David Overton's Blog and Discussion Site
This site is my way to share my views and general business and IT information with you about Microsoft, IT solutions for ISVs, technologists and businesses, large and small. I specialise in Windows Intune and SBS 2008.
This blog is purely the personal opinions of David Overton. If you can't find the information you were looking for e-mail me at admin@davidoverton.com.

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January 2012 - David Overton's Blog

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  • Windows Intune feedback and support tools and useful blogs

    I’ve been reading and responding to the posts on the Windows Intune forums site and realised that I should share with everyone the support and feedback tools available for us.  These enable conversations with the support teams and input into the people making decisions about updates and major releases for Windows Intune.  The following sites are available: Support Forum Support for Windows Intune Microsoft Online Services support The forum has responses from the community as well as great Microsoft support people. This site provides resources to enable you to access support by phone and e-mail on technical, non-technical issues, Windows and MDOP This site provides the details for phone and support page access to help with the Microsoft Online Services Customer Portal (MOCP)   Feedback Windows Intune feedback This site provides free-form feedback to the Microsoft team, so not support issues, but product hits, misses and desires   I hope this helps you get more out of Windows Intune as well as the posts I make and others: David Overton’s site - http://davidoverton.com/blogs/doverton/archive/tags/Windows+Intune/default.aspx James Evans’ blog - http://www.edutech.me.uk/category/intune/ Mike Resseler’s blog - http://scug.be/blogs/intune/archive/tags/Intune/default.aspx Jethro Seghers’ blog - http://jethroseghers.blogspot.com/search/label/Intune   ttfn David
  • Microsoft Windows Intune V2: Quickstart Administration book released

    Well, nearly 12 months after I started the project my book is now available to buy.  This book is relevant to the latest shipping version of Windows Intune 2.0. Chapters Overview of Cloud Computing Introduction to PC management concepts Overview of Windows Intune features Signing up for Windows Intune and installing the client software Configuring Windows Intune Configuring Management Policy Software Deployment Tracking and reporting Monitoring and responding to Windows Intune alerts Resolve problems using Microsoft DaRT Deploying Windows 7 Enterprise Edition Integration with existing Microsoft Products Purchasing the book Book and / or e-Book from publisher – Packt Publishing Book from Amazon –    Chapters in detail Chapter 1, Overview of Cloud Computing explores the new cloud computing and cloud-based services world that we are moving rapidly towards and includes Windows Intune. Before we can embark on this journey it is important that we understand the benefits and pitfalls that cloud services bring with them and how they apply to us. One mechanism to help protect us against the uncertainties is the use of Service Level Agreements, which are explained for Windows Intune. Chapter 2, Introduction to PC Management Concepts introduces the important concepts behind PC management, with a focus on ensuring that the needs of the business are the fundamental driver of the IT policy we implement with Windows Intune. We then explore how the IT policy decisions are taken to reflect these needs and are then able to demonstrate that they are delivering on them. Chapter 3, Overview of Windows Intune Features describes the features within Windows Intune, ensuring that we can take advantage of all of the benefits it has to offer, including anti-malware software, update management for both the Windows Operating System, and Windows applications, software distribution, system alerts and reporting. Chapter 4, Signing Up for Windows Intune and Installing the Client Software walks through the Microsoft Online Services...
  • Windows Intune Silent Application Deployment hints

    Windows Intune requires application deployment to be a silent (as in no user interaction) process.  Sometimes working out how to do this can be quite hard.  Richard at Windows Intunepedia has shared some information on this that I thought I would also share: Steps to Deploy Adobe Reader X with Windows Intune How to deploy Java 7 Runtime Environment (JRE) with Windows Intune You might also want to look at http://silentinstall.org/ which can help wrapper other installers to ensure they are silent.   ttfn David
  • Windows Intune and firewalls / proxies

    We had this question circulate around at work, so I wanted to share.  Window Intune needs access to the internet.  This means that the services need unhindered access to the internet.  While for most of us, once we are connected, we are connected, some firewall / proxy devices require extra information to be entered into a browser and this is something that Windows Intune cannot deal with. Luckily, Richard at Windows Intunepedia has written about this and quite some time ago .  The key elements are: Ports 80,443 will be needed for outgoing communications and the firewall / proxy must be as follows: If the client computers exist behind an authenticating proxy server, you must configure the proxy server as follows: 1. Confirm that the proxy server supports HTTP and HTTPS. 2. Enable either Non-auth or Negotiate (Kerberos) authentication methods on the proxy. If your proxy server is using the Negotiate (Kerberos) authentication method then you must configure it to allow authentication using computer accounts rather than user accounts . This is because the Windows Intune client agents run using the LocalSystem security context not that of a logged on user. If it is not possible for your proxy to be configured in this manner the agents will not be able to report to that Windows Intune service while they are behind that proxy. More can be found from Richard at   Thanks David
  • Various recent VDI related whitepapers - Citrix, Microsoft, Cisco, NetApp and AppSense (not all together in all whitepapers)

    I believe that Citrix XenDesktop and Microsoft Hyper-V offer the best VDI experience and System Center the best management solution for this configuration (as well as many others).  I work with NetApp and have becoming increasingly impressed by the NetApp / Cisco offerings – FlexPod and then when combined with Citrix / XenDesktop, a killer proposition for easy, reliable VDI.  I’ve also included AppSense in the mix as I’ve also been working with them around their User State Virtualisation technology and where it fits both VDI and physical desktops. These whitepapers overlap various aspects of the above, so here they are: Reference Architecture-Based Design Citrix XenDesktop Built on FlexPod Using Cisco Unified Computing System, Microsoft Hyper-V, and NetApp Storage Some of the key points are: The hosting of Citrix XenDesktop Hosted Virtual Desktops (VDI) and Hosted Shared Virtual Desktops models and FlexCast with Microsoft Hyper-V on Cisco UCS B-Series Blade Servers and NetApp storage were successfully validated. The validated environment consisted of a completely virtualized infrastructure with virtual machines hosted by Microsoft Hyper-V. All the virtual desktop and supporting infrastructure components including Active Directory, Citrix Provisioning Server, and the Citrix XenDesktop Desktop Delivery Controllers were hosted in a virtual machine environment on Microsoft Hyper-V. The tested design showed linear scalability when expanding from 1 server to 16 servers. The performance testing showed that the same user desktop experience and response times were achieved with 110 desktops running on 1 server as with 1760 desktops running on 16 servers. The integrated management model and rapid provisioning capabilities of Cisco UCS Manager makes it easy for scaling the number of desktops from small pilots on a single UCS chassis to very large organization-wide deployments running on tens of chassis. The testing validates that the tested reference architecture can scale linearly from 1 chassis to 4 chassis and beyond...
  • Windows 8 from CES–Long Zheng, Running Android Apps on Windows

    Microsoft has not made many significant announcements about Windows 8 since the BUILD conference late last year.  Since then, lots of information about how Windows 8 will work has been delivered through the  blog. At CES, we have seen Windows 8 running on some lovely slate/tablet and ultrabook devices and also on Intel and ARM chipsets.  Long Zheng has been following Windows for a long time and has posted some useful information and an update on the pre-beta build running at CES and a host of screenshots on his blog at Analyzing the Windows 8 demo from CES 2012 keynote . Then of course there is the discussion about native applications and it is interesting that BlueStacks now have a product to run Android applications on Windows too.  This item can be found here . From a devices point of view, I like this video:   There is plenty more, but I wanted to share these items as I liked them!   ttfn David
  • Diagnosing connectivity problems to Exchange and Office 365

    I was asked today about an Outlook synchronisation of the address book over the web (RPC over http) and did some digging and found this excellent diagnosis tool - https://www.testexchangeconnectivity.com .  The nice thing is that it tests many products – Exchange, ActiveSync and Office 365 . Once you start the tool you have to choose what diagnosis you want: or After you have completed your sign-in details, you get the results.  In the example below it shows that my certificate is not publically signed and a number of other issues that I could address if they were the cause of connectivity issues (but I don’t need to as I get the functionality I want with the current setup)   ttfn David
  • VDI and great video performance using RemoteFX (and licensing it)

    Having written a little about VDI and RHSD the other day, I see that Register has an item about RemoteFX and playing games.  This uses the technology of RDS as well as either VDI or RSHD. While you can play games, Windows 7 renders in all it’s glory too.  One word of warning from a licensing front.  If you are using RemoteFX then you will need an RDS CAL when you are buying the licenses as RemoteFX is licensed by the RDS CAL and remote admin tasks that you can do on a server without needing a RDS CAL does not include playing games (IMHO).  You also need to check that you have a client device that can handle RemoteFX.  While platforms like Citrix, Quest and VMware will enable various remote access technologies that do not use RemoteFX (Citrix and Quest will even allow the use of their own technology or RemoteFX) the device chosen still requires the capabilities to display the high quality applications and games, even if not enough to process it all in the first place! For example, for Citrix to use the GPU on the client to redirect Aero, it requires a Windows Client, even if it is not Windows 7.  Look at http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/xendesktop-als/hd-aero-redirection.html for an example: Hardware Windows Aero capable DirectX 9-class GPU that supports: Pixel Shader 2.0 32 bits per pixel 128MB memory 2 GHz non-mobile central processing unit (CPU). Citrix recommends 3 GHz for optimal performance. Note: Dual monitor sessions are supported for user devices with a single GPU. A single GPU is defined as a single entry under Display adapters in Device Manager and not as the number of PCI cards plugged in the device. A single PCI card can have multiple GPUs on it. Software DirectX 9.0c runtime (Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP) What this all means is that you still need a good graphics card somewhere – the desktop or the server and some reasonable network bandwidth if you want good graphics!   ttfn David
  • Windows Intune learning path–free training for Microsoft Partners

    Eric Ligman tweeted about the new partner learning paths, so I zipped over there to see these excellent items for Windows Intune . I’ve already done some of these, but it is a great way to get up to speed on Windows Intune and how to sell it.   ttfn David
  • Understanding more about Desktop Virtualisation–VDI and RHSD and how to license it

    [updated 12-Jan 2012 with images and notes about a hosted solution] This is part two of the discussion around VDI and RHSD and this section looks at licensing.  I am frequently asked questions about Microsoft licensing as I look after the relationship between Citrix and Microsoft in the UK. I often hear people getting confused about how to license, or even worse, assuming that licenses are somehow free when using a VDI or DV (Desktop Virtualisation) solution. Having seen the article at Computer Weekly I decided I would share some thoughts on how to get it right. I should say, while I have a lot of experience, always talk to a Microsoft Licensing Specialist . Always! The second comment is that these are my thoughts and experiences not those of Microsoft’s. Always verify your understanding of licensing with a specialist.  Get out the legal documents if required (I do link to the relevant sections) and get formal comments from a certified licensing specialist if you require it. Microsoft licensing moves forward to enable more customer scenarios all the time, so by the time I hit send, it could be out of date already.  To quote from the article above, which is very good (except for the licensing sidebar which is confusing IMHO) “But one research firm that has looked at Microsoft’s new EA, has found that Microsoft has, in fact, simplified client access licensing. “ If you are not sure what VDI, RHSD (Remote Hosted Shared Desktop – or RDS/TS/XenApp), DV (Desktop Virtualisation) etc means or when to use them, head over to this post here The Licensing piece Now onto the interesting subject of licensing. There is a great FAQ from Microsoft that can answer many questions.  It can be found here . There are some simple tenants here that if followed will avoid pain: No matter how the desktop is delivered, physical or virtual, a number of Microsoft server and CAL licenses will be required.  VDI, RHSD or physical desktops do not change these requirements.  Normal licensing questions and discussions...
  • Understanding more about Desktop Virtualisation–VDI and RHSD and how to pick between them

    I am frequently asked questions about Microsoft, what our VDI, DV or RHSD solution looks like and how to license it as I look after the relationship between Citrix and Microsoft in the UK. Having seen the article at Computer Weekly I decided I would share some thoughts on what it is and how to license it (licensing in a blog later in the week). On the licensing front, I should say, while I have a lots of experience, always talk to a Microsoft Licensing Specialist . Always! Microsoft licensing moves forward to enable more customer scenarios all the time, so by the time I hit send, it could be out of date already. Sad but true. To quote from the article above, which is very good (except for the licensing sidebar which is confusing IMHO) “But one research firm that has looked at Microsoft’s new EA, has found that Microsoft has, in fact, simplified client access licensing. “ What is DV, VDI and RHSD First off, I’m assuming everyone is clear on the difference between DV and VDI. Ok, maybe not, so my 30-second guide: DV (for me) is the use of a Windows Server to serve out desktops or applications from a single Windows Server operating system or the use of VDI or the use of a type 1 or type 2 hypervisor on the desktop to give us a 2nd operating system that we can access applications from. It is bigger than VDI and to be honest, most of the time when people talk to me about VDI, they mean RHSD. RHSD (Remote Hosted Shared Desktops or Remote Desktop Services/Terminal Services) is the use of a Windows Server to serve out desktops or applications from a single Windows Server operating system . Each user see’s the same applications and has no-admin rights VDI is the use of Windows (probably Windows 7 today) served out from a virtual machine running Windows 7 guests (obviously on Hyper-V server as the host for the best performance ) RHSD has been around for years – Terminal Services, Remote Desktop Services are the Microsoft name and Citrix has been offering a solution by many names for years...
  • Useful Windows Intune Documentation–What’s New Factsheet, Best Practices, Trial Guide and FAQ

    I saw this over e-mail at work today and thought I would share with you: - Factsheet (What’s new?) - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh452635.aspx - Best Practices (Deploying Software and Third Party Updates with Windows Intune)  http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh441740.aspx - Trial Guide (View the complete Windows Intune Getting Started Guide) http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh441719.aspx - FAQ (Windows Intune: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ))  http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windowsintune/faq/default.aspx   ttfn David
  • Understand the language and process Microsoft uses when selling - Microsoft Solution Selling Process Better Together

    Every company has it’s own process of understanding where a piece of business in their sales process.  In the past I’ve used SCOTMAN or BANT amongst others to do this, but at Microsoft it has a process that incorporates the elements of these, but uses language specific to Microsoft. If you want to be able to understand, share and use this information, even if it is to examine your own processes, watch the video on the Microsoft Partner Learning Centre at http://bit.ly/vSNa7y . I would highly recommend it.   ttfn David
  • Windows Intune Case Study - Ontario Systems, helping to prove Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard certification PC update reporting

    Ontario Systems is a larger Windows Intune reference with 350 employee PC’s to manage. They needed a better way to manage mobile computers and Windows Intune was the answer to their problems as it enabled them to manage these computers providing they were connected to the Internet and verify this management to enable PCI certification. The two most notable benefits (besides saving money) were: More control, better insight. With the ability to monitor PCs, distribute software and updates, and perform remote tasks from a single console, Ontario Systems has more control and better insight into its PC environment. The IT department will save up to an hour each time it delivers the software updates that employees need to work productively and securely. “Being able to use Windows Intune to issue a security update or remotely initiate a malware scan without interrupting our employees’ workday saves time for the IT staff and helps avoid hours of PC down time,” says Hughes. Better security compliance. By using Windows Intune to quickly produce detailed reports or grant security officers and outside auditors read-only access to the Windows Intune console, Ontario Systems will find it easier to comply with PCI data security standards. “We can produce security reports in minutes instead of half a day,” says Silverthorn. “And with read-only access to Windows Intune, auditors can run the reports they need by themselves, without tying up our IT staff for days at a time.” You can get the full case study material at Microsoft Case Study: Windows Intune - Ontario Systems .   ttfn David
  • Windows Intune Case Study - Sora Technologies

    Another case study of an IT partner using Windows Intune to manage themselves and their customers.  I liked this comment: If we had started with Windows Intune, we would have saved approximately $80,000,” says Adams. “Going forward, we expect to save 10% in labour costs because we don’t have to manage servers or write code, which would take one full-time equivalent. We can take care of our customers using fewer resources, which increases our profit margins.” You can find out more at Microsoft Case Study: Windows Intune - Sora Technologies . Other notable benefits include: I mproved endpoint protection. When Sora deployed Windows Intune, it saw an immediate improvement in endpoint protection. “Windows Intune beat all the endpoint security tools we’ve used, hands down,” says Adams. “We saw an increase of 50 percent in the number of viruses that the service caught, compared to our previous solution.” Better customer service. Sora provides its customers with monthly reporting and updates on hardware life cycles, so it is looking forward to using the enhanced reporting features in the latest version of Windows Intune. “ With Windows Intune, we can offer better hardware reports and use them in our monthly emails or customer meetings ,” says Adams. Increased business opportunities. Because Windows Intune is a cloud-based service, Sora can expand its reach to customers beyond its local area. “By offering Windows Intune, we hope to open doors to larger customers that need to manage their remote PCs,” says Adams. “Windows Intune and the Microsoft name will really resonate with enterprise customers.” You can learn more about Windows Intune, or start using it today from www.windowsintune.com .   ttfn David
  • Steve Clayton, Microsoft Chief Story Teller at Imagine 2011 on the future as he sees it

    Steve presented at this Microsoft Advertising event in late November, but I wanted to share it because it enables us to get a small insight into Microsoft’s goals.  Interesting quotes include “our goal is to make the technology invisible” and “we probably have over 100 computers in our lives”.  He talks about these trends: The cloud Explosion of devices Displays Everywhere Explosion of data Explosion of social computing Connectivity everywhere Natural interfaces Steve also said he would study as a “data scientist” if he went back to university today as it is and will be the most interesting area to examine! It was nice to see Steve using the voice interface on Xbox before launch and the US version failing to recognise his accent as well as his daughter already expecting all devices to work this way   I have this at home, it is on all Xboxes now, and it is great plus my kids love it and use it all the time.  It is funny listening to Molly talking to the Xbox – she won’t control it any other way! You can find all the speakers information, many videos and PowerPoint at the speakers page (Steve is on day two) or for Steve’s stuff in particular, see below.   Exploring the future of connected experiences. Read more     Watch video      Download PPT
  • Comparing a Word document on Office Web Apps on SkyDrive or Office 365 to Google Apps

    Hi, I’ve been asked this before, so I thought I would share this today.  I don’t use Google Apps, so I don’t have personal experience of the services, however I work with companies who employee’s choose to use the services – often because they can’t access the corporate environment from home or have file size limits that stop them.  Anyway, I do use Word, Excel and PowerPoint and I use quite a lot of the features in my documents (e.g. the book and reports in Word, my personal finance spread sheet in Excel and numerous presentations in PowerPoint).  I’m fussy, I like my documents to render the same, no matter what device I’m accessing them from and especially when I’m presenting.  I’ve always seen the differences when they are shared with products other than Office and have been known to spend a couple of hours fixing them up once they come out of the “other” services.  People ask me why I stick to Microsoft, this is one of the reasons. Today I saw this - http://bit.ly/tSedOC – it has a document available in Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 .  The nice thing is that I can edit both on the web.  Only one renders correctly and only one comes to my PC for full control with all functionality maintained.  I’m sure you can guess which. Now I expect some people to say “but Office 365 is charged for”, which is true, but as a consumer I can use the features of the web applications on SkyDrive for free. Have a look at the site, you may be surprised.   ttfn David

(c)David Overton 2006-13