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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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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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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MDOP Group Policy Templates v2.7 Now Available

New Group Policy Templates, version 2.7 (.admx and .adml) for Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) are now available from Microsoft to manage policies across the enterprise for the following MDOP technologies:

App-V 5.0
App-V 5.0 SP1
App-V 5.0 SP2
App-V 5.0 SP3
App-V 5.1
MBAM 1.0
MBAM 1.0 R1
MBAM 2.0
MBAM 2.0 SP1
MBAM 2.5
MBAM 2.5 SP1
UE-V 1.0
UE-V 1.0 SP1
UE-V 2.0
UE-V 2.1
UE-V 2.1 SP1

The download is available from the Official Microsoft Download Center.

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“Unofficial” MVP Perk From Special Friends

A couple of weeks after receiving my MVP Award from Microsoft, I asked my IT Pro peers for some feedback via a Facebook group (Tech Konnect) and MVP Yammer Community on what they use for computer systems to run test environments such as ConfigMgr, Windows builds, Server OS, etc. I realized as a MVP, I need to up my game and build a portable lab environment to conduct testing and create tutorials for the IT Pro community in order to share some technical knowledge. Also, I’m often asked to test various software and tools in return for reviews or product QA feedback, so a proper lab environment is a must.

For those of you who run test environments on your laptops using Hyper-V or VMware Workstation, what make and model laptop are you using and what are the specs (Hard Drive(s), memory, CPU, etc)?

I received an overwhelming response with many different hardware specifications including suggestions of various makes and models of laptops and much more. One thing that stood out was the amount of memory (RAM) one should consider in order to have a decent lab environment, at least to sustain for example, a Domain Controller, ConfigMgr server, SQL, MDT, and some Windows clients to name a few. “You need at least 32GB of memory”, the crowd roared!

I knew my Microsoft Surface Pro 4 with 8GB of memory was not going to cut it and I was stuck since I can’t upgrade the memory and hard disk on the Surface Pro 4. Unbeknownst to me, two of my IT Pro friends who are well respected by me and by the global IT Pro community stepped up to the plate and very generously decided to provide me with a special gift to help me with my MVP and IT Pro endeavours, so I could further expand my technical skills and to give back to the community via my learning and knowledge. For confidentiality purposes, these two special friends of mine will remain anonymous. I have been shocked and speechless from the day I was told that I was to look out for a package (shipped) and even to this day as I use this laptop daily to setup my test lab. I’m so grateful and blessed to receive this generous gift and …………well….., I’m speechless! My friend said “Now that you are MVP, you need the right equipment for testing!”

So, here’s what I received:
1. HP Zbook 14 G2 laptop (Intel Core i7-5500U CPU 2.4GHz, 32GB memory, 256GB Hard Disk, 1TB SSD Hard Disk)
2. Power adapters (two)
3. HP UltraSlim docking station
4. Stickers

  

  

I love my “new” HP laptop, it’s shiny, it’s awesome, it’s perfect! Stay tuned for my future blog post on how I setup my test lab, what I used to build it, and some obstacles I ran into which I ended up resolving. To my two special friends, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! 🙂

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Original Windows 10 v1507 Retires On March 26

March 26, 2017 marks the end of the line for the original Windows 10 release version 1507, which was released in July 2015. After this date, Windows 10 1507 will no longer be serviced as only two latest Current Branch for Business (CBB) releases are actively serviced. The following statement was posted in this Microsoft blogpost on January 19th:

With the availability of Windows 10, version 1607 to the VLSC on January 26th, the 60-day grace period for Windows 10, version 1507 will begin. That means, after March 26th, 2017, Windows 10, version 1507 will no longer be serviced as only the two most Current Branch for Business (CBB) versions are actively serviced.

1507: 15 = 2015 (year), 07 = July (month).
Serviced = Upgrades and Security Updates.

The following webpage provides a nice breakdown on the Windows 10 release information which helps you determine if your systems are up to date and running the latest feature upgrades and servicing updates. Basically, the N+2 equation is used, where N equals an earlier version, and 2 equals a +/- 60-day countdown, at which time (at the end of the 60 days) N drops off the supported list.

Example:
1607 = CBB
N = 1507 (July 2015)
N+1 = 1511 (November 2015)
N+2 = 1607 (July 2017)
Microsoft uses the VLSC availability date as the trigger for the 60-day countdown. Since, the availability of Windows 10 version 1607 to VLSC customers will be made on January 26, 2017, therefore, version 1507 support will end on March 26, 2017 which is two months from the January availability of version 1607 (CBB).

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Windows 10 Version 1607 Media Now Available

Windows 10, version 1607 was declared the Current Branch for Business (CBB) on November 29, 2016. The updated media for Windows 10 v1607 (Windows 10 Anniversary Update) is now available on Windows Update for Business (WUB), Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), and MSDN. Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) customers will receive the updated Windows 10 v1607 media on January 26, 2017.

FYI – No further action is needed if you have already installed the December cumulative update (KB3201845), or the most current cumulative update (CU), as that system is already running the CBB release.

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