Forthcoming Events on Campus

I will be preseting a brief introduction to Windows PowerShell at this month’s Super Mondays event in the Beehive (Old Library Building) on the 23rd at 18:00. These events are growing rapidly and well worth attending – the topics are usually diverse enough that there should be something of interest to everyone. See for the full line-up and the Upcoming link if you’re attending. I hope to see you there.

The postponed VBUG Newcastle developer event on “Parallel Programming in .NET (VS2010)” with Eric Nelson has now been rearranged for Tuesday 24th February at 18:30 in Claremont Tower room 118. Sign up at:–Parallel-programming-in-NET-VS2010-with-Eric-Nels.aspx

Windows Live Essentials released

As well as the Beta of Windows 7 (and it’s companion, Windows Server 2008 R2), Microsoft has also used the CES to announce the final availability of its Windows Live Essentials suite.

These are products that have been around in Beta and Release Candidate forms for a while. The announcement that they’re now final, should actually read that they were ready a little while ago – the final version is the same as the recent release candidate!

The suite includes the latest version of Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Photo Gallery (which is a great improvement over the Photo Gallery built in to Vista, includes Flickr support and works on XP), Windows Live Mail (also better than the version that ships in Vista) and the fantastic Windows Live Writer, which is the best blogging software available (sadly this blog’s host doesn’t support it, which is partly why I don’t post as much as I might!).

You can get the suite from

Windows Vista Migration Tools & Support!

We would like to remind you of the support available for migration to Windows Vista and introduce some additional toolkit items.

As well as the improvements in the new Base Policy announced earlier the Vista Version of ‘CMDInfo’ includes tools which allow users to import Favourites, Desktop Files and Outlook NK2 files from their XP Profiles.

For those of you developing Policies for Vista, there is now a Vista WMI filter ‘ISS – Windows Vista Filter’ which can be used to easily restrict Policies so that they are only applied to Vista Machines allowing you to run XP and Vista machines within the same OU container. The Test Vista Base Policy already uses this filter.

The vast majority of centrally provided software Policies are tested and supported on Windows Vista including but not limited to the programs below.**

4 Central Office 2003
4 Central Office 2007
3 Central Apple QuickTime 7.4.5
3 Central Adobe Reader 8.1.2
3 Central Asian Fonts for Adobe Reader 8
3 Central Adobe Flash Player
3 Central Adobe Shockwave Player
3 Central Paint Dot Net 3.31
4 Central ReadAndWrite Gold 8.1.6
3 Central Citrix RAS Client 10.200
4 Central MindGenius 2.43
3 Central CDBurnerXP
4 Central SAPCampus SapGui710 (Vista)
2 Campus Microsoft ISA Firewall Client 4.0.3442.654
4 Central Office 2007 Getting Started Toolbars
5 Central Licensed Acrobat 8.1.2 Professional
5 Central Licensed Inspiration 8.0b
4 Central Office 2007 Proofing Tools
4 Central SigmaPlot 11.0.1
4 Central CES EduPack 2008
4 Central QSR NVivo 8
3 Central Adobe Flash Player
3 Central Notepad++ 4.9.2
3 Central SequoiaView 1.3
4 Central EndNote X1.0.1
3 Central MDL Chime 2.6 SP7
3 Central TrueCrypt 6.1

**This is a list of new numbered policies created since Easter 2008 we started packaging for Vista however many other numbered policies work fine.

The ISS teams responsible for infrastructure and software are only an email away via If you have concerns about migrating to Vista or issues preventing you then please let us know. You can also comment on any article posted here on the WIT blog where one of us will respond.

Campus Managed Desktop Information Tool

CMDInfo is a major redevelopment of the ISS PC Info tool which is part of the current Windows XP Base Policy. It is designed to provide important information to users and support staff including their profile path, home directory path, machine name, group policies and firewall exceptions.

CMDInfo also includes WinDirStat, a freeware tool which gives a graphical representation of the space utilisation on a given folder or volume. When launched from CMDInfo WinDirStat will automatically present a view of a users H Drive.

Extra features are available when running CMDInfo under Window Vista including migration scripts which will copy Internet Explorer Favourites, Desktop Items and Outlook NK2 (nickname) files to their Vista profiles.

The new tool is included in the new Test Vista Base Policy announced yesterday. It will also be merged in to the existing XP Base Policy later today and delivered to machines under the Policy at their next restart.


  • Displays detailed system and user information including Username, Home Directory path, Profile Path, Mapped drives, Firewall exceptions, Network Name and Hardware Information
  • Simple and advanced views.
  • Support links for helpline and printing credit.
  • Includes WinDirStat
  • Includes tools to import all or any combination of Favorites, Outlook settings, Desktop files and document templates from a Users XP profile to their Vista (Vista Only).
  • Includes emailing component which will interrogate the system and send advanced support information ‘ipconfig’, ‘set’ and event logs to support staff (Vista Only).


User information (Advanced View).

User Information

System information (Advanced View).

System Information

Support and Tools (Advanced View/Windows Vista)


Send Logs (Advanced View/Windows Vista)


Send Logs Script (Advanced View/Windows Vista)

Send Logs

Email recieved from CMDInfo


New Windows Vista Base Policy open for testing

For the last few months we’ve been developing a new version of the Windows Vista Base Policy. The current version, which has not been updated since Vista’s release , has suffered from a number of problems, particularly with Folder redirection. These have now been addressed and we are pleased to invite you to help us test the new Policy before its full rollout in the few months of next year

These improvements will allow seamless switching between Windows XP and Vista machine on CAMPUS and will make the rollout of the Vista OS viable for the majority of campus users.

To apply the Policy apply to a machine use ‘TEST 0 Windows Vista Base Policy.’ Please note that the test policy should replace the original policy.

New Windows Vista Base Policy Features

Folder Redirection Fixed!

All standard Vista user folders are now redirected to the Network and any duplicate folders are removed but only if they are empty.

This means that users who have accidently saved files to their local machine will not lose them upon the new Base Policy being applied. The table below shows details on the redirection paths. Notice that where applicable, folders have been redirected to the exact location of their Windows XP counterparts i.e. ‘My Music ‘ rather than ‘Music.’

This means that users moving between XP and Vista are using the same folder and will not see duplicates under drive H:\ or C:\Users

Windows Vista Folder Name


New Location


Default Location for Users’s Contacts



Desktop items, including files and shortcuts



Default location for all user created documents



Default location to save all downloaded content



Internet Explorer Favourites



Default location for user’s music files

\\towerx\homex\username\My Music


Default location for user’s video files

\\towerx\homex\username\My Videos


Default location for user’s picture files

\\towerx\homex\username\My Pictures


Default location for saved searches



Default location for user application data and binaries (hidden folder)



Contains Windows Explorer Favourite Links


Saved Games

Used for Saved Games

\\towerx\homex\username\Saved Games


Start Menu

The existing base policy removes the ‘Documents’ label from the Start Menu and replaces it with the full UNC path to the users home directory. This is unhelpful and unsightly. The new Base policy renames the ‘Documents’ label Documents (H:\). This will provide a consistent point of reference for support calls. The Drive map label will also have the same name.

My Pictures and My Music shortcuts reference the new redirected (correct) location.

The computers network name also appears on the start menu providing an ‘at a glance’ view of the computers name.

New Start Menu


To help distinguish Campus Managed Desktop machines branding has been added.

The University crest now replaces the default logon pictures.


The Crest is also visible on the Start Menu

Start Menu

System Properties have also been updated.

System Properties

Other Features

Local Administrators

When using ‘Run as Administrator’ the UAC dialog box will list all local administrators on the machine.

Local Admins

Offline Files

Offline files are now automatically Encypted.


System Drive Permissions redesigned.

The new policy sets stricter permission for the system drive preventing creation of folders by non Administrators as well as creating the C:\TEMP folder on which so many of our packaged applications depend.


We really need feedback on your experiences with the new Policy. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any comments, questions or issues.

‘Windows Server’ 7 aka Windows Server 2008 R2 Feature list

Last week at PDC Microsoft announced that Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 will be the server variant of Windows 7.

Here at TechEd we are seeing demonstrations of some of W7/R2’s features. Here is a quick run through. More detail to follow.

  • Live Migration
  • Remote Desktop Services which will supersede Terminal Services.
  • Bitlocker to go
  • Direct access (a possible killer app for Server 2008 R2 and IPv6)
  • BranchCache.
  • SMB enhancements
  • Offline file enhancements including a ‘Usually offline mode.’
  • Wake on Wireless LAN.
  • Improved power management and increased control via Group Policy.
  • Group Policy scripting with Powershell.
  • Programmatic interface in to performance and reliability systems.

Tuesday I: Security Enhancements in Windows 7/Server 2008 R2: Bitlocker & Applocker

I’ve just attended a Windows 7 Roadmap session and some of the enhanced security features of Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 were demonstrated.

Bitlocker to go

Bitlocker will be available for USB keys and other removable devices. The demonstration showed a once click encryption of a USB stick which is secured against a passphrase or smart card. Group policy preferences will be able to enforce the use of Bitlocker and Bitlocker to go in the domain. Bitlocker to go encypted devices will also be backwards compatible with Windows Vista and XP.


A white list of applications can be created using digital signatures. They can be filtered by publisher, version number and other fields which are automatically extracted from an applications executable package.

Monday II: Keynote

The keynote was given by Brad Anderson the General Manager of Microsoft’s Management and Services division and focused on ‘Dynamic IT.’ One of the main elements was Virtualization and its management. The video of the Keynote will be available online soon if it is not already but here are some notes that I jotted down.

Some interesting figures were mentioned.

  • Most servers across the word are running at less than 10% utilisation
  • ‘In the future’ a predicted 5% of the worlds energy consumption will be by the Datacenter
  • Microsoft’s use of Virtualization has seen energy savings of up to 90%.

We saw a demo if System Center Virtual Machine manager including the live migration feature in Windows Server 2008 R2. Application virtualization was also mentioned and we were told that this will make application compatibility issues a thing of the past. Brad Anderson also said that Microsoft had observed a trend in enterprises towards only running server services on physical machines ‘by exception’.

A demo of Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 Beta then followed which supports cross platform extensions and will be able to monitor Solaris, Suze, Redhat, MySQL, Oracle on top of the services it can currently manage.

The keynote then went in to detail on Windows Server 2008 R2 (M3 available for download) but I will post separately on this.

The Keynote finished with an overview of Microsoft Online services focusing on a mixed local and hosted implementation of Microsoft Exchange. The service is due for release in EMEA during spring 2009.

There were also demonstrations of features of the next version of SQL server ‘Kilimanjaro’ and some other areas which Jonathan may like to discuss.

Monday I: Greetings from Barcelona!

Jonathan, Dave Sharples and I are here in Barcelona to attend Microsoft Tech Ed EMEA 2008. Right now we are getting ready to head over to conference centre to attend the Keynote which will be given by Brad Anderson the General Manager of Microsoft’s Management and Services division.

We will then head to various sessions and have access to the Microsoft testing centre and Exhibition. This being my first Tech-Ed I’m not too sure what to expect in terms of announcements but will be posting highlights later today.

Until then.