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Microsoft

Four Pillars of the Modern Partner Creating Thriving Cloud Business

 

Guest Author: Matt Morris – Matt Morris is a Partner Technical Strategist & Cloud Business guru in the One Commercial Partner group, where he leads technical sales readiness, and strategy for one of Microsoft’s largest distribution partners. Prior to his current role, Matt worked in enterprise technology sales, software development, and solution architecture roles at Microsoft and other technology firms. He has experience with mid-market and large enterprise organizations across a variety of industries as well as the public sector. He helps customers understand and implement high innovation and transformational technology solutions in the areas of analytics, cloud computing, and developer tools and platforms.

According to IDC, by 2020 IT cloud services revenue will exceed $500 billion. As a part of Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner organization, I know firsthand both the tremendous opportunity cloud computing presents our partners and the complexity that opportunity can pose. So, as you prepare to join us at IT Nation, I want to share a series of cross-industry partner resources that will help you evaluate the benefits and risks of cloud computing, and provide best practices to help you successfully transform your business to capture the largest possible share of those dollars.

 

Is the cloud right for my business?

Nearly 80% of customers are deploying or fully embracing cloud technology today, according to IDC. It’s clear many clients are hungry for the cost-savings and flexibility the cloud can provide, but finding the right pace and model for cloud adoption is challenging for many partners. In The Booming Cloud Opportunity, IDC analyzes the scope of the opportunity and how you can take advantage.

How do I grow my business with the cloud?

No one knows your clients like you do. Your hard-earned expertise solving clients’ challenges is the perfect foundation for a cloud-based practice. You know the solutions your clients want, without compromising their security or increasing long-term costs. More importantly, your clients chose you for a reason. Whether you’ve mastered a particular technology, specific vertical, or business process – your unique expertise can be scaled with cloud solutions to make you more profitable. Whether you’re looking to start gently with an SaaS solutions like Office 365™, or to dive into IaaS or PaaS with Azure™, evaluate your revenue potential with your Office 365 Revenue Modeling Tool or check out the eBook, Differentiate to Stand Out.

Will I need to change my sales & marketing for cloud solutions?

The next challenge is communicating the unique value you offer, particularly when 65% of B2B purchase decisions are made before ever engaging sales. The Modernizing Sales and Marketing Guide distills the best practices other successful partners have implemented. From developing a listening culture and understanding the customer journey, to building the right marketing assets to communicate how you solve customers’ real business challenges, this guide will help you grow your practice.

Am I ready to expand my practice into the cloud?

Changing your business model seems risky, even when you know that it’s critical to long-term success. So, before deciding to wait a little longer, see what it would take to get started. Some cloud services, like Office 365, can be implemented quickly and painlessly. If you have cautious clients, expanding into a hybrid blend of on-premise and cloud solutions might fit. The key is to create a strategy that allows you to leverage easily deployed cloud components to drive services revenue today, while developing your own specialized solutions to turn your unique expertise into a repeatable product over time. Get started with Optimizing your Operations.

However you choose to implement cloud services, my goal is to help you strengthen both your bottom line and your relationship with your customers. Long-term profitability is the result of helping your customers achieve their goals, growing revenue while reducing churn. Our last resource, Delivering Customer Lifetime Value closes the loop.


This article was provided by our service partner Microsoft.

Windows 7

Windows 7 EOL timebomb identified

Latest figures reveal Microsoft is still struggling to shift people off Windows 7. Will it be the XP End of Life drama all over again?

The number of people still using Windows 7 could lead to a problem when it eventually goes out of support, with even the well-received Windows 10 failing to convince a majority of users to upgrade.

Hospitals, and the police in particular have been slow to give up Windows XP, despite it being out of support and hence vulnerable to new forms of attack.

The latest Netmarketshare figures from Net Applications reveal the picture two years on from the launch of Microsoft Windows 10.

here are the latest month on month figures:

Windows 7: 48.43 (-0.48), Windows 10: 27.99 (+0.36), Windows XP, 6.07 (-0.03), Windows 8.x: 7.42 (-0.35), Mac OS 13 Beta: 0.02 (no change), Mac OS 12 (stable): 3.59 (+0.07), Mac OS 11: 1.09 (-0.08), Mac OS (older): 1.24.

Bottom line: Windows 90.37 percent of the market. Mac has 5.94 and Linux has taken a jump to 3.37 (0.84).

The only event of note – it has been quiet, as relatively few devices are released over the summer – is that there are now the same percentage of people using Windows 8.1 as there are Windows XP – 6.07.

So how is Windows 10 is actually doing? At launch, Microsoft stated it was aiming for 2 billion machines in its first two years. The fact it hasn’t achieved that even allowing for IoT and XBox devices, as well as a host of other new form factors, is obvious, but it was a big goal in the first place.

When the first figures came out, a few days after launch, Windows 10 was already sitting at 0.39 percent, thanks to the early adopters program. A year later, it sat at 22.99, as the free upgrade offer finished.

Microsoft would have had egg on their faces, had they extended the offer, but nevertheless, progress since has been slow. Today’s 27.99 means that just a five percent shift has moved to Windows 10 since the end of the freebie.

When you consider all the devices that Windows 10 is on besides desktops, that’s a pretty unhealthy figure. The last public figure that Terry Myerson gave was 500,000 devices. That’s just not good enough, and whatever Microsoft’s notoriously oily marketing people tell you, it remains a long way from where the company would hope to be.

Microsoft has actually increased its market share overall – It was 90.37 percent for August, up from 88.74 two years ago. But it’s actually down a tiny fragment on this time last year, where it was at 90.39.

So where is all this coming from? Well we can’t look to Windows 8.x which now has less than half the users of two years ago (from 15.86 to 7.42). And XP has dropped by a similar figure (from 13.09 to 6.07).

The issue is Windows 7. People and more especially businesses are still refusing to give it up. It has lost its market share – down from 60.75 in August 2015 to 48.43 percent in August 2017. But again – it’s actually UP on this time last year, where it was at 47.25.

So Microsoft’s increase market share seems to be down to the continuing success of an eight-year old operating system that has been superseded twice. In other words, come 2020, we’re going to have the XP debacle all over again.

And it’s not just Windows. Mac OS has actually fragmented in the past two years. The number of people of Mac OS has dropped from 7.66 to 5.85. Linux on the other hand continues to bloom in its own tiny way, going from 1.68 to 3.37.

There’s no question that the last two years have seen a tremendous change in the market – not least of all, the variety of form factors and new players such as Chrome OS, which isn’t included here for logistical reasons.

But the key problem remains, if Microsoft can’t shift people off Windows 7, without annoying them in the process, then we’re setting ourselves up for another End of Life timebomb.

The End of an Era – Next Steps for Adobe Flash

Earlier this week, Adobe announced that Flash will no longer be supported after 2020. Microsoft will phase out support for Adobe Flash in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer ahead of this date.

Flash led the way on the web for rich content, gaming, animations, and media of all kinds, and inspired many of the current web standards powering HTML5. Adobe has partnered with Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, Apple, and many others, to ensure that the open web could meet and exceed the experiences that Adobe Flash has traditionally provided. HTML5 standards, implemented across all modern browsers, provide these capabilities with improved performance, battery life, and increased security. We look forward to continuing to work with Adobe and our industry partners on enriching the open web without the need for plug-ins.

We will phase out Flash from Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer, culminating in the removal of Flash from Windows entirely by the end of 2020. This process began already for Microsoft Edge with Click-to-Run for Flash in the Windows 10 Creators Update. The process will continue in the following phases:

  • Through the end of 2017 and into 2018, Microsoft Edge will continue to ask users for permission to run Flash on most sites the first time the site is visited, and will remember the user’s preference on subsequent visits. Internet Explorer will continue to allow Adobe Flash with no special permissions required during this time.
  • In mid to late 2018, we will update Microsoft Edge to require permission for Flash to be run each session. Internet Explorer will continue to allow Flash for all sites in 2018.
  • In mid to late 2019, we will disable Flash by default in both Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. Users will be able to re-enable Flash in both browsers. When re-enabled, Microsoft Edge will continue to require approval for Flash on a site-by-site basis.
  • By the end of 2020, we will remove the ability to run Adobe Flash in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer across all supported versions of Microsoft Windows. Users will no longer have any ability to enable or run Flash.

This timeline is consistent across browsers, including GoogleMozilla, and Apple. We look forward to continuing our close collaboration with Adobe, other browser vendors, and the publishing community, as we evolve the future of the web for everyone.

Windows Server 2016

Windows Server 2016 docs are now on docs.microsoft.com

Microsoft have recently announced that their IT pro technical documentation for Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile is now available at docs.microsoft.com.

docs.microsoft.com

Why move to docs.microsoft.com?

Well here microsoft promise:

“a crisp new responsive design that looks fantastic on your phone, tablet, and PC. But, more importantly, you’ll see new ways to engage with Microsoft and contribute to the larger IT pro community. From the ground up, docs.microsoft.com that offers:

  • A more modern, community-oriented experience that’s open to your direct contribution and feedback.
  • Improved content discoverability and navigation, getting you to the content you need – fast.
  • In article Comments and inline feedback.
  • Downloadable PDF versions of key IT pro content collections and scenarios. To see this in action, browse to the recently released Performance Tuning Guidelines for Windows Server 2016 articles, and click Download PDF.
  • Active and ongoing site improvements, including new features, based on your direct feedback. Check out the November 2016 platform update post to see the latest features on docs.microsoft.com.”

How to contribute to IT pro content

Microsoft recognize that customers are eager to share best practices, optimizations, and samples with the larger IT pro community. Docs.microsoft.com makes contribution easy.

Community contributions are open for your contribution. Learn more about editing an existing IT pro article.

Windows 10

Microsoft enhances troubleshooting support for Office365

There’s a new tool from Microsoft for Office365 that scans files for headache-inducing problems in OneDrive for Business

It appears that last week Microsoft added a new and largely unheralded capability to the Office 365 checker tool.

A change to Microsoft’s main troubleshooting article for OneDrive for Business, KB 3125202, added a reference to an option in the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant for Office 365 tool that can be used to scan for files that are too big, file and folder names that have invalid characters, for path names that exceed the length limit, and several other headache-inducing problems. This appears to be a new capability for the Office 365 checker tool.

Here’s what the new information says:

Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant for Office 365

The Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant for Office 365 is a tool that can diagnose and fix many common Office 365 problems. The OneDrive for Business option “I’m having a problem with OneDrive for Business” now scans for the following issues:

  • Checks the option to manually or automatically update the NGSC+B to its latest version.
  • Reports all files that have sizes exceeding the limit.
  • Reports all files that have invalid characters in the names.
  • Reports all folders that have invalid characters or strings in the names.
  • Reports all paths exceeding the limit and provides a link to this KB article.

The tool is available from http://diagnostics.outlook.com. When you run this tool, the initial page will display several options, including the new option for OneDrive for Business: “I’m having a problem with OneDrive for Business.”

This looks like an excellent tool for anyone troubleshooting OneDrive for Business problems.

 


This is a repost from InfoWorld

Microsoft to revamp its documentation for security patches

Microsoft has eliminated individual patches from every Windows version, and Security Bulletins will go away soon, replaced by a spreadsheet with tools

With the old method of patching now completely gone—October’s releases eliminated individual patches from every Windows version—Microsoft has announced that the documentation to accompany those patches is in for a significant change. Most notable, Security Bulletins will disappear, replaced by a lengthy list of patches and tools for slicing and dicing those lists.

Security Bulletins go back to June 1998, when Microsoft first released MS98-001. That and all subsequent bulletins referred to specific patches described in Knowledge Base articles. The KB articles, in turn, have detailed descriptions of the patches and lists of files changed by each patch. The Security Bulletins serve as an overview of all the KB patches associated with a specific security problem. Some Security Bulletins list dozens of KB patches, each for a specific version of Windows.

Starting in January, we’ll have two lists—or, more accurately, two ways of viewing a master table.

Keep in mind that we’re only talking about security patches and the security part of the Windows 10 cumulative updates. Nonsecurity patches and Win7/8.1 monthly rollups are outside of this discussion.

To see where this is going and to understand why it’s vastly superior to the Security Bulletin approach, look at the lists for November 8, this month’s Patch Tuesday. The main Windows Update list

shows page after page of security bulletins, identified by MS16-xxx numbers, and those numbers have become ambiguous. See, for example, MS16-142 on that list, which covers both the Security-only update for Win7, KB 3197867, and the Monthly rollup for Win7, KB 3197868. The MS16-142 Security Bulletin itself runs on for many pages.

Now flip over to the Security Updates Guide. In the filter box type windows 7 and press Enter. You see four security patches (screenshot below): IE11 and Windows, both 32- and 64-bit. They’re all associated with KB 3197867.security-update-100692728-large

In the Software Update Summary, searching for “windows 7” yields only one entry, for the applicable KB number (screenshot below).

software-update-summary-100692730-large

Here’s why the tools are important. On this month’s Patch Tuesday, we received 14 Security Bulletins. Those Security Bulletins actually contain 55 different patches for different KB numbers; the Security Bulletin artifice groups those patches together in various ways. The 55 different security patches actually contain 175 separate fixes, when you break them out by the intended platform.

There’s a whole lotta patchin’ goin’ on.

Starting this month, you can look at the patches either individually (in the Security Updates Guide) or by platform (in the Software Update Summary), or you can plow through those Security Bulletins and try to find the patches that concern you. Starting in January, per the Microsoft Security Response Center, the Security Bulletins are going away.

Of course, the devil’s in the implementation details, but all in all this seems to me like a reasonable response to what has become an untenable situation.


This is a repost from http://www.infoworld.com/

Windows Server 2016: 5 Things You Need to Know

On October 12th, Microsoft released their latest server operating system – Windows Server 2016. To ensure your success, we’ve gathered a list of the top 5 things you need to know.

We’ve been preparing for Windows Server 2016 for the past couple months, and even attended Microsoft Ignite a few weeks ago, to make sure we’re up to date on all the latest and greatest news.

While TechNet has already published a “What’s New in Windows Server 2016” article, at ConnectWise we want to take you a bit deeper and call out a few things technology solution providers like you should be aware of.

Patching

Windows Server 2016 continues Microsoft’s move to deployment rings. Windows 10 introduced 6 deployment ring options spread across 3 phases (also known as servicing branches):

Insider – 1 ring
Current Branch (CB) – 2 rings
Current Branch for Business (CBB) – 3 rings
Then, enterprise customers wanted an even slower option, so a special edition of Windows 10 was released called Windows 10 Enterprise Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) – which essentially added a fourth phase / seventh deployment ring.

With Windows Server 2016, the installation option you choose will determine which servicing branch you default to. Server 2016 with Desktop Experience and Core will both default to the LTSB, which is great for reducing problems in a production environment. Just be aware that the LTSB won’t include certain things, like Edge browser.

Nano

There’s been a ton of hype about the Nano Server option. But before you start spinning them up in production, you should know that Nano Servers don’t use the LTSB (see above). Instead, they default to the CBB, which means more frequent patches (CBB is Phase 3. LTSB is Phase 4).

Given some recently reported issues with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, we’ll let you decide whether this is a good idea or not for your business and clients. Also, it’s important to note that Nano Servers requires Microsoft Software Assurance.

Licensing

Speaking of Software Assurance, you may have noticed that Microsoft is changing how they license certain editions of Windows Server 2016.

Back in 2013, Microsoft introduced core-based licensing because processors weren’t a precise enough measure (since each processor can have a varying number of cores). Though, you could still get Datacenter and Standard editions under the processor-based licensing model.

Starting with Server 2016, processor-based licensing is no longer available for Datacenter and Standard edition. If you were lucky enough to renew your Software Assurance agreement recently, this won’t apply to you until renewal.

Even then, during renewal, you’ll get 16 core licenses for each applicable on-premise processor license and 8 core licenses for each service provider processor license.

Containers

On the plus side, if you opt for Datacenter or Standard under the core-based licensing model, you’ll now be able to use one of the most talked about features of Server 2016 – containers!

For anyone that’s not familiar with containers, Microsoft considers them “the next evolution of virtualization” and they come in two flavors:

Windows Server containers
Hyper-V containers
With either of the core-based editions for Server 2016, you can run unlimited Windows Server containers by sharing the host kernel. If that’s a security concern for you or your clients, then you’ll want to use Hyper-V containers to isolate the host’s kernel from each container.

Just know that unlike Windows Server containers, you can only run 2 Hyper-V containers on each Standard edition server. If you want unlimited Hyper-V containers, you’ll need Datacenter edition. But whichever choice you make, both types of container can work with Docker.

Windows Defender

When upgrading to Windows Server 2016 from a prior version with antivirus installed, you may run into problems. That’s because the upgrade process installs and enables Windows Defender by default.

Luckily, whether the user interface is enabled or not (which seems to depend on edition), there’s a quick PowerShell command you can run to disable Windows Defender entirely:

Uninstall-WindowsFeature -Name Windows-Server-Antimalware

(Bonus) Modern Lifecycle Policy

While not directly related to Windows Server 2016, here’s a bonus that partners should be aware of: Microsoft has announced their new Modern Lifecycle Policy. For now, this policy only applies to four Microsoft products:

System Center Configuration Manager (current branch)
.NET core
NET
Entity Framework core

The new policy essentially says that Microsoft will only support the current version and once they announce End of Life for a product, you have 12 months before support ends.

Given the heavy push to Microsoft’s new serving model for Windows 10 and now Server 2016, it’s a safe bet that the list of products this policy applies to will grow.

When it comes to the release of Windows Server 2016, there’s a lot to digest (known issues, PowerShell 5.0, WMF 5.1, Just Enough Administration, IIS 10).

Given the number of clients you support that may ask about upgrading older systems or virtualizing, we’re sure you’ll have plenty of opportunity to learn more… but before your clients ask, we wanted you be aware of some of the business and technical nuances.


This post was provided by one of our service providers ConnectWise.

The power user’s guide to PowerShell

PowerShell is a powerful tool to master. Here’s our step-by-step guide to getting familiar with Windows’ über language.

If you’ve wrestled with Windows 10, you’ve undoubtedly heard of PowerShell. If you’ve tried to do something fancy with Win7/8.1 recently, PowerShell’s probably come up, too. After years of relying on the Windows command line and tossed-together batch files, it’s time to set your sights on something more powerful, more adaptive — better.
PowerShell is an enormous addition to the Windows toolbox, and it can provoke a bit of fear given that enormity. Is it a scripting language, a command shell, a floor wax? Do you have to link a cmdlet with an instantiated .Net class to run with providers? And why do all the support docs talk about administrators — do I have to be a professional Windows admin to make use of it?

Relax. PowerShell is powerful, but it needn’t be intimidating.
The following guide is aimed at those who have run a Windows command or two or jimmied a batch file. Consider it a step-by-step transformation from PowerShell curious to PowerShell capable.

Step 1: Crank it up

The first thing you’ll need is PowerShell itself. If you’re using Windows 10, you already have PowerShell 5 — the latest version — installed. (Win10 Anniversary Update has 5.1, but you won’t know the difference with the Fall Update’s 5.0.) Windows 8 and 8.1 ship with PowerShell 4, which is good enough for getting your feet wet. Installing PowerShell on Windows 7 isn’t difficult, but it takes extra care — and you need to install .Net Framework separately. JuanPablo Jofre details how to install WMF 5.0 (Windows Management Framework), which includes PowerShell, in addition to tools you won’t likely use when starting out, on MSDN.

PowerShell offers two interfaces. Advanced users will go for the full-blown GUI, known as the Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE). Beginners, though, are best served by the PowerShell Console, a simple text interface reminiscent of the Windows command line, or even DOS 3.2.

To start PowerShell as an Administrator from Windows 10, click Start and scroll down the list of apps to Windows PowerShell. Click on that line, right-click Windows PowerShell, and choose Run as Administrator. In Windows 8.1, look for Windows PowerShell in the Windows System folder. In Win7, it’s in the Accessories folder. You can run PowerShell as a “normal” user by following the same sequence but with a left click.

In any version of Windows, you can use Windows search to look for PowerShell. In Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, you can put it on your Ctrl-X “Power menu” (right-click a blank spot on the taskbar and choose Properties; on the Navigation tab, check the box to Replace Command Prompt). Once you have it open, it’s a good idea to pin PowerShell to your taskbar. Yes, you’re going to like it that much.

Step 2: Type old-fashioned Windows commands

You’d be amazed how much Windows command-line syntax works as expected in PowerShell.
For example, cd changes directories (aka folders), and dir still lists all the files and folders included in the current folder.
Depending on how you start the PowerShell console, you may start at c:\Windows\system32 or at c:\Users\<username>. In the screenshot example, I use cd .. (note the space) to move up one level at a time, then run dir to list all files and subfolders in the C:\ directory.

Step 3: Install the help files

Commands like cd and dir aren’t native PowerShell commands. They’re aliases — substitutes for real PowerShell commands. Aliases can be handy for those of us with finger memory that’s hard to overcome. But they don’t even begin to touch the most important parts of PowerShell.

To start getting a feel for PowerShell itself, type help followed by a command you know. For example, in the screenshot, I type help dir.

PowerShell help tells me that dir is an alias for the PowerShell command Get-ChildItem. Sure enough, if you type get-childitem at the PS C:\> prompt, you see exactly what you saw with the dir command.

As noted at the bottom of the screenshot, help files for PowerShell aren’t installed automatically. To retrieve them (you do want to get them), log on to PowerShell in Administrator mode, then type update-help. Installing the help files will take several minutes, and you may be missing a few modules — Help for NetWNV and SecureBoot failed to install on my test machine. But when you’re done, the full help system will be at your beck and call.

From that point on, type get-help followed by the command (“cmdlet” in PowerShell speak, pronounced “command-let”) that concerns you and see all of the help for that item. For example, get-help get-childitem produces a summary of the get-childitem options. It also prompts you to type in variations on the theme. Thus, the following:

get-help get-childitem -examples

produces seven detailed examples of how to use get-childitem. The PowerShell command

get-help get-childitem -detailed

includes those seven examples, as well as a detailed explanation of every parameter available for the get-childitem cmdlet.

Step 4: Get help on the parameters

In the help dir screenshot, you might have noticed there are two listings under SYNTAX for get-childitem. The fact that there are two separate syntaxes for the cmdlet means there are two ways of running the cmdlet. How do you keep the syntaxes separate — and what do the parameters mean? The answer’s easy, if you know the trick.
To get all the details about parameters for the get-childitem cmdlet, or any other cmdlet, use the -full parameter, like this:

get-help get-childitem -full

That produces a line-by-line listing of what you can do with the cmdlet and what may (or may not!) happen. See the screenshot.

Sifting through the parameter details, it’s reasonably easy to see that get-childitem can be used to retrieve “child” items (such as the names of subfolders or filenames) in a location that you specify, with or without specific character matches. For example:

get-childItem “*.txt” -recurse

retrieves a list of all of the “*.txt” files in the current folder and all subfolders (due to the -recurse parameter). Whereas the following:

get-childitem “HKLM:\Software”

returns a list of all of the high-level registry keys in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software.
If you’ve ever tried to get inside the registry using a Windows command line or a batch file, I’m sure you can see how powerful this kind of access must be.

Step 5: Nail down the names
There’s a reason why the cmdlets we’ve seen so far look the same: get-childitem, update-help, and get-help all follow the same verb-noun convention. Mercifully, all of PowerShell’s cmdlets use this convention, with a verb preceding a (singular) noun. Those of you who spent weeks struggling over inconsistently named VB and VBA commands can breathe a sigh of relief.
To see where we’re going, take a look at some of the most common cmdlets (thanks to Ed Wilson’s Hey, Scripting Guy! blog). Start with the cmdlets that reach into your system and pull out useful information, like the following:

set-location: Sets the current working location to a specified location
get-content: Gets the contents of a file
get-item: Gets files and folders
copy-item: Copies an item from one location to another
remove-item: Deletes files and folders
get-process: Gets the processes that are running on a local or remote computer
get-service: Gets the services running on a local or remote computer
invoke-webrequest: Gets content from a web page on the internet

To see how a particular cmdlet works, use get-help, as in
get-help copy-item -full

Based on its help description, you can readily figure out what the cmdlet wants. For example, if you want to copy all your files and folders from Documents to c:\temp, you would use:
copy-item c:\users\[username] \documents\* c:\temp

As you type in that command, you’ll see a few nice touches built into the PowerShell environment. For example, if you type copy-i and press the Tab key, PowerShell fills in Copy-Item and a space.

If you mistype a cmdlet and PowerShell can’t figure it out, you get a very thorough description of what went wrong.
Try this cmdlet. (It may try to get you to install a program to read the “about” box. If so, ignore it.)
invoke-webrequest netcal.com

You get a succinct list of the web page’s content declarations, headers, images, links, and more. See how that works? Notice in the get-help listing for invoke-webrequest that the invoke-webrequest cmdlet “returns collections of forms, links, images, and other significant HTML elements” — exactly what you should see on your screen.
Some cmdlets help you control or grok PowerShell itself:
get-command: Lists all available cmdlets (it’s a long list!)
get-verb: Lists all available verbs (the left halves of cmdlets)
clear-host: Clears the display in the host program

Various parameters (remember, get-help) let you whittle down the commands and narrow in on options that may be of use to you. For example, to see a list of all the cmdlets that work with Windows services, try this:
get-command *-service
It lists all the verbs that are available with service as the noun. Here’s the result:

Get-Service
New-Service
Restart-Service
Resume-Service
Set-Service
Start-Service
Stop-Service
Suspend-Service
You can combine these cmdlets with other cmdlets to dig down into almost any part of PowerShell. That’s where pipes come into the picture.

Step 6: Bring in the pipes

If you’ve ever used the Windows command line or slogged through a batch file, you know about redirection and pipes. In simple terms, both redirection (the > character) and pipes (the | character) take the output from an action and stick it someplace else. You can, for example, redirect the output of a dir command to a text file, or “pipe” the result of a ping command into a find, to filter out interesting results, like so:

dir > temp.txt
ping askwoody.com | find “packets” > temp2.txt

In the second command above, the find command looks for the string packets in the piped output of an askwoody.com ping and sticks all the lines that match in a file called temp2.txt.
Perhaps surprisingly, the first of those commands works fine in PowerShell. To run the second command, you want something like this:

ping askwoody.com | select-string packets | out-file temp2.txt

Using redirection and pipes greatly expands the Windows command line’s capabilities: Instead of scrolling endlessly down a screen looking for a text string, for example, you can put together a piped Windows command that does the vetting for you.

PowerShell has a piping capability, but it isn’t restricted to text. Instead, PowerShell lets you pass an entire object from one cmdlet to the next, where an “object” is a combination of data (called properties) and the actions (methods) that can be used on the data.

The hard part, however, lies in aligning the objects. The kind of object delivered by one cmdlet has to match up with the kinds of objects accepted by the receiving cmdlet. Text is a very simple kind of object, so if you’re working with text, lining up items is easy. Other objects aren’t so rudimentary.

How to figure it out? Welcome to the get-member cmdlet. If you want to know what type of object a cmdlet produces, pipe it through get-member. For example, if you’re trying to figure out the processes running on your computer, and you’ve narrowed down the options to the get-process cmdlet, here’s how you find out what the get-process cmdlet produces:
get-process | get-member

Running that command produces a long list of properties and methods for get-process, but at the very beginning of the list you can see the type of object that get-process creates:

TypeName: System.Diagnostics.Process

The below screenshot also tells you that get-process has properties called Handles, Name, NPM, PM, SI, VM, and WS.
If you want to manipulate the output of get-process so that you can work with it (as opposed to having it display a long list of active processes on the monitor), you need to find another cmdlet that will work with System.Diagnostics.Process as input. To find a willing cmdlet, you simply use … wait for it … PowerShell:
get-command -Parametertype System.Diagnostics.Process

That produces a list of all of the cmdlets that can handle System.Diagnostics.Process.
Some cmdlets are notorious for taking nearly any kind of input. Chief among them: where-object. Perhaps confusingly, where-object loops through each item sent down the pipeline, one by one, and applies whatever selection criteria you request. There’s a special marker called $_. that lets you step through each item in the pipe, one at a time.
Say you wanted to come up with a list of all of the processes running on your machine that are called “svchost” — in PowerShell speak, you want to match on a Name property of svchost. Try this PowerShell command:

get-process | where-object {$_.Name -eq “svchost”}

The where-object cmdlet looks at each System.Diagnostics.Process item, compares the .Name of that item to “svchost”; if the item matches, it gets spit out the end of the pipe and typed on your monitor.

 

Windows Server 2016

The next version of windows server is here and its packed with a lineup of great new features. From software-defined storage, network improvements and Docker-driven containers.

True to type with the new version of Windows Server 2016, we are presented with a multitude of new features. Added networking and storage capabilities build on the software defined infrastructure which began its initiation in Windows Server 2012. Microsoft’s focus on the cloud is apparent with capabilities such as containers and Nano Server. Security is still priority with the shielded VMs features.

 Docker- Driven Containers

 Microsoft has worked together with Docker to bring full support for the Docker ecosystem to Windows Server 2016. Docker containers wrap a piece of software in a complete filesystem that contains everything needed to run: code, runtime, system tools, system libraries – anything that can be installed on a server. This guarantees that the software will always run the same, regardless of its environment. Containers represent a huge step for Microsoft as it embraces the open source world. You install support for Containers using the standard method to enable Windows features through Control Panel or via the PowerShell command:

Install-WindowsFeature containers

You must also download and install the Docker engine to get all of the Docker utilities. This line of PowerShell will download a Zip file with everything you need to install Docker on Windows Server 2016:

Invoke-WebRequest “https://get.docker.com/builds/Windows/x86_64/docker-1.12.1.zip” -OutFile “$env:TEMP\docker-1.12.1.zip” -UseBasicParsing

Full documentation for getting started with containers can be found on the Microsoft MSDN website. New PowerShell cmdlets provide an alternative to Docker commands to manage your containers (see Figure 1).

pwrshell

Figure 1: You can manage both Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V Containers through native Docker commands or through PowerShell (shown).

It’s important to note that Microsoft supports two different container models: Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V Containers. Windows Server Containers are based on the typical Docker concepts, running each container as an application on top of the host OS. On an opposite note, Hyper-V Containers are completely isolated virtual machines, incorporating their own copy of the Windows kernel, but more lightweight than traditional VMs.

Windows containers are built against a specific operating system and are crosscomplied with Linux to provide the same experience and common Docker engine. For you, this means that Windows containers supports the Docker experience including the Docker command structure, Docker repositories, Docker datacenter and Orchestration. In addition, Windows containers extends the Docker Community to provide Windows innovations such as PowerShell to manage Windows or Linux containers.

Nano Server

Nano Server is another key component of Microsoft’s strategy to be highly competitive in the private cloud market. Nano Server is stripped-down version of Windows Server 2016. It’s so stripped down, in fact, that it doesn’t have any direct user interface besides the new Emergency Management console. You will manage your Nano instances remotely using either Windows PowerShell or the new Remote Server Administration Tools. The first benefit is Infrastructure host, that can runs Hyper-V, File Server, Failover Clustering and it will be a great container host as well.

Figure 2: Nano Server not only boots faster, it consumes less memory and less disk than any other version of Windows Server.

Figure 2: Nano Server not only boots faster, it consumes less memory and less disk than any other version of Windows Server.

 

Storage Qos Updates

 

Storage QoS enables administrators to provide virtual machines, and their applications by extension, predictable performance to an organization’s networked storage resources. Storage QoS helps level the playing field while virtual machines jockey for storage resources. According to a related Microsoft support document, the feature helps reduce “noisy neighbor” issues caused by resource-intensive virtual machines. “By default, Storage QoS ensures that a single virtual machine cannot consume all storage resources and starve other virtual machines of storage bandwidth,” stated the company.

It also offers administrators the confidence to load up on virtual machines by providing better visibility into their virtual machine storage setups. “Storage QoS policies define performance minimums and maximums for virtual machines and ensures that they are met. This provides consistent performance to virtual machines, even in dense and overprovisioned environments,” Microsoft wrote.

Windows Server 2016 allows you to centrally manage Storage QoS policies for groups of virtual machines and enforce those policies at the cluster level. This could come into play in the case where multiple VMs make up a service and should be managed together. PowerShell cmdlets have been added in support of these new features, including Get-StorageQosFlow, which provides a number of options to monitor the performance related to Storage QoS; Get-StorageQosPolicy, which will retrieve the current policy settings; and New-StorageQosPolicy, which creates a new policy.

 

Shielded VMs

 Shielded VMs, or Shielded Virtual Machines, are a security feature introduced in Windows Server 2016 for protecting Hyper-V Generation 2 virtual machines (VMs) from unauthorized access or manipulating. Shielded VMs use a centralized certificate store and VHD encryption to authorize the activation of a VM when it matches an entry on a list of permitted and verified images. VMs use a virtual TPM to enable the use of disk encryption with BitLocker. Live migrations and VM-state are also encrypted to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks.

The HGS – Host Guardian Service (HGS) (typically, a cluster of 3 nodes) supports two different attestation modes for a guarded fabric:

TPM-trusted attestation (Hardware based)

Admin-trusted attestation (AD based)

TPM-trusted attestation is recommended because it offers stronger assurances, as explained in the following table, but it requires that your Hyper-V hosts have TPM 2.0. If you currently do not have TPM 2.0, you can use Admin-trusted attestation. If you decide to move to TPM-trusted attestation when you acquire new hardware, you can switch the attestation mode on the Host Guardian Service with little or no interruption to your fabric.

Figure 3: Shielded VMs are encrypted at rest using BitLocker. They can be run by an authorized administrator only on known, secure, and healthy hosts.

Figure 3: Shielded VMs are encrypted at rest using BitLocker. They can be run by an authorized administrator only on known, secure, and healthy hosts.

Fast Hyper-V Storage with ReFS

The Resilient File System (ReFS) is another feature introduced with Windows Server 2012. ReFS has huge performance implications for Hyper-V. New virtual machines with a fixed-size VHDX are created instantly. The same advantages apply to creating checkpoint files and to merging VHDX files created when you make a backup. These capabilities resemble what Offload Data Transfers (ODX) can do on larger storage appliances.

RemoteFX

Microsoft also did some improvements on Windows Server 2016 RemoteFX which now includes support for OpenGL 4.4 and OpenCL 1.1 API. It also allows you to use larger dedicated VRAM and VRAM in now finally configurable.

Hyper-V rolling upgrades

Windows Server 2016 enables you to upgrade to a new operating system without taking down the cluster or migrating to new hardware. In previous versions of Windows Server, it was not possible to upgrade a cluster without downtime, this caused significant issues for production systems. This new process is is similar in that individual nodes in the cluster must have all active roles moved to another node in order to upgrade the host operating system. The difference is that all members of the cluster will continue to operate at the Windows Server 2012 R2 functional level (and support migrations between old and upgraded hosts) until all hosts are running the new operating system and you explicitly upgrade the cluster functional level (by issuing a PowerShell command).

Hyper-V hot add NICs and memory

Previous versions of Hyper-V did not allow you to add a network interface or more memory to a running virtual machine. Microsoft now allows you to make some critical machine configuration changes without taking the virtual machine offline. The two most important changes involve networking and memory.

In the Windows Server 2016 version of Hyper-V Manager, you’ll find that the Network Adapter entry in the Add Hardware dialog is no longer grayed out. The benefit is that an administrator may now add network adapters and memory to VMs originally configured with fixed amounts of memory, while the VM is running.

Storage Replica

Storage Replica is a new feature that enables storage-agnostic, block-level, synchronous replication between clusters or servers for disaster preparedness and recovery, as well as stretching of a failover cluster across sites for high availability. Synchronous replication enables mi Storage Space Direct (S2D), formally known as “Shared Nothing”.WS2016 introduces the second iteration of the software-defined storage feature known as Storage Spaces to bring cloud inspired capabilities to the data center with advances in computing, networking, storage, and security. This S2D local storage architecture takes each storage node and pools it together using Storage Spaces for data protection (two- or three-way mirroring as well as parity). The local storage can be SAS or SATA (SATA SSDs provide a significant cost savings) or NVMe for increased performance.

Enabling this feature can be accomplished with a single PowerShell command:

Enable-ClusterStorageSpacesDirect

This command will initiate a process that claims all available disk space on each node in the cluster, then enables caching, tiering, resiliency, and erasure coding across columns for one shared storage pool.

storing of data in physical sites with crash-consistent volumes, ensuring zero data loss at the file system level. Asynchronous replication allows site extension beyond metropolitan ranges.

 

Networking enhancements

Converged Network Interface Card (NIC). The converged NIC allows you to use a single network adapter for management, Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA)-enabled storage, and tenant traffic. This reduces the capital expenditures that are associated with each server in your datacenter, because you need fewer network adapters to manage different types of traffic per server.

Another facility is Packet Direct. Packet Direct provides a high network traffic throughput and low-latency packet processing infrastructure.

Windows Server 2016 includes a new server role called Network Controller, which provides a central point for monitoring and managing network infrastructure and services. Other enhancements supporting the software-defined network capabilities include an L4 load balancer, enhanced gateways for connecting to Azure and other remote sites, and a converged network fabric supporting both RDMA and tenant traffic.

As we move to virtualized instances in the cloud, it becomes important to reduce the footprint of each instance, to increase the security around them, and to bring more automation to the mix. In Windows Server 2016, Microsoft is pushing ahead on all of these fronts at once. Windows Server 2016 makes it easier to pick up the cloud way of functioning so you can change the way your server apps work as quickly as you want, even if you’re not using the cloud.

 

Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Late last month, Microsoft announced a major update to Windows 10 would be made available on August 9th.

In a post on the Windows Experience Blog, Microsoft revealed a list of new features and security upgrades, improvements to Cortana and a set of features aimed at making the Windows 10 experience better on smartphones and tablets.

This news arrives almost exactly a yeat to the day of the consumer launch of Windows 10. The new operating system has seen massive adoption by both business and consumers users in the past year, and Microsoft hope these upgrades spur further adoption by any stragglers.

Security

  • Windows Hello will now have integration with biometrics.  This will allow users to embrace security without compromising convenience.
  • Improvements to Windows Defender (MS Antimalware software)
    • Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection — cloud based antimalware software for enterprise
  • Windows Information Protection (more information here)

Cortana

This update will include updates to Cortana, the Microsoft virtual assistant, to hopefully make her more useful. The assistant is now available to take commands on users’ lock screens, so they can do things like ask questions and play music without having to unlock their devices.  Cortana can also remember things for users, such as their shopping lists or important to do item so that people do not have to refer to other platforms to retrieve them.

Windows Ink

Microsoft is also introducing new tools that make it easier to jot down notes using a touchscreen-enabled tablet or laptop. The Windows Ink features give users a virtual notepad to doodle, sketch or scribble down notes without having to wait for an app to launch.  Furthermore, key apps have new ink-specific features, like using handwriting in Office, ink annotations in Microsoft Edge or drawing custom routes in Maps.

Thats only to touch on a few of the key items in the update, there will be further secuirty enhancements and improved xbox integration. Microsoft Edge also received a handful of updates, including support for browser extensions which should make it more of a credible alternative to Chrome or Firefox.

Edge Browser

  • Battery usage efficiency gains — up to 3 hours compared to Google Chrome
  • Extensions available
  • Accessibility with HTML5, CSS3, Aria