My Thoughts On IT…

Brian Lewis's Thoughts on all things Information Technology related


Download Windows 8.1 Now!

Today Microsoft released Windows 8.1 for general availability! If you already own Windows 8 then you can go get your free download of Windows 8.1. If you want to know how to upgrade to Windows 8.1 see the details available here:


Windows81bookDownload your Free ebook:
Introducing Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals

If you want to know more about Windows 8.1 then here is your free technical overview book! It’s difficult to believe that Windows 8 was introduced only a year ago, and yet today its successor, Windows 8.1, is ready for widespread adoption today.

“Introducing Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals” by Ed Bott is ready for download in PDF format. Available here:

remote-desktop-connection-iconI often run into customers running Windows XP that are unable to remote into Server 2012 because they don’t have the latest RDC client.

Here is where you can get the Remote Desktop Connection Client for an older Windows operating system. The filename is mstsc.exe.

Remote Desktop Connection 7.0 client update for Remote Desktop Services (RDS) for Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista SP1, and Windows Vista SP2

Here is a list of the new features in RDC 7.0

-Enjoy – Brian

The RDC 7.0 client update contains the following new features.

  • Web Single Sign-On (SSO) and Web forms-based authentication
  • Remote Desktop (RD) Web Access now uses forms-based authentication to improve the user experience. Web SSO makes sure that after a user is logged on, no additional passwords are required for RD Gateway, RD Session Host servers and RemoteApp programs.
  • Access to personal virtual desktops by using RD Connection Broker
  • Users can access personal virtual desktops when they use the new Remote Desktop Virtualization Host in Windows Server 2008 R2. Personal desktops are assigned to users on a one-to-one basis and maintain state over time.
  • Access to virtual desktop pools by using RD Connection Broker
  • Users can access virtual desktop pools when they use the new Remote Desktop Virtualization Host in Windows Server 2008 R2. Pooled desktops are shared between multiple users, and all changes a user makes are typically rolled back when the user logs off.
  • Status & disconnect system tray icon
  • A single system tray icon enables users to see all of their remote connections. The user can disconnect all or individual connections that use this icon. The icon appears only when opening RDP connections which are associated with a RemoteApp and Desktop Connection feed.
  • RD Gateway-based device redirection enforcement
  • In Windows Server 2008, it was possible for non-Microsoft Remote Desktop clients to override the gateway device redirection controls. In Windows Server 2008 R2, device redirection settings are defined in RD Gateway and can be configured not to be overridden.
  • RD Gateway system and logon messages
  • System and logon messages can be added to RD Gateway and displayed to the remote desktop user. System messages can be used to inform users of server maintenance issues such as shutdowns and restarts. Logon messages can be used to display a logon notice to users before they gain access to remote resources.
  • RD Gateway background authorization & authentication
  • Background authentication and authorization requests are performed after a configured session timeout is reached. Sessions for users whose property information has not changed are not affected, and authentication and authorization requests are sent in the background.
  • RD Gateway idle & session time-outs
  • Configurable idle and session time-outs with RD Gateway provide better control of users who connect through RD Gateway. An idle time-out lets the user reclaim resources that are used by inactive user sessions without affecting the user’s session or data. This helps free up resources on the RD Gateway server.
  • NAP remediation with RD Gateway
  • NAP remediation allows you to manage remote clients by updating them with the latest software updates and settings. This helps keep remote clients in compliance with network security policies.
  • Windows Media Player redirection
  • Windows Media Player Redirection enables content hosted in Windows Media Player to be redirected to the client for decoding on users’ computers. This improves the quality of the video and makes sure that video and audio are always in sync. This works for both full Windows Media Player and Windows Media Player controls hosted in Web pages.
  • Bidirectional audio
  • You can redirect audio recording devices such as microphones on the client computer. This is ideal for applications such as Windows 7 voice recognition, and applications that record audio.
  • Multiple monitor support
  • In Windows Vista and in Windows Server 2008, Terminal Services supported only monitor spanning. Remote Desktop Services now includes multiple monitor support for up to 16 monitors, and works for both Remote Desktop and RemoteApp programs.
    Note For connections with multiple monitor support enabled, AeroGlass support is currently not supported and will be turned off.
  • Enhanced video playback
  • Bitmap acceleration improves the remote display of graphics-intensive applications such as PowerPoint, Flash, and Silverlight.
If you run either Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8 you should check out this app! It is an app that details other new apps and helps you install them and test them. So if you are looking for the latest and greatest toys / apps take a look at this tool!

From the Author:
What is exciting is that App Enthusiasts is more than just an app, it is a movement to bring visibility to applications created by Windows Phone and Windows 8 devs.  Microsoft field employees are planning to host events at Microsoft retail stores across the U.S.  At these events, developers featured in App Enthusiasts share their creations and speak to the audience about their inspiration.  We believe that an application like this can help create a community of supportive developers and fan interest alike.  I certainly suggest reaching out to if you have an app that you would like featured in this program!  Seriously, we want your best work to shine!
Let’s take a look at the app itself:
Upon launching either version of the app, the user is asked to authenticate with their Live credentials and is then greeted with a listing of applications organized by date:
Users can see at a glance what City, State, and Country an app has been published in.  Upon clicking an item, the user will be brought to the download page in the marketplace for the selected app.  When an item has been viewed, a checkmark appears next to the item indicating that it has been seen.
With this applications you can easy discover cool apps coming from your geographical area. By setting the filter to your city you can see creations from people in your area.  Then you can easily install apps built by people you may know.  A great tool to evaluate, rate, and play with the latest apps. Enjoy!


ula1The article today in our “VMware or Microsoft?” series is about the best way to licensing Microsoft Windows Server in your virtual environments.

The introduction of server virtualization in the Intel market place changed the way most organizations run their server infrastructure. It has given organizations great agility in that we can now provision new servers in minutes vs. weeks. We can better utilize servers and datacenter space through server server consolidation. One area that has been difficult to understand  is how to properly license Windows Servers in VMs.

I am a technical guy but unfortunately I have had to answer these licensing questions so often that I now know way more than I ever wanted to about licensing. The good news is that the licenses work the same way no matter what virtualization engine you use. VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, etc all follow the same rules for licensing Windows Server in a VM.

vmsDo I need to License my Windows Servers in VMs?

In 2003, when x86 server virtualization first became mainstream, I was often asked if a Windows Server license was needed to run it in a VM. (BTW: yes, it isWinking smile) At that time Microsoft licensing rules had not considered virtualization technology. In fact this has caused one of the biggest current misconceptions. When you move a virtual machine from one physical host to another it is viewed as moving a physical server license. You are allowed to do this once every 90 days. What? Yep. In the old days you would only move your server license when you upgraded your hardware. Most customers didn’t do that more than once every three years. However, in a virtual world you may want to move the VM and then move it back. You would then need a license for that VM on both servers. Ouch – can you say double license.

In our current licensing schemes we now include provisions around VMs. We started that with the release of Server 2008. It still took a bit to understand the best way to license for virtualization. In Matt McSpirit’s blog entry he did a good job of describing the options under Windows Server 2008 licensing.

The current licensing with Windows Server 2012 is pretty easy. There are two versions of Windows Server 2012 available for Enterprise customers.  Standard and Datacenter. (I am ignoring Essentials and Foundation) Technically both standard and datacenter have the same guts. They both have failover clustering, Hyper-v, IIS, etc. They only differ in licensing.

Server Version Licensing
Standard Can run two Virtual Machines for each license
Can only transfer license to another physical server once every 90 days
Datacenter Licensed by Physical Processors
Unlimited Virtual Machines
Can only transfer license to another physical server once every 90 days

For more on the Licensing see:

So the easiest way to license a Multi host Virtual environment is to have Datacenter licenses applied to your physical hosts. This applies to ESXi or Hyper-v. You can then move around VMs all day long and provision as many as you can fit on the box. Licensing in this fashion will also save you money as long as your have a good ratio of consolidation per physical processor. With multi-core CPUs this should be pretty easy to achieve the lowest cost and it is positively the lowest management burden.


vmwareThe article today in our “VMware or Microsoft?” series is about the Guest Operating System support differences between VMware and Microsoft.

I am a technologist, who happens to work for for Microsoft (a leading provider of software, services, and now devices). With that disclaimer out of the way, let me state for the record, I try to  make fair apples to apples comparisons of the technology I evaluate. As a matter of fact, I think VMware ESX is a great product. I also think Hyper-v is a great product.

It irks me when any company, including Microsoft, puts out ridiculous marketing about a product. I know that companies are going to put there best spin on things but sometimes marketing goes too far. One of the reasons my group choose to do this blog series on VMware or Microsoft is because of this type of marketing. Here is a perfect example in this PDF that compares vSphere 5 vs. Hyper-V 3 (Beta). Wow, from that marketing it is obvious Hyper-v really sucks! What a misleading piece of “propaganda”. They could have made two more things green so it wasn’t so obvious.

I am not going to address the whole document today, I will just focus in on one of the statements. In my last series article, When it comes to hypervisors does size really matter?, I  addressed the claim that ESXi has a smaller attack surface (and is there for more secure and easier to patch). In this article I will take a look at the guest Operating Support claim that VMware Supports the Largest Number of Guest Operating Systems. This seems like a pretty straight forward fact but the details are a bit more muddy.

What is support? That all depends on how you define “is”

Support at Microsoft:
At Microsoft, when something is supported it means more than just we will take your phone call. Most supported scenarios need to be tested by the product group before the product is even allowed to ship. For unsupported scenarios we still do what we call “best effort support”. Which means we will take your call and try to help you get it working even though it isn’t a fully supported scenario. Heck, for a customer with a support agreement where you are paying by the minute, we will put in as much time as you want us to.  Winking smile For Hyper-v Guest OSs, support means that we have tested the OS and there are para-virtualization drivers for the OS. A lot of operating systems including DOS will run just fine in a Hyper-v but are still considered unsupported.

Support at VMware:
At VMware supported OS’s go into one of six categories. I pulled this from the VMware knowledge base article that you can view here.

Tech Preview

Operating system releases that have a Tech Preview level of support are planned for future support by VMware but are not certified for use as a guest operating system for one or more of these reasons:

  • The operating system vendor has not announced the general availability of the operating system release.
  • Not all blocking issues have been resolved by the operating system vendor.
  • One or more required enabling changes are not available in the form of a VMware product update or patch release.
  • Compatibility testing of a new OS update release is not complete.

Operating systems with this support level are fully supported by VMware. This includes technical support and engineering fixes.


The Legacy support level is between Supported and Deprecated. These guest operating systems are typically no longer supported by the original vendor. As a result, VMware’s ability to support this guest operating system is reduced.

VMware does not implement support for most newer VMware features and functions on operating system releases that are classified under this support level.


Prior to terminating support for operating system releases, VMware announces that the support for selected operating system releases has been deprecated in the product release notes and the VMware Compatibility Guide shows the support level for these releases as Deprecated.

A Deprecated operating system release is still supported by VMware and still receives technical support and engineering fixes (similar to Legacy) until it moves to the Terminated support level.


VMware does not provide support for operating system releases with terminated support.

Operating system releases with terminated support do not appear in the search results in the

Unsupported VMware does not provide support for operating system releases with Unsupported support level. This includes technical support and engineering fixes.

To find out if a guest OS is supported you can use this tool here: VMware Compatibility Guide. I used this tool to look up MSDOS 6.22 which was listed as supported by VMware and not by Microsoft. MSDOS 6.22 is listed in the Depreciated category and not the supported category. So does that count as supported? I looked up other OSs with the tool and noticed that even OSs in the supported category often have different things listed as unsupported. Many don’t support paravirtualization and hot Add of Memory or CPU. Under the fully supported category you have various levels of support. It may not even have VMware tools to install, so is it really supported better than “best effort support”? I guess it is better than best effort support but I don’t know if it is fully supported. Have all the supported OSs been tested before this version of ESXi shipped? I don’t know. Anyone, anyone, Bueller? It would be an impressive test matrix if they did. It would also be hard to ship a product if they required it to ship.


VMware’s comparison is not an apples to apples comparison. I feel their premise is true – VMware does have more supported OSs for ESXi than Microsoft does for Hyper-v; however, it is not the list that their marketing group put out. Also, just because an OS is in their supported column doesn’t mean that it is a first class citizen in their Hypervisor. Make sure to look up the OS that you want to use to see what things may or may not work.

The whole idea of choosing your virtualization platform based on how many OSs the vendor claims to support is pretty “silly”. The best way to pick your virtualization platform is to choose what works best for you and your workloads. For example, if you want to run Solaris 11 as a virtual machine in production then ESXi is the right choice because it is supported on ESXi and is not in Hyper-v. If you want to virtualize your Windows Small Business Server then Hyper-v is the way to go.

If you want to run the versions of  SUSE, CentOS, Red Hat, Ubuntu, Oracle Linux, or Windows that are supported on both; then take a look at both Hyper-v and ESXi. Do a real comparison and see how well does your actual workload performs in Hyper-v vs ESXi. Lab it up and let us know your experience in the comments! The price of Hyper-v sure is right. Hyper-v is included in Windows Server and we have a fully functional version called Hyper-v Server which is completely free. 

If you want to try our Free Hyper-v Server 2012 – download it here:

You can also get the Hyper-v Server 2012R2 preview here:


OMG: Ooma is awesome!


oomaOMG… Ooma is awesome! I just ported my home phone to Ooma three weeks ago and I am extremely happy with it!

History of the Lewis home phone:

Four years ago I switched from a traditional phone company land line to my cable company’s internet phone offering. I was able to lower my bill from over $80 a month to about $30 a month. I was able to port my phone number over and didn’t notice any difference in phone service.

I was very happy with the reduction in price from my traditional phone company for the past four years but, now that my kids all have cell phones, and I was wondering if I should pay for a home line at all. I do like having a home phone so I decided to look at my options. I looked at Vonage and Ooma. I ultimately decided on Ooma because it was cheaper. It is almost free.

Ooma – The Costs:

It is not free but it’s close. I purchased the Ooma device from amazon for $119. Then I paid an optional $40 porting fee to have my number transferred to Ooma. Lastly I do have to pay a monthly fee to cover the cost of taxes and fees in Wisconsin. That amounts to about $3.50 a month for me.

So now I have a home phone for $3.50 a month and it works great! Ooma does offer advanced features that cost about $10 a month. The advance / Premier features are very cool but I don’t really need them so for now I am skipping them. For more details on the advanced / premier features see Ooma’s website:

What it takes to setup Ooma:


First, I purchased the Ooma device from Amazon. After the device arrived I setup an account and registered the device on the Ooma website. That was it and I had a phone line up and running. After I verified that it worked well I went back to the Ooma website and requested a phone number port. A week later my phone number was ported over. It took a phone call to support to have the number port “fixed” because it had a configuration error. After that was fixed it has been working perfectly since. For the past three weeks I have been using Ooma as my home phone and it has worked flawlessly. I am now a happy Ooma customer.

There are several ways you can hook up the Ooma Telo device to your network. I just plugged it into my switch along with all my other devices. Then I plugged in my phone line into the device. My home phones work just as they did with the traditional phone company.

My Network and Phone Setup:

For more information checkout their website:

If you have a question, negative experience, or better setup leave a comment and let us all know.


Windows-8_1Great News for IT Pros! If you want to get your hand on the latest and greatest version of Windows all you need is an MSDN or TechNet subscription. It was posted up there at yesterday September 9th. That’s right Windows 8.1 RTM code.

Originally we were not going to release the code to until the October 18th launch date, but based on the strong community feedback we have adjusted the release schedule. Smile

Here is an excerpt from the email communication I received:

We’ve listened, we value your partnership, and we are adjusting based on your feedback. As we refine our delivery schedules for a more rapid release cadence, we are working on the best way to support early releases to the various audiences within our ecosystem. That’s why starting today, we will extend availability of our current Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM builds to the developer and IT professional communities via MSDN and TechNet subscriptions. The Windows 8.1 Enterprise edition will be available through MSDN and TechNet for businesses later this month. Additionally, today we’re making available the Visual Studio 2013 Release Candidate, which you can download here.

For more information see the official announcements on the following Blogs:

Steve “Guggs” Guggenheimer’s blog

Blogging Windows

Somasegar’s blog

In The Cloud blog

Microsoft-Surface-4This works on both the Surface RT and Surface Pro machines to take a screen shot.

Simply hold down the capacitive Windows button on the front of your tablet and press the Volume Down button on the volume rocker once. If you see the screen dim for a moment you’ll know if it worked. The Screenshot will be saved in My Documents> Pictures > Screenshots.

sanfranciscounitedstates_146301San Francisco here I come!

I have the pleasure of presenting on Windows Azure IAAS next week in San Francisco! On September 5th, YOU are welcome to join me for FREE, as long as seats last!
(Oh, and you have to cover your travel costs) Smile

This event will be held at the Microsoft San Francisco Office starting Thursday, September 05 at 9:00 AM and ending around 4:00PM.

At this ITcamp I will show you that YOU can have the best of both worlds! With Windows Azure, you can easily extend an on-premises network to embrace the power and scale of the cloud – securely and seamlessly. These Hybrid Cloud scenarios present real solutions that you can implement today to solve pressing IT issues such as:

  • Right-sizing Storage Investments
  • Protecting Data with Off-site Backups
  • Business Continuance and Disaster Recovery
  • Cost-effective, On-demand Dev/Test Environments
  • Internet-scale Web Sites… And MORE!

Join me for this FREE full-day hands-on event to experience the power of Hybrid Cloud. I will guide you through the process of jumpstarting your knowledge on Windows Azure Storage, Virtual Machines and Virtual Networking for key IT Pro scenarios. Complete all of the hands-on labs and you’ll walk away with a fully functional Windows Server 2012 cloud-based test lab running in Windows Azure!

Session Requirements:
Be sure to bring a modern laptop that is capable of running the following prerequisites. For more detailed system specs, click on the city nearest you.

  • Modern operating system, including Windows 7, Windows 8, Linux or Mac OS X
  • Modern web browser supporting HTML5 and Javascript, including IE 9, Chrome, Firefox and Safari
  • A remote desktop (RDP) client – included with Windows platforms. Mac and Linux RDP clients can be downloaded for free

All participants registering for the event should have an active Windows Azure subscription. If you have not already done so, sign up for a FREE trial of the Windows Azure platform and services, including access to the Virtual Machines preview.

Register now and reserve your seat for this FREE, full-day event in San Francisco


*** Update ***  Here is the Link to both the PowerPoint and Hands on Lab Manual for this event…

windowsazure497e851aa948Windows 8.1 has hit RTM and will be Generally Available on October 18th, 2013.

This release is a little different than the past. In the past releases customers were able to get the finished product from TechNet, MSDN, and the Volume Licensing website a few days after RTM.

This time around is a little different as customers will not be able to get the code until October 18th. The idea is that only OEM’s are getting the code to build and test systems, so they can introduce solid systems on release. Many techs are understandably angry that they can’t get their hands on the code this time around. If thing change and you can get a copy I will update this site.

Update: Microsoft will release the bits for Windows 8.1 before October 17th on MSDN and the Volume Licensing site. See

For more details see the Windows Team Blog:

Windows Server 2012 R2 also RTM’ed and has the same availability date of October 18th. You can read the announcement in Brad Anderson’s Blog: