Should You Care About Windows 10 S?

Windows 10 S was announced on May 2, 2017 at the MicrosoftEDU event, specifically targeted for the education market.

What Is Windows 10 S?

Windows 10 S is basically a locked-down version of Windows 10 Pro that has been streamlined for security and performance. The major difference between this new SKU of Windows 10 and others is that it is designed to run only those applications that can be procured from the Windows Store or those traditional desktop applications that developers have converted for the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) using the Desktop Bridge tool (code-named Project Centennial).

You can read my detailed blog post on LinkedIn, as well as on vmblog.com where I wrote as a guest blogger for Adaptiva.

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Windows 10 S ISOs Now Available on MSDN

Microsoft announced today the availability of Windows 10 S ISO files for developers to test via a MSDN subscription. If you don’t already have a subscription, one will cost you anywhere from $539 to $2,999 per year depending on the features desired. For more information, you can check out the details on the Visual Studio Pricing site.

Windows 10 S was first announced at the MicrosoftEDU event on May 2, 2017 with an emphasis on the education industry. I have written a blog post covering some details on this new OS, titled “Should You Care About Windows 10 S?” which you can check out.

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ConfigMgr Technical Preview 1706 Released

Friday, June 23rd, 2017 brought us a brand new build of ConfigMgr Technical Preview (1706), which has some stunning new features. The Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) team has been rapidly implementing new features and improving the product following the Software as a Service (SaaS) model and using feedback from the community on the Microsoft Connect site, as well as paying close attention to feature and enhancement requests on the ConfigMgr UserVoice forum.

This update has a number of new features (as listed in the Enterprise Mobility & Security blogpost) which include:

    • Improved boundary groups for software update points
    • Site server role high availability
    • Include trust for specific files and folders in a Device Guard policy
    • Hide task sequence progress
    • Accessibility improvements
    • Upgrade Readiness support with Azure Services Wizard
    • New client settings for cloud services
    • Create and run PowerShell scripts from the ConfigMgr console
    • PXE network boot support for IPv6
    • Microsoft Surface driver update management
    • Configure Windows Update for Business deferral policies
    • Support for Entrust certification authorities
    • Cisco (IPsec) support for macOS VPN profiles
    • New Windows configuration item settings
    • Device compliance policy improvements
    • New mobile application management (MAM) policy settings
    • Android and iOS enrollment restrictions
    • Android for Work application management policy for copy-paste
    • Device Health Attestation assessment for compliance policies for conditional access

The above features are listed in detail in the Capabilities in Technical Preview 1706 doc.

You can update to the 1706 Tech Preview release via the ConfigMgr console under the Updates & Servicing node.

Here’s my video tutorial which I did for version 1701. The steps are the same for 1706.

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Review – Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery

At some point or another we have all faced the dilemma of missing important files such as photos, videos, documents, and even installers to name a few, which were deleted from our systems by mistake or due to various other reasons. “Oops, the file I need is not on my backup drives. I remember deleting it from my computer and emptying the trash bin. Now what do I do?” Well, fret not, we can solve the problem with some 3rd party software which are designed to recover deleted files thus saving the day and mindset!

One such solution is the Windows Data Recovery Professional tool by Stellar Phoenix. If you’re looking to recover your lost or deleted files, folders, documents, photos, videos, and other files, this software does the trick. These are some key features of this product as listed on their website:

  • Recovers data, documents, photos, videos and more
  • Recovers files from hard drive, CD/DVD, SD cards, and USB drives
  • Recovers lost or inaccessible hard drive partitions
  • Create image of entire partition for data recovery
  • Ability to search for lost data in specific folders and recover data

Windows Data Recovery software which I’ll refer to as WDR is quite simple to install and more importantly easy and straightforward to use. The installer file is less than 16MB in size and the installation steps are just a few clicks and you’re done. WDR has two scan mechanisms, Quick Scan and Deep Scan, and in my testing I found the scan for missing files with the Quick Scan method was adequately fast and the results were what I expected. Deep Scan takes a little longer but does a thorough job in recovering all files and folders including raw data, and this would be a good option to use if you don’t find what you’re looking for with the Quick Scan.

Here are some screen captures to highlight how the product works which were captured during my testing. Please note that I used the Professional version which retails at $99, however Stellar Phoenix does provide a free version which has some limitations, such as you can recover up to 1GB of data for free and the file sizes must be less than 25MB. The free option is a good way to try the software and to recover some files when you absolutely need to do so.


When WDR is launched, you are provided with some options as to what you would like to recover. You can select the “All Data” option to choose everything or be selective, then click the Next button.


If you would like to preview files during the scan, you can enable this feature by clicking the cogwheel on the top left corner of the window which will pop-up an Advanced Settings menu with the option to do so. Keep in mind that turning on preview mode can increase the scan time. Check out the other options in Advanced Settings such as File List to target specific file types to speed up scanning and recovery.


Select the location of the recovery desired.


Scanning in progress status.


Results of how much data was recovered with the Quick Scan.


The recovered data as listed in Tree View with files preview turned on.


The recovered data as listed in File Type view with files preview turned on. Select the files or folders desired for recovery and click on the Recover button. If the Quick Scan did not locate what you were looking for, you have the option to run a Deep Scan as seen above.


Select a location where you would like the recovered data saved to. Clicking on the Advanced Settings link provides some additional options such as compression option, recovery option, and file filter option as seen in the images below:


For testing purposes, I deleted a folder called “mvp award kit” which included several files which was located in D:\install\ path. I selected a file for recovery as seen above and selected the path C:\local\Recovered as the destination for the saved data. WDR adds a folder named “#Root” along with the original folder names where the file was previously located, thus preserving it’s file structure.


Results of how much data was recovered with the Deep Scan.


Example of the extensive data recovered using the Deep Scan mode.

I’m impressed with the speed of this tool and the amount of lost data it is capable of recovering. The one con I found with this tool is that it crashed when a new scan for a new location was performed while the software was previously opened after a previous scan. It could very well be my system as I was able to launch the software and re-run a new scan quickly. Bottom line, this is a “stellar” tool and does what it claims to do. The company provides a ton of information on the software product page including an FAQ and download for trial. They are also quick to respond to inquiries. Give it a try and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Windows 10 Creators Update (Version 1703) Available in VLSC

The ISO downloads for Windows 10 Creators Update edition (version 1703) has been released and is now available from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) portal. You’ll find both 32-bit and 64-bit ISO files with a download size of 3024 MB and 4051 MB respectively.

Happy Windows 10 Creators Update installation!

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Five Routine’s That Sums Up Desktop Management

IT departments play a major role in systems maintenance and it takes some effort for a system administrator to keep servers and end user workstations up and running for stability and productivity reasons. Lets take a look at system administrator’s daily routine and the importance of it.

1. Downloading and Deploying patches to user computers

System administrator has to identify required patches (3rd party) on systems, download them from the vendor websites and deploy them to end user computers. Managing these patches on a one of basis seems straightforward but it becomes cumbersome on a routine basis and especially when there are many systems to patch. Using a Patch Management solution, these routine tasks can be automated and scheduled to lessen the cumbersome workload on system administrators.

2. Installing software to user computers

Manually installing software on remote computers can be a daunting task and is challenging. A Software Management solution can resolve this complication by allowing a system administrator to deploy software from any location, handle tickets with ease and assist users demands in software installation with simplicity.

3.Troubleshooting remote computers

Troubleshooting servers and workstations for Operating System issues, software installations, security patches, system crashes can be remedied much easily with software management solutions, especially with remote capabilities and centralized management interface.

4. Managing IT assets in your network

Asset tracking for hardware and software in your organization is highly important and can be done with ease with the use of an asset management software. Apart from tracking the hardware and software in the organization, software license management, hardware warranty management, and identifying the usage of software particularly for licensing, restricting unwanted software in your network is important as well. An asset management solution provides a systems administrator the tools needed to effectively gather and manage this data.

5. Deploying configurations and managing mobile devices

Managing and configuring devices such as computers, tablets, phones, and peripherals in a growing organization with rapid demands for technology can be a challenging task for system administrators. MDM and desktop management solutions provide much flexibility and the tools needed to handle these technology challenges in the enterprise.

ManageEngine Desktop Central is one such ideal solution for desktop management, with its bundle of features and pricing compared to some known industry solutions. Desktop Central offers Patch management, Software management, Asset management, Remote support, Mobile device management, Failover Service, and Auditing capabilities. Desktop Central supports heterogeneous platform in 16 different languages. Finally, Desktop Central offers a fully functioning edition to manage 50 endpoints completely free with no hidden cost.

Download Desktop Central now and experience simplified IT management.

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ADMX Template For Windows 10 Creators Update (1703) Now Available

To coincide with the release of Windows 10 Creators Update (1703), the following tools to support this latest release has been made available, which includes Windows 10 Administrative Templates (.ADMX) and Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) as previously mentioned in this blog post. The previous Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) works just fine with Windows 10 Creators Update.

Windows 10 Administrative Template (.ADMX)

Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 10 (RSAT)

Windows 10 Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK)

Microsoft Office 2016 Administrative Templates and Office Customization Tool is also available for download.

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Windows 10 Creators Update Officially Announced

It’s April 11, 2017 and Microsoft has officially announced the availability of Windows 10 Creators Update which is being rolled out gradually to Windows 10 users in the upcoming weeks. For a list of what’s new in Windows 10 Creators Update, check out the list on Microsoft’s blog.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the Windows Insider program, where you have the opportunity to test new builds and provide feedback to Microsoft but now would like to get started with Windows 10 Creators Update build as quickly as possible, you have a couple of options:

  1. Download and use the Microsoft Upgrade Assistant tool
  2. Download and use the official ISOs for a clean install

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Windows ADK 1703 For Windows 10 Now Available

With the release of Windows 10 version 1703, the following tool to support this latest Windows 10 build, Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) version 1703 is now available.
You can download it from: Windows 10 Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK).

Note: You must use Windows 10 build 1703 with this version of the ADK.

Update: April 6, 2017
** Known Issues for ADK 1703 **
ADK Drivers don’t install on systems with secure boot enabled:
Drivers on the ADK Deployment tools will not install on systems with Secure Boot (SB) enabled.  To work around the issue, disable SB on these systems.This only impacts systems with Secure Boot enabled. More info here!

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Review – Microsoft Systems Center Endpoint Protection Cookbook

System endpoint security is a critical aspect of modern day computing and we all have had our fair share in dealing with malware infections, and in some cases ransomware and cryptolocker attacks in our organizations. Microsoft has made great efforts in mitigating these security risks by providing a superior product called System Center Endpoint Protection (SCEP) for enterprises and Windows Defender which by default is included with Windows 10.

A System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr or SCCM) or a Microsoft Intune administrator is familiar with SCEP as it is the way to administer and manage SCEP in the enterprise. However, there are many aspects and intricacies of SCEP one is not aware of and has not fully utilized, and should. While I was dealing with some SCEP updates and anti-malware policies in my organization, I came across this awesome book written by Nicolai Henriksen, a Microsoft MVP in Enterprise Mobility. I decided to write a non-biased review of this book and credit the wonderful information contained within it.

Nicolai’s SCEP cookbook is well written and vetted by another well respected Microsoft MVP in Enterprise Mobility, Ronni Pedersen, who I often interact with on social media on all things ConfigMgr. This book is shy of 200 pages and is laid out in eight easily digestible chapters and covers everything you need to know about SCEP from soup to nuts. You’ll learn how to plan and get started with SCEP, configuration, operations and maintenance, updates, security and privacy, configure advance protection, troubleshooting, and malware handling to name a few. It’s an information filled book with great tips and how to’s, and I particularly enjoyed how Nicolai included little segments throughout the book with tidbits such as “Getting ready….”, “How it works….”, and “How to do it….” which was perfect for my learning and understanding of the various concepts presented.

The Table of Contents of this book:

As a ConfigMgr admin who has been working with the product for a number of years including working with System Center Endpoint Protection, I have learned things that I didn’t know, picked up some tips and tricks, have a better insight and understanding of SCEP, and I have gained a great reference for the product. I highly recommend this book to all ConfigMgr and Intune admins. This book is available for purchase in Kindle and Paperback format on Amazon. If you would like to connect with Nicolai and have some feedback or suggestions, you’ll find him on Twitter as @nicolaitwitt.

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