21 Apr.

Belkin and Windows 8.1 – Now With More Miracast 25/81

Back in a previous post I discussed Miracast support in Windows 8.1 and some of the different devices I had a chance to try out, but I’m now ready to crown a new champion based on my own experiences. I had previously mentioned that Belkin had some information available about an upcoming Miracast adapter, and now that I’ve got it and had a chance to run it through its paces, I’m pleased to announce I’ve found an adapter that works well in a variety of environments, including some that I was never able to get previous adapters working in.

I had a bit of trouble with some of the original devices I tested due to the amount of wireless interference in the 2.4GHz range, due to close proximity access points and some Sonos devices that were very close to the test location. I effectively had a Miracast dead zone, which the new Belkin adapter effectively eliminated. Why’s that? Well, because it doesn’t have to use 2.4GHz, and instead can use 5GHz.


As you can see, this is an HDMI adapter, which is powered via Micro USB, and it also supports over the air firmware updates, something which is critical in this every progressing world. Just be aware that if your HDMI ports are close together and already mostly filled, you may need to get an HDMI extension cable to plug the device in. You may also need a longer Micro USB cable if your USB and HDMI ports are a decent distance away from each other.

So far this device has been the most consistent Miracast adapter I’ve used, and it’s now become a part of my travel adapter and cable collection, which I probably need to write an updated article about soon.


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 19 Apr.

RemoteApp and Desktop Connections in Windows 8.1 24/81

I’ve previously covered several elements of Microsoft’s BYOD technologies for Windows 8.1, including Work Folders, Workplace Join and Device Management, but an old favourite gets thrust into the spotlight as part of this strategy, and that is Remote Desktop. Whether we are talking about presenting a Windows desktop or an application, RDP has become more important as non-Windows platforms have taken the lion’s share of the mobile device world. While versions of Office and other productivity and LOB applications are becoming more cross platform than ever, there are still many applications out there that are Windows only, and may never move to other platforms.

The RemoteApp and Desktop Connections is what we need to find in Control Panel.

To start with this is unpopulated, so the Access RemoteApp and desktops link on the left needs to be clicked.

We have two options here – we can specficy the correct URL, or something that is usually easier to remember – your email address.

After entering our email address, we click Next.

We can now review the details and then click next again.

We are prompted for our credentials.

Once the credentials are verified, the connection resources are added.


The notification area alerts that we are now connected.

We get confirmation that there are 10 programs available and 1 desktop available.

Now we can see the summary and status information.

By selecting View resources we can now see the traditional explorer view of the connections.

And from the Start Screen we can also see those new connections as well.

And once we view the properties, we get more information, including the URL and the recent results.

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 15 Apr.

What’s The Windows 8.1 Workplace? Part 2 23/81

In yesterday’s post I covered Workplace join, but there was another option for device management which I hadn’t discussed yet. This option allows Windows 8.1 devices to be managed as mobile devices via the OMA-DM API which allows many different MDM solutions to target Windows 8.1 as well as the types of devices traditionally associated as mobile devices.

Now I can choose to Turn On device management, which in this case allows Windows Intune to manage by Windows 8.1 device as a mobile device.

There is a prompt for credentials, which I allow.

I have to log in with my organizational account again.

I’m then prompted to Allow apps and services from IT.

I could leave things here, and effectively leave everything to the IT admin, but instead I can install the Company Portal app from the Windows Store to see what applications are available to me.

This is the Windows Intune based Company Portal, with a review on the right from somebody familiar. If you like big blocks of solid colour you will like this app, and if you don’t, well… let’s hope those that worked on the iOS Company Portal app get a chance to redesign this.

Once the Company Portal app install completes, running it allows us to sign in, and as you can see, it has asked me to sign in to the Windows Intune site.

However, once it detects that this Active Directory environment is federated with Azure Active Directory, it redirects me.

Now you can see that I am back at a contosodemo sign in screen like we saw in yesterday’s post.

Here you can see the app categories, the highlighted apps, as well as the devices that are associated to this account.

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 14 Apr.

What’s The Windows 8.1 Workplace? Part 1 22/81

Tucked away under the Network options in Windows 8.1 is the Workplace, which the more adventurous 8.1 users have discovered without really seeing what it is capable of delivering. There are two different pieces here, the first is the Workplace join, which gives many of the benefits of joining a domain without needing to join a domain, and the second it taking advantage of Windows 8.1s ability to be managed as a mobile device rather than as a traditional PC. Let’s take a look at the Workplace join first

Many of us have joined our own personal devices to our corporate domains to deal with annoying password prompts and access denied messages, but with Workplace join capabilities provided with Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Improvements in Active Directory in Windows Server 2012 R2 allow devices to register themselves with Active Directory, part of Microsoft’s approach to enhancing BYOD scenarios, and Windows 8.1 exposes that functionality very simply. However, once we combine this capability with the web proxy capabilities of Windows Server 2012 R2 we get an enhanced ability to control access to data, not just based on the user identity, but also the device and whether you are inside or outside of the network. Let’s start with an example.

Here is a SharePoint site I am trying to access via the web proxy that has been set up. So far so good, I can get access to the sign in page.

However, once I go to sign in, I’m alerted that my device doesn’t have the correct permissions, and in this case I need to configure Windows 8.1 to join the Workplace.

Once we go to PC settings, we select Network.


From here we select Workplace.


And finally we need to enter the Workplace credentials.

Once the user ID is entered we click join.

And now I am being prompted to provide my password, in this case it is via ADFS.

Just to ensure I am who I say I am, Multi-Factor Authentication can be used, which in this case calls my mobile to confirm my identity.

Once that is confirmed, you can see that I have successfully joined.

Now if I go back to that SharePoint site I originally couldn’t access, I try my credentials again.

And this time I’m successfully logged in to SharePoint.

But there was another option under Workplace, let’s go back and take a look.

Now I can choose to Turn On device management, which in this case allows Windows Intune to manage by Windows 8.1 device as a mobile device.

There is a prompt for credentials, which I allow.

I have to log in with my organizational account again.

I’m then prompted to Allow apps and services from IT.

And now I

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 4 Apr.

Windows XP Australian Launch Flashback Photos

The Windows XP launch in Australia back in 2001 was a (pop)star studded event. For those of you who missed it, here are some photos I dug up. Yes, I’m in some of them, and thankfully I wasn’t having a bad hair day that day. This was the last mega software launch that happened in Australia, and I’m sure I can probably dig up a highlight reel video as well, let me see what I can find.

5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 12.SMH 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 44 45 46 47 48 50 51 52 53 54 56 57 58 59 60 61 63 65 66 68 69 70 72 B.10.MEDIA b.11 b.12.media b.13 b.14.media b.15.media b.16 b.17.media b.18 b.19 b.20.media b.21.media B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8.MEDIA B9.MEDIA Untitled-4 1 2 3 4

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 23 Mar.

Microsoft Australia Windows XP End Of Life Countdown Resources

While you may not be based in Australia, your local Microsoft subsidiary should have something similar, or alternatively, just take a look at the Australian site. Don’t worry, there won’t be any dingoes, crocodiles, snakes or spiders. This site is about keeping you protected, not about exposing you to creatures that want to bite and/or eat you.

First up is the Microsoft Australian Australia EOL site for XP which can be found here. It includes links to the free Laplink PCMover software for moving from XP to 7,8 or 8.1, along with upgrade options and new PC options to consider. The other useful list for your less than prepared friends is the frequently asked question list.

If you’ve got questions for the Microsoft Australia staff about Windows XP EOL or just to pick up a few tips, head across to their Facebook page and on Twitter.

Facebook: http://facebook.com/WindowsAU

Twitter: http://twitter.com/WindowsAU






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 12 Mar.

Catch Me At The Microsoft MVP Community Camp Sydney

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 12 Mar.

Windows XP migration resources

Some new resources are available from Microsoft for those still looking for help moving away from Windows XP. The end of support for XP is less than a month away, and while there are some who are hoping that Microsoft will announce this was all a big April fool’s hoax, most of us realize that this is something that is going to happen…

Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 8.1

Walk through the various challenges of the upgrade and learn about the tools that will ensure a seamless transition from Windows XP to Windows 8.1.

Windows XP Migration Guidance

Still have PCs running Windows XP? Need to overcome common blockers to the migration to a modern operating system such as Windows 8.1? Check out this page for the top migration resources.

New Windows XP Data Transfer Tool and End of Support Notifications

As the end of support for Windows XP nears, we are continuing to focus on ensuring customers are aware of the deadline and helping them to migrate to a modern operating system such as Windows 8.1. Learn about a free transfer tool that is now available to help copy files and settings from a Windows XP PC to a new device running Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1.

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 3 Mar.

Windows 8.1 And Metered Networks 21/81

One of the things I’ve been curious about for a while, but didn’t spend much time investigating was how Windows 8 and 8.1 could detect that you were connected to a network with an associated cost – usually the case with 3G and 4G networks. Was there a secret database of all the telcos access points? Was it based on the MAC address of the Wi-Fi chip in mobile phones and mobile hotspots? No, it is something much simpler – the access points report this information to Windows.

The easiest way to get access to this information is via netsh, if you run “netsh wlan show all” you end up with a pretty rich view of the wireless networks you have connected to, but more importantly you can see the relevant information under Cost settings. I’ve got two example screenshots here – the first you will see is coming from my mobile phone when Internet Sharing is enabled, and you will see that the cost is Fixed.


The second screenshot shows the Cost setting on this network is Unrestricted, and which means it won’t trigger some of the same behaviours as the example above would.

So what does Windows do with these settings? Windows features such as SkyDrive synchronization, Windows Updates and other potentially traffic intensive activities can be restricted while on a metered connection, but applications can also call Windows APIs to get this information as well. The best example I’ve seen of this is Outlook 2013 which lets you know you are connected over a metered connection, and stops synchronizing until you give approval.

Here are a few details on some of the settings.

First of all, with Cost, we have the following options.

Unknown | Cost information is not available

Unrestricted | The connection is unlimited and has unrestricted usage charges and capacity constraints.

Fixed | The use of this connection is unrestricted up to a specific limit.

Variable | The connection is costed on a per-byte basis.

For some of the the settings, we have the following options

ApproachingDataLimit | Gets a value that indicates if a connection is approaching the data usage allowance specified by the data plan, which is defined by the carrier. This limitation is most commonly referred to as a data cap.

OverDataLimit | Gets a value that indicates if the connection has exceeded the data usage allowance specified by the data plan, which is defined by the carrier.

Roaming – Gets a value that indicates whether the connection is to a network outside of the home provider.

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 12 Jan.

Storage Spaces in Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Part 3 20/81

In parts 1 and 2 of this series I’ve given an introduction to some of the differences in the interface and features of Storage Spaces in Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1, but there is one thing they definitely have in common and that’s the ability to use PowerShell cmdlets to create and mange Storage Spaces.

On Windows Server, you can get quite a bit of additional information out of Server Manager than the Windows 8.1 interface can give you, including at a glance information about whether the space is clustered, tiered, and what server it is associated with, amongst other things.


What we want to do here is take a look at further properties for the Storage Space I created called 3Disk, which is includes 3 disks, and it has the VDisk virtual disk created on it.


When we take a look at the Properties of 3Disk, we can see that details allows us to drill down to view a variety of different properties.


If we go to the properties of VDisk, we can see that we have the same ability to see more details.


Jumping back to Windows 8.1, this is all we can see through the UI. We can’t dig any further to see what the properties of the Storage Space are without resorting to PowerShell. I won’t go through all the possible cmdlets and options that are available, just a few of the essentials to get you moving.


The first command that I’ve run is a simple one, and you can it just gives the number of columns and the number of data copies

Get-VirtualDisk -FriendlyName MyVirtualDisk | ft FriendlyName, NumberOfColumns, NumberOfDataCopies


The second one shows a bit more of what PowerShell is capable of, but again, this is a simple disk structure.

Get-VirtualDisk | ft FriendlyName, ResiliencySettingName, NumberOfColumns, NumberOfDataCopies, @{Expression={$_.Size / 1GB}; Label=”Size(GB)”}, @{Expression={$_.FootprintOnPool / 1GB}; Label=”PoolFootprint(GB)”} -AutoSize

For the next few samples I’ve deleted that virtual disk, and added a bit more complexity, but still working with the same 3 disk setup.


Here you can see that I’ve created a 2 way mirrored space (which requires a minimum of 3 drives), a parity space (which also requires a minimum of 3 drives) and the simple volume (which requires a minimum of 1 drive).


I’ve simply re-run the last command again, but this time you can see information that isn’t obvious from the client UI above. We can see the number of columns, which ranges up to 3 for the parity disk, as well as the number of copies, which is 2 for the 2 way mirror. Realistically, anyone playing around with Storage Spaces on the client side is probably not going to be your typical user, so it’s not as if PowerShell is being forced upon end users at this point in time.


Now what I want to do is create another vdisk, but this time I want to force it to use 3 columns, which will improve performance.

New-VirtualDisk -StoragePoolFriendlyName “Storage Pool” -ResiliencySettingName Simple -Size 200GB -FriendlyName Simple3ColumnsVDisk -ProvisioningType Fixed -NumberOfDataCopies 1 -NumberOfColumns 3


Now you can see the final vdisk has 3 columns, which compares closely to a 3 drive RAID 0 array.


Copying from the c: drive, which is an SSD, to the 3 column g: drive, you can see that it is scaling pretty well.


If we compare that to the single column F: drive, you can see it is effectively limited to single drive speeds.


The two way mirror has to write it out twice, but still manages to stay close to the single column vdisk.


Last, and certainly least, is the Parity Disk. The information is striped across the 3 columns with parity, and you can see that once it clears the system cache speed bump at the beginning, it really slows down. Parity is great for longer term archiving, but you don’t really want to be writing to it repeatedly with large files.


Once we copy back from the parity vdisk we see that performance is back up around two drives or two columns, so for retrieving data it’s not a bad option at all.


If we take a look at what Disk Management reports you can see that it reports the vdisks as I’ve created, them, and thin provisioning is definitely in play as these are three 2TB drives. If these weren’t thinly provisioned I’d need another 15 drives or so added to provide this amount of storage.


Now the final piece of today’s post, and more a teaser for future updates, is that Microsoft’s next gen file system, ReFS, or Resilient File System, is included as part of Windows 8.1. It creates multiple copies of the data and allows for higher degree of resiliency in case bit rot hits your data. There is both a performance penalty and a storage penalty, but there are always tradeoffs when it comes to this level of availability.

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