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Category Archives: Windows 8

Microsoft – Troubleshooting Key Management Service (KMS) activation

Today I helped a colleague troubleshoot a couple of systems were unable to activate using Key Management Service (KMS). Basically for this situation it boiled down to this:

Determine for the KMS service

  1. Which server is hosting the KMS service.If an SRV record has been added for KMS DNS auto discovery, run from CMD: nslookup -type=srv _vlmcs._tcp
  2. If the server hosting the KMS is functioning correctly:
  • Check if the server is up and running.
  • Check if the “Software Protection” service (sppsvc) is running.
  • Verify if the KMS service is listening on port 1688: telnet localhost 1688
  • Verify the KMS status. Run from CMD: slmgr.vbs /dli
  • Verify if a KMS key is installed and activated.
  • Verify if the minimum threshold for activation is being met.
  • Verify if other clients are able to activate using KMS. Even though the output of “slmgr.vbs /dli” gives you an indication, you can use the “Volume Activation Management Tool” (VAMT) for more insight and functionality.
  • Verify that a VLK key is being used.

For clients that are not able to activate

  • Verify if the correct KMS server can be resolved correctly:
    nslookup -type=srv _vlmcs._tcp
  • Verify if the KMS can be contacted:
    telnet <KMS FQDN or IP> 1688

    •  If this is not the case, perform a traceroute to determine potential causes. Reasons could include:
      • No default gateway configured on the client to reach the KMS.
      • No route configured on the client to reach the KMS.
      • Firewall on the client is blocking the traffic.
      • Firewall on the server is blocking the traffic.
      • If it is a VM, the virtual network might be misconfigured.
      • Routing on the network is not correct.
      • Firewall on the network is blocking traffic.
  • Clear any previous (mis)configuration: slmgr.vbs /ckms
  • Attempt activation: slmgr.vbs /ckms

NOTE: If you have lots of systems where you need to clear configuration and then attempt activation, you can also perform slmgr.vbs on remote computers using:
slmgr.vbs TargetComputerName [username] [password] /parameter [options]

Additional information

If you haven’t been able to resolve the issue, you might want to take a look here:

 

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PowerShell – Cleaning folders containing temporary files

At the companies I’ve worked for , disk space on the system disk ran out on a regular basis for some systems and caused a lot of monitor calls. These kind of boring repetitive tasks are always the ones you want to automate.

So when I came across the great blog post “Weekend Scripter: Use PowerShell to Clean Out Temp Folders” on the “Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog”, I wanted to post it on my own blog as well. The blog post also describes the process of creating the script very well, which is very convenient for those who are relatively new to PowerShell to scripting and want to learn how to do it better.

If you want to take it even a step further, you could automate it even more. By example by automatically running the clean script when an event is generated that the disk is running out of space. You can configure this using by example:

Or you could use PowerShell remoting to do it on many systems at the same time. This could come in handy by example when after WSUS patching the content in “C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download” is not deleted automatically.

 

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PowerShell – Manage printers

At work a colleague of mine was looking to modify printer permissions on a Server 2008 R2 terminal server using PowerShell. And to be honest, it was more difficult to do than I had expected.

So naturally, I started looking if someone had already created a script for this same purpose and eventually I found this great script created by Vadims Podans:
PrinterUtils.ps1 / Functions for advanced printer management

By leveraging this script, permissions were easily modified by adding the following lines:
$name = “Printername”
Get-Printer “localhost” $name | Add-PrinterPermission “corp\Domain Users” 0 “print”
Get-Printer “localhost” $name | Remove-PrinterPermission “everyone”
Get-Printer “localhost” $name

My modified script can be found here: http://bjornhouben-web.sharepoint.com/Lists/Scripts/DispForm.aspx?ID=22

Be sure to check Vadims Podans website for other great resources: http://en-us.sysadmins.lv/

 

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Windows 8.1 – Use windows store apps when behind an authenticated proxy

With Windows 8 one of the major issues especially when used in an enterprise was that the Windows Store and Windows Store apps wouldn’t work when you were behind an authenticated proxy unless you specifically allowed URLs to pass through the proxy unauthenticated.

I even created a blog post about this before and since it gets many views I believe it is an issue a lot of people are having.

As such I’m happy to inform you that with Windows 8.1 Preview you can configure your authenticated proxy to be used for Windows Store apps. Press Windows key + W and type “Change proxy settings”.

Win8.1_proxy

The settings from Internet Explorer are also automatically used, so existing configurations set using a GPO work as well.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2013 in ICT, Microsoft, Windows, Windows 8

 

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Windows 8 – My view on the re-added start button in Win 8.1 and 2012 R2

As you may have read already, with Windows 8.1 Preview (and Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview) the start button has been re-added:

win8.1_start

Basically by left clicking you will switch between the modern/metro interface and the desktop (similar to pressing the windows key). By right clicking you will get the menu shown in the image above (similar to pressing windows key + X). For more information and tweaks take a look at:
http://www.thewindowsclub.com/shutdown-restart-sleep-hibernate-windows-8-1

Another often requested feature was to be able to bypass the metro/modern interface start screen. This boot to desktop is now also possible: http://www.thewindowsclub.com/boot-to-desktop-windows-8-1

A lot of people have been complaining and discussing the absence of the start button and the start menu and that the shutdown/restart options where too hard to access.

Personally I simply press CTRL+ ALT + DELETE, click the power icon and choose the action to perform. Or I press the physical power button on my laptop, pc or tablet.

I also don’t really need the start button/start menu. I added my most used apps on the modern/metro start screen and/or added them to my desktop and taskbar. Other apps  I simply search for by starting to type on the modern/metro start screen.

The lack of a start button does irritate a lot when you’re accessing Windows 8/2012 through RDP or any other remote method. Trying to access the hot corners to switch between the metro/modern start screen and the desktop can sometimes be hard, especially on laggy connections (ILO/RSA/DRAC). The same is true for accessing the charms bar (which you use to restart/shutdown).

The re-added start button does solve the switching between the metro/metro start screen and the desktop I described above,but the charms bar is still an issue. You can use the start button for restart/shutdown though.

What I hate most though, is that the start button is simply a button. It doesn’t include the start menu people want to access their programs and settings in a way to are accustomed to. To make it even worse the re-added official start button makes it harder to use some 3rd party start button/menu replacements that were working well (but this will probably be sorted out soon since 8.1 has only been released a couple of days). Classic shell still works well though: http://www.classicshell.net/

Even though I think Microsoft has been doing a lot of great things lately, the way they’re handling the start button/start menu isn’t one of them in my opinion. People want the start button and the start menu they’ve grown used to and that has been available for many Windows versions. This start button without the start menu will probably lead to more disappointed users because they expect the start menu to be included with the start button. I think this will also hurt adoption in the enterprise. All in all I think it’s a missed oportunity

The preview version with this start button is not the final version. While I don’t expect Microsoft to re-add the start menu before the finl release, I sure hope they prove me wrong. If you want to have the start menu back, be sure to voice your opinion. This did work for the Xbox one, where Microsoft changed course with regards to Digital Rights Management (DRM).

Even though the start button isn’t what many people have hoped for, there are a lot of other great improvements to Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2 though. I’ll try to post more about it in the next couple of weeks.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 1, 2013 in ICT, Microsoft, Windows, Windows 2012, Windows 8

 

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Windows 8 – performance issues possibly caused by KB2821895 or SuperFetch

Last week I visited my dad. He is not very familiar with computers and mainly uses it for mail, internet and viewing and editing photos. Despite my expectations, it really surprised me how fast he got used to Windows 8 (with a custom start menu).

This time though, he had some questions with regards to mail. While I was showing him how to do it, I noticed that his pc was relatively slow. Even though he doesn’t have a super fast laptop, it wasn’t this slow before.

When I took a closer look I saw that the issue was caused by high disk usage / load (I/O). At first it seemed like this was caused by TiWorker.exe which is part of Windows Modules Installer Worker and is used for installing updates. Since there were updates pending I decided to install these first just in case a fix might have been released. While these were downloading and installing I googled and found that more people were having similar sounding issues but with also high cpu usage/load. One of the the advises was to install KB2771431. This update was already installed, so it didn’t solve my issues either. I then turned off other programs that were disk I/O intensive like the backup tool Crashplan that was performing a scan and the virus scanner. Unfortunately the issue remained.

I gave the system some time just in case this was some sort of maintenance job. As the issue remainedI tried checking the system files with SFC /scannow and some files were fixed, but the disk usage was still very high.

Eventually the workaround was stopping and disabling the SuperFetch service. This is very strange since SuperFetch should make Windows faster, not slower. Since it was already late I decided not to look into it  any more at that time.

I see however that there are also issues being reported with KB2821895 that was released this month and replaces the previously mentioned KB2771431. In the known issues for KB2821895 there is mention of errors stating corruption and that you should use SFC /scannow and use the DISM tools to check and repair Windows. These symptoms do not completely match my issue, but if this doesn’t work there are also options to tune SuperFetch and Prefetch instead of turning it off completely, which is worth a shot.

So if you haven’t installed KB2771431 yet, you might want to consider postponing deployment or at least testing it very thoroughly.

To be continued …..

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in ICT, Microsoft, Windows, Windows 8

 

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Microsoft – Important changes to the update mechanism in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012

For a very long time, the update mechanism for both Windows clients and Windows servers have been the same. With Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 this has changed.

Even though I’d already found out that something had changed with the Windows 8/Windows Server 2012 update mechanism by using it, I didn’t really know what changed and why.

  1. Windows 8 Modern (Metro) Apps security patching does not work the same as regular security patching. For more information, read “Microsoft’s new security patching routine raises concerns“.
  2. Default behavior after you install an important update in Windows 8 or in Windows Server 2012 is that you receive a notice that you have to restart the computer in three days. If the restart does not occur in three days, the computer displays a 15-minute countdown and then automatically restarts. By default, this automatic restart is delayed if the computer is locked, and the countdown will begin the next time that you sign in to the computer. Update KB2835627 has been released that introduces a new registry key called AlwaysAutoRebootAtScheduledTime which enables you to configure a forced restart after installation if desired.
  3. This great blog post provides more insight: “Managing Updates with Deadlines in an era of Automatic Maintenance“. The reactions are also very interesting.Some of the key takeaways from this post:
    • A new feature called Automatic Maintenance, runs nightly and performs various tasks such as lightly defragmenting hard drives (or TRIMming SSDs if necessary), checking, repairing, and optimizing the system component store, running anti-virus scans, installing updates, and more.
      • The setting for when to download and install updates doesn’t work in the same way as it did. While you can still set Windows Update to download updates and install them automatically or not, the day-of-the-week setting is not effective. It is included in the automatic maintenance and there isn’t a way to individually specify which maintenance tasks run on which day.
      • The Windows Update Agent doesn’t have to be active in the background all the time because of this. This consolidation reduces system resource usage and battery usage.
    • If you want to be in control of when updates will be installed you have to use WSUS and set deadlines for updates.

Even though I understand the reasoning behind the change, I would have preferred that Microsoft gave customers options to choose their preferred method. In my opinion this method makes sense for clients, but not so much for servers.

Also for some (smaller) companies the specific day and time patching method (including downloading from Microsoft Update) worked fine and now they might have to install, configure and maintain a WSUS server (including patch approvals) to achieve the same result.

What do you think about this ? Leave a comment on either my blog or on the original blog post : Managing Updates with Deadlines in an era of Automatic Maintenance

 

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Windows 8 – What’s new in Windows 8.1 and how to prepare for the preview

As some of you might know, the Windows 8.1 Preview and Server 2012 R2 Preview (code name Windows Blue) will become available on the 26th of June. Personally I’m looking forward to both of them and can’t wait for it. Also for those who missed it, The Windows 8.1 / Windows RT 8.1 update will be free. The final RTM version of Windows 8.1 is expected to be available August 1st.

When you’re planning to install a new version, you might want to prepare for it. Even though I tried to keep it as generic as possible, some of the steps described are not applicable to Windows RT but you should be able to understand what the goal is. You can probably also re-use these preparations when you want to update from the Preview version to the RTM version.

Preparations could include, but are not limited to:

  1. Determining if you can/want to install the update.
  2. Determining how you are going to run the Windows 8.1 Preview. Some functionality is best tested on hardware installations, but virtualized installations can be more convenient/flexible.
    • Virtualized (by example using Client Hyper-V)
      • Install Windows 8 already and wait for the 8.1 Preview to become available.
        • Will consume more space.
        • Will allow you to install the 8.1 RTM.
      • Wait for full Windows 8.1 Preview ISO to become available.
        • Will consume less space.
        • Might not allow you to install the 8.1 RTM version.
    • Physical
      • Create a new Windows To Go (WTG) installation.
        • On an officially supported WTG certified storage device.
        • On an unofficial non WTG supported storage device.
      • Create a dual/multi boot environment on a physical disk.
        • Create a new installation.
          • Gather required drivers and store them in an easy to access location.
          • Gather applications you want to install.
          • Install.
          • Installation directly to disk.
          • Use the boot from VHD method
      • Update your existing installation.
        • Ensure your important data is safe prior to updating. Even though the update should not destroy data, there is always a chance that it might.
          • Ensure you have recovery media and/or create a USB recovery drive.
          • Move/backup your data.
            • Verify if the new location / backup contains all your data. With backups, verify if you can restore
          • Sync to cloud services (Skydrive, Dropbox, Google Drive).
            • Realize this is not the same as a backup.
        • Document the installed applications (using PowerShell):
          • For Modern/Metro applications:
            Get-AppxPackage | Export-Csv -NoTypeInformation -path “C:\MyMetroApplications.csv”
          • For regular applications:
            Get-ItemProperty HKLM:\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\* | Select DisplayName, DisplayVersion, Publisher, InstallDate, HelpLink, UninstallString | Export-Csv -NoTypeInformation -path “C:\MyRegularApplications.csv”
        • Check if your current Windows 8 installation is healthy and if it is not, make it healthy again before installing the 8.1 Preview.
        • Install 8.1 Preview when it is available through the Windows Store
          • In the past I’ve seen issues with Service Pack updates caused by anti-virus solutions. So you might want to disable it until the installation has completed.
          • If you get an error “The windows 8.1 preview isn’t available right now. Please try again later.” take a look here.

With TechEd Europe 2013 in Barcelona and the Microsoft Build 2013 in San Francisco this week there’s probably a lot more news coming. So you might want to keep an eye on news on all websites. You can also check live streams on Channel 9.

I hope this was informative. If you have any other questions, suggestions or just want to share what you’re looking forward to the most, please leave a comment.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2013 in ICT, Microsoft, Windows, Windows 8

 

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Microsoft – Run programs and scripts under the local system user context

In the past I’ve had numerous occasions where I wanted to run a program or system to run under the local system user context. Most of them involved customers and application administrators that wanted to have a service or scheduled task configured. They often weren’t able to tell me if it was sufficient to run the service or scheduled task as local system or that a special service account would have to be created.

The issue I always ran into when I wanted to test this, is that you had to provide a password that you didn’t know if you wanted to use “Run As” with the local system account.

Recently I ran into the “Run As System” application. It enables you to start a program or run command and script under a local system account. It is UAC compatible, but it requires administrative privileges.

Another use of the “Run As System” application is if you want to access files or folders that are normally not accessible for users. This can come in handy when troubleshooting Offline Files. The tool might not work correctly with Windows Explorer though, so you should consider using other tools like Total Commander.

Other methods to run something as system can be found here.

For more tools and applications, take a look at my website: http://bjornhouben-web.sharepoint.com/Lists/Applications/Summary.aspx

 

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Milestone of 50.000+ views reached !!! Thanks everybody.

My blog reached 50.000+ views. Thanks everybody, this really exceeded my expectation and motivates me even more to keep going. Special thanks go out to my fellow bloggers in my blogroll and to those who shared my posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks.

Even though my blog exists since January 2012, I really started to blog actively around August and ever since I’ve tried to keep posting on a regular basis. At the start of 2013 I even intended to blog every day. I was able to keep it up for a short while, but it was just too time consuming. Now I try to blog something at least once every 5 days. The blog post count is now at 170.

Personally I think Microsoft is on the right track. I’m really looking forward to all new Microsoft product (preview) releases including Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 and you can expect some blog posts about this in the near future.

Popular posts

From the stats, it turned out these are the blog posts that are being viewed most, if you’ve missed any of them you might want to take a look at them:

Stats

For those interested in the view stats, here they are:

Views

Comments and suggestions

If you have suggestions about what I can do to improve, please let me know. Also if you’d like to see some things covered more or in more detail, just leave a comment.

 

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