Category Archives: Windows 7

Office 365: First Impressions

I’ve been hearing about Office 365, so I signed up and am giving it a whirl.  There’s much to talk about, but here’s some notable first impressions:

  • BES is not supported.  I don’t know if there’s a way to integrate BES servers into your environment, but MS doesn’t support BES.  You can connect a Blackberry using IMAP.  If you do that, you have to sync contacts and calendars manually.  ActiveSync is fully supported.
  • If you have Office 2010 Professional Plus installed and integrated with Office 365, you cannot use web apps.  You have to use the installed apps and then save into Sharepoint.
  • Office Web Apps are significantly stripped down versions of the Office Apps.  They will probably be fine for most Office users, but this should be understood before making choices.
  • Office Web Apps can be used in IE, Firefox,  and Safari.  I haven’t tested Chrome, but I’m sure that works too.
  • It appears that Live Meeting has been rolled into Lync.  That’s great!
  • Lync can be accessed using OWA, but it’s a stripped down version.
  • Sharepoint Workspace is probably the best way to connect into Sharepoint file stores, but it is possible to map drives into the file stores.  I doubt this is advisable.
  • It’s possible to pick individual Office 365 services instead of the designated “plans.”  This ala carte ordering system allows you to spend as little as $2 a month for Lync only or as much as you’d like.  The nice thing about this is that if you are already licensed for Office 2010 Professional Plus, you can pick plan E2 and add-on services thus saving $12 per user per month (for Office).
  • Exchange Online Archiving is $4 per user per month.  I think that’s a good price.
  • Office 365 is a very powerful service.  It enables organizations to quickly put up Exchange and Sharepoint environments in very little time.  Office 365 can be about as simple or as complex as the user needs.

That’s pretty much it for now off the top of my head.  I recommend organizations of all sizes become knowledgable in the capabilities of Office 365.  It gives companies the ability to replace significant amounts of infrastructure with a very capable service.  And for small companies it puts them on a level playing field with the big boys.  I hate to say it, but once it’s rolled out, it requires very little back-end IT attention.

www.office365.com

Office 365 Buyers Guide (in .xps format for some bizarre reason)

Advertisements

Gray “X’s” when navigating network shares

I had a user getting grey X’s when accessing a network share.  I tried some of the standard fixes including trying to get to other mapped drives, the internet, logoff-logon.  Nothing worked.  I started searching and found this post from SevenForums.  I tried it and it worked…

Continue reading

Windows 7 Imaging Product Key Error Message

I am using Microsofts imaging (Imagex.exe) tools to set up Windows 7 Machines.  I have switched between Enterprise and Professional versions of Windows 7.  It turns out the imaging tools don’t like that.

If you get error “the product key entered does not match any of the Windows images available for installation” Go to the ei.cfg file in installation files and change the version from Enterprise to Professional or other way around.

Update the BIOS before installing Windows 7 on a Dell Optiplex 760

I tried installing Windows 7 Enterprise x64 on a Dell Optiplex 760.  I used the Windows Media.  The installation was so slow that I didn’t let it complete.  I tried a 32bit version and there was no difference.  I did some searching online and found a comment on Microsoft’s site that updating the BIOS should work.

I was using BIOS version A02.  Updating to the latest version (A08) worked.

I then had a problem where the Windows 7 installer couldn’t see the physical hard drives.  I went into the BIOS and changed the SATA mode from its default setting to something which I don’t currently remember and it worked.  Windows detected the disk drives.

I’ve seen talk about installing the drivers and the problem goes away, but that’s not practical in manual pre-installation.

Error 1327.Invalid Drive: [drive letter] while installing or updating Adobe Acrobat

Another in the long list of annoying Adobe issues is the “Error 1327.Invalid Drive: [drive letter] while installing or updating Adobe Acrobat” error.  It comes up when installing Adobe Acrobat 9 or Adobe Acrobat Reader 9 or X on Windows 7 Enterprise on machines with mapped network drives.  It may also come up with other versions of Windows 7.  I don’t know if it’s an issue on machines with multiple physical or logical drives (E, F, G, etc.).

It has not been a major issue for me because I have found that installing with the local admin profile which doesn’t map drives works.  I don’t know what happens if it tries to auto-update on the profiles with mapped drives.  Users aren’t permitted to update software, so it shouldn’t be an issue there.  I also suspect that this won’t be an issue if you dump software using a tool.

Adobe has a KB article about it here.

Duplicate Machine SID’s are not an issue except when they are an issue.

I came across an article on InfoWorld about a blog post from a Microsoft tech regarding Windows Machine SID’s and the myths that surround them.  The InfoWorld article is mostly fluff, but the blog post is well worth the read.  Basically, machines that are imaged without being sysprepped usually have the same machine SID’s.  It’s long been believed that this is a security issue.  It turns out that’s not the case.  Machines can be on the same network with the same SID”s if the machine is not already connected to a domain, not going to be promoted to a Domain Controller, and if there isn’t an application that reacts badly to it.  (The example given is applications that use the Machine SID as their own ID’s.)  The bottom line is that machines SHOULD BE SYSPREPED to prevent any known and unknown issues.  Also, Microsoft will not support machines that don’t have unique SID’s.  Sysprep is easy to run.  Don’t slack off just because it might not cause a problem.

The reason that I began considering NewSID for retirement is that, although people generally reported success with it on Windows Vista, I hadn’t fully tested it myself and I got occasional reports that some Windows component would fail after NewSID was used. When I set out to look into the reports I took a step back to understand how duplicate SIDs could cause problems, a belief that I had taken on faith like everyone else. The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that machine SID duplication – having multiple computers with the same machine SID – doesn’t pose any problem, security or otherwise. I took my conclusion to the Windows security and deployment teams and no one could come up with a scenario where two systems with the same machine SID, whether in a Workgroup or a Domain, would cause an issue. At that point the decision to retire NewSID became obvious.

I realize that the news that it’s okay to have duplicate machine SIDs comes as a surprise to many, especially since changing SIDs on imaged systems has been a fundamental principle of image deployment since Windows NT’s inception. This blog post debunks the myth with facts by first describing the machine SID, explaining how Windows uses SIDs, and then showing that – with one exception – Windows never exposes a machine SID outside its computer, proving that it’s okay to have systems with the same machine SID. Note that Sysprep resets other machine-specific state that, if duplicated, can cause problems for certain applications like Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), so MIcrosoft’s support policy will still require cloned systems to be made unique with Sysprep.

You can read the full article here.

You should also read this follow-up post by Microsoft tech Aaron Margosis that explains the difference between Machine SID’s and Domain SID’s.  The key statement in his post: “So while it’s OK to clone a system before it joins a domain, doing so after it joins a domain (and is assigned a domain computer account and a corresponding domain SID) will cause problems.”

Windows 7 is OK

I’ve been playing around with Windows 7 for a few weeks now.  I have tried to concentrate on features and configuration because I want to understand how it works, and how Microsoft intends some features to work.  Windows 7 is Vista with a new taskbar and some reaaranged menus. 

I like:

  • I like how quickly it installs and boots, though I wonder if it will load as quickly after I install some apps. 
  • I like the search feature.  It works well. 
  • The “Library” is a good idea, though I bet it’s going to trick some users at first. 
  • I also like all the new tools that have been added to the software like powercfg -energy.
  • I like how customizable the appearance is.

I don’t like:

  • That I can’t open multiple windows by clicking on an icon in the taskbar.  It works if I hold shift.  That’s very annoying.
  • Jumplists are meh.
  • Features that Microsoft considers major innovations like “Snap” , “Shake“, and “Aero Peek” (which is borderline useless) that are nothing more than minor additions to old technology.
  • XP mode only works with machines that have very specific hardware “virtualization” features.
  • That’s it not much of an improvement over Vista and the classic Windows platform.
  • Microsoft’s online “tutorials” and “walk-throughs” are WEAK, and disorganized, and really frustrating!!!

What does that mean for my companyand I?  An upgrade is likely in the works….  Windows XP is going out of support in a few years (though none of my current HW will be around then).  I want to get off of the old Windows XP platform and so does the IT management in my company.  Users feel like we’re “Out of date” on the desktop and Office (they don’t buy that Office 2007 is the latest version).  This put together with a Microsoft “Enterprise Licensing Agreement” means that we’re moving forward with Windows 7.  I plan to post about my experience with Windows 7 and the upgrade.