Welcome to Office 2013

At a press event in San Francisco today Microsoft announced the Customer Preview of Office 2013.

Office 2013 has been built around what Microsoft calls “the modern office.” People want to work where they want, when they want, and they want their data to be available from anywhere they are. With Office 2013, SkyDrive and SharePoint integration is baked deep into the entire suite of products.

One of the more important scenarios with Office 2013 is what I’m calling the Better Together scenario. With Windows 8 on the horizon, Microsoft has put much time and emphasis on touch and inking support, integration with Windows RT, and is bringing OneNote and Lync to Windows 8 as Metro-style apps.

As I mentioned earlier there is a huge focus on the cloud. Just like on Windows 8 your settings travel with you. Settings you make on one computer such as dictionaries, templates, and recently opened documents are synced to all your other computers. By default, documents are saved to your SkyDrive. This means that your documents are available wherever you are.

For the enterprise users, Microsoft will be integrating Yammer (a recent acquisition) into its SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics products. Skype is being integrated with Lync. If you are a Lync user you can bring Skype contacts into Lync and call or instant message them. Lync 2013 feature HD video conferencing with the ability to show and markup presentations.

The Office 2013 Customer Preview is available from http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/en and I highly encourage everyone to check it out.


Microsoft releases Windows Server 2012 Essentials Public Beta

Today Microsoft has released the public beta of Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials is the replacement for Windows Home Server, Windows Small Business Server Standard and Small Business Server Essentials.

Windows Server 2012 Essentials has the following features:

  • Dashboard implements the Metro user experience styling
  • Office 365 module is now built-in
  • Remote Access website has been updated with new color scheme and has option for tablet and desktop modes
  • Anywhere Access enables VPN and / or Remote Access website
  • Media Streaming
  • Built on Windows Server 2012 with full access to Storage Spaces, Windows Server Backup, and leverages Active Directory
  • Official support for Windows 8 Release Preview

For the build number curious amongst us, this is build 9552 and is available today from the Microsoft Download Center. The CRC and SHA1 hashes for the ISO have been posted below along with steps to check the integrity of the downloaded ISO.

Hashes for today’s release:

WindowsServer2012Essentials-Beta-English-Install.iso
SHA1: 7bd66fd27aa40e51a53c161f2b178a7123494ee0
CRC: e7bb8495

WindowsServer2012Essentials-Beta-English-Restore.iso
SHA1: 492cb8c4196705b12aee6ed405f6f2950172b1b2
CRC: 33ddcc37

To run MSCDCRC against an ISO file that you have downloaded follow these steps.

  1. 1. Download MSCDCRC to the same folder that you downloaded the ISO to. (Click here to download MSCDCRC)
  2. 2. Open a Command Prompt window and navigate to the folder from Step 1
  3. 3. Type “MSCDCRC InstallDVD.iso” (without quotes)
  4. 4. The integrity check will take a few moments to complete. After the check is complete compare the CRC and SHA hashes to the hashes posted above
  5. 5. If the hashes match then you have successfully downloaded the ISO

Windows Home Server, 2007-2012

As I’m sure most of you heard, Windows Home Server is no more. Microsoft this past week announced the Windows Server lineup, and both Windows Home Server and Windows Small Business Server Standard were not on that list.

In a Frequently Asked Questions document, alongside the announcement of Windows Server 2012 Essentials (more on that soon), Microsoft answers the question of “Will there be a next version of Windows Home Server?”

No. Windows Home Server has seen its greatest success in small office/home office (SOHO) environments and among the technology enthusiast community. For this reason, Microsoft is combining the features that were previously only found in Windows Home Server, such as support for DLNA-compliant devices and media streaming, into Windows Server 2012 Essentials and focusing our efforts into making Windows Server 2012 Essentials the ideal first server operating system for both small business and home use—offering an intuitive administration experience, elastic and resilient storage features with Storage Spaces, and robust data protection for the server and client computers.

I can’t say that I’m surprised by this decision. I’ve known about this for a few months now. However, it is disappointing.

Microsoft is right though. Windows Home Server is heavily adopted in home based businesses, and used in small businesses primarily for PC backup in conjunction with Small Business Server. What Microsoft saw as its primary market never fully materialized. Not many OEMs built a hardware product around it, marketing by the OEMs that did was iffy, and you could hardly find it in a brick and mortar store.

In some ways, the market killed the product. Not because the product sucked but because the feature set was championed by small business. This then led to Small Business Server Essentials, which really was Windows Home Server (minus Media Streaming) + Active Directory (what a lot of people wanted originally), and some hooks for integrating with Office 365. [Side note: Windows Home Server when it was designed initially used Active Directory, but it was cut after looking at the home market and finding that most home users were using Windows XP Home Edition.] There was also a NAS type version of Windows Home Server 2011 as well called Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials. Why I call it a “NAS type version” is because it’s designed to be an embedded product (similar to an HP MediaSmart Server), it supports up to 25 computers, and can be joined to existing domains.

Small Business consultants used to install Windows Home Server but when Small Business Server 2011 Essentials arrived they moved to that because it provided a compelling feature set. With Active Directory and Group Policy they could manage customer networks with ease. The integration module for Office 365 meant that businesses could use cloud-based services with ease. Create a new account on the SBSe server and have that user automatically created in the Office 365 tenant.

Another nail in the coffin for Windows Home Server was the removal of Drive Extender.  I can’t tell you how many people I heard from that threw their arms up at that point and said they were done and moving to something else. However, now with Storage Spaces in Windows 8 / Server 2012 users can perform Drive Extender like tasks with ease.

Soon I’ll be able to talk more about the replacement to Windows Home Server, Windows Server 2012 Essentials, but until then I want to leave you with a thank you.

I want to thank the Windows Home Server community as a whole. Having been around the product since it was announced at CES in 2007, I’ve watched the community mature and develop over the last five years. During my time at Microsoft the part I loved most was interacting with the community through the beta program newsgroups, the forums, or at different events. Outside of Microsoft, I’ve loved blogging and writing the SharePoint on WHS guide. The thank you emails and the emails of encouragement are what keep me at it.

Expect a flurry of posts and other goodness about Windows Server 2012 Essentials in the coming days / weeks / months / years.

Until then may your children always ask, “Mommy, why is there a server in the house?”, and may your server continue to Stop Digital Amnesia.

Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate now available

Today, Microsoft have made available the Release Candidate build of Windows Server 2012.

Here are the download links for English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese:

English: http://care.dlservice.microsoft.com/download/winsvr2012rc/6/D/7/6D72B71B-AB11-4C93-969D-83DBC5C1972F/8400.0.WINMAIN_WIN8RC.120518-1423_X64FRE_SERVER_EN-US-HRC_SSS_X64FRE_EN-US_DV5.ISO?lcid=1033&cprod=w8svrtn

French: http://care.dlservice.microsoft.com/download/winsvr2012rc/3/3/3/33303107-59F4-40F1-ADFB-FD6E4B0F3E12/8400.0.WINMAIN_WIN8RC.120518-1423_X64FRE_SERVER_FR-FR-HRC_SSS_X64FRE_FR-FR_DV5.ISO?lcid=1036&cprod=w8svrtn

Spanish: http://care.dlservice.microsoft.com/download/winsvr2012rc/2/C/C/2CC04B95-CADC-413F-83C4-61F508EEE522/8400.0.WINMAIN_WIN8RC.120518-1423_X64FRE_SERVER_ES-ES-HRC_SSS_X64FRE_ES-ES_DV5.ISO?lcid=1034&cprod=w8svrtn

German: http://care.dlservice.microsoft.com/download/winsvr2012rc/2/E/2/2E20F438-CB79-4295-9B6B-6FCC2FD4D09E/8400.0.WINMAIN_WIN8RC.120518-1423_X64FRE_SERVER_DE-DE-HRC_SSS_X64FRE_DE-DE_DV5.ISO?lcid=1031&cprod=w8svrtn

Japanese: http://care.dlservice.microsoft.com/download/winsvr2012rc/7/A/B/7ABBC7E6-53B8-4FE7-9DC1-7B1769A671E3/8400.0.WINMAIN_WIN8RC.120518-1423_X64FRE_SERVER_JA-JP-HRC_SSS_X64FRE_JA-JP_DV5.ISO?lcid=1041&cprod=w8svrtn

Intel releases updated HD Graphics Driver for Windows 8

In case you missed this as I did, Intel have released an updated beta  HD Graphics Driver for use with Windows 8.

I installed this on my Samsung Series 7 slate and many of the graphics related glitches I saw have gone away.

These drivers may come in handy soon as the release of the Windows 8 Release Preview is happening soon. Its possible that the Release Preview build has even newer drivers in the build than these, but it is unlikely.

32-bit download – http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&DwnldID=21235&lang=eng

64-bit download – http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&DwnldID=21180&lang=eng

Samsung releases drivers for Windows 8 on Series 7 Slate

slateToday, Samsung have released drivers and guidance for installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview on their Series 7 Slate.

Included are firmware and driver update directions, system backup dirextions, an updated driver for the rotation sensor, and updated firmware for the touch screen.

All information can be found at http://www.samsung.com/global/windowspreview/

Pro-tip: Cisco AnyConnect VPN Client and Windows 8 Consumer Preview

imageIf you’re like me and you use the Cisco AnyConnect VPN Client to access corporate resources, you may have noticed that it doesn’t want to work out of the box on Windows 8.

You might see error messages like “The VPN Client driver has encountered an error.” or “Cannot initiate VPN.

Turns out there is a quick and easy fix for this.

From the Start screen type “regedit” or press the Windows Key+R and type “regedit” and press Enter to launch the Registry Editor.

Browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesvpnva

image

Double-click on the DisplayName key, and remove the INF information from the display name so that it appears as Cisco AnyConnect VPN Virtual Miniport Adapter for Windows x64. (or the 32-bit / x86 equivalent)

image

Click OK. Close Registry Editor and launch the AnyConnect client. The connection should work normally.