The Windows Server Notebook

April 3, 2013  4:06 PM

Configuration Manager 2012 Upgrade Assessment Tool released

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Windows XP’s support life shuffles off into the sunset next year and Microsoft wants to ease that transition as much as possible.

The company released the Upgrade Assessment Tool (UAT) for System Center 2012 Configuration Manager. It allows administrators to analyze machines on a network to see if they are capable of running the latest versions of Windows software.  It generates a report that gives an enterprise-wide view of computers ready for upgrades.

The UAT also determines what device drivers are compatible with Windows 7 or Windows 8.

It can be downloaded from Microsoft, so long as the latest cumulative update to System Center 2012 is installed.

April 2, 2013  3:37 PM

Microsoft releases hotfix for AMD servers running RemoteFX

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

IT shops running Windows Server 2012’s RemoteFX feature on AMD-based servers have a new update to download and apply.

Users running RemoteFX  — the protocol used in Remote Desktop instances — in Hyper-V on a Windows Server 2012 machine might have encountered poor graphics performance when enabling the RemoteFX feature. Microsoft said the cause of the issue had to do with Hyper-V incorrectly configuring the Page Address Table (PAT) cache type on AMD machines.

Admins can download the hotfix if they are affected by the issue by visiting Microsoft’s website.

April 1, 2013  2:21 PM

March in review: the top Windows Server tips and news

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

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

In March, our readers were interested in the latest batch of Patch Tuesday fixes, deduplication, PowerShell cmdlets and features in Windows Server 2012.

Fixes for USB exploit, IE highlight March 2013 Patch Tuesday
The month’s Patch Tuesday had four critical fixes and three important fixes. The critical fixes came to IE and Silverlight, but one important fix to keep an eye on is the threat to USB drivers that could let attackers gain access through an “evil maid” attack.

Seven things you should know about Windows Server 2012 deduplication
Deduplication can make a huge difference in data storage demands. If admins plan to implement deduplication technology in Windows Server 2012, there are seven important things they should know.

The PowerShell cmdlets you need for Windows Server 2012
This guide is a compilation of the best tips and features that highlight why PowerShell cmdlets work so well in Windows Server 2012.

Get rid of failover clusters headaches in AD with Windows Server 2012
In Windows Server 2012, Microsoft took care of major Active Directory issues. Some of the AD problems fixed include flexible organization unit administration and eliminating the reliance on AD to form a cluster.

Deployment eased by Windows Server 2012 security upgrades
With Windows Server 2012, Microsoft made it easier to deploy security while overhauling key security technologies that used to be handled by third-party products.

What content from March was most helpful for you? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

March 21, 2013  4:53 PM

Windows Blue initiative said to trickle to Windows Server 2012

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

We won’t need a Thinking Chair for this one: Windows Server will likely also be part of Microsoft’s Blue release strategy.

More clues are certainly filling up our handy dandy notebook about what to expect from Windows Server Blue, as Stephen Chapman at MSFTKitchen pointed out.

Chapman posted three screenshots of resumes referencing experience with Windows Server Blue. The software design engineer and senior UX design lead both listed the updated release in their job descriptions.

Judging from the resumes, admins might expect enhanced MSDTC features in the Blue update. Plus, admins could expect a refined UX in Windows Server Blue.

Mary Jo Foley reports that sources within Microsoft are planning to release new features that matter to cloud customers, as they are the most likely to early adopt.

March 7, 2013  6:57 PM

Patch Tuesday critical fixes coming for IE, Office, SharePoint and Silverlight

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

The latest batch of Patch Tuesday bulletins will bring a number of fixes for critical vulnerabilities in multiple programs for March.

Microsoft released an advance security bulletin this week that includes a total of seven bulletins. Four of the bulletins are marked as critical and three are marked as important.

March’s critical bulletins address vulnerabilities with remote code execution and elevation of privilege. Multiple versions of IE, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Silverlight and Microsoft SharePoint are affected by these vulnerabilities.

The month’s important bulletins address information disclosure and elevation of privilege vulnerabilities. Multiple versions of Microsoft Office and Windows Server are affected.

March’s total number of bulletins is less than the 12 bulletins for last month’s Patch Tuesday, which had a near-record breaking number of 57 patches.

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

March 5, 2013  6:04 PM

Windows Azure adds two factor authentication, new features

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Windows Azure identity management has lagged behind the mature on-premises Active Directory. But Microsoft has made strides to make both access management options equal citizens (and in turn, is making the cloud offering more appetizing to weary administrators).

The company delivered more enhancements to Windows Azure Active Directory this week, including a big security enhancement.

Large companies have been the recent target of major user data theft, and one of the ways Microsoft hopes to combat this is through two factor authentication.

If enabled for a user, when a user correctly inputs their password when logging in, a code will be text messaged to their phone in order to gain access to the server. This isn’t quite ready for primetime, Microsoft marks the feature as a “preview” — meaning some parts might not work.

User account creation also came to the Windows Azure AD interface. This gives administrators the ability to manage user subscriptions right in the Windows Azure Portal. Role based access control also comes to Azure AD, allowing admins to assign other users as administrators. Removing and adding users now also works right from the Azure Portal.

Microsoft also made available the previously announced ability to sync and federate Windows Server AD with Windows Azure AD. When a change is made on Windows Server, it automatically syncs to the Azure Portal, and vice versa.

Windows Azure has gained credibility among corporate IT recently with its pricing and feature improvements.

What do you think of the latest changes to Windows Azure? Are you using Windows Azure AD? Let us know in the comments below, or find us on Twitter @SearchWinServer

March 1, 2013  2:24 PM

February in review: The top searchWindowsServer news and tips

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

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

In February, our readers were most interested in the latest batch of Patch Tuesday bulletins, getting around Window Server 2012’S GUI, what the language in Azure’s cloud data privacy policy means for customers and answers to common PowerShell questions.

IE, Exchange vulnerabilities highlight near-record Patch Tuesday
In a Patch Tuesday that almost broke the record set in April 2011, 57 patches were issued for vulnerabilities in Windows Server, Internet Explorer and Oracle’s Outside In library. Other critical patches were issued for media codecs in older OSs.

How to work without the GUI in Windows Server 2012
There are good reasons for keeping the Modern UI in Windows Server 2012, but if admins want to skip it, there are options for ways to work around the GUI, including third-party apps that bring back the Start menu and moving as many tools as possible to the desktop.

How to use PowerShell to pass info to remote computers
If admins need to execute something locally and share it with remote computers, PowerShell remoting can ease the process with specific techniques that include parameter blocks and inputting specific variables.

Cloud data ownership explained in Windows Azure privacy policy
If you take a close look at Microsoft’s privacy policy for cloud data in Azure, customers own their data, but the policy still lets Microsoft use their data for things like statistical analysis, troubleshooting to keep the Azure operation running and threat detection/prevention.

Using PowerShell script prompts for input
There are many ways admins can make and run a script prompt for input in PowerShell, but our expert says the best way to do it is to let PowerShell do most of the work and to make some small but effective changes to the coding.

What content from February was most helpful for you? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

February 26, 2013  8:27 PM

Microsoft releases minor updates for Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

It’s not Patch Tuesday, but there are updates admins should look for this week as Microsoft delivers updates across its portfolio of recent operating systems.

A tool is now available for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 which checks for inconsistencies and potential errors with software updates. The Software Update Tool checks the integrity of a few folders and repairs any issues with registry data.

A platform update is also available for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. The update fixes a number of components, including the Windows Imaging Component and Direct3D.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials, the home business version of the server operating system, received server-side fixes in its first rollup update. It adds the option to use a third-party hosted email service and updates the .NET framework to a new version.

Multilingual versions of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 also received a small patch for a font rendering issue.

Microsoft also released Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7. It was previously available for Windows 8.

What do you think of this news? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

February 7, 2013  8:44 PM

Windows Server releases could become more frequent

Jeremy Stanley Jeremy Stanley Profile: Jeremy Stanley

Microsoft may release major platform updates on a yearly basis — including Windows Server — if a rumor is true.

Mary Jo Foley reported that a tipster told her the codename “Windows Blue” we’ve heard about will not only apply to Windows on the desktop, but also to Windows Server and Windows Services like SkyDrive and Office365.

“Blue is a wave of product refreshes which are not expected to arrive exactly all on the same day, but which are meant to be released more or less around the same time,” Foley wrote.

Foley further added credence to the rumor with a screenshot of a Microsoft employee’s LinkedIn profile containing references to the Windows Blue project.

The Blue update wouldn’t likely mean Microsoft would release a product called “Windows Server 2013” this year and “Windows Server 2014” the next. Rather, these updates would be distributed directly to admins by some means.

The iterative, yearly nature of this rumored strategy would be new for Microsoft, but its competitors on the desktop have moved to this with some success. Apple has released a “major” upgrade of its Mac OS X every year for the last three years.

These latest rumors ask more questions than they answer: Are they just more frequent Service Pack updates? Will they cost anything extra? How much of a headache will this cause admins?

What do you think of this news? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.

February 7, 2013  7:18 PM

Fixes coming for Windows Server, IE in February Patch Tuesday

Toni Boger Toni Boger Profile: Toni Boger

Even though it’s only 28 days long, February will still be a busy one for admins after Microsoft announced its most recent batch of fixes for this month’s Patch Tuesday.

The company released an advance security bulletin this week that includes 12 bulletins. Five bulletins are marked as critical and seven are marked as important.

All of February’s critical bulletins address remote code execution vulnerabilities. Multiple versions of Windows Server and Internet Explorer, as well as Windows RT, are affected.

The seven important bulletins address denial of service and elevation of privilege vulnerabilities. Multiple versions of Windows Server are affected.

This is the second month in a row Internet Explorer has received attention for vulnerabilities. Last month, an Internet Explorer zero-day exploit led Microsoft to post a workaround outside of the Patch Tuesday fixes, and later patch out-of-band.

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

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