Category Archives: Windows 8

Windows Server “8” is officially named Windows Server 2012

I wrote a few days ago about the chances of Windows Server “8” naming possibilities, and I predicted (or guessed) it might be named 2012, since Microsoft wants to avoid using 13 because of triskaidekaphobia. Last night it was announced that the official name is indeed going to be Windows Server 2012:

In addition, Anderson provided a preview of how Microsoft’s private cloud will become even more powerful with Windows Server “8” and announced that the operating system will officially be named Windows Server 2012. The new “cloud-optimized OS” is due out later this year.


Windows 8 editions announced–a few thoughts

Today, Brandon LeBlanc announced the upcoming Windows 8 editions. It’s an interesting read for multiple reasons.

First, the official name of Windows 8 remains Windows 8. This was expected, since after Windows Vista, Microsoft started using a (bit) more logical naming conventions for their server and workstation products. Servers follow a year-based naming model while workstations follow an incremental number. Does this mean that the upcoming Windows 8 Server will be named Windows Server 2013? Perhaps, even if Microsoft tries to avoid the bad karma of the number 13.

ARM ProcessorSo the editions will be Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 RT. I’m not fully convinced that Windows 8 RT, which is intended for ARM-based devices such as slates and tabs, is a good moniker. It feels it was lifted from WinRT (or Windows Runtime), which is the new programming model for Metro-style apps on Windows 8. Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro also platforms for Metro-style apps, hence WinRT applies to those editions as well? If you do a search on ‘ARM’ and ‘RT’, you’ll get several hits for real-time. Not a big issue but certainly something to confuse non-enthusiasts.

The chart that differentiates key features between the editions, a few features caught my attention. Microsoft Office is listed as a feature for only Windows 8 RT. It’s a bit confusing but apparently it means that Microsoft Office (along with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote – no Outlook) is preinstalled on any device that ships with Windows 8 RT. You can still install Office 2010 or Office “15” for Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.

Windows 8 RT also supports ISO/VHD mount. This is an interesting feature, considering that a powerful tablet/slate-device could then mount existing VHD-images, or even boot to a virtual machine.

Too bad that Bitlocker and Bitlocker to go are not available for Windows 8 or Windows 8 RT, just for the Pro edition. Is it because non-Pro-users do not need Bitlocker-based encryption, or that nobody uses it outside the corporate world?

What’s missing from the feature list is Windows To Go. It’s a feature that allows you to boot and run Windows from any USB-based mass storage devices, such as a USB stick. It’s a neat and highly useful feature, but probably still in 1.0-stage and was not listed separately in the announcement.

In retrospect it seems that Windows 8 Pro will be the default choice for anyone even remotely interested in configuring, administering or designing Windows 8-based workstations or networks. Windows 8 will be the off-the-shelf edition for market PC’s and people who don’t know any better. And Windows 8 RT is the natural choice for tablet devices that are ARM-based.

Windows 3.11Compared to Windows Vista’s 5 editions (Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate, Business, Enterprise) and Windows 7’s 6 editions (Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, Ultimate) the choice to trim editions down to 3, is a welcomed changed.

Now I can finally remember all three of them! (I miss Windows 3.11 for Workgroups, it was a simpler life then)

Issues with Windows 8 Consumer Preview on a HP 8560w laptop

Just a quick post this time:

imageI’ve been running Windows 8 Consumer Preview on my main laptop, which is a HP 8560w laptop.It even says EliteBook on the back so definitely a good workhorse for most of my SharePoint needs.

Everything ran mostly smooth after removing Windows 7 and switching to Windows 8 Consumer Preview. I hate using virtualization on a desktop, but I wanted to try out Hyper-V 3.0 also.

After a few weeks my laptop started acting up. Random reboots, and system halts whenever I’d put it to sleep or hibernate. Not good, Windows – definitely not acceptable.

I wasn’t sure what caused the issues, since the error codes didn’t give a specific reason, just the typical IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL errors.

The reason could be one of the following:

Running Hyper-V 3.0 on a laptop – not a far-fetched thought. Considering there were some slight issues to get Hyper-V running when your regional settings are not US English, this was my first suspicion.

Any of the random hotfixes Microsoft pushes through Windows Update – There were plenty, and I wasn’t really sure which of them did what. Didn’t have time to investigate.

IIS + SharePoint + SQL Server 2012 – These are fairly well-behaving citizens on the operating system so I didn’t inspect these further.

3rd party hardware drivers – Mostly I used native Windows 7 64-bit drivers from HP’s support site. A few were Microsoft’s own (apparently experimental) drivers and a few from vendors.

Eventually the issue boiled down to NVidia’s drivers. There’s a nice write up on this at but the fix is not nice – effectively disabling most of your GPU abilities to do something doesn’t feel like a fix to me. A lot more insights at the forums here.

So for now, I’m back to Windows 7 on my laptop and hoping for Nvidia to come up with a proper release for their GPU driver. Alternatively I could go back to the Intel GPU drivers available here.

Power user productivity tips for Windows 8 (Consumer Preview)

It’s been a day filled with using the latest Windows-incarnation, Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Ever since Windows Vista beta (are we allowed to mention Vista anymore?) I’ve been trying to run my laptops and desktops in the latest (stable) beta for most Microsoft operating systems and software. This time has been easier than ever before: It just works.

I’ve found out a few great productivity tips that I think others might find useful – so here they are:

Add a pin number

I’m using a Active Directory domain account. The password is somewhat long and complex but it’s still pretty fast to type. I have a habit of locking my desktop with Win-L if I step away from the desk. Unlocking takes a few seconds but using a pin number is even faster – and it saves you the trouble of hitting enter!

Here’s how to set up a pin number:

Press Win-I to bring up the context menu for Desktop and click More PC Settings:


In the context menu select Users. You should see an option to create a pin:


Click Create a PIN. You need to type in your password first and then type a pin.

You can test your pin by locking the screen with Win-L and then typing the pin.

Synchronize user settings

One of the cloud-enabled features of Windows 8 CP is the option to link your local or domain accounts with your existing Live ID. I use Live ID for Live Messenger and different Microsoft services, such as and, but I use my own AD account for everything else. So it makes sense to link these two – I don’t have to type as much.

The benefits of linking your AD account with a Live ID are numerous: You can synchronize user profile settings between different physical machines. This way I can synchronize my Taskbar settings between my laptop, my desktop and my mini-laptop. Yet another way to save me from re-configuring everything.

I also use Dropbox to synchronize my data. It’s by far the best option to securely synchronize huge binary files to and from the cloud, and all my other devices (including iPad and laptops).

I might be the only one doing this, but I have a collection of +100 high resolution wallpapers that I switch every 15 minutes on the desktops with the built-in “Next desktop background” function:


And here’s my wallpaper collection and settings:


The issue here is that while Dropbox keeps my wallpapers nicely in order and sync, it also breaks the built-in wallpaper switch-mechanism of Windows. When I first encountered this issue I actually built a .NET command-line app to switch the wallpaper for me, but that’s more of a hack than anything else.

So I’ve got the same issue now with Windows 8 CP. It syncs all my user settings, including wallpapers. This means that Windows is scanning through my wallpaper folder and maybe locking the files, and Dropbox is sniffing the same folder for any changes. Dropbox wins, and Windows gets confused and decides to drop everything and maybe a static copy of whatever wallpaper you were using at the time. Automatic wallpaper switching is disabled and desktop background gallery only has 1 image left.

The solution, finally, with Windows 8 is to re-configure synchronization so that it does not synchronize your wallpaper settings – but still synchronizes everything else!

To do this, hit Win-I > More PC Settings. Under Sync your Settings disable Personalize: Colors, background, lock screen, and your account picture.


Fix the font size

The higher the resolution, the more it fits. If it fits, I sits and use it. The default setting, at least on my NVidia-based laptop, was 150% for font size. This is way too big, and I feel that I’m running at 1280*768, when I’m trying to run at 1920*1080.

To fix this, simply go to Screen Resolution from your desktop and click Make text and other items larger or smaller. Then select 100%:


A log-out is required to apply the change. Thankfully you can do that at a later time.

Make the default apps smaller

In the default Metro view, some of the default apps such as Mail, are huge. I mean, they consume so much space:


To make ‘Photos’ smaller, right-click on the icon and select Smaller:


Or just unpin the apps you don’t need.

The 5 most important keyboard shortcuts in Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Even though I like the new Metro interface, I’m still using the old keyboard shortcuts to navigate. So in order to learn something new and worthwhile, I compiled a quick list of the 5 most important (and useful) new keyboard shortcuts:

1. Settings-menu

Press Win-I for the new settings menu. You actually get slight differences for the UI depending where you press Win-I. In Metro-mode, it looks like this:


In classic desktop you’ll get a few more links:


2. Settings with Search

Press Win-W for Settings with Search-menu. This is almost the same as Win-I but shows you a nice search bar and real-time results:


3. Apps menu

Press Win-Q for Apps menu:


4. Files menu

Similar to Apps and Settings menu, press Win-F for files menu:


5. Hover menu

Press Win-C for a hover menu showing Search, Share, Start, Devices, settings and date and time:


Virtualizing Windows 8 Consumer Preview with VMware Workstation 8

(You can download Windows 8 Consumer Preview here)

I wanted to test how the new Windows 8 Consumer Preview (beta) performs with VMware Workstation 8 (on Windows 7) and Hyper-V (on Windows Server 2008 R2). I use VMware on my laptop, and Hyper-V on our virtualization platforms. I’m planning to move towards Hyper-V 3.0 but the world isn’t quite ready yet, so VMware has been a nice solution for virtualizing the little I need to virtualize on the road (I normally run everything through the host OS).

This post will walk through the installation and basic configuration process of Windows 8 Consumer Preview with VMware Workstation 8.

I’m using the 64-bit version, in hopes of being able to run some 64-bit software for test purposes.

Installation on VMware Workstation 8

The boot screen reminds me of cubism:


Upon initial boot Windows 8 CP will complain about a missing ProductKey –setting in the unattend answer file. This is a known issue – to fix it, simply disconnect the floppy drive and/or set it to Use physical drive:


Installation follows the familiar pattern from Windows 7. First, select language, time and currency and keyboard layout:


Click Next and then click Install now:


Enter a license key: DNJXJ-7XBW8-2378T-X22TX-BKG7J


Accept EULA:


Nothing much I could upgrade, so choosing Custom Install:


Going with the defaults for the disk:


And we’re installing!


A quick reboot and I get to configure the few settings Windows 8 requires me to configure at this point. Computer name and background color first:


Let’s set some more settings. Selecting Customize just to see what’s underneath:


There’s Sharing, which I normally disable:


And a few more settings and properties:


And more:


And more:


Finally I get to sign in with my existing Live ID:


A nice addition – I can enter my mobile phone number as a security verification method for recovering my password:


And that’s it!


The colors, are, umm – fresh.