David Overton's Blog and Discussion Site
This site is my way to share my views and general business and IT information with you about Microsoft, IT solutions for ISVs, technologists and businesses, large and small. I specialise in Windows Intune and SBS 2008.
This blog is purely the personal opinions of David Overton. If you can't find the information you were looking for e-mail me at admin@davidoverton.com.

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  • Upgrade Windows XP/Vista/7 to Windows 8 Pro for $40 or £25 AND Media Center Pack for free – until 31st January

    This is a simple offer. Download the upgrade assistant from Microsoft, run the tool, purchase the license for a shockingly low price and get the benefits of Windows 8. Even if you think you might not use it for a year, you can burn the ISO so it is ready. All indications are that the price will increase once this offer expires. So, what is the processes? Go to the web site - http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows/buy (UK) or http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/buy (US) Press the Download link - Download Pro for £24.99 ERP (UK) or Download Pro for $39.99 ERP (US) ) - note the link is the same for any country for the assistant. Run the assistant and fill in the details, including the purchase options There is also one other thing you may wish to consider. Getting the currently free Media Center Pack. This is also very simple, go to http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows-8/feature-packs (UK) http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/feature-packs (US), enter your e-mail address and get a free key e-mailed to you. This is so simple, it has to be worth doing and much cheaper than purchasing full price from February! The nice thing is that you can download an ISO, or do an “online” upgrade and you get the PID, so installing from the ISO later is simple. For the PC to be able to run Windows 8, the upgrade assistant will guide you, plus all the usual T’s and C’s can be found on the Microsoft pages. ttfn David
  • Server line-up for small businesses (and home) is increasing in options (or complexity for some) - SBS 2008, Home, Foundation, Windows Standard Server or BPOS - how do you choose?

    This is a long running question that people ask me - how to position the various server options from Microsoft for small businesses. The more choice Microsoft offers, the more complex it can become if you do not have a starting point to find the right product for a customer. So, Home Server, Foundation Server and SBS - what is it all about, especially when you look at something like Windows 7 or BPOS too? N.B. To get a detailed feature comparison between SBS 2003 and SBS 2008 have a look at the excellent work of Sean at http://sbs.seandaniel.com/2008/08/what-different-between-sbs-2003-and-sbs.html . Well, in the home or the smaller sized business market (think sweet spot of 1-7 users IMHO) there are a number of MS products that could fit the bill… Windows Client PC as a server (don't do this for businesses) Windows Home Server Foundation server Windows Server Small Business Server Online solution Server Options I suspect people know the options here, but here is a very short run-down on each and why you might or might not look at them: Windows 7 Client PC as a server Great to share files between a few PCs on a trusted network. Only with Windows 7 do you start to get better sharing security via the home group and many server oriented pieces of software can't run on it. Great for home hub (my Media Center does a bit of this), but please save your self trouble and get a server for the work environment. You will save of time and money of management very quickly in a business. Also note that server software will often not install on a Client PC. Windows Home Server This is a fantastic home hub server with functionality to hold and protect your shared files by duplicating them, backing up desktop PCs and providing remote access. Today it is built on Windows Server 2003 technology, but it does the job well. If in a business you simply want a place to store files and backups without managed security or any other server functionality and web based accessed to those files, it can do an OK job. For more info of...
  • List of Windows 7 compatible applications that have been registered with Microsoft and how to get yours registered if you have an application

    I’ve been asked a few times about what software is registered with Microsoft as compatible with Windows 7 or has a certified status with Windows 7. The answers can be found on either of these two web sites: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/compatibility/en-us/default.aspx – Web based tool to search for software http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/confirmation.aspx?familyId=890e522e-e39e-4278-aebc-186f81e29173&displayLang=en – Download an Excel spreadsheet with the information on it If you are an ISV who wishes to register your information, have a look at the downloadable template or web form here - https://www.microsoft.com/windows/compatibility/windows-7/en-us/partner/submission.aspx To learn more about developing for Windows 7, look here for Independent Software Vendors . You should also look at the ISVAppCompat site - https://www.isvappcompat.com/uk which gives details for how to certify your application and also make a press release about the fact. One of the ISVs I work with is Iris and they have just released their press releases at http://www.iris.co.uk/news__press/news_folder/newswindows_7_strategy.aspx . It all helps customers get what they want from Windows 7. Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year David Technorati Tags: Windows 7 , Windows Client , Microsoft , ISV , Application Compatibility
  • What are the legal options for Licensing Windows 7 or Windows Vista? Or how to avoid mis-licensing

    I’m often told that Microsoft licensing is complex, but what I actually find are that this either translates to “I have too many choices - ahhhh!” or “I can’t license in the way I want to” or “I can’t find the information I want to”. Option 1 is always going to happen – the more choice, the more complexity in making the right choice. Option 2 is often “I don’t want to buy lose licenses, why do I have to..” and Option 3 is poor communications on the part of Microsoft. To help with the Option 3 situation there is a new guide on the Microsoft Partner portal that explains one of the areas I’m often asked about – i.e. Windows client licensing. It is really simple. Here are the rules in summary (non-legally binding and please read the guide for full details): A PC has to licensed with a Full retail product (FPP, bought from a shop) or supplied with an OEM license (the OEM option can’t be used after the PC has been bought and supplied to the end user) Volume Licenses for Windows client is only available as an upgrade to the FPP / OEM eligible license Volume Licenses upgrade only apply to business versions, not Home editions, unless you are a qualifed academic customer and there is more information in the guide. I don’t think that is complex. To “Get Legal” there are various options too. For more details, have a look at this “Windows Licensing Fact Sheet” - download from here . Thanks David Technorati Tags: Windows 7 , Windows Client , Windows , Licensing , Microsoft , Partners , MSPP , Microsoft Partner Network
  • Windows 7 adoption is storming

    [Updated] I thought I would share two facts that show me just how good the take-up of Windows 7 will be. I was in York yesterday and while sat in the pub one of the ladies working there told me about her new laptop and just how fabulous it was with Windows 7. I’m not used to people telling me how great a product is from the “other side” of the bar. The second was when I started looking at the switch from Windows Vista and Windows XP on my web site – Over 20% of all visitors now are using Windows 7. I've updated the figures until 28th November 2009 I hope you have as much fun with Windows 7 as I am and the bar lady is. ttfn David Technorati Tags: Windows 7 , Windows , Microsoft
  • Hyper-V Security and Management from Windows 7

    [modified 2/11/09 with new link] I’ve seen two Hyper-V announcements this week. One is about the new Security Guide and the other is how to manage Hyper-V from Windows 7. Security Guide Hyper-V Security Guide–Beta Now Available! Are your customers concerned about attacks on their virtualized servers? Help them secure their virtual environments with the Hyper-V Security Guide. The Hyper-V Security Guide , now under development, has tested guidance and best practices to boost the security of virtualized Windows Server environments. Want an advance look at this free guide? Join the beta program. Then bookmark this link to the program site to get the latest information about upcoming events. Hyper-V Management from Windows 7 This is something that caught me out. The Hyper-V Management tools for Vista do not load on Windows 7, but tools have been published. Go to http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=7d2f6ad7-656b-4313-a005-4e344e43997d and install this. Then go to the Windows Features tool in Control Panel and find the Role Administration Tools. Select Hyper-V Tools from there and bob is your uncle. Thanks David Technorati Tags: Hyper-V , Microsoft , Windows 7 , Windows Vista , Windows Server 2008 , Windows Server 2008 R2
  • New Small Business Oriented blog - Microsoft Police (entry on licensing) and Vista bloody Vista (who's fault is it when things don't work on Vista)

    Susanne Dansey pointed this out to me - Dave is doing some excellent blogging! I like both these entries from January. One discussed the rights and wrongs of what to do with a customer who will not license legally. My personal opinion here is that if they won't pay a software company, how long until they will avoid paying the services company for a quality job. Dave's second post is dealing with someone who has been told that Vista is poor and blames anything that does not work under Vista on Microsoft. I'm not saying that Microsoft is never to blame, but it is nice to see posts like this coming out of the woodwork. Microsoft Police There has been a lot of chatter in the newsgroups recently about Microsoft licensing and what to do if you think the legality of clients software is suspect. Here is my opinion. Funny that, it being my blog Simple, get them to become legitimate (or legal) or walk away. Let’s clarify this. Why I said legitimate or legal is because these can be two separate things. Why? well frankly, just because Microsoft and it’s lawyers say something should be the case, it doesn’t mean that it is the law. <snipped - click link above to read more> Vista, bloody Vista! I was having a friendly discussion in the pub at the weekend and was introduced to a college lecturer. He spoke quite fluently about IT in his college even though he admitted he is not very technically minded. Then it came…Why Vista he asked, it knackers things, so his techie people tell him? Windows 98 which he has at home is fine GRRRR! Except, it isn’t fine. His PC was falling apart at the seams, things just weren’t working. The more I questioned the more it became like a broken record. Why had Microsoft not left things alone. The fact that his quite clearly 18million year old dial-up modem wasn’t working was obviously Microsofts fault. They only update things in order to screw money out of poor victims like him. (This did stay friendly I hasten to add and many more pints were...
  • How to get the Office Assistant in Office 2003 (clippy) to work in Windows Vista, i.e. remove the "Not enough memory" error messages

    [updated 24th January 2009 with new download location for x64 systems] [updated 31st December 2009 with Windows 7 information] I have been asked this question several times and finally dug into the system to make it work. N.B. while this will work with Windows 7 the "agent" will have a pink background. Given the age of this technology it is unlikely to be fixed. The solution The Office Assistant relies on some "agent" technologies. To fix this we need to install the agent technologies and then copy a DLL across. Since I was playing around it is possible that there is an extra step or two that is not actually needed, but since this is a small process and simple to do I don't think it will do any harm. What is more, I was not about to rebuild a system, load Vista and Office 2003 just to see if I could remove a 10 second step :-) Download the MSAgent technology from http://www.microsoft.com/msagent - select the CORE files, so for me that was this item - Download the Microsoft Agent core components (395 KB exe) Download the MSAgent2.exe file from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=E11BF712-7862-45BA-826D-44AE3A11836F&displaylang=en Run the download, accepting the UAC prompt (the security prompt) - select the option "This program installed correctly" Open an elevated command prompt - have a look at How to start an administrative (or elevated) command prompt and tell if you got it right (in Vista) if you are unsure how to do this. The window should have the title " Administrator: Command Prompt " if you have it right. type the following commands into the prompt (each line will probably start with "c:\windows\system32>" - don't worry about this (if you are using a x64 (64-bit) version of Windows replace "system32" with "system" in the commands below) copy c:\windows\msagent\agentdpv.dll c:\windows\system32 regsvr32 c:\windows\msagent\agentdpv.dll That is it. If you get error messages check the command prompt has the...
  • Hybrid Disk Drives - Using Flash RAM to make disk drives more performant and reliable - and Vista ReadyDrive

    There is a great article at Computer World that talks about these hybrid drives as they are known. If you are not aware of them, then here is a very quick rundown. What are they: Traditional Hard Disk with larger cache (256MB-2GB) Uses Flash RAM instead of normal RAM Why is this interesting: Cache size is much larger Cache is not lost when power is turned off Disk can stay spun down for longer as cache can manage read/writes, saving batteries and reducing heat Saves 90% of the power required to read from disk when using the Flash RAM Improves boot time as some boot code can be stored in FLASH - or pre-cached at shutdown or hybernation There are two types of solution - one puts the cache physically on the drive and the other puts it on the motherboard, but the idea is the same. Some people worry about the life of the flash as there will be considerable writing to it. This is one of a couple of areas where Vista comes into the picture. Vista can be aware of the cache, so will manage disk reads, writes, spin up & spin-down requests differently. It can also help with the cache layout, ensuring spread usage of the cache to reduce the wear on the flash itself, this prolonging life. If you want to know more about this, go have a look at the WinHEC presentation that is now available. ttfn David

(c)David Overton 2006-13