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

Get ready for Windows 7… Install Vista

This morning saw the release of the Windows 7 Beta to MSDN and TechNet subscribers. It will be available for limited (2.5 million) download to the public on the Windows 7 web site on the 9th.

So is there no point in installing Windows Vista?

I don’t agree with this point of view and putting aside the fact that Windows XP will be over 10 years old by the time Windows 7 is released here are my main reasons.

Windows 7 features updates to the UI for example the Office ‘ribbon’ will now be on Paint and other built in applications. The taskbar and other menus will be reorganised and I expect that there will be other features added but at the core.

  • Drivers and software which work on Vista are going to work just the same on Windows 7.
  • Memory management, service hardening, the networking experience and the other core features in Windows Vista will be present in Windows 7 including user Account Control.

In short, Windows 7 is be the same as Windows Vista in every way which matters.

Those choosing to wait (perhaps 18 months or more) for Windows 7 to become available on CAMPUS will only find themselves in exactly the same position but without having taken of the massive benefits that Vista as to offer and facing an even bigger jump in terms of functionality.

I’ll be posting some of these benefits later today.

Finally I’ll leave you with a screenshot of the new Windows 7 Start menu. Look familiar?

Windows 7

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.

Deleting Windows Profiles

Written by James Pocock:

There have been a few problems recently with local copies of roaming profiles being incorrectly deleted. The following procedure should be followed when deleting a profile.

Removing the Local copy of the profile

A common mistake is to simply logon to the local machine as an administrator and delete the users Profile from C:\Users or C:\Documents and Settings.

However, deleting only the local folder does not remove some key registry settings. While XP is usually quite forgiving of this Windows Vista is not and a profile which has been deleted in this fashion will never function correctly on the machine until it is rebuilt.

The profile should be fully deleted from the local system by using the User Profile settings option in System Properties.

In Windows XP:

System Properties > Advanced Tab > User Profiles > Settings

In Windows Vista:

System Properties > Advanced System Settings > Advanced Tab > User Profiles > Settings

Profile 1

Highlight and delete the profile you wish to remove (you may need to reboot first).

Profile 1

Finally you can manually remove any residual folders from C:\Users or C:\Documents and Settings.

Remove the Server Copy of the Profile.

Within the CAMPUS network only the user and server administrators have permissions to remove a profile. There are two ways to go about this.

Map a drive to the folder above the users remote profile folder with the user using their user account. You can find out the path by using CAMA.

Alternatively you can request this process is performed by ISS by emailing

Rename the folder as zap.username. This is important because The CAMPUS profile servers have run scheduled tasks which remove folders prefixed with zap. each morning at 06:30. This allows some time to retrieve files from the old profile. More importantly, If the old profiles are not deleted they will count against the users quota.

Windows Vista Service Pack 2 Preview

We received some information on Vista Service Pack 2 in a session today.

As you might expect, the news is not all that thrilling. Vista SP1 is already the most stable, feature packed OS Microsoft have released to date so this is really only a Service Pack in the traditional sense.

  • Default power management policy will be 10% more efficient
  • Hyper-V support incorporated.
  • Native Blu-ray burning and new explorer icon.
  • Even greater application compatibility.
  • New feature pack for Wireless including Bluetooth 2.1 support.
  • Better wake-up for WiFi coming out of sleep mode.
  • RSS gadget side-bar improved.
  • TS licensing bugs fixed.

‘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.

Microsoft Tech Ed EMEA 2008 IT Professionals

Next week Jonathan and I are off to Barcelona to join 5000 other IT Professionals at Microsoft Tech Ed EMEA 2008 for IT Professionals.

Tech Ed will give us the opportunity to learn about new the new products and features coming from Microsoft as well as drilling down into our own areas of interest. So far I have booked some sessions on Group Policy, Server Core, Security and Windows 7.

I will be trying to make at least a couple of blog posts each day and I am sure Jonathan will too.

Feel free to make comments, suggestions and ask questions. We will have the opportunity to put questions directly to Microsoft and we will be happy to do so on your behalf so please let us know.

You can also keep up with the action as it unfolds on Tech Ed TV.