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  • Add users to local groups on the Windows clients easily

    Posted on May 27th, 2009 By Andreas Stenhall + No comments

    If you want to add domain users or groups to a local group on a Windows client machine automatically, this can be done using group policies. One reason could be to easily put groups or users to the local group Remote Desktop Users to allow them to log on via RDP. To control which users or groups you want to add create a new GPO in the domain and go to Computer configuration > (Policies) > Windows settings > Security settings > Restricted groups.

    Once there choose to add a group and in my example find the “Remote Desktop Users” group and after that add the user or group you want to add to the local machines which that particular group policy object applies to. More information about restricted groups can be found at http://support.microsoft.com/?id=810076

  • Use EBS migration tool to do a quick health check in your Active Directory

    Posted on May 25th, 2009 By Andreas Stenhall + 1 comment

    When preparing an existing Active Directory environment for migration to Windows Essential Business Server  one must run a tool which scan the environment and make sure that no errors exist before the migration can even start. This tool is called Windows Essential Business Server Preparation and Planning Wizards and can be downloaded from Microsoft Download Center without cost.

    The thing is that this tool is a great utility to use in existing environments, even though they are not being migrated and never will be migrated to Windows EBs. The tool is a great health check and will most likely show errors or potential problems you had no idea existed in your server environment. It find problems with DNS, in Active Directory and replication and will guide you to recommended system changes and much more. I strongly recommend everyone to run it on your own environments to see what it finds.

    Just a quick note related to scanning for errors and best practices is that the upcoming Windows Server 2008 R2 will include a number of best practices analyzers for roles such as DNS, Active Directory and many more. This is really slick!

    Download Windows Essential Business Server Preparation and Planning Wizards

  • Control compatibility settings in IE8 using GPOs

    Posted on May 23rd, 2009 By Andreas Stenhall + 1 comment

    As Internet Explorer 8 render web pages in a new way than previous versions of Internet Explorer there is a good chance that one or more web pages you or your users regularly visit are broken or not displaying properly in IE8. Fortunately there is a compatibility mode in IE8 that makes web pages render as though they were displayed in IE7. This action is normally a manual one and the main problem here is that very few users are aware of this compatibility mode. To alleviate problems for the end users you can control the settings and compatibility list of web sites using group policy objects.

    Start the Group Policy manager and go to Computer configuration > Administrative templates > Windows Components > Internet Explorer > Compatibility view and there look for “Use Policy List of Internet Explorer 7 sites”. Add the URLs for the web sites that you want IE 8 to always render in IE7 mode.

  • Solution to get integrated playback of blu-ray movies in Windows 7 Media Center

    Posted on May 19th, 2009 By Andreas Stenhall + No comments

    It’s great to see that I do not need to install any third party codec in Windows 7, all movies regardless of which type it is has played without problems. However it’s sad to see that Microsoft hasn’t integrated blu-ray playback support in Media Center in Windows 7, something I am really missing. I had to go the extra mile to get blu-ray support in Media Center and the solution I am running with now is something I am very happy with. You will soon learn why.

    To get blu-ray support I evaluated both the software PowerDVD and WinDVD but the really stupid thing is that one is not allowed to use the blu-ray feature in either of those in the demo versions. This ended up with me purchasing the PowerDVD version, a choice I am very pleased with.

    As it turns out PowerDVD integrates totally with Media Center in Windows 7 and whenever I play a blu-ray disc from within Media Center the PowerDVD playback software is loaded in the background. Visually it appears as though I remain in the Media Center interface and the fact that I can continue to use the MCE remote control to control the blu-ray movie is really nice. Overall this is extremely smooth and provides a great end user experience!

  • HOW TO: Clean out Windows\Installer folder correctly

    Posted on May 16th, 2009 By Andreas Stenhall + 7 comments

    When disk space is running out on a system disk, may it be on a server or a client, there are certain things to clean out. One of them being the %SYSTEMDRIVE%\Windows\Installer folder. You cannot under any circumstances delete files from this folder manually as this not only may but most likely will break software that is installed using MSI files, or Windows Installer files.

    The %SYSTEMDRIVE%\Windows\Installer folder is a cache for installation files and patches (MSP files) and removing those will cause you to not being able to repair or uninstall applications, and in some cases not removing patches or applying new patches to software. In the event when you actually did delete this cache you can rebuild the files you need manually by extracting the files from original installation media, from patch packages etc but this is a time consuming and not that easy task to accomplish.

    But let me get to the point. If you do want to free disk space you can clean out the %SYSTEMDRIVE%\Windows\Installer folder by downloading Windows Installer Cleanup Utility (NOTE: This tool has been retired and is no longer available from Microsoft) and then running the command

    msizap.exe G!

    When running this, the installer and patch packages are enumerated and unreferenced packages are considered to be safe to delete and are thereby also deleted. Depending on the age of the system and the number of applications installed, this action can free a significant amount of disk space.

  • Pin federated search connectors to the Start menu

    Posted on May 11th, 2009 By Andreas Stenhall + 1 comment

    Normally when you search for something in the start menu in Windows 7 you see a link at the bottom of the search results which say “See more results”. If you have installed a customized search connector you can easily make a setting so that a link to your search connector appears above this “See more results” link. The changes for this are made via group policies which means you can easily let your users’ search in for instance your Intranet based on SharePoint.

    Create a new GPO and look for the setting under (Policies) > User Configuration> Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Explorer. The policy name is “Pin Libraries or Search connectors to Search again links and start menu”. What you enter in the various “location” fields in the GPO is the full patch to the search file. You can get the path by right clicking the search connector in Windows Explorer, choosing Properties and then copying the entire path from the “Target” field.

  • A few words about 71-680 Windows 7, Configuring

    Posted on May 8th, 2009 By Andreas Stenhall + No comments

    So yesterday I took the 71-680: TS: Windows 7, Configuring exam. As the exam is a beta exam the score will not be known until two months from now. Today I validated a few of my answers to the questions in the exam and it appears that I actually missed a couple of questions which I thought were safe. Anyways, I have to wait two months before I know if I passed the exam or not.

    If you haven’t already done so sign up for the beta exam, more info at http://blogs.technet.com/betaexams/archive/2009/04/15/register-for-beta-exam-71-680-ts-windows-7-configuring.aspx

  • Easy uninstall of patches in Windows 7

    Posted on May 6th, 2009 By Andreas Stenhall + No comments

    Windows Vista introduced patches in MSU (Microsoft Standalone Update) format which has many advantages over the traditional Windows XP patches format. However, if one want to uninstall patches in Windows Vista, this is kind of tricky.

    You will be glad to learn that in Windows 7 the wusa.exe command line tool has been improved so that you can use an uninstall switch and just supply the KB number for the update you want to remove.

    wusa.exe /uninstall /kb:940102 /quiet

    Could it become easier to uninstall patches using scripts?