Coming soon to SkyDrive

I’m generally happy with Windows Live SkyDrive (Microsoft’s “USB stick in the cloud”), but there’s a couple of features that have held it back for me. I’m glad to say that they appear to be getting added in the next update!

  • You’re going to have the ability to download an entire folder as a single zip file (this is easily my most-wanted feature)
  • Share files without requiring people to use a Windows Live ID
  • Move and copy between folders
  • Better photo handling: improved slideshow, download photos to Windows Live Photo Gallery

And they’re increasing the storage limit from 5 to 25Gb!

Good news, and that’s not all – you can read the full list on the SkyDrive Team Blog.

Server 2008 Clustering Best Practices

I’m posting these notes largely for my benefit but it may be of some interest to anyone Clustering with Server 2008.

General Best Practices

  • Use the Failover Cluster Configuration Program (FCCP) during setup.
  • Use identical equipment where possible and run the Cluster validation tool after each configuration change.
  • Microsoft will only support validated clusters.
  • Take regular system state backups.
  • Use preferred and possible owners and choose carefuly.

Quorum Best Practices

  • Use a dedicated basic single volume disk
  • RAID 1+0 recommended.
  • No need to backup Quorum disk.
  • Avoid DFS paths when using file share witness.

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.

Wednesday: Server Core and Group Policy

I’ve been to two sessions this morning. One on Group Policy where I picked up some excellent tips on debugging and tracking GP’s and an excellent presentation on Server 2008 Core by Mark Minasi.

I will definitely be writing a lot more about Server Core and the GP information I learnt today but one of his very useful tips that applies to other systems was this command:

wmic qfe list > outputfile.txt

This outputs a list of all patches applied on the computer as well as the support URL’s, install date and other information.

Notes on Windows Client Deployment

This morning I attended a session on Windows Client Deployment. There was some mixed news.

The good

A tool called Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management (DISM) is due for release next year as will an updated version of ImageX. This will form part of WAIK 2.0

  • DISM will be able to work with WIMs and VHDs.
  • DISM will allow simple add/remove/lisitng of drivers and Windows features.
  • Dynamic driver provisioning will allow drivers to stay on the WDS server. The image will contain references to the drivers meaning that only the drivers needed are transferred to the machine.
  • WDS will deploy VHDs in the same way as WIMs however they will still need to be syspreped.

The Bad and the Ugly

  • DISM is another command line tool.
  • There will be no update to WSIM. It will look and feel exactly the same.
  • No GUI for ImageX.
  • No updates to WDS manager for dealing with legacy RIS images.

‘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.