Engineering Windows 8…coming soon to a blog near you?

Interesting find that a friend of mine let me know about. Apparently, somebody at Microsoft has reserved the blog “e8” on MSDN blogs.

When browsing to , there is no content, and the title is <TBD>. I’ve included a picture below.

MSDN Blogs - e8

Does this mean that Microsoft is already going to start the discussion about Windows 8, or are they just holding on to this for a later date and time? Only time will tell.

Microsoft’s Signature Experience

Through the Microsoft Store, all PCs are sold with the Microsoft Signature experience. This service is provided at no-cost to the consumer and consists of software and PC setup assistance (physical stores only).

Software provided on all PCs sold by the Microsoft Store:

  • Internet Explorer 8
  • Internet TV Update for Windows Media Center
  • Microsoft Security Essentials
  • Silverlight
  • Flash Player
  • Adobe Reader
  • Bing 3D Maps
  • Zune 4.0
  • Live ID Sign-In Assistant
  • Windows Live Essentials
  • Windows Live Sync
  • Office Live Add-In

In-stores the Microsoft Signature experience also includes initial setup of your new computer, as well as the ability to get any questions that you have about your new computer answered by a store employee.

Overall, I think this service provides great value to the consumer by providing them with everything that they need to begin their experience with their new PC right out of the box.

It will be interesting to see how the Microsoft Signature service evolves over time.

Microsoft’s New Retail Experience

This past Thursday, October 22nd, Microsoft opened its first retail store in Scottsdale, Arizona. Fortunately for me, I live in Scottsdale, so I decided to make a trip over to the new Microsoft Store to see what it was all about.

I must say that I am impressed. When I walked into the store I was greeted by several store employees, and was given a special souvenir, a Bing t-shirt.

The store was laid out into multiple zones, and each featuring a different category of PC, from low-cost netbooks, all the way to the super expensive desktop replacement notebooks. Along one wall there were multiple XBox 360s and the screens for these consoles were projected through the walls on the sides of the store in stunning high-definition. Also featured were 4 Microsoft Surface tables, focusing on different aspects of the Microsoft experience.

Directly in the back of the store is the Microsoft Theatre, where there are presentations on Windows 7, Zune, Windows Phone, Office, and Windows Live. I sat in on a presentation about Windows 7, and I was impressed by the breadth and depth of the presenter. He gave an excellent presentation and all participants walked away to purchase either a new PC with Windows 7, or copies of Windows 7 itself.

Microsoft also offers the Microsoft Answers service, where customers can book 30 minute appointments to get technical support or just some questions that they have answered.

For all PCs sold in the store, they come with Microsoft’s new Signature service. According to Microsoft’s own literature, Signature is described as a “uniquely enjoyable experience.” As part of Microsoft Signature, each new PC comes with Windows Live Essentials, Zune music software, Microsoft Security Essentials, and a store employee helps each customer when they buy a new PC by setting up their PC and walking them through some of the features of Windows 7.

Microsoft also offers other services, which I will detail in another post.

Being as this is Microsoft’s first foray into the retail space on its own, I am going to have to give them a 9 out of 10 for their efforts. (1 point loss due to no literature and no demo setup next to either of the HP MediaSmart Servers on display.)

And now, I will leave you with some pictures of my trip to the new Microsoft Store.

Windows 7 Upgrade Paths

Are you trying to decide which version of Windows 7 you should buy? Considering upgrading from Windows Vista? Confused as to which version you’ll be upgrade to? Be confused no more. Below is a list of all of the Windows Vista versions and which versions can be upgraded to the new versions of Windows 7.

Source:Windows 7 Upgrade Paths whitepaper published by Microsoft.
From Windows Vista
Upgrade to Windows 7
Business Professional, Enterprise, Ultimate
Enterprise Enterprise
Home Basic Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate
Home Premium Home Premium, Ultimate
Ultimate Ultimate

How-To: Build Your own Windows 7 DVD

Update: Added step to change “Sectors to Load” field in Bootable Disc tab

For those of you who have downloaded Windows 7 through the Microsoft Store and used the download option that only provides you with the contents of the DVD and not the actual ISO, here are some steps you can follow to build your own DVD, as well as save time and bandwidth.

NOTE: These steps were only tested on the 32-bit editions, as I do not have the 64-bit editions in the format that the Microsoft Store provides.

Tools Required:

Windows 7 installation files (obtained through Microsoft Store download)

– ImgBurn (available at

– Windows 7 DVD boot image (available here)

DVD Creation Steps:

1. Open ImgBurn and click “Create Image from Files / Folders”


2. Click on the Add Folder button on the Source Column and select the folder where you’ve extracted the Windows 7 installation files

3 4

3. Click the Labels tab, and you can use your own label, or if you want your DVD to be just like the Retail DVDs, use the following labels. For 32 bit – GRMCFRE_EN_DVD | For 64 bit – GRMCxFRE_EN_DVD


4. Click the Advanced Tab, and then click the Restrictions Tab, then check the options as shown in the below screenshot


6. Click the Bootable Disc tab, and then check the box labeled “Make Image Bootable”


7. Click the Browse button next to “Boot Image” and then browse to where you downloaded the BootImage.ima file, and select it

8. In the “Sectors to Load” field change the 4 to an 8

9. Select a Destination to save your Windows 7 ISO

10. Click the big Build button

11. You will see the following error message. Click NO. If you do not click NO, your DVD will not work correctly.


12. After your ISO is created you can use ImgBurn to burn your newly created ISO.

Good luck and happy installing!


Windows 7 is now available!

Today is the big day!

Windows 7 has been launched with much fanfare. This morning I got out of bed early (tough for me to do), queued up Microsoft PressPass and watched the Windows 7 Launch Event live from New York City.

Over the next few days I’ll be posting an in-depth review series of Windows 7 for all to enjoy.

If you are interested in purchasing Windows 7 you can buy it directly from Microsoft and download it and install it today! To buy Windows 7 click here.

For those of you with Netbooks wondering how you can install Windows 7 without a DVD drive, Microsoft has tool available called the Windows 7 USB / DVD Download Tool. This tool lets you use your downloaded copy of Windows 7 from the Microsoft Store and a USB flash drive to create a flash drive to use on your netbook to install Windows 7. This tool is available at

Stay tuned for more Windows 7 stuff over the next 7 days!


UPDATE: Corrected link to Windows 7 USB Download Tool

Hello and Welcome

Hello and welcome!

Welcome to I’m so glad to be sharing this little corner of the Internet with you, my readers. As many of you may know, I used to run the blog “Ramblings of a Home Server User” located on Well, after much thought and consideration, I decided that it would be better if I moved on, and started anew. All of the content on will be archived here on at some point in the future, and I’ll make sure that the previous URL redirects to the new URL. For those of you that are wondering, yes, I will continue to support the SharePoint on Windows Home Server guide that I wrote, so please feel free to send me your comments, questions or concerns.

For those of you who are new, let’s begin with an introduction.  I’m Tom, your humble correspondent, reporting live from a top-secret location. I’ve been blogging on and off for about three years now, and I’m hoping that I can spend more time actually blogging than on hiatus. As you can probably tell, I am an avid computer user, and I call myself a “techno-nut”, meaning that I am nuts about technology.

With this blog, I’m hoping to accomplish only one thing. That one thing is to provide relevant, interesting, and useful information to the conversation about technology. I’d really like the content of the blog to be driven more by you the readers than by me the blogger. I’m always looking for discussion topics, product review suggestion, how-to guide suggestions, and basically anything that you as a reader will find interesting and will keep you coming back to So with that being said, here is a brief overview of the features of

– – This is where you are now. This is where most of the action will occur. Blog posts will be frequent (hopefully), and information will be shared.

– – This will be where videos will be hosted. I’m hoping to do video product reviews, tutorials, and other random things over on the Videos page.

– – Here is my Twitter feed for the blog. Here I’ll post blog updates, thoughts, and requests for chicken noodle soup recipes. (just kidding about that last item)

–  tom at tomontech dot com – Here is my e-mail address. Use this if you want to get in direct contact with me for any reason. This is also the place to send your suggestions, ideas, comments, concerns, and anything else relevant. ) Please don’t send me email saying that I’ve won the lottery in Australia, or that you are related to some member of Nigerian royalty and you need money to get out of the country. I get enough of those already)

With that, I hope you’re as excited as I am about the blog. I’m looking forward to presenting my thoughts, ideas, and perspective on technology with the community, so let’s enjoy and share in the excitement together!