Vol. 32, #8 - June 3, 2013 - Issue #932
Tiptoeing Towards Windows 8
- Editor's Corner
- From the Mailbag
- Tiptoeing Towards Windows 8
- Tip of the Week
- Recommended for Learning
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- Events Calendar
- Webcast Calendar
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Group Policy Administrative Mysteries: Solved!
- PowerShell Security and Delegation - PKI and PSRemoting
- Five More Free Hyper-V resources
- Windows Azure 3 month free trial
- VIDEO: SharePoint on Windows Azure on Channel 9
- Transitioning to Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) (Part 1)
- SQL Server in Windows Azure Infrastructure Services - Updated Documentation and Best Practices for GA, Upcoming Blogs
- SQL 2012 System Health Reporting Dashboard - Visualizing sp_server_diagnostics results
- The Android Invasion: BYOD Security Implications and Solutions
- Asterisk - Voted WindowsNetworking.com Readers' Choice Award Winner - IP PBX Servers
- Windows Server News
- Open management in a multivendor cloud
- Four desktop virtualization use cases
- Determining what type of server is a good candidate for virtualization
- Microsoft RemoteFX and BranchCache add functions to Windows 8
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- This Week's Links We Like. Fun Stuff.
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- Beat server downtime with anytime server backup
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTERso 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!
This week's newsletter is all about Windows 8 and includes some of my own personal observations about the operating system, why I haven't deployed it yet in my workplace, and why will probably soon be deploying it. But before we look at Windows 8, let's talk about another kind of windows, namely, windows of opportunity. As Dilbert demonstrates in this comic, sometimes if you negotiate long and hard enough you can manage to keep a window of opportunity open just a crack. And if you can do that, well, who knows what might happen next?
From the Mailbag
Your editors just got back from several weeks of holidays in Brussels, Belgium, so we're still catching up on things and will delve into the Mailbag next issue. If you're interested, you can view some photos from our trip on my Facebook page:
Tiptoeing Towards Windows 8
I haven't deployed Windows 8 for our own business yet. I like to tell myself that my reasons for deciding to hold off on deploying this new OS are entirely rational in nature. Specifically, I've decided that I haven't yet identified any compelling need that the new capabilities and features of Windows 8 can satisfy for my particular business. Like anyone who has managed a business successfully, I constantly work to keep overhead low while maximizing productivity, and so far I feel that I haven't found anything in Windows 8 that might significantly boost my productivity or lower the operating overhead of my business. I pride myself on being one who bases his business decisions on facts, not feelings.
But in reality I've been deceiving myself.
Taking a bite of the Apple
Interestingly enough, the realization that I'm not as coolly rational as I thought I was concerning deploying Windows 8 came about because I had decided to take my iPod Touch 5G along with me on our vacation. I had discovered that the hotel we would be staying at has free WiFi, and I thought it might be useful to be able to check the weather, train timetables, and other stuff without having to drag along my laptop. And since I had just bought my iPod Touch only a few weeks previously, I was still in the honeymoon stage with the device and was having fun learning what it could do since it was the first Apple device I'd used in many years.
It was when I was playing with my iPod Touch in the hotel that I came to the realization that I had been resisting Windows 8 for all the wrong reasons.
A jarring experience
For example, when I first started playing around with Windows 8, one of the things that immediately turned me off was the experience of switching between the new "modern" Start screen and the traditional (but Start button-less) Windows desktop. In particular, the transition from the desktop to the Search charm seemed jarring to the point of being annoying. For example, let's say that I'm working on desktop like this:
Figure 1: The desktop in Windows 8
Now I want to search the file system on my computer for something. To do this, I open the Search charm by pressing the Windows Logo Key + F keystroke combination. My screen now looks like this:
Figure 2: The Search charm for searching files
The drastic change of background coloring was always a shock that left me feeling disoriented. In fact, any time I needed to switch between the Start screen and desktop, I felt a kind of cognitive dissonance that interrupted my workflow and train of thought by forcing me to have to recognize the details of the new environment I had switched to.
But then one day during my vacation in Brussels I suddenly realized that I was experiencing a similar but even greater cognitive dissonance when I used my iPod Touch. This happened because I had installed several dozen apps on the device, and as a result I had several home screens with app icons on them. This meant that to launch a particular app, I first had to swipe to find the home screen where the icon for that app resided.
Now to switch between home screens on the iPod you either have to swipe to the left or to the right. If I'm on the first (default) home screen, swiping to the left will take me to the second home screen if there is one. But if I'm on the first home screen and swipe to the right instead, then the Spotlight search screen is displayed. The photo below shows the first home screen on the left and Spotlight on the right:
Figure 3: The first home screen and Spotlight search screen of the iPod Touch 5G
My new realization was that I found the sudden appearance of the black Spotlight screen even more jarring than the Windows 8 search charm. That's because all I had wanted to do was browse to find a particular app on my iPod, I had no desire to search for anything on it by entering text. In other words, the Spotlight screen was displaying functionality that I was not looking for at the moment. Spotlight appears when swiped right instead of left on the first home screen, and often in the heat of the moment I didn't realize that it was the first home screen I was looking at since all the home screens basically look the same on the iPod.
At that moment I had a revelation.
First, I realized that in most respects Microsoft Windows is way more configurable than Apple iOS (at least iOS on the iPod Touch 5G). I can use Group Policy to configure how Windows behaves in an enterprise environment. I can even use local policy to configure Windows on standalone systems. And if I'm careful I can even edit the registry directly to modify many Windows behaviors that are not configurable by policy. But I can't do any of that with my iPod. I would LOVE it if I could somehow disable Spotlight entirely so that the search screen would never appear on my iPod. That way I would be able to find any app by simply continuing to swipe either left or right until the correct home screen appeared.
And second, I realized that the real reasons I had decided not to deploy Windows 8 were emotional and not rational. I didn't like the jarring experience of switching between the Start screen, the desktop, and the Search charm. I was annoyed that I'd have to learn new ways of performing simple tasks like opening a command prompt. I rationalized that I was a server guy and that it just wasn't all that important what client version of Windows we had deployed for our business.
My dislikes, annoyances and rationalizations likely influenced my cost/benefit analysis of whether it might be advantageous to deploy Windows 8 for our business. In other words, my emotions likely colored my thinking.
Hey, I'm only human!
Analyzing how common tasks are performed
As a result of these revelations, I've decided that I'm soon going to have to take another hard look at whether to deploy Windows 8 for our business. (Note that deploying Windows Server 2012 was a no-brainer however.) To do this I'm going to need to set aside my existing negative emotional baggage and try to coldly analyze what benefits Windows 8 might bring against the costs (time, effort, money) of migrating to it.
How will I do this? One idea I've had is to make a list of the top ten (or more) actions I frequently perform on Windows 7 and try to find the most efficient way of doing these on Windows 8. The purpose of this is to determine how migrating to Windows 8 might affect user productivity, particularly the speed and ease of performing familiar tasks.
For example, let's say I want to open a command prompt on Windows 7. How do I usually do this? Hmm, let's see... Looks like I do it by clicking the Start button and then clicking the Windows Command Processor icon which I've pinned to the Start menu. (There are lots of other ways of launching a command prompt in Windows 7 but that's the way I usually do it as I'm old school when it comes to client Windows.)
Now what's the best way of opening a command prompt in Windows 8? Well I could do it like this:
Figure 4: One way of opening a command prompt on Windows 8
The problem with this method is that I need to make an observation (am I on the desktop or the Start screen?) and then make a decision based on this observation. In other words, I need to engage my higher cognitive faculties. As a result, this approach tends to be slower and significantly more awkward compared to what I am currently doing on Windows 7 (click Start and then click the pinned CMD icon) which is almost an automatic reflex action that requires no thinking and can therefore be performed very quickly.
But what if I'm almost always working on the Start screen in Windows 8 and not on the desktop? In this case, I can just type cmd and press ENTER to open a command prompt. That's simple and quick, and can be done using muscle memory without engaging my higher cognitive faculties.
On the other hand, what if I'm almost always working on the desktop in Windows 8? In that case, the simplest thing to do might be to pin a command prompt window to the taskbar. To do this I first need to open a command prompt window as shown above, and then I can right-click on the command prompt icon on the taskbar and select Pin To Taskbar so the icon remains on the taskbar even after I close the window. At that point I can easily open a new command prompt window anytime I want to simply by clicking the command prompt icon on the taskbar.
But if I'm frequently switching between these two different environments, then I'm going to have to learn two methods for opening command prompts, which means I'll need to frequently engage my higher cognitive faculties, which means I'm likely to work slower, make more mistakes, and feel more frustrated. On the other hand, if I can spend almost all of my time in one of these two environments (either the Start screen or the desktop) then I'll only have to learn one way of opening a command prompt and I can probably be as productive and efficient with Windows 8 as I currently am with Windows 7.
Now although Microsoft would probably say that there is only a single environment in Windows 8 and not two different environments, the reality is that Windows 8 really does feel like it has two personalities, two skins. For example, if I'm on the Start screen I can simply type the name of an app and press ENTER to launch it. If I'm on the desktop however and type something, nothing happens. Different behaviors, different environments.
Another difficulty however is that Windows 8 doesn't seem to want to let me stay in one environment. In particular, it doesn't seem to want to let me stay on the new Start screen because performing a simple action like opening a command prompt causes the desktop to display. I can get back to the Start screen of course by pressing the Windows Logo key, but in that case why should I have to use the Start screen at all?
The Big However
The more I've played with the new user interface in Windows 8, the more I've become frustrated by the small cognitive dissonances that seem to slow me down when I'm just trying to do my work.
However--and it's a big HOWEVER--the REALITY is that productivity shouldn't be the only consideration when it comes to migrating to Windows 8. There are other equally important considerations, for example security. It doesn't matter how productive your users are if their computers aren't secure. And in the area of security, Windows 8 really shines with its support for UEFI Secure Boot, Enhanced Protected Mode (EPM) for Internet Explorer 10, and several other new capabilities.
And the more I look at these powerful new security capabilities in Windows 8, the less annoyed I am by the cognitive dissonances introduced by presence of the new Start screen. And who knows, maybe with Windows Blue a.k.a. Windows 8.1 coming soon, Microsoft might eliminate some of these dissonances and make the entire Windows 8 experience smoother and more uniform.
The reality is that IT is always a tradeoff between usability, manageability, security, and several other factors. Finding the right balance between these factors in order to optimize your business is tricky; it takes give and take. Losing a little user productivity might be a good choice then if it can mean significantly enhancing the security of your business data. And who knows, I might even be wrong about the productivity thing--maybe the cognitive dissonances that annoy me in Windows 8 are chimeras that will vanish in the wind as I begin working in earnest with the platform.
So the bottom line is that I'm now beginning to think seriously about deploying Windows 8, or more likely Windows 8.1 since by the time I've made my decision Windows 8.1 will likely be approaching general availability.
What about you? Send me your thoughts at [email protected].
Tip of the Week
Here's a tip showing how you can use Windows PowerShell to bulk-create user accounts in a Windows Server 2012 Active Directory environment. The tip is excerpted from my latest book Training Guide: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 from Microsoft Press:
A good example of how Windows PowerShell can be used to automate a common Active Directory management task is the bulk creation of users. For example, you can combine the previous examples with the Import-Csv cmdlet which allows you to read in data from a comma-separated values file (CSV), to create multiple user accounts in a single operation.
To illustrate this, the file new-users.csv contains a line of header information followed by attributes for three user accounts as follows:
Arno Bost,Arno,Bost,abost,[email protected]
Peter Fischer,Peter,Fischer,pfischer,[email protected]
Manish Chopra,Manish,Chopra,mchopra,[email protected]
The following command reads the CSV file and pipes its contents into the New-ADUser cmdlet, sets the password for each user account as Pa$$w0rd, and ends by enabling the accounts:
PS C:\> Import-Csv C:\data\new-users.csv | New-ADUser -PassThru | `
Set-ADAccountPassword -Reset `
-NewPassword (ConvertTo-SecureString -AsPlainText "Pa$$w0rd" -Force) `
-PassThru | Enable-ADAccount
The highlighted portion of this command takes the string "Pa$$w0rd" and converts it from plain text to a secure string so that it can be used by the -NewPassword parameter of the Set-ADAccountPassword cmdlet. The -Force parameter is needed to suppress the confirmation prompt generated by use of the -AsPlainText parameter.
Contact me at [email protected] if you have a tip you'd like to share with our readers.
Recommended for Learning
Here are a couple of announcements from the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
On-demand from MVA: Windows Azure for IT Professionals Jump Start
If you missed the live event, watch this expert-led Jump Start from Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) that will help you understand how to use Windows Azure Infrastructure Services such as Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks to migrate, extend, run, manage and monitor common workloads in the cloud.
Windows 8 for IT Pros Jump Start
If you missed the Windows 8 Jump Start for IT pros from Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA), it’s now on demand and it’s a really popular one for anyone looking to pass Microsoft Certification Exam 70-689.
Quote of the Week
"In fact, all bodybuilding success is dependent on correct nutrition." - Robert Kennedy
And what did YOU have for breakfast today?
Until next week,
Note to subscribers: If for some reason you don’t receive your weekly issue of this newsletter, please notify us at [email protected] and we’ll try to troubleshoot things from our end.
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- Microsoft Build on June 26-28, 2013 in San Francisco, USA
- Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference on July 7-11, 2013 in Houston, USA
- Microsoft TechEd Europe on June 25-28, 2013 in Madrid, Spain
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Register for Webcasts
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Group Policy Administrative Mysteries: Solved! (WindowsNetworking.com)
Derek Melber explains the complexity of Group Policy and highlights some of the major changes that happened in this area.
PowerShell Security and Delegation - PKI and PSRemoting (Keith Mayer, Microsoft Evangelist)
Keith has written a configuration and best practices blog post about PowerShell 3.0 PKI and remoting.
Five More Free Hyper-V resources (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
Scott D. Lowe shares five more tools that you can use with recent versions of Hyper-V.
Windows Azure 3 month free trial (Microsoft)
Florian says he currently prepares his virtual Lab for the MCSE Server Infrastructure on Windows Azure Trial Version. Works fine and reduces my Certification costs.
VIDEO: SharePoint on Windows Azure on Channel 9 (David Tesar, Microsoft Evangelist)
In this episode of the Channel 9 Webcast David Tesar and Paul Stubbs explain how to build and run a SharePoint 2013 environment on Windows Azure.
Transitioning to Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) (Part 1) (MSExchange.com)
Anderson Patricio begins a new series that goes over the steps required to move your mail traffic from on-premises to Microsoft FOPE.
SQL Server in Windows Azure Infrastructure Services - Updated Documentation and Best Practices for GA, Upcoming Blogs (Craig Kitterman, Microsoft Evangelist)
With this Blog, Craig gives a little more background on Azure Infrastructure and best practices for SQL Server in the new Azure version.
SQL 2012 System Health Reporting Dashboard - Visualizing sp_server_diagnostics results (Microsoft PFE Team)
In this blog the Premier Field Engineers from Microsoft show you how to read a Health Report from SQL Server 2012. Florian think it's a good blog to save.
The Android Invasion: BYOD Security Implications and Solutions (WindowsSecurity.com)
Deb Shinder talks about mobile security threats and examines how you may be able to tame the emerging monster that BYOD is becoming.
Asterisk - Voted WindowsNetworking.com Readers' Choice Award Winner - IP PBX Servers (WindowsNetworking.com)
Asterisk was selected the winner in the IP PBX Servers category of the WindowsNetworking.com Readers' Choice Awards. Cisco Unified Communications Manager and SwyxWare SmartOffice were runner-up and second runner-up respectively.
Thanks to Florian Klaffenbach for providing some of the items in this section. Be sure to check out Flo's Datacenter Report:
Open management in a multivendor cloud
Managing a multi-vendor cloud can be extremely complex, and as a result, many organizations are turning to high-level open management tools to ease common challenges. Access this resource to learn about the top benefits and drawbacks these advanced platforms for the cloud can offer.
Four desktop virtualization use cases
While desktop virtualization can deliver significant advantages, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, so it’s essential to do your homework before deploying it in your IT environment. Inside, explore the top desktop virtualization use cases to determine whether or not this technology can benefit your business.
Determining what type of server is a good candidate for virtualization
Many organizations are eager to adopt server virtualization to take advantage of the many benefits it can offer. But how do you determine which types of servers should be virtualized and which should not? Access this tip to explore essential guidelines that can help you effectively evaluate your servers.
Microsoft RemoteFX and BranchCache add functions to Windows 8
While Windows 8 Professional and Windows 8 Enterprise may seem similar on the surface, there are key differences between the two, especially when it comes to the features they offer. Access this resource to examine the capabilities each offers so you can determine which one is right for your business.
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]
Spring is in the air and it is in Ultra High Definition. Just select "Original" in the resolution menu to view it in 4K HD:
This fully automated printing and filing system was discovered by accident when the staff at a college noticed printouts disappearing mysteriously.
Are you confused by female behavior? Wish you had a translator to understand what she means?
The Day The Routers Died... performed by the secret-wg in the closing plenary of the RIPE 55 conference:
Did you know that building a revolving house it is comparable in cost to building a conventional house?
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 from Microsoft Press and has published hundreds of articles for IT pros. Mitch is also a seven-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 Tullochis Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also Head of Research for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.