ZuneHD in Europe?!


I’ve just been told on Twitter that there is a rumour, and it’s to be stressed that this is a rumour, that Microsoft may still be planning on using the Zune HD to launch the product into EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa)!!!

That means that this sweet ass gadget:

could be in our shores, in our stores and, more importantly, in our hands :-) In my opinion, the new Zune is much sexier than anything I’ve seen from Apple…

The specs for this are:

  • 3.3 inch OLED display capacitive touch screen (480×272 16:9 aspect ratio).
  • Size: 2.07″x4.08″x.35″ (52.7 mm x 102.1 mm x 8.9 mm)
  • Weight: 2.6 ounces (74 grams)
  • Runs on Nvidia Tegra APX with 8 independent processors.
  • Multi-touch technology.
  • 16/32 GB
  • Built-in accelerometer.
  • HD radio tuner.
  • 720p high definition video support and output (additional dock required).
  • Wi-Fi connectivity 802.11b/g with Open, WEP, WPA, and WPA2 authentication modes and WEP 64- and 128-bit, TKIP, and AES encryption modes.
  • A Wi-Fi version of the Zune Marketplace.
  • Web browser (based on Internet Explorer Mobile 6 for Windows CE).
  • Games
  • Unicode Support
  • Equalizer
  • Music, up to 33 hours (wireless off); video, up to 8.5 hours
  • Battery : 3.7 Volt, 730 mAh Lithium-Ion Polymer battery
  • I’ve wanted a Zune for ages so if this is true-it’d be AWESOME ;-)

    *Update* Looks like it truly was a rumour, as the Zune HD isn’t available in Europe (or anywhere else for that matter) :-(

    New features and Improvements in Microsoft Hyper-V R2


    As I’m sure you’ve heard on the old internet, Microsoft’s Hyper-V R2 is done and dusted. The main new feature is Live Migration, meaning MS can now match the “VMotion” feature offered by VMWare, but there is a whole host of new features and improvements in the latest version. Let’s take a look:

     

    Hyper-V Compare

    Hyper-V R2 also includes:

    (a) High availability and live migration for managing a dynamic IT infrastructure

    (b) Support for 64 logical processors future proofing our customers to scale up with the hardware

    (c) Support for running up to 384 virtual machines with up to 512 virtual processors

    (d) Processor compatibility mode for live migration across different processor SKU’s from the same vendor

    (e) Hot add/remove virtual storage

    (f) Networking enhancements (VMQ, Chimney, support for Jumbo Frames)

    (g) Simplified management using sconfig

    (h) Boot from flash

    See the original post here.

    MED-V: More info


    MED-V (Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization) is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) and has come to the fore somewhat recently, along with Windows 7’s XP Mode.

    A number of people had heard of MED-V and knew that it let you run older apps in a virtual environment on new OS’s (such as Windows 7). Then, when MS announced XP Mode for Windows 7 the question became “Why do we need MED-V?”. In short we need MED-V because it’s excellent-so let’s look at why :-)

    XP Mode allows single users to run an app in a local XP VM, and that’s it. It’s a local instance which needs to be looked after by that user/helpdesk but individually on that machine…MED-V however, gives numerous central management controls and that is where it comes into it’s own.

    The four key points it offers are:

    • Virtual Image Repository
    • Centralized Management and Monitoring
    • User Policy and Data Control
    • Seamless user experience

    Virtual Image Repository: This gives a company a central repository to store all the different virtual images they need (XP, Mac OS, Linux etc) which can then be retrieved by end users and/or automatically deployed. There is also an automated process for keeping the VM’s updated with any changes to the build image. Med-V also allows for automated first-time setup such as:

    • specifying computer name
    • setting up the network
    • joining the domain.

    Centralized Management and Monitoring: MED-V can be integrated into Active Directory (AD) to enable VM provisioning based on group policies. There are features aimed at helping Helpdesk too including a central database of all client activity and the ability to easily revert a VM back to it’s original state.

    User Policy and Data Control: One of the cool features MED-V offers here is the ability to automatically re-direct specified websites to the Virtual Machine, so if a certain site only runs in IE6 and corporate standard is IE 8, the VM will handle it.

    Seamless user experience: Virtual Machine applications are available via the host OS Start menu and apps published via MED-V are still available when offline.

    So MED-V is a grown up version of XP Mode that gives corporates the ability to easily, safely and centrally manage a Virtual environment for application compatibility.

    All this information is from the awesome free MS e-book “Understanding Microsoft Virtualization Solutions” and there’s a whole lot more in there too…go download it here.

    Microsoft OCS & Roundtable


    I had a great Live Meeting with a customer day where we discussed how Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and the MS Roundtable device is helping them in their organization…and I have to say it was one of the most positive chats I’ve had with a customer for quite a while!

    They are a very large international organization with operations on pretty much every continent (save Antarctica I believe) with 100’000s of users across 100’s of countries. As you can imagine, that means there are a lot of meetings to be had and thus a lot of flights to be made and hotels to be stayed (in). There international travel costs come to 1,000’000’s of Euro’s a year and that is something they wanted/needed to cut-especially in the recent climate.

    Using Live Meeting and Roundtable for Video Conferencing means some individual sites are saving over £1,000 per week in travel costs alone! Certain people were flying to Europe 3 times a month and that has now been reduced to once every 2 months at the most…as well as the cost savings, the reduction in carbon emissions is phenomenal :-) Since it’s installation, OCS has been used for 12,000,000 minutes of remote conversation!!!

    The customer termed Live Meeting/OCS & Roundtable as “the dog’s bollocks” ;-)

    Live Meeting’s ability to share desktops and applications as well as Powerpoint slide shows makes it the perfect medium for showing remote workers how to use a new system, showing technicians the error you’re experiencing as well as standard presentations etc. Also, the fact that you can take control of a remote desktop means Helpdesk’s can use it to quickly see and solve user’s issues. The Roundtable, with it’s full 360 degree panoramic display helps remote users feel more connected to the information being delivered and the people delivering it!

    One situation where Video Conferencing comes in very handy is with pregnancy. Both us internally and the customer I was talking to have got staff who’s wives are very close to giving birth…but there are also important European meetings close on the horizon…”ruh roh” as Scooby may say! Usually the choice would be:

      • Don’t go
      • Go and risk missing the birth

    Neither of these are brilliant solutions, so Video Conferencing gives us a 3rd option:

      • Stay here and conference in with full video and VOIP audio.

    That way the user can still make their contributions as well as learn from everyone else, while being close enough to home to dash off to the hospital at a moment’s notice!

    New Raekwon Joint


    I’ve just been watching the new Raekwon video for one of the tracks of his upcoming “Only Built 4 Cuban Links II” album and it’s freakin awesome!

    I’ve been a fan of the Wu-Tang ever since 36 Chambers so a good 16 years now (blimey!) but even I have to admit that the last few albums haven’t been as classic as those of yesteryear. 8 Diagrams had a couple of good tracks and some wicked samples but we’ve not seen a “Protect Your Neck”, “Wu-Tang Ain’t Nuttin to F**K Wit”, “It’s Yourz”, “Hellz Windz Staff”, “Incarcerated Scarfaces” or “Liquid Swords” for quite some time…but I think that might be about to change :-)

    This new track is called “House of Flying Daggers” and features Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, GZA, Ghostface and Method Man-with production by the late J-Dilla and RZA’s in there too hooking it up with some fly kung-fu flick soundbites! This song really takes me back to the good old days of the Wu, I couldn’t keep my head form nodding ;-)

    I can’t embed it so go check it out over at Vapors Magazine here.

    image image image image image image image image

    ps: The album drops September 7th according to HMV’s site!

    Free Microsoft Virtualization e-book


    Microsoft books are usually pretty excellent with great content covering great products in great details…but they can often be pretty expensive too. However Microsoft have made available, for free-yep completely gratis-a wonderful e-book on their Virtualization technologies. Called “Understanding Microsoft Virtualization Solutions”, it covers:

    • Hyper-V
    • App-V
    • MED-V
    • Virtual Machine Manager (VMM)

    and more…and is fantastic! It’s full of great information, how-to’s & descriptions aswell as diagrams such as:

    image

    Go and download right now here.

    Microsoft Virtualization Questions


    Hi!

    Through the awesomeness that is Twitter, I’ve managed to connect with some of the Virtualization experts who work at Microsoft HQ in Redmond. They’ve very kindly offered to answer any and all questions that you guys can think of…as long as it related to Microsoft virtualization ;-)

    The main thing people think of with this is Hyper-V and, while that will be a big part of this, there are other elements too. Things such as:

    • Application Virtualization (App-V)
    • Presentation Virtualization (TS/RDS)
    • Desktop Virtualization (VDI)
    • XP Mode
    • MED-V
    • Virtual PC

    However, as well as product/feature specific questions, if you’re wondering about Microsoft’s long term strategy etc-please ask too.

    This is a great chance to get your feedback directly to MS HQ and to get those burning questions answered straight from the horses’ mouth :-) We’re hoping to get this Q & A done by the end of this month (August) so please, add your questions in the comments below and we’ll get started!!!

    Cheers

    Rich

    Diagnostic and Recovery Tool (DaRT)


    DaRT is what was previously known as WINternals and is a great piece of software, a real boon to any IT admin’s toolkit. It comes with all kinds of tools and tricks to troubleshoot unresponsive PCs and get them back up and running by removing malware, fixing drivers and more.

    The first part is the Crash Analysis Wizard, which looks at .dmp files (crash dumps) and pulls out the relevant info to tell you why the crash has happened.

    The next part is ERD Commander. This lets you create a start up image that you will use in the future on seemingly unbootable machines. Once you have given it an OS (which it can extract from your install disk), you choose which tools you want to include on the disk…the choice is:

  • Computer Management
  • Crash Analyzer
  • Disk Commander
  • Disk Wipe
  • Explorer
  • File Restore
  • Hotfix Uninstall
  • Locksmith
  • Registry Editor
  • Solution Wizard
  • Standalone System Sweeper
  • System File Repair
  • TCP/IP Configuration
  • You can then add any specific .inf files (drivers) that you would need, if you have specific extra hardware requirements in your organization.

    Brandon LeBlanc from the Windows Blog has got a great post on DaRT here.

    Advanced Group Policy Management (AGPM)


    What is it?

    AGPM is a core component of MDOP and “helps customers overcome challenges that affect Group Policy management in any organization, particularly those with complex information technology (IT) environments”.

    It’s three key features are:

    Change Control: These concepts will be familiar to most, if not all, server administrators-particularly those who use Sharepoint.

    The steps necessary to change and deploy a GPO are as follows:

    1. Check out the GPO from the archive.

    2. Edit the GPO as necessary.

    3. Check in the GPO to the archive.

    4. Deploy the GPO to production.

    Change Control keeps a version history of the GPO’s, allowing you to quickly roll back to a previous version if needed. Another neat feature is it’s ability to compare different GPO versions, quickly showing what changes were made.

    Change Control

    Offline Editing: This allows you to test new/altered GPO’s without the worry of messing up your production environment!

    AGPM

    Role Based Delegation:  This feature differs from standard Group Policy in that it can prevent Admins from approving their own changes. To do this it provides 3 new roles:

    · Reviewer. Administrators assigned to the Reviewer role can view and compare GPOs. They cannot edit or deploy them.

    · Editor. Administrators assigned to the Editor role can view and compare GPOs. They can check out GPOs from the archive, edit them, and check them in to the archive. They can also request deployment of a GPO.

    · Approver. Administrators assigned to the Approver role can approve the creation and deployment of GPOs. (When administrators assigned to the Approver role create or deploy a GPO, approval is automatic.)

    Delegation

    The whitepaper can be found here.

    Updates in MDOP 2009:

    The new version of MDOP will be released late October 2009 and makes the following enhancements to AGPM:

    Manage Group Policies across different domain forests: ability to copy Group Policy Objects (GPOs) from one domain forest to another, even if the two domains are not physically connected, easily creating a new controlled GPO or replacing an existing one.

    Easier GPO tracking with search & filter: ability to filter GPOs according to various attributes, such as name, state, or comment. You can also search for GPOs that were last changed by a particular administrator or on a particular date.

    The MDOP Blog post is here.

    System Center Desktop Error Monitoring (SCDEM)


    SCDEM is the newest addition to the MDOP family and it’s a corker!

    What does it do?

    SCDEM captures all application & OS failures across your enterprise and stores them in one central location, to enable your technicians to track, monitor and pro-actively respond to issues.

    This is like a local version of the “Send error report to Microsoft” box you sometimes get when apps crash and hang. While it’s good for MS to have this information, in a larger enterprise it’s more immediately useful for the in-house IT team to have it. This way they can identify error trends and match them up to recent changes they’ve made to the network, desktops, 3rd party software etc-thus quickly identifying, and (hopefully) fixing, the problem.

    It also enables you to create a company specific knowledge base of fixes for errors.

    Advantages of SCDEM

    Increase productivity of users: Once SCDEM has been running for a while, IT will have had a chance to identify and correct the vast majority of common issues. That means that there will be less errors on the desktops and thus less downtime for users. The internal knowledge base will also make it easier for end users to be pro-active and solve their own issues without having to log a ticket with the help desk.

    Easy Deployment: Due to it using the standard Windows error reporting system, all it takes to get SCDEM deployed to however many 1000’s of PC’s you have with a single Group Policy in Active Directory-nice huh? :-)

    Advanced Reporting: SCDEM provides many different reports to show which applications crash most, when they crash etc so that IT can make well informed decisions when it comes to patching and fixing.

    For anyone who is using SCDEM and having problems, I’ve just found a great whitepaper on Troubleshooting this program. Download here. The Technet blog post is here.

    If you head over to this Technet blog, you can see a great video of SCDEM in action-here.