Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Windows 10 - What it means for Business

Windows 8 Adoption

According to Net Applications, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 fell to a combined 12.26 percent of the desktop OS market by the end of September, down more than a percentage point from 13.37 percent at the end of August, which is the highest it’s ever been.

No one would argue that the two most maligned operating systems ever to be released by Microsoft are Windows Vista and Windows 8, but it might surprise some to know that Vista was actually more popular in its heyday than Windows 8 is now.

Microsoft, whose employees reportedly refer to Windows 8 internally as “the new Vista,” seems to have realized that it’s alienated a good portion of its PC user base with the drastic changes it made with Windows 8.

Since XP’s demise Windows 7’s share of the market has gone from 49.3% at the end of April to 52.7% at the end of September.

A company looks at the budget line cost of upgrading the Windows 8 OS, then factor in the cost of upgrading peripherals. That’s when many companies decide to stick with Windows 7 for that legacy support,” said Joe Lore, sales director at Sunnytech, a Woburn, Mass.-based Lenovo partner.

Windows Life-Cycle

* Support for Windows 7 RTM without service packs ended on April 9, 2013.

Windows 10 – How does it benefit business?

It’s more familiar from a user experience standpoint.
  • There’s virtually no learning curve required with Windows 10. For mouse and keyboard users, the Windows 10 user experience begins at the familiar desktop. The Start menu experience of Windows 7 has been expanded, providing one-click access to the functions and files that people use most.
  • In-place upgrades from Windows 7 or 8 that are focused on making device wipe-and-reload scenarios obsolete.
  • Windows 10 delivers one universal app platform, one security model, and one deployment and management approach.
  • Unified experience scales across devices.
  • Windows 10 is able to provide an additional layer of protection using containers and data separation at the application and file level – enabling protection that follows the data wherever it goes. Whether the data moves from a tablet or PC to a USB drive, email or the cloud – it maintains the same level of protection.
  • Added tools for compatibility testing.
  • Through new dynamic provisioning capabilities, businesses will be able to configure off-the-shelf devices, without reimaging.
  • Planning for the new, unified app store to allow for volume app purchases based on existing organizational identity, flexible distribution and the ability for organizations to reclaim or re-use licenses.
  • Organizations will also be able to create a customized store, curating store experiences that can include their choice of Store apps alongside company-owned apps into a separate employee store experience.


Businesses with extended support may very well stick with Windows 7 until end of life and look towards Windows 10’s successor in their roadmap. Businesses and consumers who are on mainstream support however will be forced to upgrade their Windows operating systems to either Windows 8 or Windows 10 but Windows 10 will find itself competing with Windows 7 instead of Windows 8/8.1.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Microsoft Goes After Botnet, Tanking No-IP’s Dynamic DNS Service For Regular Users In The Process

Microsoft seized 23 domains this week from No-IP, a provider of dynamic DNS services, after filing a civil suit alleging that the domains in question were used to distribute malware.

The domains, according to Microsoft, were used 93 percent of the time for distributing the Bladabindi and Jenxcus malware families. A court granted Microsoft custodianship — DNS authority — of the digital properties so that it could “identify and route all known bad traffic to the Microsoft sinkhole and classify the identified threats.”

It was not a smooth operation. In its zeal to take on cybercrime, Microsoft also disrupted normal service for regular users. The company noted this in a later statement: “Due to a technical error, however, some customers whose devices were not infected by the malware experienced a temporary loss of service.”

Various reports online, however, directly dispute that claim.

You won’t find too many advocates for malware and the like, but it seems that Microsoft stirred up more controversy than it expected to. The company acted through legal channels, making its actions likely under the purview of law, but many are incensed by its heavy-handed action against the infinitely smaller No-IP. A hashtag, #FreeeNoIP, has been set up in protest.

A taste:

Domains are property, and Microsoft essentially appropriated control over No-IPs domains.

No-IP isn’t pleased. In a sharply worded blog post in response to Microsoft’s actions, the company claims that Microsoft didn’t reach out to it before it acted — Microsoft declined to comment on the allegation, citing pending legal action — and that it has a “long history of proactively working with other companies when cases of alleged malicious activity have been reported to us.”

In an email to PC World, No-IP stated that “DNS is hard, and [Microsoft doesn't] seem to be very good at it.”

Microsoft thinks that No-IP had a role in “creating, controlling, and assisting in infecting millions of computers with malicious software.” No-IP has a slightly different take:

Vitalwerks and No­-IP have a very strict abuse policy. Our abuse team is constantly working to keep the No-­IP system domains free of spam and malicious activity. We use sophisticated filters and we scan our network daily for signs of malicious activity. Even with such precautions, our free dynamic DNS service does occasionally fall prey to cyber scammers, spammers, and malware distributors. But this heavy-handed action by Microsoft benefits no one. We will do our best to resolve this problem quickly.

Just what is a dynamic DNS service? I asked TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois to explain:

Dynamic DNS services like No-IP allow you to map your IP address — which can change at any time, depending on your ISP — to a domain name. That’s useful if you want to access your nannycam from work without having to remember an ever-changing IP address, for example. Normally, that would be a hassle to set up, but services like No-IP automate all of this for you.

You can still use No-IP through one of its domains that Microsoft didn’t take over.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Lync for Mac Update

E911 functionality plus video and file-sharing enhancements.

The Lync team is serious about our vision of universal communication (UC). To get to the next phase, we not only need to provide an amazing UC solution, we must also deliver it on the platforms our customers care about (Windows, Windows Phone, Mac, iOS, and Android).

Today we’re announcing an update that improves the productivity, quality, and reliability of Lync for Mac. As part of this new release, our team brings the fruits of 12 months’ work on the Enhanced 911 (E911) functionality with location awareness feature. This highly requested feature is the focus of the current release. In addition to this new feature, we have continued to work on improving the Lync for Mac user experience, including dynamic selection of a video camera while in a meeting and better file/picture transfer in IM and desktop sharing.

E911 & Location Awareness

The E911 feature is one of the biggest steps toward a full communication system based solely on Lync. It takes advantage of all the capabilities provided in the rich client and the server, including provisioning, administration, and whether you’re using E911 through Emergency Location Identification Number (ELIN) Gateway or through an E911 service provider. With E911, you can customize your location and enable a more precise emergency response location (ERL), in addition to sharing your location with other users.

You can find out more about Lync E911 here.

User experience improvements—dynamic video selection and better file sharing

With this update to Lync for Mac, you can now dynamically choose the video camera you want to use during a Lync Meeting—without the need to end the meeting. Lync for Mac recognizes when you have a plug-in camera connected to your device, and it automatically streams the video from the plug-in camera instead of the built-in one. You can reset your default camera anytime you’d like.

Also in this release, are significant performance improvements for file/picture transferring through the IM tab and Desktop Sharing. The investments in these features were a direct result of customers’ feedback and reviews, so please keep using the product and let us know how we can make your universal communication easier and more productive.

Get more details about the Lync for Mac 14.0.9 release and download the new update here.

Blog by Nikolay Muravlyannikov and Barak Manor via blogs.office.com

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Windows Free on Phones, Small Tablets & the Internet of Things

It turns out that those rumors of Microsoft cutting Windows prices to spur adoption were true -- and then some.

The company has announced that Windows will be free for hardware makers to use on phones, tablets with screens under nine inches and Internet of Things devices. Suffice it to say that this is a huge move for a tech giant whose operating system licensing is arguably its bread and butter. 

Microsoft is obviously willing to take a financial hit to compete against Android, Chrome OS and other freely available platforms.

Monday, 10 March 2014

How To: View & Kill RDP Sessions Remotely

By using the qwinsta and rwinsta commands below, you can view RDP sessions on another machine and kill Disconnected or Active Sessions.

Click the picture to enlarge.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Purple WiFi

When your customers visit you, they expect to be able to access free WiFi. Purple Wifi offers you a simple way to turn the cost of supplying public WiFi hotspots into a powerful marketing tool that generates revenue and customer loyalty.

We provide a range of services to suit different types and sizes of businesses, from large multi-nationals to small independents, including hotels, bars, retailers, shopping centres, leisure businesses, camping sites, hairdressers, sports centres, and many more.

Purple WiFi is a public hotspot system that grows your business through social media marketing, at a very low cost. Everyone who uses your WiFi is required to ‘Like’ your Facebook page, ‘Tweet’ about you on Twitter or ‘Follow’ you on LinkedIn – giving you constant promotion to all of their friends, followers and connections.

CLICK HERE for more information and our contact details if you'd like us to come and see you!

Friday, 30 August 2013

IP Address Management (IPAM)

IP address management is difficult for large organisations with hundreds of networks. Windows Server 2012 has an IPAM feature that allows for management and configuration from a database perspective. 

Smaller organisations cannot appreciate the challenges that large organizations have in tracking, assigning, planning, and changing IP addresses. For these larger organisations, IPAM has become a necessity.

IPAM lets you view IP address availability and configuration from a database perspective, enabling you to use your addresses more efficiently. IPAM features such as IP reconciliation and automation can eliminate the need to use spreadsheets for tracking addresses.

In addition to monitoring functions, several DHCP server and scope properties can be configured from the IPAM console.

IPAM includes components for:

  • Automatic IP address infrastructure discovery: IPAM discovers domain controllers, DHCP servers, and DNS servers in the domains you choose.
  • Custom IP address space display, reporting, and management: The display of IP addresses is highly customizable. IPv4 and IPv6 address space is organized into IP address blocks, IP address ranges, and individual IP addresses. IP addresses are assigned built-in or user-defined fields that allows it to be grouped hierarchical or logical.
  • Audit of server configuration changes and tracking of IP address usage: Operational events are displayed for the IPAM server and managed DHCP servers. IPAM also enables IP address tracking from Network Policy Server (NPS), domain controllers, and DHCP servers. Tracking is available by IP address, client ID, host name, or user name.
  • Monitoring and management of DHCP and DNS services: IPAM availability monitoring for Microsoft DHCP and DNS servers across the forest. DNS zone health is displayed, and detailed DHCP server and scope management is available

IPAM Design Considerations

IPAM will periodically attempt to locate domain controllers, DNS, and DHCP servers on the network that are within the scope of discovery that you specify.

Certain security settings and firewall ports on a server must be configured to allow the IPAM to perform required monitoring and configuration functions. The IPAM server will communicate with managed servers using an RPC or WMI interface.  

The following local IPAM security groups are created when installing IPAM.
  • IPAM Users: Members of this group can view all information in server discovery, IP address space, and server management. They can view IPAM and DHCP server operational events, but cannot view IP address tracking information.

  • IPAM MSM Administrators: IPAM multi-server management (MSM) administrators have IPAM Users privileges and can perform IPAM common management tasks and server management tasks.

  • IPAM ASM Administrators: IPAM address space management (ASM) administrators have IPAM Users privileges and can perform IPAM common management tasks and IP address space tasks.

  • IPAM IP Audit Administrators: Members of this group have IPAM Users privileges and can perform IPAM common management tasks and can view IP address tracking information.

  • IPAM Administrators: IPAM Administrators have the privileges to view all IPAM data and perform all IPAM tasks.


DHCP on Windows Server 2008 vs. 2012

Windows Server 2008

In Windows Server 2008 R2, there are two high availability options available for DHCP Server deployment.

  1. DHCP in a Windows failover cluster. This option places the DHCP server in a cluster with an additional server configured with the DHCP service that assumes the load if the primary DHCP server fails. The clustering deployment option uses a single shared storage. This makes the storage a single point of failure, and requires additional investment in redundancy for storage. In addition, clustering involves relatively complex setup and maintenance.

  1. Split scope DHCP. Split scope DHCP uses two independent DHCP servers that share responsibility for a scope. Typically 70% of the addresses in the scope are assigned to the primary server and the remaining 30% are assigned to the backup server. If clients cannot reach the primary server then they can get an IP configuration from the secondary server. Split scope deployment does not provide IP address continuity and is unusable in scenarios where the scope is already running at high utilization of address space, which is very common with Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4).

Windows Server 2012

DHCP failover in Windows Server 2012 enables administrators to deploy a highly resilient DHCP service to support a large enterprise without the challenges of the options discussed earlier.

The main goals of the feature are the following:

  • Provide DHCP service availability at all times on the enterprise network.

  • If a DHCP server is no longer reachable, the DHCP client is able to extend the lease on its current IP address by contacting another DHCP server on the enterprise network.

The DHCP server failover feature provides the ability to have two DHCP servers provide IP addresses and option configuration to the same subnet or scope. The two DHCP servers replicate lease information between them, allowing one server to assume responsibility for servicing of clients for the entire subnet when the other server is unavailable. It is also possible to configure failover in a load-balancing configuration with client requests distributed between the two servers in a failover relationship.

Server sizing
IPAM System requirements
Minimum: 1.4 GHz 64-bit processor
Minimum: 4096 MB
Disk space
Minimum: 64 GB
Other requirements
DVD drive
Super VGA (800 x 600) or higher-resolution monitor
Keyboard and Microsoft® mouse (or other compatible pointing device)
Internet access (fees may apply)
Network adapter
Two 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet adapters supporting PXE
Table 2 - Server Sizing for IPAM server(s)

DHCP System requirements
Minimum: 2.0 GHz 64-bit processor
Minimum: 8192 MB
Disk space
Minimum: 120 GB
Other requirements
DVD drive
Super VGA (800 x 600) or higher-resolution monitor
Keyboard and Microsoft® mouse (or other compatible pointing device)
Internet access (fees may apply)
Network adapter
Two 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet adapters supporting PXE configured in a fault-tolerant NIC team
Table 3 - Server Sizing for DHCP server(s)