Tag Archives: Windows 2012

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:


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:

Another often requested feature was to be able to bypass the metro/modern interface start screen. This boot to desktop is now also possible:

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:

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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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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Summary of 2nd Dutch PowerShell User Group – DuPSUG meeting with additional resources

Future events

Before starting with my summary of 2nd DuPSUG meeting, I want to inform you about some future events first:

  • Dutch PowerShell User Group Meetings
    • To keep track of news, use the links  to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the RSS feed on the DUPSUG website.
    • In the future, the plan is to meet every June and November.
    • The next meeting will probably be at November 7th at VX Company.
    • The idea is that community members will also present their own experiences, use cases, scripts, tools, methods. If you want to do so, please contact the DUPSUG group.
      • Remko Weijnen | Blog | Twitter | LinkedIn might be one of the people presenting at a future DUPSUG meeting.
    • Jeff Wouters might be able to arrange one or more copies of the PowerShell Deep Dives book from Manning since he’s contributing to it. The book isn’t complete and released yet, but Manning has an Early Access Program which means that you will get access to the completed chapters now and will get the full version when it’s done. Until June 13 there’s even a promotion to get a 40%-50% discount and it also applies to other great PowerShell books.
  • Inter Access Microsoft Summer Summit (Hilversum, July 2nd 2013 17:30-22:00 CET)

This event

Last Thursday I attended the second Dutch Powershell User Group meeting in Hilversum hosted at Inter Access and sponsored by Sapien Technologies Inc.

Just like I mentioned in the summary of the first meeting there were manu interesting sessions that provided me with more insight and inspired me for practical uses. It was also great to discuss current developments with other knowledgeable and passionate people. The main differences with the previous meeting was that:

  • This meeting was completely in Dutch, while the previous one was completely in English. As such, the workshop descriptions were also in Dutch and you needed to bring your own laptop.
  • The format of this meeting was more of a workshop, while the previous one was mainly presentations.

Thanks go out to all attendees, especially those presenting, organizing and sponsoring the event. Special thanks to Daniel Bot for helping me fix a (stupid mistake in a) script I was working on :)

Goodies and giveaways

Workshops / presentations

And now on with the really interesting stuff, the sessions/workshops. Below are the sessions with some info about the speakers and their sessions. I also added notes I took and other information I looked up afterwards. If you come across any errors or have comments, please leave a reply so I can fix it.

Read the rest of this entry »


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Microsoft – Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V 3.0 best practices checklist

Roger Osborne has posted a great article with a Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V best practices checklist.

I especially like the fact that it’s not just a checklist, but it also explains what it does and why it is considered a best practice to do it this way (in specific situations).

Additionally you might also want to take a look at “Top 20 Hyper-V Performance Metrics You Should Care About” and System Center Advisor.


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Summary of 1st Dutch PowerShell User Group (DuPSUG) meeting


Last Friday I attended the first Dutch Powershell User Group meeting in Eindhoven at Master IT Training and it was great. There were a lot of knowledgeable and passionate people and the interactive sessions were great as well. Thanks go out to all attendees, but especially to the ones presenting and organizing the event.

The fact that we were asked to leave the building (because it was getting pretty late and they wanted to lock up), also stresses the passion of all attendees because. If this wasn’t the case we probably would’ve stayed a lot longer.

Be sure to check out the Dutch PowerShell User Group (DuPSUG) website and Twitter on a regular basis for articles and future events. Ed Wilson also wrote a post of the meeting on the “Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog”.


Ed Wilson "The Scripting Guy" At Dutch PowerShell User Group DuPSUG
Original photo on flickr


Below are the sessions with some info about the speakers and their sessions. I also added notes I took and other information I looked up afterwards. If you come across any errors or have comments, please leave a reply so I can fix it.

Read the rest of this entry »


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Review of yesterday’s free “IT Camp Windows Server 2012″ event

Today I attended the free “IT Camps Windows Server 2012″ event in Eindhoven at Master-it in Eindhoven and I really liked it. It was a real hands-on IT Camp in which they tell you some interesting things about Server 2012, while you are also able to immediately use the technologies you learn about. Ofcourse it’s also a great work to get to know new interesting people.

They also used feedback from previous IT Camps very well. This was very noticeable because now everyone was able to join the hands-on labs. Because of better preparations there was also still plenty of time to explore all assignments and go into more details.

Many thanks to Tony Krijnen and Daniel van Soest from Microsoft for this great event.

There are still IT Camp events planned, but I don’t know if you can still register for them. Check the link below for more information about the event contents, dates and locations:


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Server 2012 Storage Spaces: theory vs reality

In Server 2012, Storage Spaces has been added. It allows you to pool multiple physical disks together (regardless of disk size and connection type) as one big logical disk. For those people familiar with Windows Home Server (WHS), the concept is similar to Drive Extender. For more information read the Storage Spaces FAQ or this blog post.

After the Storage Pool has been created, you can create one or more Storage Spaces (virtual disks) and configure them as either a simple volume, mirror volume or parity (software raid).

Even though this seems great in theory, in reality the write performance on a parity volume is painfully slow at about 25-30 MB/s. Besides the performance, there are also other aspects that you might not appreciate. So before implementing this in a production environment, test it extensively in a testing environment. You can also play around in Microsoft’s virtual labs.

It’s a pity Storage Spaces didn’t meet my expecations, because I was really looking forward to replace my Windows Home Server with Drive Extender. But for now I would recommend sticking with hardware RAID solutions.

1 Comment

Posted by on October 14, 2012 in ICT, Microsoft, Windows, Windows 2012, Windows 8


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