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Tag Archives: Windows 8

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.

 
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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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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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Windows 8 / RT – Metro Internet Explorer 10 flash whitelist to be replaced by a blacklist

Up until now in Windows 8 and Windows RT, the Metro version of Internet Explorer 10 would only run flash on websites that were whitelisted in the Internet Explorer Compatibility View list. Even though you could add websites to the whitelist (I even made a script for it), most people didn’t knew it or just aren’t that handy with computers to fix this themselves. This ofcourse leads to a bad user experience.

Now Microsoft has decided to allow all flash websites and only blacklist some that don’t meet the standard (apparently less than 4% of the tested websites). You can read more about it here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ie/archive/2013/03/11/flash-in-windows-8.aspx

I think this is a good move, because it gives an advantage over other tablets. I think this should’ve been this way from the start, but better late than never.

 

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Windows 8 – Use Windows 8 apps when behind a proxy including the Windows 8 Store

In the past I’ve heard numerous people mention they couldn’t get the Windows 8 Store from behind a proxy on the corporate network. Many even thought it was a design flaw by Microsoft and that it wasn’t possible.

A colleague of mine Kuo Wei Lau informed me about this article that specifies how to configure the proxy for metro apps in Windows 8.

So it is possible to use Windows 8 apps from behind a proxy, but I have to admit that in my opinion the configuration is hidden in a not very obvious location. Nevertheless, it is possible :)

Apparently there are also other solutions and apparently there are also some issues to take into account. So you might want to take a look at these articles as well:

http://www.thewindowsclub.com/setup-proxy-metro-application-windows-8
http://drdebmath.blogspot.nl/2012/11/use-proxy-windows8-iitg.html
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2778122

[EDIT 04-07-2014] With Windows 8.1 Preview configuration of the proxy has been improved. For more info take a look at: http://bjornhouben.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/windows-8-1-use-windows-store-apps-when-behind-an-authenticated-proxy/

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 1, 2013 in ICT, Microsoft, Windows, Windows 8

 

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Review – Acer Iconia Tab W700 tablet – NT.L0EEH.002

Beware: It seems there are different models of the Acer Iconia Tab W700 in different regions around the world, so pricing and specs may differ. This article covers the NT.L0EEH.002 model with an I3 processor as sold in the Netherlands.

Click the image for a slide show

Click the image for a slide show

First of all, for me it was obvious my type of use would require a Windows 8 tablet. An iPad, Android or Windows RT tablet would not meet my needs. For more information about differences, please read my previous post.

Since I was looking for a Windows 8 tablet, I’ve tried many different ones intended either for consumers or companies/professionals. My favorite among all these tablets was the new Samsung Series 7 slate with a i5 processor and a S-pen for digital note taking/writing.

Still I decided to order an Acer Iconia Tab W700 tablet (NT.L0EEH.002) because of the specifications, price and all the included extras:

+Full Windows 8 (not Windows RT).
+Good specs (i3 CPU with Intel HD Graphics 3000, 4GB RAM, 64GB SSD, 11.6″ screen, 1920*1080 resolution).
+Dock, keyboard and proper brown cover are included.
+No other Windows 8 tablet with similar specs and peripherals comes even close to its price (599 euros at the time I bought it).
+Micro HDMI.
+Included adapter Micro HDMI to VGA-out.
+Charges quickly.
+No proprietary stuff.

There are however some compromises I accepted as well:

-CPU is not an i5 or i7 CPU.
-No GPS.
-No built-in 3G (can use USB dongle though).
-No memory card slot (can use USB flash drive / USB disk though).
-No digitizer in the screen / pen support.
-Keyboard is separate Bluetooth device (not a docking, and therefore also no additional battery life and more difficult to carry around).
-The tablet can become warm to the touch. Not noticeable when using the included cover.
-It is not fanless and if you listen very good, you can hear the fan sometimes.
-It might be a bit on the thick and heavy side for some.
-The plastic dock is a nice extra, but the build quality could’ve been better.
-Screen is reflective (as most devices nowadays)
-The power adapter is relatively big.
-Boot from USB flash drive doesn’t seem to be supported. Reinstall requires USB CD/DVD drive.

Even though I don’t need it yet, I would have really enjoyed to be able to expand the storage using a memory card slot. I would also have liked the digitizer/pen, because this would make life easier sometimes when I have to do some stuff in the regular Windows 8 interface.

Besides the specs, I can also say that it’s not just specs. The device feels solid, looks great, boots quickly, has a beautiful screen, has a responsive touch screen and the battery life is good as well (6-10 hours depending on the use). All in all it just works great and it’s a very complete package, so you don’t need to buy any additional stuff.

After using it for about 1,5 months I can honestly say that I don’t want to be without a Windows 8 tablet anymore, because it gives me much more freedom to do stuff when and where I want.

I personally use it mainly in tablet mode to:

  • Browse the internet (mainly Facebook, Twitter, Tweakers.net but also other websites)
  • Watch video learning online / live seminars (some require flash or Silverlight, which other tablets do not support).
  • Watch 720p and 1080p movies and TV series (MKV x264).
  • Check and send e-mails.
  • Play games.
  • Chat.
  • RDP to other systems.

I also have a good desktop and laptop, but if you don’t have either … this tablet can be used as a replacement. You might however want to attach a bigger screen of course.

You might also want to check out other reviews of the Acer Iconia Tab W700. The only one of the same model I have is in Dutch: http://www.tabletguide.nl/review/acer-iconia-tab-w700-review/

You could also check these international reviews, but once again keep in mind that they review different models with another CPU, a different size SSD and also a different price:

If you still have any questions, please leave a comment and I will get back to you.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Hardware, ICT, Microsoft, Tablet, Windows, Windows 8

 

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Microsoft – Surface Pro 128GB sold out in many places despite the not overly positive reviews

Today Microsoft has released its Surface Pro and despite the not overly positive reviews, the 128GB model has apparently sold out in many places.

I personally really like the Windows 8 tablets (I own an Acer W700), but I think the pricing for the Surface Pro is still too steep at the moment for the majority of people. Still it should be enough to get people to think about all the great possibilities with Windows 8 tablets.

So let’s wait and see what 3rd parties will do and what will happen to prices over time. I do expect businesses to adopt Windows 8 tablets quite quickly though. Especially since the sales of regular PC’s aren’t doing that well.

For now, I will leave you with links to a couple of reviews so you can see what other people think:

 
 

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Microsoft – Security Compliance Manager 3.0 (SCM) has been released

Microsoft has released the Security Compliance Manager 3.0 (SCM). This version includes support for Windows Server 2012, Windows 8, and Internet Explorer 10.

SCM enables you to quickly configure and manage computers and your private cloud using Group Policy and Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager. It provides ready-to-deploy policies and DCM configuration packs based on Microsoft Security Guide recommendations and industry best practices, allowing you to easily manage configuration drift, and address compliance requirements for Windows operating systems and Microsoft applications.

Basically in SCM 3.0 you can use predefined baselines, customize them or create completely new ones. Then you can export it from SCM 3.0 and apply it using an Active Directory GPO. To do this, create a new GPO in Group Policy Management, right click the GPO, import settings and complete the wizard.

You can also export existing GPO and then import it into SCM 3.0 and compare the differences.

 

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