existing tool on Monday.

The Configuration Manager Toolkit comes with a wide range of utilities that would aid Configuration Manager management and troubleshooting.

For instance, Client Spy will troubleshoot problems with application distribution and software metering, and Policy Spy allows admins to check the policy system of Configuration Manager client systems.

Power Viewer would do exactly what one would expect: view the power management status on client machines.

Also included in the toolkit is the Security Configuration Wizard Template, which intends to reduce the attack surface for Windows Server 2008 R2.

In all, there are nine tools in the kit, which are all available for download from Microsoft’s site.

The company also released a new version of its Physical to Virtual (P2V) Migration Toolkit. The toolkit allows admins to support migrations in remote offices that don’t have Virtual Machine Manager infrastructure onsite. Note that the P2V toolkit will no longer be supported by Microsoft on July 27 of this year.

Finally, the Package Conversion Manager received an update, allowing System Center Configuration Manager 2007 packages to System Center 2012 SP1.

Are you using Configuration Manager? What do you think of these new tools? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter @SearchWinServ.

February 1, 2013  4:56 PM

January in review: The top SearchWindowsServer tips and news

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

In our monthly feature, we compile the previous month’s most popular content to share with you.

For the first month of the new year, our readers were most interested in content that covered the pros and cons of running Server Core, iSCSI Targets, cost savings with Hyper-V 3.0 and news items about IE exploits and a service pack.

Remote code execution IE exploit not covered in January Patch Tuesday

News of an IE exploit made the rounds in admin circles, but what was surprising to some is that a fix didn’t make it into the monthly Patch Tuesday. An out-of-cycle fix was eventually released the following week. Included in the month’s Patch Tuesday were critical fixes for Microsoft’s XML implementation and Print Spooler components.

General availability comes for System Center 2012 SP1

Admins looking for Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012 support could finally get it after System Center 2012 SP1 became generally available. There were also fixes for bugs in the suite of management products as well as a new version of Windows Intune.

How to decide if running Server Core in Windows Server 2012 is right for you

Our expert broke down the pros and cons of using Server Core in Windows Server 2012. Some things admins should consider before using it are its smaller attack surface and its virtualization benefits, but also its steep learning curve and its potential compatibility issues.

Using iSCSI Targets in Windows Server 2012 Failover Clusters

Now that iSCSI Targets come bundled with Windows Server 2012, admins looking to take advantage of it will want to know how to configure them. This tip provides a step-by-step process to make sure you can make the most of it.

How Hyper-V 3.0 can provide major cost savings in virtualization

It’s getting easier than ever to have a reliable and complete virtualized environment with Hyper-V, especially in terms of using little to no cash to make it happen. Our expert offers some hints about things admins can do and look for to make the best virtualized environment for their IT shops.

January 31, 2013  9:30 PM

Failover clustering in Windows Server 2012 get hotfixes

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Microsoft is delivering a hotfix for a crasher that affects a Windows Server 2012-based failover cluster after applying a specific update.

If a user installed an update for the .NET 4.5 framework, it could cause crashes for the failover cluster management snap-in on a Windows Server 2012 cluster.

Admins can download the fix from Windows Update or from Microsoft’s website.

In November, Microsoft also pushed a hotfix for an error message displayed after a restore.

Have you deployed the hotfixes available? Did you experience the crash? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter @SearchWinServ

January 31, 2013  8:11 PM

System Center 2012 gets Monitoring Pack for Remote Access 2012

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Microsoft last week released a System Center Monitoring Pack for Remote Access 2012, bringing support for DirectAccess and Routing and Remote Access.

The monitoring pack, available for download for System Center Operations Manager 2012, will cover monitoring more components and their health.

Specifically, with DirectAccess monitoring, the pack can alert System Center users of issues with internal and external adapter connections and settings. It also contains shortcuts to help protect against network security threats like DOS attacks or spoofs.

The pack also works with VPN monitoring, which displays information about connection failures, configuration issues, hardware problems and more.

January 31, 2013  3:45 PM

Microsoft quietly releases Forefront Identity Manager 2010 R2 SP1

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

This might have slipped under your radar: Microsoft released a service pack for Forefront Identity Manager 2010 R2 last week.

As one can expect, the service now supports the generally available Windows Server 2012 and, on client add-ins, Windows 8 and Outlook 2013.

The updated product brings performance improvements, especially when upgrading from Forefront Identity Manager (FIM) 2010 to the R2 release. The company said that the waiting time to upgrade can be cut from hours to days for large-scale service databases.

FIM 2010 R2 SP1 adds support for Active Directory 2012 within the management agent for Active Directory Domain Services. Similarly, it supports the recently released Exchange 2013.

It also adds additional cmdlet support for PowerShell. Plus, it adds support for third-party Sun and Oracle directory servers.

Check out the full list of changes on Microsoft’s website.

Back in September, the company axed many of the products within the suite, even shifting around some of the names of the products.

January 14, 2013  2:50 PM

Internet Explorer zero-day bug to be patched out-of-cycle

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Weeks after providing a workaround tool for a zero-day flaw in Internet Explorer, Microsoft is set to release a patch to address the issue.

The company posted an advance notification for an out-of-cycle patch Monday morning ahead of its release at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Microsoft recommends that admins apply the update as soon as possible and notes that the workaround tool provided in December does not need to be disabled during the patch.

This comes after reports that security researchers had found a hole in the “Fix it” tool, leading to speculation during last week’s Patch Tuesday that a fix would be released before February.

Microsoft notes that only older — and more widely used — versions of Internet Explorer needed the fix, so upgrading to IE 9 or IE 10 would also mitigate any threat related to this flaw.

January 3, 2013  7:51 PM

First Patch Tuesday of the year includes bulletins for Server, Office

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

Microsoft is helping admins ring in the new year by offering increased security and protection for their systems, including those running Windows Server 2012.

To mark the first Patch Tuesday of 2013, the company released an advance security bulletin this week that includes seven bulletins. Two bulletins are marked as critical and five are marked as important.

Both of January’s critical bulletins address remote code execution vulnerabilities.  Multiple versions of Windows Server and Microsoft Office, as well as Windows RT, are affected.

This month’s important bulletins address elevation of privilege, denial of service and security feature bypass vulnerabilities.  Windows RT, Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 and multiple versions of Windows Server are affected.

Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 make their third consecutive appearance in Patch Tuesday bulletins. Internet Explorer is not affected by this month’s bulletins after receiving multiple patches in the last months of 2012.

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

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?

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.

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