Support

Microsoft have just released this interesting KB article on large sector drive support in various versions of Windows.

Over the next few years, the data storage industry will be transitioning the physical format of hard disk drives from 512-byte sectors to 4096-byte sectors (also known as 4K sectors). This transition is driven by several factors, including increases in storage density and reliability.  

Specific requirements for Microsoft support by OS version

Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008:

  • Install the hotfix from the following Microsoft Knowledge Base (KB) article:
    2470478  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2470478/ ) Applications that are built on ESENT and that run on a Windows Vista-based or Windows Server 2008-based computer may not work correctly after the reported physical sector size of the storage device changes
  • Make sure that the drivers and firmware for your storage controller and for your other hardware components are updated. Also make sure that they support large sector drives.

Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2:

  • Install Service Pack 1 (SP1), or install the update from the following KB article:
    982018  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/982018/ ) An update that improves the compatibility of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 with Advanced Format Disks is available
  • Make sure that the drivers and firmware for your storage controller and other hardware components are updated. Also make sure that they support large sector drives.
  • Use the updated Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) for SP1 that will be released as part of the updated pieces of the SP1 Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) and of the Windows OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK). Or, embed update 982018 into Windows PE.

Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP:

Any large sector disks, such as Advanced Format drives, are not supported by Microsoft for installation on systems that are running Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, or Windows XP.

The full KB article is here.

Yesterday (12th July 2010) at the Microsoft Partner Convention, Microsoft made publically available the beta of Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 (in English, French, German, Japanese and in Spanish).

Service Pack 1 Beta Information.

Microsoft for sometime have stated that the only major new features in Service Pack 1 are Dynamic Memory and RemoteFX

Dynamic Memory

Dynamic Memory allows for memory on a host machine to be pooled and dynamically distributed to virtual machines as necessary. Memory is dynamically added or removed based on current workloads, and is done so without service interruption.

RemoteFX

Microsoft RemoteFX in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, a new set of remote user experience capabilities that enable a media-rich user environment for virtual desktops, session-based desktops and remote applications is introduced.

This document published on Microsoft.com details the other changes.

Documentation for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 Beta (KB976932)

These include:

Windows Server 2008 R2

Enhancements to scalability and high availability when using DirectAccess

Support for Managed Service Accounts (MSAs) in secure branch office scenarios

Support for increased volume of authentication traffic on domain controllers connected to high-latency networks

Enhancements to Failover Clustering with Storage

Windows 7

Additional support for communication with third-party federation services

Improved HDMI audio device performance

Corrected behaviour when printing mixed-orientation XPS documents

Both Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7

Change to behaviour of “Restore previous folders at logon” functionality

Enhanced support for additional identities in RRAS and IPsec

Support for Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX)

Updates Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to version 7.1

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The Service Pack also includes 473 Updates for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 of which only 17 are security updates.

These are detailed in full in the spreadsheet 

Hot fixes and Security Updates included in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 Beta

which is located in the Documentation for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 Beta (KB976932) that was mentioned earlier.

Microsoft have released version 1.4 of the Sysinternals tool “Active Directory Explorer “.  AD Explorer is an advanced Active Directory (AD) viewer and editor. You can use AD Explorer to easily navigate an AD database, define favorite locations, view object properties and attributes without having to open dialog boxes, edit permissions, view an object’s schema, and execute sophisticated searches that you can save and re-execute.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/sysinternals/bb963907.aspx

Recently I had a couple of issues with Resultant Set of Policy (RSOP) and enabling it to work for IT teams who were not Administrators.

One issue I had was that every time Resultant Set of Policy was run for users with delegated permissions (and on further testing “Domain Admins” too) they all received an error message stating “provider not loaded“.

This transpired to be a relatively simple fix and was nothing to do with delegated permissions.

The Resultant Set of Policy service had been disabled on all domain controllers and to resolve this issue I enabled the Resultant Set of Policy service on all the domain controllers.

The other issue I had was “Access Denied” when selecting the Domain Controller to run the Resultant Set of Policy against, when in planning mode for users with delegated RSOP rights – Administrators functioned correctly.

After some research I discovered Resultant Set of Policy in Planning mode needs some additional DCOM permissions set in order for it to work remotely when not an Administrator.

To enable delegated groups to run Resultant Set of Policy in Planning mode remotely, DCOM permissions on all Domain Controllers need to be amended, this group policy setting needs to be configured and applied to all domain controllers.

DCOM: Machine launch restrictions in Security Descriptor Definition Language (SDDL) syntax

By default the Everyone group only had the permission to execute and activate DCOM locally, where as Domain Admins had local and remote execute and activate permissions.

By adding the group that had the delegation RSOP permissions set and adding to their default permissions the “Remote Activation” right resolved the issue and Resultant Set of Policy (Planning Mode) now functioned remotely for the teams that needed the functionality but are not administrators.

Microsoft have released ADMT 3.2  and this guide details how to use the Active Directory Migration tool to migrate users, groups, managed service accounts and computers between Active Directory domains in different forests (interforest migration) or between Active Directory domains in the same forest (intraforest migration).

It also shows how to use ADMT to perform security translation between different Active Directory forests.

Download Documentation

MSDN and TechNet Subscribers who installed Office Professional Plus 2010 or Visio Professional 2010 before May 1, 2010 may not have all product features enabled.

Last week when I logged on to the TechNet downloads website, I noticed that my orignal Office Professional Plus 2010 key had now become a “Terminal Service enablement” Key and there were now new keys for Office Professional Plus 2010,  I did not think much of it until I read this article today http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/983473?p=1

The product key you originally obtained from TechNet or MSDN is intended to enable Terminal Services capability. That product key enables installation and activation but does not enable all features. In order to use all of the functionality you must get the new product key that is now available. If you have existing installations of Office 2010 Pro Plus or Visio Professional 2010 with the original MSDN product key then you only need to configure the new key to activate the features. You can optionally use both product keys as needed but for new installations you should always use the new Office 2010 Pro Plus or Visio Professional 2010 key respectively.

It makes interesting reading because one of the things I was trying to do in Outlook 2010 was not working, changing my product key (full instructions in the KB) has now enabled this functionality.

I have noticed that Microsoft on the 13th April updated their policy regarding service packs.  Under the old policy a customer would have to be running a service pack that was still supported before being eligible to receive support.  The Service Pack Support policy has been revised to provide customers with limited troubleshooting on unsupported service pack versions.

The new Service Pack Support policy enables customers to obtain support as follows:

Limited break/fix support incidents will be provided through Microsoft Customer Service and Support; and through Microsoft’s managed support offerings (such as Premier Support).

There will be no option to engage Microsoft’s product development resources, and technical workarounds may be limited or not possible.

If the support incident requires escalation to development for further guidance, requires a hotfix, or requires a security update, customers will be asked to upgrade to a supported service pack.

Full details: http://support.microsoft.com/gp/newsplifecycle