Vol. 19, #49 - December 8, 2014 - Issue #1009
- Editor's Corner
- Save these electrons!
- From the Mailbag
- Prepping laptops
- Tip of the Week - Retrieving OEM product key from UEFI BIOS
- Recommended for Learning
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- Events Calendar
- Webcast Calendar
- CloudCON 2014
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Windows client
- Windows PowerShell
- System center
- Security and Privacy
- Recommended TechGenix Articles
- Recommended articles from websites in TechGenix Network
- Windows Server News
- Finding OpenStack advantages beyond open source
- How and why to use shared virtual hard disks
- Will Microsoft’s VDI licensing changes hurt SMBs?
- VMware makes vSphere more Mac friendly
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- What Happens When A Man Sets A Lion Free From His Enclosure
- How To Make A Dolphin Laugh
- He May be The Biggest Cheat In The Canine World - But He Did Win The Race
- What Cats Want
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- SolarWinds trio of Free Active Directory Admin Tools
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for helpful tips, tools and resources!
- FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER to a colleague who you think might find it useful!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
This week's newsletter is all about prepping mobile computers before introducing them into your business environment. The problem is that whether you're purchasing laptops, notebooks, laptops, tablets, or all-in-one convertible PCs from a vendor, and regardless of whether the vendor is big or small, the device you acquire are likely to be loaded up with various forms of--well, let's use a technical term here: crapware.
What can you do about it? Well, being in IT you have complete and utter control over the devices your employees can use, right? So you could wipe new laptops and reinstall only company-approved software on it, but is that a good idea? We'll discuss this issue in a moment.
But first we should remember that we can sometimes abuse our awesome IT powers as this Dilbert comic strip reminds us:
Save these Electrons
Got any features or design changes you hope to see in the next version of Windows? Submit them here in the Windows Feature Suggestion Box:
From the Mailbag
In Issue #1006 Resources for Windows 10, I mentioned that we were looking for recommendations for antimalware software our associates could install on their iPads as a requirement for gaining BYOD access to resources on our Windows Server-based network. A reader named Peter from Arizona, USA replied as follows:
You asked about choices for protection of iPad on a Windows network. Check out Sophos:
I've been using their firewall for years, and have recently been evaluating their soup-to-nuts solutions. They cover iOS and everything else. They have a nice (cloud based) management console that will cover all your systems/devices. If you have Android, their security app is free and quite worth using right away (won't interfere with whatever else you have).
Good suggestion but I was actually looking for something people could install themselves from the Apple App Store on their iPads as opposed to an all-in-one endpoint protection solution. Sophos does have several apps in the App Store but they don't seem to fit the bill for us. Does anyone else have any suggestions? Email us at [email protected]
The issue of the revived Start menu in Windows 10 Technical Preview was also raised in Issue #1006, and we received two more comments from readers concerning the matter. John, a Senior Analyst based in London, UK said this:
In this instance you can please everyone. I never was a fan of the start menu and was quite happy with the start screen provided in Windows 8. Disabling the new Start Menu in Windows 10 is easy: right-click the task bar and click Properties. Click on the Start Menu tab and uncheck 'Use the Start menu instead of the Start screen'. Hey Presto.
You're certainly right on one point: you can't please everyone.
A second reader named Antonio from Sydney, Australia said the following:
I understand some people like Tiles just because they are live, however I really don't see the usefulness if the computers in the office are behind proxy or on a protected segment that do not have access to Internet all the time in the office. I also have a game computer at home that are not networked, and my home ADSL has only 20GB of traffic each month. I really don't want apps or widgets running in the background consuming the traffic without me authorizing them. I don't mean here that tiles are no good, just that it is useless in some situations.
The issue of bandwidth charges is one I hadn't thought of, though I suppose you could simply disable any live tiles on your Start menu. I wonder though how much hidden bandwidth Windows 10 (or Windows 8.x for that matter) may be consuming behind the scenes as part of routine system maintenance actions. Do any readers have any insight into this? Email us at [email protected]
And now on to the main topic of this week's newsletter...
I still remember in the old days when desktop PCs were dominant and laptops were used mostly by sales people and the boss. Big companies would buy bare-metal (no OS) PCs in volume from big vendors like Compaq or IBM or Dell and then deploy their own company image on their PCs using Ghost. Smaller businesses on the other hand would purchase OEM PCs that had Windows preinstalled along with various crapware, and IT typically wiped and re-imaged the machines as it was generally a lot easier doing this than trying to find each and every piece of crapware and uninstalling them. Either way, the end result of the process was pristine PCs that had only Windows and approved business applications installed.
The proliferation of laptops in recent years however has complicated this approach in two ways. First, laptops and other mobile computers are rarely available with no operating system installed. Second, in addition to crapware, laptops also may have special software from the vendor and other customizations that help extend battery life and ensure optimal performance.
My point here is whether it makes sense to try and wipe and reimage a new laptop before introducing it onto your company network. From discussions I've had with colleagues who work in admin and support in various organizations, there seem to be two basic minds about the matter: all crapware must be eliminated vs. it's just not worth the bother. Let's deal with the latter option first.
It's Just Not Worth The Bother...
When it comes to removing crapware from laptops, it's getting harder to do this with each new version of Windows. For example, say you buy a new laptop that has Windows 7 preinstalled (if you can still get these) by the vendor. If you wipe the machine, you can't just reinstall the media that can with your laptop as it probably includes all the firmware, sample software, adware and other junk you don't want. If you had an MSDN subscription you could download a clean image of Windows 7 and install it on the machine and then use your OEM product key to activate Windows. But if your laptop came with Windows 8 or later then you're probably out of luck. That's because computers that have Windows 8.x preinstalled by the OEM have had Windows activated on them using OEM Activation 3.0 which embeds a unique product key in the BIOS of the machine. If you then download Windows 8.x from MSDN and install it, you won't be able to activate it using your OEM product key. For more information about OEM Activation 3.0 see "Deploy Windows images: Activate and secure PCs" on Microsoft TechNet:
There's also a link in this article to the OEM Activation Guide on Microsoft Connect but unfortunately you need OEM credentials to sign in for downloading the Guide.
But even if you're dealing with a laptop running Windows 7 it may still be a bad idea to wipe the machine and install a clean copy of Windows on it. That's because of what I said earlier about laptops often having special vendor software and other customizations installed to extend battery life and boost performance. While some of this vendor software may be available from the vendor's website in the form of device drivers, some of it may not. In addition, the installed copy of Windows on most laptops today may also include special hotfixes that are not available on Windows Update or from the public Microsoft Support website. Finally, the vendor may have also configured special registry settings on the machine to optimize processing, networking, storage and power management performance, and these registry settings may not be publicly documented anywhere.
In other words, if you wipe a laptop and install a clean copy of Windows on it, your applications may perform badly on it, your battery might die before it's time, and your laptop might wake up in its carrying case and cause a fire or ruin the machine. So the commonly heard argument that loads of OEM crapware can slow down a Windows system may actually be a red herring, at least when it comes to laptops. That's because installing a clean copy of Windows on a laptop without introducing special OEM software and customizations can actually result in your laptop performing more sluggishly than if it had no crapware on it!
All Crapware Must Be Eliminated!!
But what if you absolutely must eliminate all crapware from your newly purchased laptop? In that case, the procedure that most of my colleagues recommend (with some variations) is this:
- Disconnect the laptop from the network and perform a factory reset on it using the recovery partition (or built-in SD card) or removable media (DVD or USB) included when you purchased the machine (or follow the instructions provided with your laptop to burn DVD or USB recovery media).
- Boot Windows, log on, make sure everything still runs properly and then open Programs and Features.
- Find something you won't use (like an evaluation version of some anti-malware software installed on your machine) and uninstall it.
- Reboot the machine, log on and open Programs and Features again.
- Find the next piece of crapware you don't want and uninstall it.
- Repeat until all the crapware you can find on the machine has been removed.
- Finish off by creating a system image backup in case you need to restore the machine to its now more-or-less pristine state. Make sure you also create a recovery disk as well. Store your backup and recovery disk someplace safe in case you need it.
But maybe all that the tortuous procedure above tells us is that it's just not worth the bother of spending all that time removing crapware from new laptops.
BTW to listen in on some others talking about the inescapable problem of crapware on today's mobile devices, check out the following thread on Reddit:
Tip of the Week - Retrieving OEM product key from UEFI BIOS
If you have a PC with a UEFI bios running Windows 8 or later and you need to retrieve the unique OEM product key that was used to install Windows on the machine, you can do this by opening an admin-level command prompt and typing the following command:
wmic path SoftwareLicensingService get OA3xOriginalProductKey
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
Windows 8.1 Update for Enterprise Jump Start
Windows 8.1 User Readiness Toolkit
Microsoft Virtual Academy
Some new on-demand courses from the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
Implementing Tabular Model Solutions
Watch this on-demand course for an exploration of tabular data models, supported by SQL Server Analysis tools. If you have tons of data and want to build successful self-service analysis and corporate BI solutions, take a deep dive with the experts, including Julie Koesmarno, from the recent SQL PASS Summit 2014, and popular author Patrick LeBlanc. Watch here:
Upgrading to Microsoft SQL Server 2014
If you are considering a SQL Server upgrade, but need some help, watch this course for, guidance from the experts who walk you through the process. They look at the technology but also at the methodology, processes, and tools to help make your SQL Server 2014 upgrade a success. View the course here:
Designing BI Solutions with Microsoft SQL Server
Business Intelligence (BI) professionals looking for tips and ideas for implementing BI solutions should check out this course. Our experts walk you through planning and designing a BI solution based on SQL Server 2014 and other Microsoft BI technologies. Learn how to plan a data warehouse infrastructure, define an appropriate disaster recovery approach, balance query‐based processing versus filter-based processing, and more. Watch here.
Quote of the Week
"I personally believe that each of us was put here for a purpose - to build not to destroy. If I can make people smile, then I have served my purpose for God." - Red Skelton
Until next week,
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Registration is now open for CloudCON 2014, an informative online conference for Administrators and other IT Professionals within the global IT community. This online event is hosted by CloudComputingAdmin.com and takes place on Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 11am EST | 10 am CST | 8am PST | 4pm BST.
This annual live conference is a convenient opportunity to learn from many leading experts and vendors who serve the Cloud Computing and IT Administrator community. Examples of focus session topics include:
- Keys selecting and migrating to cloud technologies, while avoiding the common pitfalls
- Tips, techniques, and strategies IT should know to manage both hybrid and cloud services
- Common and security risks that come with a hybrid or cloud infrastructure, and how to counter these new threats
- New technologies to help make cloud management and security easier and less time-consuming
- What IT needs to know about big data, policy management, social technologies, cloud messaging…and more.
Registration is free and you will be able to attend the live event and/or view the recording of the vendor sessions that you wish to join.
Convergence 2014 on March 16-19 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Microsoft Ignite on May 4-8, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Add your event
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Register for Webcasts
Add your Webcast
PLANNING A WEBCAST you'd like to tell our subscribers about? Contact [email protected]
Effectively securing Windows 8.x, ten things you need to know (WindowsSecurity.com)
Managing AppLocker in Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8/8.1 (Part 3) (WindowsSecurity.com)
Introduction to PowerShell with Windows Azure (CloudComputingAdmin.com)
PowerShell DSC Blog Series, Part 5- Point in Time List of DSC Resources (Building Clouds)
When the BizTalk Management Pack for Operations Manager does… well, nothing. (Andres Naranjo's System Center & BizTalk blog)
SCOM 2012 Maintenance Mode Scheduler (Everything System Center Operations Manager by Tim McFadden)
Security and Privacy
What's the Buzz on Web Caching? (Part 1) (ISAserver.org)
Techniques for Blocking Anonymous Public Proxies using Forefront Threat Management Gateway (TMG) 2010 (ISAserver.org)
Dell Virtual Storage Manager 4.0 (4sysops)
Storage Configuration: Know Your Workloads for IOPS or Throughput (Third Tier)
The Rise of the Containers in the Cloud
Getting Started with AWS - Part 1
How to Successfully Create a Hyper-V Cluster Using Virtual Machine Manager (Part 2)
Windows 10 - Privacy and Security Features at a Glance (Part 1)
Finding OpenStack advantages beyond open source
A leader in the open source cloud arena, OpenStack has many vendors flocking to support it. Learn about the advantages and benefits beyond its open source nature and find out why this number one pick is here to stay.
How and why to use shared virtual hard disks
The new shared virtual hard disk feature in Hyper-V 2012 R2 allows virtual hard disks to be shared between multiple VMs, thus enabling guest failover clusters and management flexibility without the expensive storage area network. Learn more about how you can use this feature to improve availability without the expensive storage hardware today.
Will Microsoft’s VDI licensing changes hurt SMBs?
When it comes to VDI, SMBs are taking a big hit from Microsoft’s per-user licensing change, begging the question, what does this mean for DaaS? Get the inside scoop on how Microsoft’s per-licensing change is hurting SMBs, and learn what options are left for affordable virtual desktops.
VMware makes vSphere more Mac friendly
While VMware continues to progress in its efforts to make the vSphere platform more OS neutral, they have a fairly long way to go when it comes to assisting administrators who use Macs. Discover how VMware plans to further expand their options to make vSphere more Mac-friendly.
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 [email protected]
What Happens When A Man Sets A Lion Free From His Enclosure
Watch what happens when this man sets a lion free from his enclosure. No one expected this...
How To Make A Dolphin Laugh
Usually it’s the dolphins that entertain us humans, but here a girl makes a dolphin smile with some tumbling in front of an aquarium:
He May be The Biggest Cheat In The Canine World - But He Did Win The Race
For Jessie, the dachshund, winning is all that matters. See how he won the race: Unfair, but very funny!
What Cats Want
These cats have a very important message for you:
WServerNews - Editors
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.