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.  

David Overton's Blog

  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • How to wake a computer to perform a antimalware scan, particularly useful for Windows Intune

    While having the book reviewed one feature that was asked for, but is not possible with Windows Intune, was the ability to make Windows Intune wake a computer at night and carry out an anti-virus scan. This blog post is referred to in the book when setting the Anti-Malware policy. To solve this, there are two issues to tackle: Wake up the computer Start a scan The answer appears to be that to wake the computer we need to use a task in Task Scheduler and then we need to start a scan. One very important thought here is that we need to ensure the power settings on the computer will put it back to sleep though! The command line required is “ %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Security Client\Antimalware>MpCmdRun.exe -scan -scantype 0 ” While working on this, I also wanted something that could be deployed by Windows Intune. In the end I have written a small piece of software that can create a task that wakes the computer and will start a scan. If you do not want a scan to start, change the program to execute to...
  • Finally got all the Christmas Lights up for 2011 on the new house

    Hi all, I thought I would share my Christmas lights – I do love them David
  • Got the notice that my Windows Intune account will be upgraded to V2

    Hi, even though the Windows Intune V2 service has been out for a little while, my existing V1 accounts have not yet been upgraded.  Today I got this e-mail telling me that it was now scheduled to happen in 4 days time. When I clicked on the link, I was taken to the alert that looks like this in the console: It talks about the “Account Details page” to find out more information.  I know Windows Intune quite well and I was not sure what the Account Details page was.  However, if we go to the Administration workspace and look at the Administration Overview then at the top of the page we see… “Planned account migration date: 12/16/2011” – OK, so it is in US date format, but at least it is coming this week!! I just wanted to share that the updates are coming and where to get the date from.   Thanks David
  • How to Address Internet Explorer 6 Incompatibility Issues with Windows 7

    I’ve seen several people try to resolve Windows 7 and IE6 compatibility issues through methods that are not only not supported, but also against the Microsoft IP licensing rules (e.g. removing it from Windows XP and forcing onto Windows 7).  Using a Windows Server 2003 Terminal Server and Citrix or Quest it is possible to put in place a low cost solution where IE is remoted (so you only see the IE 6 browser window, not the whole desktop) on a Windows 7 system.  The pages that require IE6 are shown this way, while other pages are shown locally with IE8/9. You can learn about the Citrix solution here or here for a solution from Quest.  A good write up on the options can be found here - http://www.virtualizationpractice.com/blog/?p=13493 . ttfn David
  • Microsoft Cloud Services Get Major Service Updates, New Customers: New features in Microsoft Office 365 and updates to sharing in Microsoft SkyDrive make it easier for people to work together.

    I saw this and just had to blog it.. The graphic on the left has amazing information – 41 of Interband Top 100 run on Microsoft’s cloud productivity services. 90% of Office 365 customers (not the seats, but the customer count) are SMEs with less than 50 employees.  You can guess the big customers from the stats. The PR can be found at Microsoft Cloud Services Get Major Service Updates, New Customers: New features in Microsoft Office 365 and updates to sharing in Microsoft SkyDrive make it easier for people to work together. One last thing I like, since I’ve been hearing people say “SharePoint is hard for file sharing” – SkyDrive works with Office 365 too.  This is simple, drag and drop and works natively with Office! Snippets from the PR statement: Small Businesses and Big Brands Bet on Office 365 More and more large global companies are choosing Office 365 to enable their employees and customers to work together in the cloud. In fact, more than 40 per cent of the global Interbrand list of the 100 top...
  • Blinging Down the House

    I’ve just tweeted on this, but decided to blog on it as well.  The blurb … “During the summer of 2011, the Windows team here in the UK put out the call to all students with tired technology and faded furniture to enter Blinging Down the House. All they needed to do was to ask for help in the form of a simple video entry. The winning entry would then get their technology makeover with the definitive home entertainment setup. “ The winning student was Jack Rose.  He went from this: I like the comments of “and I’ve got man boobs, so the Xbox Kinect would come in handy to exercise” and the line about spreading out the vodka shows thoughtfulness! After all was done he had this: Perfect in time for Christmas – Xbox, 3D TV, tablet and touch screen PC!   ttfn David
  • Microsoft Case Study: Windows Intune - SkyWire

    I saw this case study and wanted to share as it has some fantastic good news in it, highlighting how Windows Intune is helping this customer.  The highlights for me were: Reduced IT Costs SkyWire Media avoided the cost of third-party products that it would need to perform desktop management tasks by using Windows Intune. “I looked at antivirus and malware [malicious software] servers for [U.S.]$8,000 each,” says Malloy. “When you add $2,000 for the software and another $70,000 for a full-time administrator, we were looking at $80,000. Windows Intune saved us from those expenses.” With Windows Intune, SkyWire can retire on-premises solutions. “The software distribution feature now available in Windows Intune will save us an estimated $10,000 in software costs because we can retire the third-party tools that we were using for this purpose,” says Castleberry. Simplified PC Management Now that SkyWire Media has standardized the desktops on Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows Intune has delivered all required updates...
  • Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and XenApp 6.x Desktop Virtualization Optimization Guide for Windows Server 2008 R2

    Hi, I know that I have mentioned before that Citrix is one of the partners I work with.  Citrix add a huge amount of value to Microsoft Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services and have done so for Windows since before the NT4 days of Terminal Server Edition. They have just released their latest document on optimisations that can be found at CTX131577 - XenApp 6.x Desktop Virtualization - Optimization Guide - Citrix Knowledge Center .   Enjoy! David
  • Christmas lights - Stage 1 of new home lighting

    Hi, I love Christmas.  I’m not religious, but I really enjoy the happiness it brings people and the fact that everyone seems to spend time not working, with their families or unwinding.  One way I do this is through putting a stupid number of lights on my house.  For the last few years it has looked like this: I moved to a new house this year, so things are a little different.  I’ve not finished yet, but this is what I have so far.  The "train” is hidden and once it is all completed, I will share the final picture.   Just sharing my little pleasure (although I think my electricity supplier likes me doing this as well!)   David
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  • Return on Investment (ROI) calculator for Windows Intune

    I’ve just come across this tool for Windows Intune.  As with any “benefits” calculator, the results simply reflect the quality of the data you put in – garbage in, garbage out. Since my computers managed by Windows Intune are already on Windows 7, have anti-malware loaded and other benefits, the results came out lower compared to those on Windows XP.  If you don’t have Windows 7, for example, the benefits are much higher. The calculator can be found at http://windowsintuneroi.valueprism.com/ and the excel version can be found at here .  The Excel version suggested that if I had 100 Windows XP computers the benefits would be as follows:   I hope this is useful   David
  • Windows Cloud Essentials Pack–Microsoft Partners can get Windows Intune internal use for free (and Office 365)

    I’m really proud to have passed an exam towards my The Cloud Accelerate program as you can see from my certificate on the left. I have started with the Microsoft Cloud Essentials Pack and I’m now moving up towards cloud accelerate! One of the reasons I like the Essentials Pack is the benefits it provides in terms of software, marketing and simple business tools and there is no fee or sales requirement in the first year! From the web site above, the benefits are: Software Benefits Microsoft Technology License Grant Microsoft Office 365 250 licenses Windows Intune Subscription for 25 PCs Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 250 licenses Windows Azure platform 750 hours of extra-small-compute instance, 25 hours of small-compute instance, 20 gigabytes of storage, and 250,000 storage transactions Microsoft SQL Azure Web Edition database: 1 gigabyte Windows Azure AppFabric: 100,000 access control transactions and 2 service bus connections Data transfer: 25 gigabytes in and 25 gigabytes out Marketing Benefits Listing...
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(c)David Overton 2006-17