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Vol. 19, #50 - December 15, 2014 - Issue #1010
This week's newsletter presents you with our predictions for where Windows Server and cloud computing is heading in the future. Yes, your editors have peeked into their crystal ball to see what lies ahead. Most of what we've seen is blurry shadows, but it's enough to get you thinking about where you might need to steer your datacenter or IT career in the coming years.
Of course predictions concerning the future tend to be mostly unreliable, and I guess that's why, like Dogbert, your editors have so few adherents in our sideline as fortune tellers:
FYI this is our last issue of 2014 so we'll be sending you our next issue at the start of the new year.
So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Ask Our Readers: WServerNews has almost 100,000 subscribers worldwide. That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some issue or need advice on something IT-related? Got a question you'd like us to toss out to our readers to try and answer? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In Issue #1009 Prepping Laptops, we talked about prepping mobile computers before introducing them into your business environment. We received some excellent feedback from readers on this topic and we're including a sampling in this issue's Mailbag. To start the ball rolling, here's what a reader named John had to say about the topic:
This was a great little article here on this subject, and very timely indeed as family will be receiving machines for their holiday gifts. I recently setup an inexpensive laptop for my sister and went through the whole shebang of removing the crapware. This is still a very painful ordeal no matter how much we try to slice and dice the process!
For the corporate users it's not as bad as it seems. They can setup an OEM agreement with the laptop manufacturers who will then produce a custom image, a .WIM file, ready for deployment from the OEM hidden partition on the hard drive. When it comes time to install, the machine is powered up the first time, just like any OOB setup, and the install process begins. While I was at Oracle as technician, this went one step farther. Instead of Windows installing for the first time in its normal fashion, here was what we called the OBIPE, or Oracle Base Image Pre Environment. This had a form to fill out with user credentials, an initial simple password, so we could configure the machine, and then additional options to include MS Office if needed. With the machine hooked to the network, it contacted the FTP link on MyDestkop.oraclecorp.com and picked up any additional patches for the machine, slipped streamed them in and then rebooted. When the machine came up, it was ready for deployment after installing any software such as MS Office. We would then apply any additional patches, since these come out more often than the image was updated, and the machine was ready for the user. The process probably took about an hour per machine, and we'd set up a bunch to image when they came in. We went as far as to do a generic install, using a temporary user login. When the time came to deploy the machines, we'd run a simple Oracle Base Image Config right from Windows. This would update the user information without reinstalling everything, and the machine was then ready for the user. With the machines preconfigured like this, there's no worry about the old crapware which is every so common on all preconfigured machines.
For home users, well that's a different story as you've pointed. Here we have to manually remove the junk as you pointed out. One of the more important things, though, is to make the system disks from the imaging utility supplied by the OEM. I can't count on my fingers and toes how many machines were dead because there was no way of retrieving the special drivers and special utilities that were supplied with the machines. Knowing that the OEM key is now hidden in the BIOS makes this even more important because no matter how many copies of Windows are around, there still won't be a way to rebuild the machine without the actual licensed OEM copy. This is scary from a support point especially with many new machines that no longer have DVD drives and rely on thumb drives or the cloud for storage.
Unfortunately if you make a system disk using the OEM's utility and use it to restore your system, you'll end up with all the crapware back on your machine, so it seems home users and small businesses just can't win in this regard. Interesting point about OEM agreements by laptop manufacturers for corporate customers--do any other readers of WServerNews have such agreements in place for their companies? Are there any pros and cons associated with them? Let us know at email@example.com
Valerie, a Technician who works for an Internet Provider and computer sales/repair company, had this to say on the subject:
Just to let you know that I never had any issues with clean install on any of Windows 8.x laptops.
Serial is embedded in BIOS and Windows gets automatically activated when you re-install.
As long as the original install matches the disk, it's all good (you can't install 8.1 from disk if the originally you had 8.0 - you have to install 8.0 and then go through all the updates and eventually get to 8.1), you don't need to even know the serial.
I reinstalled plenty of OEM laptops using a clean Windows 8 image, no issues what so ever.
Another reader sent us the following suggestion:
Although I've used the 'fresh install' method myself, the How To Geek web site recommends a free PCdecrapifier:
that might do much of the work more easily than "Add/Remove Programs" or "Programs and Features". It'd be worth a mention even if only to see if anyone had tried it and hear their results!
Finally, a reader named Bill suggested the following idea for a new feature in future versions of Microsoft Windows:
If you ever want to see exactly how chatty a system is, simply unplug your NIC cable and boot the desktop. Launch Wireshark and start a capture, then plug in the NIC cable again. Yikes!
I have been trying to suggest to Microsoft for a LONG time now to provide a feature in Windows that can allow a user to manually enable Internet access in applications for EACH new connection. Call it a "Cellular Internet Mode", if you will. Here's the use case:
Let's say I'm on the road, and in a rural location with limited cellular access. Or, say I am on the lake in my boat and I see a storm front coming, but I want a more detailed weather report than is available from the Weather applications. I boot my laptop and it has no Internet access. So far, so good. I then connect to my cellular hotspot -- and I can start downloading my Email or bringing up the Wundermap.
At the same time I am accessing this time-critical information, 30 other programs detect that Internet access is now available, and they all start up at the same time. Windows Update is a big one, but antivirus and other programs will see the new connection and start updating, too -- because they all have auto-update features. Live tiles or the Windows Desktop gadgets are the same thing -- do I really care that it is 35 degrees and cloudy right now? Certainly not. All of this extraneous traffic slows down my critical task, all because there is no easy way to filter this stuff out. When on a slower cellular connection with limited bandwidth (and limited data, as more carriers are limiting data, too), it would be ideal to be able to turn off ALL non-essential tasks and allow the one Internet connection I want ONLY. I would simply click ACCEPT on the outbound connection that I want, and DENY on all other outbound connections.
I also have a few "relatives of more advanced age" who have (gasp) dial-up, too. Connecting at 33kbps to pull their Email simply takes FOREVER when their AV has to download 50MB first, Windows wants 388MB of updates, and all of the other processes want their bits, too.
Would this be painful for a user on a high-speed network? Of course.
Could you auto-detect a cellular connection? Probably not. However, think of how it could eliminate vectors for malware if you got a pop-up and could allow or deny each outbound packet? Maybe a third-party firewall exists with this feature?
Interesting idea Bill, thanks. I hope you submitted your idea to the Windows Feature Suggestion Box as we suggested in the Save These Electrons section of our previous issue. Here's the Suggestion Box link again:
And now let's peer into our crystal ball and see what's coming for us IT pros in the future...
Below are our 10 predictions for where Windows Server and cloud computing are heading in the coming years. You may feel free to agree or disagree with any or all of our predictions, but naturally we'll like you a lot better if you shut up and agree (just kidding). You can also send us your own predictions or comment on any of our predictions (as long as you're nice) through our usual feedback channel firstname.lastname@example.org
I may be (and probably are) wrong about some these predictions, but at least they should get you thinking. If I'm wrong about all of them however, I'll eat my last store-boxed copy of Windows XP.
One: Microsoft will buy Coca-Cola
That's not likely of course, but we've included it because outliers like this can have a really big payoff, so if this actually happens then the whole world will come and fall at our feet throwing money towards us...
Two: Windows 10 will be a success, but...
How can it not be? It only took Microsoft four tries (Windows 8 / 8.1 / 8.1 Update 1 / 10) to finally get it right. But that hasn't stopped Microsoft from dominating the market before--remember Windows 1.0 / 2.0 / 3.0 / 3.1?
Three: But the consumer PC market will continue to decline, so...
Enterprises will deploy Windows 10 in droves. But most consumers will continue to shift towards Apple and Android products depending on their age, income level and hipness quotient. And Google Chromebooks will continue making inroads into the education market.
Four: Microsoft will retreat from making devices and refocus mainly on providing services
The Microsoft Surface will eventually go the way of the Zune. That actually makes me very sad as I'd love to chuck my iPad and own an affordable full-featured Microsoft tablet as I trust Microsoft a whole lot more than I do Apple or (OMG) Google when it comes to privacy and security. But Microsoft entered the tablet market too late and at too high a price point to ever gain significant market share with consumers and probably with many businesses as well. After all, if a poor editor/writer like me can't afford a Surface, how can my mom?
Five: Microsoft will double-down on the cloud
Forget about buying that shiny new Dell server for your small or mid-sized business--why spend money on hardware when you can provision new servers quickly and easily in the cloud? Businesses will continue in droves to move their workloads into IaaS cloud offerings like Microsoft Azure and Amazon EC2. Microsoft knows this so they're betting the farm on Microsoft Azure.
Six: The security business will make a comeback because...
I was surprised when Microsoft recently announced it was shuttering its Trustworthy Computing unit as a standalone unit within the company. With our increasing reliance on the cloud in our emerging connected-device world (also called the Internet Of Things--yech) I personally feel that security should be at the center of everything a company like Microsoft does. This in fact has been the posture of Microsoft in recent years, and I sure hope the current reorg doesn't affect their commitment to Windows security in all its various shapes and forms. After all, if Microsoft can't keep Windows security then who can? Symantec?
Seven: Because high-profile hacks will become even worse in 2015
Expect 2015 to be the year that hackers do some real damage to the economy. Not just by compromising some large vendor's billing system, but by taking down a power utility or compromising the network of a major credit card company or hacking an air traffic control system at a major hub airport or some other disaster that will seriously impact lots of ordinary people.
Eight: HP will implode
Once upon a time way back when I was studying Physics in university HP was my favorite company. Their Reverse Polish Notation calculators were sheer joy to use--yes I'm really that old. Today's HP however bears absolutely no resemblance to the wonderful HP of old, and the current management is driving the company inevitably into the ground.
Nine: Amazon will keep on growing
I'm talking mainly about Amazon Web Services here. AWS will continue to be the dominant player in cloud computing for the foreseeable future because of their head start in this area. Microsoft will gain some ground with their Azure offering but most of their growth will be with their existing enterprise customers who will move in droves from on-premises to the cloud. Unfortunately this means revenue for the Cloud and Enterprise Division at Microsoft is likely to remain flat since the right hand will merely be taking what the left hand is giving up.
Ten: Google will be split up into two separate companies
One can only dream about this happening as Europe and especially Germany continues to flex its muscles over global business. But the day will come dear Mutti when Germany will decline because the 800 pound Panda (China) is pounding on the door. Anyhow, I for one would love to see Google fade into total oblivion. Except for Google Maps of course which I use all the time. And Google News which I read every day. And Gmail which all my family and friends use. And YouTube which has all those funny cat videos. And Google this and Google that. I just wish they wouldn't do evil.
Send us feedback
What are your own predictions concerning the future of the Windows Server platform, cloud computing, tech companies, and the IT profession? Let us know at email@example.com
In Issue #1008 Managing BIOS Configurations, we included a Tip of the Week from reader Tom Peacock about how you can use Classic Shell Setup to quickly and easily toggle between the traditional desktop and Modern user interfaces of Windows 8.1. Another reader named Peter Milham has followed up with an additional utility you can use to smooth the wrinkles you feel when you use the Windows 8.1 user interface:
Following on from WSN 1st Dec article: To add to Tom Peacock's suggestion to use ClassicShell (which is what I use too), I also suggest purchasing Stardock Modernmix:
This puts the Modern UI applications in a desktop window. It costs $4.99, but this makes using both modern UI apps and desktop apps in Windows 8.1 a much more seamless activity.
Thanks for that tip!
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Microsoft Press is happy to announce the next free ebook in our System Center series: Microsoft System Center Extending Operations Manager Reporting by George Wallace, Chris Jones, Bill May, Fred Lee with Mitch Tulloch as Series Editor.
You can download the book in PDF, Mobi and ePub format here:
Get more free ebooks from Microsoft Press from this page on the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
Just one announcement this week from the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
December 16: Big Data with the Microsoft Analytics Platform System
Join a team of experts for a broad-level technical look at Microsoft Analytics Platform System (APS), the high-performance and scalable solution built for modern data warehousing needs. See an end-to-end demo of the appliance's power, and get a look at the Big Data capabilities in this massively parallel processing appliance. Don't miss "Big Data with the Microsoft Analytics Platform System," on December 16. Register here:
"Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more." -- Dr. Seuss from How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Until next week,
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Convergence 2015 on March 16-19 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Microsoft Ignite on May 4-8, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois, USA
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While the volume of compliance related requests to gather electronically stored information is expected to grow again in 2015, very few IT professionals have mastered the art of in-house eDiscovery collections. Join Compliance and eDiscovery experts Bill Tolson, President of Tolson Communications, Rick Wilson, VP, Strategy and Solutions at Sherpa Software and Marta Farensbach, Director of Product Services at Sherpa Software, for an interactive discussion on the best practices for performing in-house eDiscovery collections that are defensible, cost-effective, and don’t strain your IT teams to the breaking point.
This informative online conference for administrators and other IT Professionals is hosted by MSExchange.org and takes place on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 2pm EST | 1pm CST | 11am PST | 7pm BST.
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Virtual Networks in Microsoft Azure (Part 1) (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
Taking a Fresh Look at Hyper-V Clusters (Part 4) (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
Microsoft Azure - The Network Operating System of the Future, Today (Part 3) - Multi-Site VPN and VNet-to-VNet Connectivity (WindowsNetworking.com)
Reinventing Amazon Web Services (InsideAWS.com)
An Introduction to Amazon Web Services (AWS) (InsideAWS.com)
Getting Started with AWS - Part 1 (InsideAWS.com)
SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint Online solution pack for branding and site provisioning (Microsoft Download Center)
Product Review: Message Logic MLArchiver (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
Powershell Command To find Event IDs (Andrew Seeliger's Blog)
From My Virtual Desktop: XenServer 6.2 Root Password Lost? (The Citrix Blog)
Today's IT pros are well-equipped to get a hybrid cloud up and running, but there are still a lot of challenges involved, such as multi-platform use and interoperability. Discover how OpenStack can help bridge the gap between private and public clouds to optimize your hybrid cloud strategy today.
Virtualization success is often dependent on successful management of your underlying hardware infrastructure. A converged infrastructure can alleviate common management challenges and optimize your virtualized data center, but there are key factors you need to consider before adopting this strategy.
Though VMware has long supported RDSH, dating back to the first release of View, there are many gaps that need to be filled. Fortunately, VMware made the decision to better support RDSH and add application publishing in Horizon 6 to give shops more options to support task workers. Learn how VMware is using Horizon 6 to revive RDSH support.
Before executing a Horizon View deployment, a proper assessment is absolutely critical to identify end user ailments and strategize to ensure deployment success. Learn how to identify user communities, use software to get benchmarks, and so much more, so you can optimize your Horizon View deployment.
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
An amazing Christmas light show at the Storm family home in Austin, Texas with over 25,000 lights blinking to the tune of 'Let It Go.'
You gotta watch this hilarious, sweet little lip syncing Christmas song. Wait for the bass 'singer' - he is an absolute riot!
Amazing Christmas display with 176 channels and 45,000 lights! The show is so popular that it requires a crew of 3 people to manage the traffic:
The coolest video of dogs decorating a Christmas tree
Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit and has been author or series editor for almost fifty books mostly published by Microsoft Press. Mitch is also a ten-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com.
Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also manages research and marketing for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.