My Life in IT

Archive for October, 2012

Catch the Launch of Windows 8 and Click in with Surface

Categories: Windows
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Tune in Thursday, October 25, at 11:15 am EDT while we broadcast live from New York City and launch Windows 8.

Catch the Launch of Windows 8











Join us virtually tomorrow for a special Surface webcast where you can learn more about Microsoft Surface and how to purchase.

Click In.

Windows 8 Launch. NYC

Categories: Windows
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I am here in NYC along with my friend Steven Bink. We walked around Times Square yesterday and saw a few Windows 8 launch related items. I will be updating this post as we go through the launch activities as well.

WP_000094 ; WP_000096

20121025-094439.jpg Waiting in line to check in.

20121025-094752.jpg Steven Sinofsky hanging out in line with us.


20121025-102709.jpg Got our passes. Now for the good stuff


20121025-110129.jpg Seated. Waiting for the launch to begin in 12mins. Look for the webcast link in the other blog post on top.

20121025-112416.jpgSteven Sinofsky keynote at Windows 8 launch for press.

Julie and Mike showing off Windows 8 hardware.


20121025-115814.jpg Steve Ballmer on stage.



20121025-131844.jpg Checking out the surface event. Only RED badges allowed.

Office 365 University

Categories: Office, Office 365
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Microsoft today introduced a new subscription service for Students for about $80 a year. This is a surprisingly low price for features that students get. Office components like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Publisher and Outlook (that’s not available in the current Home version) plus all the other Office 365 goodies to go with it. On top of that students get 60 Skype world minutes per month, 27GB SkyDrive storage along with free upgrades and the ability to install on two separate computers. Check out the announcement from the Office Team below and how you will be eligible to get your copy.Office 365 University for Higher-Education Students

Today, we’re introducing a new offering for university and college students called Office 365 University. Available in the first quarter of 2013, Office 365 University will be offered online, at retail locations and at Microsoft Stores in 52 markets worldwide.

Starting today, eligible students can buy Office University 2010 or Office University for Mac 2011 and receive a free subscription to Office 365 University when it becomes available.

10 Reasons Higher-Education Students Will Love Office 365 University
  1. The best of Office: Includes the new Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access.
  2. The best price: At US$1.67 per month, it’s a great deal. (Estimated retail price of US$79.99 for a four-year subscription; non-U.S. pricing available.)
  3. Four years: If school takes more than four years, renew once for a total of eight years of Office 365 University.
  4. Digital note-taking: Take notes with touch, pen or keyboard in OneNote and keep them handy in the cloud and across multiple devices.
  5. Save to SkyDrive: Office 365 University saves documents to SkyDrive by default, so content is always available across devices.
  6. More storage: Additional 20 GB Premium SkyDrive Storage for a total of 27 GB.
  7. Skype: 60 Skype world minutes per month included.
  8. New upgrades: Get future upgrades and enhancements.
  9. Two installations: Install Office 365 University on up to two computers (PC or Mac) for one user.
  10. Office on Demand: Use it even when you are away from your PC by streaming full-featured Office to an Internet-connected Windows-based PC.
Who can get Office 365 University?

Full- and part-time enrolled university and college students, faculty and staff in accredited institutions are eligible to purchase Office 365 University.

Higher-education students, faculty and staff must verify their eligibility online as part of the Office 365 University product activation process. (Note: Verification is post-purchase for all channels except directly from Microsoft Store, where we offer a pre-purchase verification.)

Read all about it here

Microsoft Surface RT pricing seems to be revealed. Starts at $499

Categories: Hardware, Surface
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The Verge and are reporting that Microsoft has now unveiled the pricing for both of its ARM-based Surface RT tablets at its Microsoft online stores. The 10.6-inch Surface, powered by Windows RT, will go on sale on October 26th and will be priced starting at $499 for the 32GB version without Touch Cover and $599 for the 64GB model. A 32GB version will be offered for $599 with a Touch Cover included. The 9.3mm thin tablet weighs just 1.5lbs and includes a built-in kickstand and vapor-deposited (PVD) magnesium case.

Microsoft listed its Surface pricing at its online Microsoft Store this morning, indicating that pre-orders will be available shortly. The company has also listed the prices for its Touch Cover, at $119.99 each, and Type Cover for $129.99. The Touch Cover appears to be available in white, red, black, blue, and purple colors – while the Type Cover is listed as a single item in black.

While the link above does not seem to be working currently, we seem to have gotten screenshots of what to expect.



This blog post and topic is one in a series of blog posts on 31 days of our favorite things in Windows Server 2012.

DirectAccess, Wow! What a really cool technology to write about. I know I cannot cover everything about DirectAccess, not even come close, but I will try to highlight why this version of DirectAccess in Windows Server 2012 is so much easier, and simple to deploy than ever before. But, before we go forward, I would like to set the context on where we came from and a little bit of my personal history with DirectAccess and how this applies to me. I know everyone might have their own reasoning on how and why to use DirectAccess but hopefully my experience will help someone who might be contemplating if this should apply to them. If you wish to skip my story, hit the break below to get into new features and deploying Simplified DirectAccess.

In April of 2009, I was on Microsoft campus attending a TAP (Technology Adoption Program) Airlift for Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2. The last session before we left for home after 3 days of presentations and interacting with the product team was on DirectAccess. I sat through the presentation by John Morello who was a Senior PM on the Windows team. When the session ended, I went up to John and told him, whatever you just presented I want it! And thus began my journey with DirectAccess. The reason why I thought it was such an amazing feature was because, at that time I was working for a company that was a small business with 125 employees but about 75 of those employees were remote users, the laptops they used never saw the inside of a corporate network except for when they were provisioned or came in for repair during their lifecycle. These machines were non-domain joined, non-admin controlled machines. The overhead of using VPN and the manual connection method of VPN did not appeal to us and so we never deployed it. This was the solution.

So, I started testing with the help of the product team DirectAccess in Server 2008 R2 and quickly realized that this was a pretty encompassing product. Configuring DirectAccess included knowledge of IPv6, Certificates, DNS, Group Policy etc. Also, one important requirement was that the servers needed to be IPv6 capable or a NAT-PT device would have to be used, which ran into thousands of dollars. After a lot of testing and configuring I was able to get DirectAccess deployed. We used user folder redirection, Mobile Broadband features of Windows 7 to have a great user experience with DirectAccess. However, with my limited knowledge at that point, I know that if I was not part of the TAP, it would have been very difficult to deploy and use DirectAccess in my organization. When I took up a new position with my current employer, we ended up deploying DirectAccess to over 300 machines in 77 locations across the country. We are in the process of deploying DirectAccess in Windows 8 and Server 2012.

Direct Access

Windows Server 2008 R2 introduced DirectAccess, a new remote access feature that allows connectivity to corporate network resources without the need for traditional Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections. DirectAccess provides support only for domain-joined Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate edition clients. The Windows Routing and Remote Access Server (RRAS) provides traditional VPN connectivity for legacy clients, non-domain joined clients, and third party VPN clients. RRAS also provides site-to-site connections between servers. RRAS in Windows Server 2008 R2 cannot coexist on the same edge server with DirectAccess, and must be deployed and managed separately from DirectAccess.

Windows Server 2012 combines the DirectAccess feature and the RRAS role service into a new unified server role. This new Remote Access server role allows for centralized administration, configuration, and monitoring of both DirectAccess and VPN-based remote access services. Additionally, Windows Server 2012 DirectAccess provides multiple updates and improvements to address deployment blockers and provide simplified management.

Fast-forward to 2012, in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, DirectAccess deployment is a breeze. Go through a wizard and a working configuration of DirectAccess is deployed in a few clicks. Thankfully, for people like me who have had some experience with DirectAccess in the past, there is a way to get a customized deployment going as well.

New Features

DirectAccess in Windows Server 2012 is one of the roles in the “Remote Access” unified role. Here are the new feature highlights

  • DirectAccess and RRAS coexistence
  • Simplified DirectAccess Deployment
  • Removal of PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) as prerequisite
  • Built in NAT64 and DNS64 support for IPv4 only resources
  • Support for DirectAccess behind a NAT device
  • Load Balancing Support
  • Multi Domain Support
  • NAP Integration
  • Manage-Out to clients support
  • User Monitoring / Server Status / Diagnostics
  • IP-HTTPS performance improvements
  • Server Core Support
  • Multisite Support

Deployment Options

  • Single Site Remote Access
  • Remote Access in a Cluster
  • Multiple Remote Access Servers in a Multisite Deployment
  • Remote Access with OTP Authentication
  • Remote Access in a Multi-Forest Environment
  • Remote Access with Network Access Protection
  • Remote Access in the Cloud

Simple Direct Access Deployment Steps

  1. Install the remote access role:
    • In the Server Manager console, in the Dashboard, click add roles.
    • Click Next three times to get to the server role selection screen.
    • On the Select Server Roles dialog, select Remote Access, click Add Required Features, and then click Next.
    • On the Select features dialog, expand Remote Server Administration Tools, expand Role Administration Tools, and then select Remote Access Management Tools, and then click Next.
    • Click Next four times.
    • On the Confirm installation selections dialog, click Install.
    • On the Installation progress dialog, verify that the installation was successful, and then click Close.
  2. Obtain two consecutive public IPv4 IP addresses and configure them on the external adapter of the server. These addresses must be unique.
  3. Create a new DNS record for the server FQDN.
  4. Obtain a server certificate for IP-HTTPS connections, with a subject name that matches the FQDN of the server.
  5. Create client security groups.

After Installing the Remote Access Role. Open up the Remote Access Management Console


Click on the Deploy DirectAccess Only option


If you have two adapters, select the Edge topology and enter the FQDN or External IP address, if not, select the topology that meets your requirements


Click Next and Finish with the default options or select to edit the settings (settings can still be edited later)


The wizard will go through various configurations and finish successfully


That’s it, you are done! At this screen, you can go and look through all the configuration steps and edit as needed/necessary.


More Resources:

Remote Access tech center on TechNet:

Remote Access overview:

This is Cool! How do I get the new DirectAccess?

This article described DirectAccess improvements in Windows Server 2012 to provide easy deployment and monitoring. To explore the new DirectAccess feature for yourself …

  • Join our FREE Windows Server 2012 “Early Experts” Challenge to continue your learning and prepare for MCSA certification!
  • Download the Windows Server 2012 installation bits!
  • Build your own Windows Server 2012 server lab environment!

Microsoft Surface hits the big screen today

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New Xbox 360 dashboard update starts rolling out today

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Many of you have been involved in the 2012 Xbox LIVE Update Public Beta and have been busy getting an early look at the latest Xbox LIVE features. Today we’re starting to roll out the official release of the update to Xbox LIVE subscribers around the world. To ensure a stable release, this will be a gradual deployment across subscribers and regions over the course of the next week. Our initial deployment will reach approximately three million consoles worldwide, with additional users being updated over the course of a couple weeks. Don’t panic if you don’t see an immediate update, just keep checking back in.

In this update, you will see the following features.

  • Refreshed Xbox 360 Dashboard. We’ve updated the UI with a few things, including an updated layout with more tiles, a combined TV & Movies channel and, in the US, a Sports destination.
  • Internet Explorer for Xbox. With Internet Explorer on Xbox, you can easily find and view internet content on the biggest screen in the house, including HTML5 videos.
  • Recommendations and Ratings. Recommendations will allow you to discover new favorites, generated based on a number of variables including the content you previously viewed, what your friends are consuming and what is most relevant and popular with our Xbox community. You can now rate content yourself and also see Rotten Tomatoes ratings.
  • Pinning. Pinning lets you personalize the dashboard by saving your favorite movies, TV shows, games, music, videos and websites right to the home screen. It’s as easy as opening an app or a favorite movie and clicking “pin.”
  • Xbox Video. Formerly called Zune Video Marketplace, Xbox Video offers hundreds of thousands of TV shows and movies for buying or renting in instant HD streaming.
  • Recent. Previously called Quick Play, the Recent view gives you a list of movies, games, apps or other types of content that you most recently accessed on the console.
  • Enhanced Search. The last Xbox LIVE update brought Bing voice search to Xbox so you could use voice to search for movies, TV shows, actors, directors and artists. This year we added genre search to the list, so now you can search for action, comedy, romance, drama or sci-fi. Bing voice search now includes results for video across the Web, including YouTube.
  • International Expansion of Voice Search. We’ve expanded our Kinect voice search capabilities to 9 new countries – Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Ireland.

What about Xbox SmartGlass? That’s coming too, but not until Windows 8 launches on October 26th. When the Xbox SmartGlass app launches on tablets, PCs and smartphones, it will include key foundational experiences for interacting with your Xbox 360, such as dashboard and app navigation and Internet Explorer control, like text input, scrolling and pinch and zoom.

Yesterday, we shared all the details about Xbox Music, our brand new digital music service. Xbox Music begins rolling out today on Xbox 360, it will launch with free streaming on all Windows 8 PCs and tablets on October 26th and Windows Phone 8 as devices arrive in market. Xbox Music combines all the different ways people love to enjoy music, creating the ultimate all-in-one music service.

For all the details on Xbox Music, check out the Microsoft News Center.


Xbox Music: Free streaming music on Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs and tablets

Categories: Hardware, XBox
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Xbox has officially announced Xbox Music tonight which begins rolling out to Xbox consoles on October 16th. Starting on October 26th, Xbox Music will deliver free streaming music on Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs and tablets in 15 markets worldwide!


Xbox Music has a music catalog on par with iTunes and will give you access to millions of songs and albums that you can subscribe to or purchase through the Xbox Music Store. Buy an Xbox Music Pass for just $9.99 (U.S.) per month and you can get access to ad-free, unlimited playback of any song in our catalog. Your music experience will be effortlessly integrated across Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs and tablets, Windows Phone 8 and your TV with the Xbox 360. Xbox Music is cloud-powered: if you have an Xbox Music Pass you can create the perfect playlist on your Windows 8 or Windows RT PC or tablet and then see it automatically appear on your TV with your Xbox 360 or on your phone with Windows Phone 8.

For more information on Xbox Music, visit or check out this press release with all the details

Pre-Order Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 PCs today!

Categories: Windows, Windows Client
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Starting today, you can reserve a packaged DVD of the upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $69.99 USD ERP* (U.S.) at select retailers. When you receive your copy of the Windows 8 Pro upgrade, you’ll see that the packaging takes a fresh approach, in the reimagining of Windows. Your package will feature one of 5 vibrant illustrations – you can check out all 5 here on Facebook. We moved to paper based materials (the exception of course being the upgrade DVD inside) which allowed us to make an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption. And we’ve reduced the packaging weight by 41%.


In the U.S., you will find this offer at, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot and the Microsoft Store and many more. I suggest checking with your local retailers.

However, if you want to wait until October 26th you will be able to upgrade online via using the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant for just $39.99 USD ERP*. Online upgrade to Windows 8 Pro is supported for 140 countries worldwide, with 37 languages, and 23 supported currencies!

You will want to upgrade your PC to Windows 8 Pro sooner rather than later – this upgrade promotion for Windows 8 Pro both online and at retail runs only through to January 31st, 2013.

Read more here

Office 2013 Family of products RTM (Office 2013, Lync 2013, Exchange 2013, Sharepoint 2013)

Categories: Exchange, Lync, Office, SharePoint
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Moments ago, the Office engineering team signed off on the Release to Manufacturing (RTM) build. This milestone means the coding and testing phase of the project is complete and we are now focused on releasing the new Office via multiple distribution channels to our consumer and business customers.

This is the most ambitious release of Office we’ve ever done. It spans the full family of Office applications, servers and cloud services. The new Office has a fresh, touch friendly design that works beautifully on Windows 8 and unlocks modern scenarios in social, reading, note-taking, meetings and communications. We are proud to achieve this milestone and are eager to deliver this exciting release to our customers.

General availability is planned for the first quarter of 2013. Starting October 19, customers purchasing Office 2010 from local retailers or resellers will receive the new Office for free upon availability. Customers will also see a preview version of the new Office on Windows RT devices, beginning with the Windows 8 launch on October 26.

Additionally, we have a number of programs that provide business customers with early access so they can begin testing, piloting and adopting Office within their organizations:

  • We will begin rolling out new capabilities to Office 365 Enterprise customers in our next service update, starting in November through general availability.

  • Volume Licensing customers with Software Assurance will be able to download the Office 2013 applications as well as other Office products including SharePoint 2013, Lync 2013 and Exchange 2013 through the Volume Licensing Service Center by mid-November. These products will be available on the Volume Licensing price list on December 1.
  • IT professionals and developers will be able to download the final version via their TechNet or MSDN subscriptions by mid-November.