Tips for IT admins In Windows 10 Get Started App

get-started-app

In Windows 10, version 1607 aka the Anniversary Update, Microsoft added a new section to the Get Started app targeting enterprise IT professionals called “Tips for IT Administrators.” This is only available with the Enterprise edition of Windows 10 version 1607 or later.

This tool enables a Windows admin to quickly access step-by-step instructions on common enterprise IT tasks, for example:

  1. Change the default browser
  2. Create a private store
  3. Work with Windows Update for Business
  4. Links to deployment and management tools, including Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT), Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) and the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK)

To access Tips for IT Administrators:

  1. Press the Windows logo key, search for Get Started, then press Enter
  2. Go to Browse topics and select Tips for IT administrators

If you would like to see additional topics added to the Tips for IT Administrators section and have ideas or feedback for the Get Started app, send an email to: winpro@microsoft.com.

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Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) Version 1.2 For Windows 10

rsat

The latest version of the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for Windows 10 have been released. The download is available here. You will find the following two download files available for version 1.2 corresponding to x86 or x64 Operating Systems:

  • WindowsTH-RSAT_WS2016-x64.msu (92.3MB)
  • WindowsTH-RSAT_WS2016-x86.msu (69.5MB)

See here if you would like to determine if a computer is running 32-bit or 64-bit Windows OS.

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Updated – Microsoft Update Catalog Site

new-ms-update-catalog

The Microsoft Windows team mentioned on August 15, 2016 that they were working on releasing an updated version of the Microsoft Update Catalog which would eliminate the need for ActiveX requirements in order for the site to work in any browser.

The Microsoft Update Catalog website is being updated to remove the ActiveX requirement so it can work with any browser. Currently, Microsoft Update Catalog still requires that you use Internet Explorer. We are working to remove the ActiveX control requirement, and expect to launch the updated site soon.

Good news! As of yesterday, the site has been updated and you can now access the Microsoft Update Catalog site using any browser including Edge, Google Chrome, and others with the following URL: http://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com. Here’s the blog post by Michael Niehaus with the announcement.

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Recap – Microsoft Ignite 2016 By Harjit

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– Ignite 2016 by Harjit –

*** This is my first pass on the recap. There is a lot more information which I would like to share and I’ll do so by adding on to this post or in a separate post ***

Microsoft Ignite Conference was held in Atlanta last week – One of my favorite conferences that I enjoy attending for learning and networking

23,000 attendees plus a few hundred vendors in a massive convention center. Sounds crazy but it was less chaotic as we experienced in Chicago last year

Over 1400 sessions from 20-minute theater sessions to 75-minute breakout sessions

Lots of great networking opportunities with peers, product teams, and speakers. One of the best values from this conference

Cloud, Cloud, Cloud = Azure, O365, Sharepoint, etc are hot stuff and the future (and the present)

Security was a big focus too with Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, Azure, and other online offerings

Azure is becoming the first AI supercomputer. Microsoft has some impressive datacenters across the world

The afternoon Innovation Keynote by Satya Nadella was cool and exciting. The morning Keynote was less than desirable but they served fresh donuts and other treats

Closing Celebration was held on Thursday at Centennial Park and it was a “camping” style theme, which had lots of games, activities, food, treats, and beer. Lots of fun!

Highlights:

  • Beam Robots were introduced at Ignite and were quite popular. People signed up from all over the world to drive them around the convention center and interact with attendees, product teams, and vendors to name a few. They were a lot of fun
  • Spark 360 Photo Booth – Had a cool 360 photo taken and my image turned into a window cling and displayed on a large window in the convention center along with several others. It was more of a pixelated style image
  • Had some casual chats with my tech idols Wally Mead, Jason Helmick, Sami Laiho, Paula Januszkiewicz, and a few others
  • Got to meet the wonderful and friendly Ignite planning team, i.e. marketing, social media, and the folks behind the new Microsoft Tech Community (which apparently will replace TechNet in the near future)
  • Everyone was friendly, courteous, and nice which made the experience much pleasant and enjoyable
  • Reconnecting with fellow IT peers who I see yearly at these conferences and made some new connections as well
  • Having friends with privileges set me up with lounge access at Harstfield-Jackson Airport (helped to kill time comfortably before my flight home)
  • Got to check out some Atlanta venues such as CNN, Coca Cola, Centennial Park, Philips Arena, and off course the massive Georgia World Convention Center
  • Feeling energized, motivated, and enthusiastic for future IT and my career
  • Two thumbs up!

Cons:

  • I got sick!
  • Missing my IT friends!
  • Conference ended!

I attended many sessions, spent time in the expo hall talking with vendors and checked out the demos of their products, talked with Microsoft product teams and developers, attended mini theater sessions such as Edge, Cortana, OneNote, Windows 10, ConfigMgr, Office, PowerShell, etc; had some “hallway” sessions with fellow attendees to learn about their IT issues and how they do things at their organizations, looked at some of their home grown tools, and asked for some technical tips and suggestions; spent some time in the Hands-On-Labs (HOLs) area to try and “play” with some products; attended some after-hour social events, and took advantage of a lot of networking opportunities. I was sad to discover that my new friend from Australia had her bag stolen from an evening social event which contained her laptop, passport, wallet, and phone to name a few. It was a big setback for her but she eventually made it home with some emergency documents from her embassy.

There was a lot of information covered and things I learned at Ignite, however it was a busy week and a lot to capture in one go, so going back to some of the sessions (recorded) which I attended and others that I missed (which I had wanted to check out) in the upcoming days and weeks as time permits will be a good refresher and valuable to me. At the conference, I focused mostly on Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, ConfigMgr, and deployments to name a few. Below are some of my notes from a few different areas in no particular order. Sorry for the long post.

==================================================================

Windows 10

Windows 10 Deployments: What’s new?

  • Deploy Windows 10 to Windows 7,8, 8.1 with In-Place Upgrade or Traditional Deployment
  • New devices – Deploy with Provisioning or Traditional Deployments
  • Existing Windows 10 (Stay Current) – In-Place Upgrade

When not to use In-Place Upgrade:

  1. Changing from x86 to x64
  2. Changing from Legacy BIOS to UEFI
  3. Dual boot and multi boot systems
  4. Using certain 3rd party disk encryption products
  5. Can’t use custom image for in-place upgrade. Must use install.wim that comes with the original media, which lays down the clean OS and then merges the apps, data, and settings

Upgrade Process: Drivers

  1. Some classes of driver are not migrated forward – Display and Bluetooth drivers are left behind and any driver considered incompatible. New in-box drivers are used for those devices

Upgrade Process: Dynamic Update

  1. Grabs latest servicing update to inject into media
  2. Gets needed drivers that aren’t in the media
  3. Manually inject Cummulative Updates into install.wim

Upgrade Process: Size

  1. Each feature update is 3.5GB per PC (whether from Windows 7/8.1 or from Windows 10 to a later feature upgrade)
  2. Each monthly quality update is now up to 1GB per PC (when using ConfigMgr or 3rd party patching tools)
  3. Recommended to use peer-to-peer distribution
  4. Use of Express update with WSUS, reduces monthly traffic to 50-100MB as only the new components are pulled down
  5. Microsoft is investigating changes to ConfigMgr (Current Branch) for Windows 10 help
  6. Use BranchCache in ConfigMgr

Upgrade Process: In-Box Apps

  1. Can remove in-box apps but each feature update puts them back
    https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/mniehaus/2015/11/11/removing-windows-10-in-box-apps-during-a-task-sequence/
    Workaround: Remove them again post-upgrade with task sequence step, scheduled task, or SetupComplete.cmd file that runs a script

Upgrade Process: Settings Migration

  1. The upgrade process should migrate all settings (default applications, file associations, user, systems, and app settings
  2. Some settings may not be migrated properly and these should be considered as bugs (submit feedback, contact TAM, open a case)

Upgrade Process: Preflight

  1. Preflight to determine ahead of time if upgrade will succeed
    Use exe /Auto Upgrade /Compat ScanOnly /Quiet
  2. Runs an upgrade process without actually running a production upgrade
  3. Provides return code and XML reports to identify issues
    https://blogs.technet.com/b/mniehaus/archive/2015/08/23/windows-10-pre-upgrade-validation-using-setup-exe.aspx

Other:

  1. Feature updates can be deferred for 1-180 days
  2. Quality updates can be deferred for 1-30 days

Quality Updates:

  1. Single cumulative update each month
  2. Security fixes, reliability fixes, bug fixes, etc
  3. Supersedes the previous month’s updates
  4. No new features

Feature Updates:

  1. Targeting twice per year with new capabilities
  2. Reliable with built-in rollback capabilities
  3. Deployment using in-place upgrade, driven by existing tools

Provisioning:

  1. Designed for new PCs out-of-the-box to transform for business use with little or no user interaction
  2. Create provisioning packages using Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer tool (available with Windows ADK)
  3. Provisioning packages are small (< 10K) and can be deployed by email, file server, or USB
  4. Can change OS SKU from Professional to Enterprise (slmgr.vbs /ipk)
  5. Can apply policies, settings, install apps and updates, enroll device for management
  6. This could be a better method to use by the Depot to prepare Windows 10 PCs for the organization instead of imaging them

MDT 2013 Update 2 is still the current release

  1. Fully supports Windows 10 1607 and most bugs fixed

Sysprep Changes

  1. Previous Sysprep did not support upgraded OSes, for example upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10, then trying to Sysprep and capture would always fail
  2. With Windows 10 1607, Sysprep is now supported on upgraded OSes

Taskbar Configuration

  1. With Windows 10 1607, can now configure the task bar
  2. Add or remove icons or replace entire layout
  3. Driven by Group Policy (same Start screen control policy used for the Start menu) or via LayoutModification.xml file
  4. Place file in c:\users\default\appdata\local\microsoft\windows\shell

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/itpro/windows/manage/windows-10-start-layout-options-and-policies

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/itpro/windows/manage/configure-windows-10-taskbar

Windows Upgrade Analytic Service (free service via OMS with a subscription)

  1. Free tool that leverages telemetry
  2. Tells you what issues you may encounter with upgrades
  3. Shows you what PCs are in your environment, what applications are running, and what drivers are on them
  4. Shows known incompatibility issues

Windows 10 Deployment: Tips & tricks

  • Handling device drivers in deployment process, common deployment issues, workarounds, parsing logs, WinPE and PXE troubleshooting, UEFI deployments
  • Use MDT and ConfigMgr for deployments

Patching

  • Starting October 2016 Patch Tuesday cycle, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 will follow the Windows 10 Cummulative Update framework, where monthly patches will be delivered in one CU rather than split up into many individual patches, which means individual patches cannot be removed post CU install. Heard some rumors that Microsoft may be coming up with a tool to allow IT Pros to remove problematic updates, since that is a big concern for many especially when older LOB applications have compatibility issues.

==================================================================

ConfigMgr

New Current Branch servicing model

  1. New features added with 3 releases per year
  2. 12 month support lifecycle for each release
  3. N-1 support for Windows 10 deployments and management – ConfigMgr 1602 or 1607 are required to support Windows 10 1607

Two mechanisms for Windows 10 feature updates

  1. Windows 10 Servicing feature, for automated servicing plans
  2. Task Sequences – when needing to do pre or post processing steps using customized media
  • ConfigMgr 1606 Tech Preview deprecates OSDPreserveDriveLetter (Task Sequence variable) – No more D: drive or E: drive issue for system OS

ConfigMgr sessions were catered around OSD, Intune, managing mobile devices and apps, deploying O365 clients, and Windows 10 deployments.

  • Over 40 million clients managed by ConfigMgr worldwide
  • New ConfigMgr CB release is called 1610 and offers cloud-based management and peer caching content
  • Microsoft Intune portal is moving from Silverlight to Azure – New Intune portal expected in Q1 2017
  • “When you need to go fast with Windows 10, you need to go fast with ConfigMgr too”
  • New MDT toolkit releasing later this year and will simply be called MDT instead of MDT 2016
  • Nested task sequences are coming soon in ConfigMgr

==================================================================

Cortana

  • With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Sticky Notes got a link-enabled update with support for Cortana insights which lets you set reminders, call written phone numbers, send email messages, view web links, map directions, etc
  • Cortana is gathering data and learning daily

=================================================================

Windows Server 2016

Introduce Windows Server 2016 Into Your Environment (*Watch this sessions*):
https://youtu.be/ximW1iMaUwE

– Configuration Levels

  1. Windows Server with Desktop Experience (Graphical Shell, Management Tools, Desktop, Core OS)
  2. Windows Server Core (more for application services)
  3. Nano Server

Windows Server with Desktop Experience and Windows Server Core follows the Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) – New version every 2 to 3 years and supported with 5 years support and 5 years extended (5 + 5).

Nano Server follows the Current Branch for Business model – a new version every 6 months.

Nano Server:

  • Smallest footprint (approximately 500 MBs)
  • Very fast deployment and reboots
  • Focus on two key scenarios – Born-in-the-cloud applications and Cloud platform (Hyper-V and Scale-Out File Servers)
  • Not installed in the traditional manner. Use Nano Server Image Builder or PowerShell cmdlets
  • Sysinternals tools ported to run on Nano Server https://download.sysinternals.com/files/SysinternalsSuite-Nano.zip

Windows Server 2016 utilizes Cummulative Updates like Windows 10.
Only need the latest CU to bring the server to the latest patch version.
Security Updates will be delivered on an as needed basis.

Containers:

  • Most people struggle to deploy custom applications to production environment. Containers solves this by enabling applications and libraries to run in their own containers which have dependencies
  • Fast deployment and high density
  • Share an OS instance with user mode isolation (sandbox)
  • Can be managed with DockerCLI or PowerShell (uses Docker REST API). Docker is the management engine for Containers
  • Each container cannot see other containers from a user mode level

Storage:

  • Storage Spaces Direct – Aggregates internal disks or connected via external storage
  • Storage Replica – Block-level replication between stand-alone or clustered servers. Replication via SMB 3
  • Some features in Datacenter SKUs only
  • ReFS got some improvements in performance

Networking:

  • Major changes with Network Virtualization – Software defined networking v2
  • Manageable via PowerShell, Azure Stack, or SCVMM

Remote Desktop Services:

  • OpenGL 4.4 and OpenCL 1.1 RemoteFX support. RemoteFX support in Windows Server 2016 guest
  • Personal session desktops, i.e. specific RDSH per user
  • Pen remoting support (pen acting as pen instead of mouse)
  • Remote Credential Guard – Credentials are not stored on the remote server when /RemoteGuard switch is used with mstsc

Active Directory:

  • Privileged Identity Management (PIM) to mitigate credential theft using a bastion forest, utilizes Microsoft Identity Manager (MIM)
  • New workflows for administrative privilege access
  • Time-bound memberships – Kerberos ticket lifetimes restricted to time of lowest time-bound membership

Manage and Troubleshoot Your Windows Server Environment Remotely

  • Free Azure management tools for on-prem Windows Server 2016. Securely manage on-prem servers remotely from anywhere
  • Need to setup a proxy to allow communication between on-prem servers and Azure
  • Can start a free trial for Azure and when it expires, you can still keep using the remote server management tools for free
  • Web-based remote Server Management Tools (SMT) – Free Azure service with a subscription https://azure.microsoft.com
  • Includes replacements for local only tools, such as Task Manager, Device Manager, Sconfig, Registry Editor, Firewall rules, Certificate Manager, Local Administrators, Network Settings, PowerShell Console, Services, Storage, Windows Updates, Event Viewer, etc
  • Alternative to Remote Desktop
  • Based on WMI and PowerShell
  • Manages Nano Server, Server Core, Server with Desktop Experience
  • Supports Windows Server 2016, Server 2012 R2, Server 2012

Deployments of SMT (https://portal.azure.com):

  • UX hosted within Azure portal connected via a gateway service deployed in your infrastructure
  • Agentless model, gateway service connects to the internet via port 443
  • Gateway deployed via MSI on a server designated as the gateway service
  • Gateway resource provisioned in Azure Resource Group
  • Scale gateways for resiliency and performance
  • Gateway only reaches out using https – no special firewall rules required
  • Gateway Group Policy – AllowGateway (lock down environment by default, only allow SMT gateways on authorized servers)
  • Gateway Group Policy – RequireMFA (require MFA for Azure to send the required header)

SMT page http://aka.ms/smt-create
Blog page http://aka.ms/servermanagement

Remote Server Management Tools (RSAT)

  • An updated RSAT package for Windows 10 will be available in the Windows Server 2016 GA timeframe
  • Will support Windows Server 2016, Nano Server, Windows Server 2012 R2 and 2012

PowerShell

==================================================================

Security

Understanding Credential Security: Important things you need to know about storing your identity
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAmgmibNVys

Paula Januszkiewicz

  • Attended her session because she is a great speaker and super smart. Check it out via the YouTube link above
  • Talks about the unexpected places your passwords reside, how password attacks are performed, and typical paths where credentials can be leaked
  • Demos include how she hacks cached credentials, KeePass, Remote Desktop Manager, IIS, etc
  • Kerberos pre-authorization token which allowed access without the smart card even when that was the only authentication method

Sami Laiho (awesome speaker)

Learn Why You Need To Ditch Admin Rights – Session not yet available online
Learn About Windows 10 Secure Kernel – https://youtu.be/7eMmR7B-xFk
Discover Windows 10 Internals – https://youtu.be/Qz2bRdwS4O4

  • Another brilliant speaker on Windows security
  • Sessions were demo filled, so videos will provide much details
  • Talks about ditching admin rights, how admins can impersonate others, shows how to login to systems as a normal user with admin rights, etc

Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA)

  • Can detect advanced threats in your network
  • ATA leverages unique machine learning algorithms, together with the latest security researches in order to detect suspicious activities such as Pass-The-Hash, Pass-The-Ticket, and more
  • ATA helps identify breaches and threats using behavioral analysis

==================================================================

Office 365

  • New UI
  • Office 365 growing rapidly
  • Office 365 App Launcher – https://blogs.office.com/2016/09/27/introducing-the-new-office-365-app-launcher/
  • Office 365 Administration – New Admin Center is now GA (easier, faster, more insights, more functionality)
  • New usage reporting dashboard
  • Improved search
  • Monitor DirSync status (easy access from admin dashboard, quickly identify issues)
  • Message Center – Stay on top of upcoming O365 changes, take required action, and prevent problems
  • Office 365 Admin App – Manage on the go – http://aka.ms/office365adminmobile
  • Retirement of old Admin Center in Q4 2016

Office 365 Roadmap http://roadmap.office.comOffice
Office Blog https://blogs.office.com

==================================================================

Windows Hello

  • Microsoft announced that Android and iOS devices will get Windows Hello authentication support

==================================================================

OneDrive

  • OneDrive getting more integrated with Sharepoint Online, plus new capabilities when used on web browser or mobile device
  • Built-in more features to secure and manage OneDrive content
  • The sync client for OneDrive (consumer) and Onedrive for Business now gets a Sharepoint sync as well
  • Delivers unified sync experience with ability to sync Sharepoint Online document libraries and OneDrive folders shared with users
  • New activity center to show recent changes to files
  • On web, OneDrive able to display rich previews for commonly used business file types such as Adobe, Photoshop, etc
  • New features to OneDrive app for iOS and Android
    • Push notifications when files are shared with you
    • Scan feature to combine multiple photos into a single pdf file
    • Discover how many team members have viewed the files
  • New IT capabilities – OneDrive user management in O365
    • Set storage quota
    • External sharing permissions for specific user

==================================================================

Microsoft SQL Server 2016

Here are some SQL 2016 sessions to check out

Upgrade to Microsoft SQL Server 2016 – https://youtu.be/WboD21kxIRM
Learn How SQL Server 2016 on Windows Server 2016 are better together – https://youtu.be/bEABd2zOV9k

==================================================================

That’s all folks!

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Microsoft Ignite 2017 – Orlando Florida

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Microsoft Ignite 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia ended this week on September 30th which included some exciting new features such as live streaming of sessions, fun Hang Out area in Hall C2, Spark 360 portraits, window clings of some attendees throughout the convention center, and Beam robots for distant “attendees” to name a few. 23,000 attendees took advantage of over 1400 sessions, which included 20 to 75 minute sessions, an expo hall full of vendors for product and service information, Microsoft product experts, and great networking opportunities with fellow attendees, speakers, and vendors. Atlanta was a pleasant city with kind and helpful people, from those we encountered on the streets to everyone at the convention center. Thank you for the smiles, support, cheers, and upbeat attitude. Well done Atlanta and Microsoft Ignite.

In case you missed the announcement during the Closing Celebrations on Thursday, Microsoft Ignite 2017 will be held in Orlando, Florida from September 25-29, 2017 and pre-registrations are now open. This will guarantee you a spot for the hot ticket to Orlando and first dibs on some selected area hotels. So, pre-register now if you plan to attend next year.

Here’s the tweet from Julia White:

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Microsoft Ignite 2016 – Check-In Location & Hours

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** The following is information on check-ins per Microsoft Ignite **

Microsoft Ignite is excited to be offering five convenient check-in locations on Saturday, September 24 and Sunday, September 25! We highly encourage you to collect your badge prior to Monday at one of the locations listed below and avoid the lines on Monday morning. Please note that this is for check-in only, if you are eligible for additional materials, you may pick those up at the Swag Station at the Georgia World Congress Center in Building C, Hall C2.

  • For your convenience, your closest recommended check-in location is: Westin Peachtree Plaza.Check-in is located in the Overlook on floor 6.

MICROSOFT IGNITE CHECK-IN LOCATIONS & HOURS

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport  -(Map)

Saturday, Sept. 24 South Terminal Arrivals, Door S1
North Terminal Baggage Claim 7-8
International Baggage Claim
10:00am – 7:00pm
Sunday, Sept. 25 South Terminal Arrivals, Door S1
North Terminal Baggage Claim 7-8
7:30am – 10:00pm
Sunday, Sept. 25 International Baggage Claim 7:30am – 6:00pm

Microsoft Retail Store -(Map)

Saturday, Sept. 24 Lenox Mall in Buckhead 10:00am – 7:00pm
Sunday, Sept. 25 7:30am – 6:00pm

Westin Peachtree Plaza Downtown -(Map)

Saturday, Sept. 24 The Overlook, 6th Floor 10:00am – 7:00pm
Sunday, Sept. 25 7:30am – 6:00pm

Hyatt Atlanta Midtown -(Map)

Saturday, Sept. 24 Avalon Room 10:00am – 7:00pm
Sunday, Sept. 25 7:30am – 6:00pm

Georgia World Congress Center -(Map)

Sunday, Sept. 25 Building C Lobby
Building A/B Lobby
7:30am – 6:00pm
Monday Sept. 26 7:00am – 7:00pm
Tuesday, Sept. 27 7:30am – 6:00pm
Wednesday, Sept. 28 7:30am – 6:00pm
Thursday, Sept. 29 7:30am – 6:00pm
Friday, Sept. 30 Building C Lobby 7:30am – 2:00pm

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Microsoft Ignite Atlanta 2016 – What To Pack!

So, you’re headed to the Microsoft Ignite Conference in Atlanta, Georgia from September 26-30 and with just a few days to go, now comes the dilemma of what to pack. Here are some suggestions from a conference veteran like me to help you with that the task of packing. While the conference is a week long, it is not necessary to go overboard with the packing and even bring the kitchen sink!

What to Pack:

#1: Shoes – Make sure you have comfortable shoes to wear during the conference as you’ll be spending a lot of time in them everyday. The conference involves a lot of feet power and you’ll be glad you have some good shoes. Also, make sure you have broken in your new shoes prior to the conference.

#2: Tech – Start collecting all the cables and charges you’ll need to keep your devices up and running at the conference. I recommend that you pack a portable battery charger for your smartphone(s), especially helpful when you are on-the-go and the power outlets are not easily accessible. It’s also advisable to pack a small power strip as power outlets can be scarce and you’ll make friends by sharing an outlet with others. This is also handy to use in your hotel room where the power outlets could be inaccessible due to their location (behind the bed, behind the entertainment system, etc). As for the portable battery chargers, I’m a big fan of the Anker brand for their ruggedness, quality, capacity, and great customer service when I need them.

#3: Clothes – The setting for the conference including the social events is casual. Pack comfortable clothes, don’t pack too much as you’ll receive loads of tshirts at the conference to last you for years to come. So, travel light. You’ll definitely want to pack the essential items such as socks, underwear, a hoodie or sweatshirt for the cold conference rooms, some shorts, a pair of jeans or casual pants, a couple of shirts, and whatever else you think is essential. Don’t forget your toiletries too.
** If you’re a dude, please for God sake leave the “manpris” at home! **

#4: Bottle / Mug – A traveling coffee mug if you’re a coffee drinker. Makes it easier to fill up on coffee and to travel from session to session without spilling. Plus, you’re helping safe the planet without using the disposable cups. You could also bring a water bottle as you should rehydrate often, however you will receive one along with a backpack when you sign in for your Microsoft Ignite badge on-site.

#5: Cards – Bring along some business cards for networking purposes as well as to enter some cool contests organized by several vendors. I generally get my cards ordered in advance from Moo as I prefer the mini-card format and the high quality. You can also order some inexpensive business cards from VistaPrint but since it’s late in the game now to get some cards ordered in time for the conference, either make some at home with your personal printer or order some in-store at places like Staples.

#6: Social Media – Networking is one of the most important aspects of attending a conference such as Microsoft Ignite. By now you have connected with several attendees via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Slack, and the newly minted Microsoft Tech Community. If you haven’t, then it’s time you get on the social media band wagon to collaborate with others, make some new friends, help to enhance your career, don’t feel left out at the conference, and so on. One tip for helping with the process on location and to make the social media connections as smooth as possible is to print QR Codes of your favorite social media medium such as Twitter or Facebook. This way, you can easily whip out your QR Code when you meet someone that you’d like to connect and they can easily scan the code with their smartphone which will pull up your information with ease.

#7: Luggage – Apart from your main suitcase or bag that you will pack with your clothes and above items, it is advisable to pack an empty bag that can fold such as a duffel bag. You’ll Thank me later when you realize by the end of the week that you have collected way too much swag but luckily you have that extra bag to bring all those tshirts and “things” home. Keep in mind that you’ll have the spanky new conference backpack to pack as well in case you traveled to the conference with your own.

#8: Laptop / Tablet – I generally travel with two laptops, one in case I need to jump in to handle some work issues back at the office, and the other as a personal device for daily use. Another reason for traveling with more than one laptop is in case one of them crashes for whatever reason and I still have something to manage my personal and work life. As far as note taking goes at the conference, I tend to use my iPhone as my primary device along with the OneNote and Twitter apps. If you have been my follower on Twitter, you’ll know how much I use that medium for note taking, as I do that quite efficiently with unique hashtags for each session and other matters related to the conference. So, if you’re not following me, do so now. You’ll find me as @Hoorge on Twitter.

#9: Medical – If you take any prescription medication, make sure you bring those and preferably in their original packaging, and this is to avoid any issues with TSA at the airport. I travel with my CPAP machine for my sleep apnea, so I always make sure that I have the power cord, hose, mask, and other fun stuff that goes with the machine packed as a priority item the morning that I’m leaving for the airport. If your CPAP machine uses distilled water for humidity control, you can always pick that up from a local pharmacy such as Kinney’s or CVS near your hotel. If you use spectacles and have an extra pair, bring that with you incase you encounter an unfortunate accident and break your main “four eyes”.

#10: Smartphone – I think it goes without saying that you won’t be traveling to the conference without your smartphone. To make your life a little easier, make sure you have enough free space to capture photos and videos during the week. Also, if you haven’t already done so, install apps such as OneNote for note taking; Twitter and Facebook for social media; OneDrive or Dropbox for uploading photos and videos to free up space on your device and for backup purposes; Microsoft Office Lens for capturing whiteboards, slide decks, business cards, and more; WhatsApp, Messenger and Slack for communication; Waze or Google Maps for navigation; and last but not least Untappd if you’re a beer lover.

#11: Camera – There are always some wonderful opportunities for capturing some great photos of the conference and the city of Atlanta, so bring a camera with you. I would avoid bringing a large professional DSLR type camera with lenses and speedlights such as the Nikon D700 camera and the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens I often use for my freelance photojournalism work and event photography as it’ll be cumbersome to travel with and juggle during the conference. I tend to rely on my nifty iPhone for all of my photography and videography captures, and sometimes I bring along my Samsung NX300 camera for good measure. I’ll leave the selfie stick at your discretion.

#12: Fitness Trackers – No doubt there’s going to be some tremendous amount of walking during Microsoft Ignite, so don’t forget to pack your fitness tracker units like Fitbit, Microsoft Band, smart watches and their respective charging units to see if you break any step records. Find a few friends and do a step challenge for the week.

#13: Credit Cards / Cash – As far as cash is concerned, you won’t need to carry much with you as food and drinks are generally covered at all of the evening social events, plus breakfast and lunch is provided at the convention center for attendees. I would carry a small amount of cash for incidentals and tips or when you need to split a bill with others. Credit Cards is the way to go for everything else but beware and pay attention to your statements as fraudulent charges have been reported by attendees from past conferences sometimes even 6 months after the fact. If you want some peace of mind and avoid the hassle of compromised credit cards, get a couple of prepaid credit cards with limited amounts on them to use in restaurants, bars, and other establishments.

#14: Snacks – Each day at the conference can be long, tough, and super busy as you run from session to session and network with fellow attendees. Sometimes, it can be a challenge to spare some time for breakfast or lunch, so food items such as granola bars, health bars, nuts, and pop tarts can be extremely helpful. While you may not need to bring any from home, although you could pack some in your suitcase, you can pick them up quite easily at a convenience store near your hotel.

#15: Sriracha and Beer – It goes without saying, I travel with my favorite hot sauce to spice up my conference center meals. How so you ask? Well, I often travel with the Sriracha2Go keychain container or the Sriracha2Go packets and they are so handy to have if you like to spice up your food on the go. As for the beer, there’s always a beer share happening during the week and several attendees often meetup to share and try out craft beer from all over the country and even from abroad. Pack some of your local craft beer in your suitcase and enjoy them with some old and new friends. Don’t forget to double ziplock bag them and wrap them with your clothing to avoid breakage.

#16: Trinkets / Souvenirs – It’s never a bad idea to bring a few little trinkets from your local town / city / state / country such as keychains, stickers, fridge magnets, candy, etc to hand out or exchange with a few fellow attendees. They become conversational items and everyone loves a little gift.

Hope this list will help you with your packing for the conference and has provided some helpful suggestions for things you may not have thought about. Good luck and see you soon in Atlanta!

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Sold Out!! – Microsoft Ignite Atlanta 2016

In case you missed the announcement, Microsoft Ignite Conference to be held in Atlanta, Georgia from September 26-30, 2016 is now sold out! You can watch a livestream from Day 1 from the following link:

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The above tweet was posted by the Microsoft Ignite team announcing the close of registration using their official @MS_Ignite Twitter account. Follow them as well as the hashtag #MSIgnite for further on-going information. If you received a late approval to attend Microsoft Ignite from your employer but you’re not able to register at this point, you still have the ability to win a free pass from a couple of vendors, Such as Adaptiva and HyperGrid. Check them out, follow their Twitter and Facebook feeds and Good Luck!

See ya soon at Microsoft Ignite, September 26-30, 2016 at Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

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MDT 2013 Update 2 Released

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The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2013 Update 2 has been released and the most current version (6.3.8330) can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center.

According to the MDT blog post by Aaron Czechowski (Senior Program Manager), MDT 2013 Update 2 is basically a quality release which does not contain any new features. Some of the significant changes in this update include:

  • Security- and cryptographic-related improvements:
    • Relaxed permissions on newly created deployment shares (still secure by default, but now also functional by default)
    • Creating deployment shares via Windows PowerShell adds same default permissions
    • Updated hash algorithm usage from SHA1 to SHA256
  • Includes the latest Configuration Manager task sequence binaries
  • Enhanced user experience for Windows 10 in-place upgrade task sequence
  • Enhanced split WIM functionality
  • Fixed OSDJoinAccount account usage in UDI scenario
  • Fixed issues with installation of Windows 10 language packs
  • Various accessibility improvements
  • Monitoring correctly displays progress for all scenarios including upgrade
  • Improvements to smsts.log verbosity

There are no significant known issues in this release, however the previous post for MDT 2013 Update 1 has some information that may still be applicable, other than the fixes list above. The following post provides some information on How to get help with MDT, in case you need it.

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PowerShell 5.0 RTM Now Available

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PowerShell 5.0 has finally RTM-ed, just in time for Christmas as announced on the PowerShell team blog. Windows Management Framework (WMF) 5.0 RTM replaces WMF 5.0 Production Preview and it’s supported on Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7 SP1.

WMF 5.0 adds new management functionality which includes Just Enough Admin (JEA), PowerShell Classes, PackageManagement, PowerShellGet, and improvement to existing technologies such as Desired State Configuration (DSC), PowerShell Script Debugging, Software Inventory Logging and etc.

Download WMF 5.0 from the Microsoft Download Center. WMF 5.0 requires .NET Framework 4.5 or higher which you can also obtain from the Download Center.

**IMPORTANT**
Systems that are running the following server applications should not run Windows Management Framework 5.0 at this time:

    • Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
    • Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 SP3
    • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
    • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
    • System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager

Servers running System Center Configuration Manager 2012 (ConfigMgr) can install and run WMF 5.0.

If you would like to provide any feedback to the PowerShell team, you can do so by using the UserVoice site.

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The following is a post by Neema Saeedi on MSDN which I’ve added for additional details:

Download the correct package for your operating system and architecture:

Operating System Architecture Package Name
Windows Server 2012 R2 x64 W2K12R2-KB3094174-x64.msu
Windows Server 2012 x64 W2K12-KB3094175-x64.msu
Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 W2K8R2-KB3094176-x64.msu
Windows 8.1 x64 W2K12R2-KB3094174-x64.msu
Windows 8.1 x86 Win8.1-KB3094174-x86.msu
Windows 7 SP1 x64 W2K8R2-KB3094176-x64.msu
Windows 7 SP1 x86 Win7-KB3094176-x86.msu

To install WMF 5.0 from Windows Explorer (or File Explorer in Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1):

  1. Navigate to the folder into which you downloaded the MSU file.
  2. Double-click the MSU to run it.

To install WMF 5.0 from Command Prompt:

  1. After downloading the correct package for your computer’s architecture, open a Command Prompt window with elevated user rights (Run as Administrator). On the Server Core installation options of Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Command Prompt opens with elevated user rights by default.
  2. Change directories to the folder into which you have downloaded or copied the WMF 5.0 installation package.
  3. Run one of the following commands:
    • On computers that are running Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows 8.1 x64, run W2K12R2-KB3094174-x64.msu /quiet.
    • On computers that are running Windows Server 2012, run W2K12-KB3094175-x64.msu /quiet.
    • On computers that are running Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 or Windows 7 SP1 x64, run W2K8R2-KB3094176-x64.msu /quiet.
    • On computers that are running Windows 8.1 x86, run Win8.1-KB3094174-x86.msu /quiet.
    • On computers that are running Windows 7 SP1 x86, run Win7-KB3094176-x86.msu /quiet.

Additional Installation Notes for Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7:

Ensure following prerequisites have been met:

  • Latest service pack is installed.
  • WMF 4.0 is installed

WinRM Dependency: Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) depends on WinRM. WinRM is not enabled by default on Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7. To enable WinRM, in a Windows PowerShell elevated session, run Set-WSManQuickConfig.

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