Thursday, August 23, 2012

Installing .Net 3.5 on Windows 8

If you have recently downloaded and installed Windows 8 RTM, you may begin finding applications that require the usage of .Net Framework v. 3.5.

Unfortunately, unlike its predecessor--Windows 7, Windows 8 ships with .Net v. 4.5.

Well, that poses a bit of a problem because of the new installation infrastructure that was implemented with Windows 8 whereby the installation media/installation source is required when installing any additional Windows features.  This new mechanism of installation is called DISM and you can read more about it here

If you encounter and read this article regarding DISM and .Net 3.5, you will see that it primarily addresses the issue in Windows Server 2012 and only provides a cursory overview of how to solve it in Windows 8:

The key to installing .Net 3.5 on Windows 8 actually lies in the first few steps:

  1. Open up gpedit.msc
  2. Edit the Group Policy under Computer Configuration-->Administrative Templates-->System
  3. Open the policy for Specify settings for optional component installation and repair.
  4. Specify an alternate source file path for the files (preferably a file path directly to the ISO image/Windows 8 media).  You can also optionally check the checkbox for "Never attempt to download payload from Windows Update"
  5. Click OK to close the Group Policy Editor
  6. Now open Control Panel-->Programs and Features
  7. Click on "Turn Windows Features on or off" in the left hand navigation
  8. Click on the checkbox for ".NET Framework 3.5 (includes .NET 2.0 and 3.0)
  9. Click the OK button to proceed with the installation

If all goes well, you should be able to successfully install .NET 3.5 on your Windows 8 RTM machine!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Changing the Product Key for Windows 8 Enterprise Edition

If you have recently installed Windows 8 Enterprise Edition, you may have noticed that there is no longer a User Interface for entering a product key during the Windows Activation process.  After seeing the lack of a UI, I suspected that I would have to resort to the command prompt and rely on "good old" slmgr.vbs.  As it turns out, I was correct.

You can review this article for more details on how to activate Windows 8 Enterprise Edition:

NOTE: This process can also be used for Windows Server 2012 Volume License Edition.

Visual Studio 2012 Must Have Features

If you have started using Visual Studio 2012, there are several new features that I consider "MUST HAVE" as part of every developer's toolbelt:

  1. Code Coverage
  2. Unit Test Mocking using Microsoft Fakes
  3. Code Metrics
  4. PowerPoint Storyboarding
  5. Code Clone
  6. UML Modeling using Activity, Sequence, Class, Component diagrams etc.
  7. Code Review
  8. Request Feedback from Customers
  9. UI Testing
  10. Web Performance Testing
  11. Load Testing
  12. Test Case Management

However, if you look at the comparison chart for Visual Studio 2012 editions here:

You will discover that many of these features are reserved exclusively for Premium Edition users and in many cases Ultimate Edition users.

Fortunately, if you are a Microsoft partner, in all likelihood you already have access to the Premium Edition of Visual Studio 2012.  However, if you were hoping for the Ultimate Edition instead, those licenses are largely reserved for the Enteprise Microsoft Partners/Vendors or Partners that have achieved the Team Foundation Server competency.  If you do not fall into one of those categories, unfortunately, you may have to fork out the necessary cash to upgrade to the Ultimate Edition.

Ideally, Microsoft would offer all features/functionality in the Premium edition and reserve exclusive "Extension Packs" for the Ultimate Edition so that all Microsoft partners can reap the development benefits normally associated with Ultimate Edition.

If you work at a company that only has access to Visual Studio 2010/2012 Professional Edition, I feel your pain, I really do....

SQL Server 2012 Management Studio Performance Problems

I have been using SQL Server 2012 for quite a while now and therefore have been performing most of my administrative activities primarily in SQL Server 2012 Management Studio.  Generally, with every new release of SQL Server, I usually drop usage of the prior release of SQL Server Management Studio in favor of the latest release.

However, I recently discovered a major performance issue which affects SQL Server 2012 Management Studio.  

Like most developers, I own a hosting account which I use to perform my development activities.  In my particular case, I am using Arvixe hosting.  In the days before SQL Server 2012 Management Studio, I would frequently connect to my databases on Arvixe using SQL Server 2008 R2 Management Studio with no noticeable performance impact while viewing the various databases available on the Arvixe hosting server.

Arvixe, unlike some other hosting providers, allow developers to see ALL of the databases on the hosting SQL Server, but explicitly deny access to the various databases.  Of course, the consequence of this action is that there may be hundreds if not thousands of databases that need to be expanded in Object Explorer before you are able to select your own particular database.

Well, as I stated earlier, this did not seem to be a problem while using SQL Server 2008 R2 Management Studio.  However, as you can probably guess, this does not work so well with SQL Server 2012 Management Studio.  Instead, SQL Server 2012 Management Studio essentially ends up in what appears to be an infinite loop that is unable to ever successfully expand the databases in Object Explorer!

Below are screenshots of the resultant behavior in SQL Server 2012 Management Studio:

In contrast, this is the result from SQL Server 2008 R2 Management Studio Object Explorer:

So if you end up encountering the same problem with SQL Server 2012 Management Studio, don't abandon SQL Server 2008 R2 Management Studio just yet!! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Visual Studio 2012 and .Net 3.5 on Windows 8

If you currently develop applications which run on .Net Framework v. 3.5 and you install Visual Studio 2012 on Windows 8, you should know that BY DEFAULT, Windows 8 does not have an installed version of Microsoft.Net Framework v. 3.5.

Therefore, it will not appear in Visual Studio 2012 as depicted below:

Therefore, you will have to go into the Control Panel-->Programs and Features-->Turn Windows features on or off, and install .Net Framework v. 3.5 support.

Simultaneously, if you wish, you can also install Windows Identity Foundation 3.5 support:

If everything installs as expected, you should then be able to see all of the relevant .Net Development Frameworks as shown below:

Visual Studio 2012 RTM--No improvements in UI

Well, for those of you who were hoping for drastic and dramatic improvements in the Visual Studio 2012 User Interface for RTM vs. the Release Candidate, you will be sadly disappointed.

There appears to be little to no visible change in the appearance of the IDE between the Release Candidate and RTM version:

It seems that despite the many complaints about the lack of color in the Visual Studio 2012 UI, none of the requested changes seem to have been implemented for the RTM release.

We can only hope that Microsoft or some innovative 3rd party developers/vendors somehow determine how to bring colorful theming back to the Visual Studio 2012 IDE!!

Visual Studio 2012 RTM on Windows Server 2012 RC

If you are one of those folks that like to work with server OSes vs. desktop OSes like myself, you probably want to install Visual Studio 2012 RTM on Windows Server 2012.

Well, unfortunately, Windows Server 2012 RTM has not yet been released on MSDN, so the more adventurous of us are forced to install VS 2012 RTM on the RC release of Windows Server 2012.

As it turns out, however, Microsoft has completely blocked us from doing that.  Since .Net 4.5 ships out-of-the-box with Windows Server 2012, you are unable to install Visual Studio 2012 RTM on the RC release since the RTM release contains a later build of .Net Framework v. 4.5!!

Here is the screenshot from the blocked installation:

So until Microsoft allows us to download the full RTM release of Windows Server 2012, we are forced to rely on Visual Studio 2012 RTM installations either on Windows 8 or Windows 7...

Hopefully we will see the Windows Server 2012 RTM release coming to MSDN very soon!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Windows 8 gets a facelift with RTM

If you have installed any prior release of Windows 8 in the past, you will be pleasantly surprised at the new look and feel of Windows 8 RTM!

The overall look and feel resembles a much more colorful interface similar to what we have been used to in the days of Windows 7 and Windows Vista:

Even the new Metro Start menu interface is far more colorful and pleasant than the earlier releases of the Metro interface that we have seen in the past:

Even the Task Manager is much more pleasing to look at now that it displays icons of the actual applications/programs that are running on your system:

Unfortunately, one of the hidden features I have discovered with Windows 8 is that the "minimize" button to minimize apps/windows on the desktop which is readily visible in Windows 7 (through its outdentation) is no longer visible in Windows 8!!  Oddly enough, however, if you click on the bottom right hand corner where the minimize button is "supposed to be" as it was in Windows 7, the minimize function works as expected!!  I am not quite sure why Microsoft decided to complete hide/mask the visibility of the minimize button, but it is there for those of us who like to use it.

Of course, you can continue to use the Windows shortcut keys to perform minimizations as well as described here (

If you are interested in reading further about some of the new enhancements in Windows 8, check out this article:

Windows 7 Start Menu on Windows 8 RTM!!

If like me, you are pining for the good "old" days of the Windows 7 Start menu while using Windows 8, never fear!!  The makers of ViStart have conveniently allowed us to use the Windows 7 Start menu that we have come to know and love back into Windows 8!!

You can download ViStart from here:

There were some earlier rumors that Microsoft was pulling out the functionality to use tools such as ViStart in Windows 8 RTM, but thankfully they have turned out to be false rumors after all....

Below is a screenshot of the Windows 7 Start Menu re-introduced through the installation of ViStart on Windows 8 Enterprise RTM:

One of the things that the ViStart menu DOES NOT bring back, however, are the typical conventions that we are used to with right clicking on Start menu items to perform various operations.  In fact, no right click menu support is available whatsoever.  Instead, we are still forced to perform right click menu operations through the new Windows 8 Start menu (or Windows Explorer) to perform the traditional operations we have come to know in Windows 7 such as Pin to Taskbar.

  1. Open the Windows 8 Start menu
  2. Find the Application Tile that you want to Pin to the Taskbar
  3. Right click on that Application Tile
  4. You will see a new pane with various button options
  5. Select the the Pin to Taskbar button
  6. Return to the Desktop and you should now see your newly pinned program

If you are looking for other Windows 8 Start Menu alternatives, you can check out this blog post:

If you are looking for a detailed comparison between Classic Shell and ViStart, you can check out this blog post:

Visual Studio 2012 RTM now available on MSDN!

Visual Studio 2012 RTM is now available for download from MSDN:

In addition, Microsoft has released the other following products:

  1. Team Foundation Server 2012
  2. Windows 8
  3. Microsoft.Net Framework v. 4.5
  4. ASP.Net MVC 4 for Visual Studio 2010 SP1
Look forward to seeing the downloads for Windows Server 2012 on MSDN soon as well...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Applying a Watermark to all pages in an MS Word Document

I recently had to apply a "Draft" watermark to an MS Word document that had been handed to me from my co-workers.  However, the problem that I encountered was that each time I attempted to apply the "Draft" watermark to the document, it would only apply the watermark to a single page!!

If you are wondering how I attempted to apply a Draft Watermark to a page, this is how I did it (in Office 2010):

  1. Open up the MS Word document
  2. Click on the Page Layout tab in the Ribbon
  3. Click on the Watermark button
  4. Select the Draft watermark

Well, one of the problems that was introduced by the document is that all of the pages in the document did not use uniform standard headers/formatting.  Therefore, as soon as the Watermark was applied to one page, it would be wiped from the other pages.  I discovered this by attempting to apply the Watermark to various different pages with success in applying it to multiple pages while others only had it applied to a single page.

Fortunately, after some Google searching and investigation, I discovered the solution to be much more subtle.  As tedious as it was, I had to copy and paste the Watermark applied to each page in the header to all of the other pages that had varying headers.  Therefore, if I had 3 or more pages with varying headers (such as a Title page, Table of Contents and main content page), I had to copy and paste the header Watermark to each of these varying pages.

In this manner, I was able to get my "Draft" watermark to apply to all of the pages in the document!

The solution posted by Ross (in the comments below), looks like the following:

  1. From the Design tab in the Office Ribbon, select Watermark
  2. Select Custom Watermark...
  3. Choose Text watermark and from the Text dropdownlist, select "Draft"

Monday, August 6, 2012

Send to Bluetooth Add-In causes Office 2010 Apps to crash

I recently uncovered a very strange and unusual behavior with the Office 2010 Applications on my laptop.

Every single time I attempted a copy and paste operation from one of my Office 2010 Applications to another, the source application would crash!!  I most often encountered this issue in Visio 2010, but it seemed to occur in other Office Apps as well.

Well, one of my colleagues pointed out that the underlying culprit was a feature that shipped that with my laptop--Send to Bluetooth.  When this Add-In was enabled in Office 2010, the copy and paste operations inevitably caused the Office application to crash.

So, in order to rectify this problem, I had to disable the Add-in:

  1. Open the problematic Office 2010 Application (this has to be done for each Office App in the suite)
  2. From the File menu, select Options
  3. Click on the Add-Ins menu item
  4. Look for the Manage heading at the bottom of the Add-Ins screen
  5. You should find a Go... button next to the heading
  6. Make sure the dropdownlist selection is set to "COM Add-ins"
  7. Click on the Go... button
  8. You should now see a dialog with an option checked for "Send to Bluetooth"
  9. Uncheck the checkbox next to "Send to Bluetooth"
  10. Click the OK button to close the dialog.
  11. Re-verify that your application now supports the copy and paste operation without crashing!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pros and cons of Windows Server 2012

If you have (or have not) started using Windows Server 2012, there are numerous pros and cons to using the new Windows Server OS.  Below are just some of the things that I found which are significant differences between its predecessor--Windows Server 2008 R2.


  1. The new Server Manager console is very easy to navigate and offers an easy way to perform a great variety of functions in a very efficient manner
  2. The enhancements in PowerShell v. 3.0 are significant and make scripting in PowerShell much more appealing
  3. It includes .NET 3.5 as well as .NET 4.5 and Windows Identity Foundation 3.5.  All of these can simply be installed through the Add Feature dialogs in Server Manager.
  4. The installation of the OS is SUPER, SUPER FAST.  I was able to install the OS inside of a VM in 15 mins.
  5. Installing large applications such as Visual Studio 2010 or Visual Studio 2012 install faster than their comparable installation on Windows Server 2008 R2.
  6. The boot time of the OS is also very fast.
  7. IIS 8 offers some great enhancements over IIS 7.5 such as the ability to apply host headers to SSL Sites and provide a central shared file store for SSL Certificates across multiple web servers.
  8. The new and enhanced Task Manager now displays icons for the various applications making it very easy to identify running processes that may have "cryptic" names
  9. It ships out-of-the-box with Internet Explorer 10 which provides much better and more reliable HTML5 and CSS3 support to the Internet Explorer platform.
  10. The new Server Manager allows you to close dialogs during the installation of Server Features and then check the Notifications menu to determine the installation progress or status.
  11. Setting up a domain controller is far easier and more painless than even setting up a domain controller using dcpromo in Windows Server 2008 R2.
  12. ADFS v. 2.0 is built into the Server Manager Add Roles/Features, so there is no need to download ADFS v. 2.0 separately to install it.


  1. The new "Metro" look requires bouncing back and forth between the Desktop interface and the Start menu just to open programs.  This makes multitasking very difficult and reduces productivity compared to the traditional Windows OS.
  2. Opening the Start menu requires a high degree of mouse precision.  The Start menu will not simply "appear" by hovering in the vicinity of where it should auto appear.  Instead, the Start menu (outside of  using the Windows key on a Windows keyboard) requires pointing to the upper top right, bottom right or bottom left corner.  There is no simple "Start" button to easily click on that is always visible.
  3. The search pane is separate from the Start menu (unlike the Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2 start menu).  This requires one additional click to click on the Search icon and then begin searching for  particular programs.
  4. The Start menu program tiles do not display full file names.  Instead, if the file names are too long, the tiles display an ellipsis (...) that masks the full file name.  Hovering over any of the tiles (and pausing for a second or two) displays the full file name, but does not display any contextual information to allow further distinction.  For example, SQL Server Management Studio displays as SQL Server Manag... Studio.  Similar tiles such as SQL Server Installation Center... display exactly with the same title and icon thereby allowing no apparent distinction between the 2 icons in terms of their actual program functionality or full program names.
  5. There are no more right-click pop-up contextual menus on Start menu tiles.  Instead, you have to right click on a tile and then move your mouse down towards a toolbar menu at the bottom of the screen to access right click menu options.  This is slightly more effort than before since right click menus could be used in almost a single sweeping motion (right click, hover to menu option and release).
  6. The new look requires more clicks to even perform something as simple as a Power operation.
  7. The "minimize" button in the OS is not visible as it was in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, but it still remains in the lower right hand corner of the screen.  If you are like most end users that actually require visual confirmation of a button, "hiding" this button, forces users to rely on remembering the Windows keyboard shortcut "Windows key + M" to minimize all active windows.
  8. There is no categorization of programs in the Metro Start menu--all of the Programs are simply tiles with no ordered structure whatsoever.  There does not seem any way to re-categorize the Program tiles into a "folder-like" structure.
  9. The new "Feature on Demand" installation of Server features requires access to the server media at all times or access to a common file share with the OS sources directory.
  10. Features that rely on PowerShell v. 2.0 and .NET 3.5 support (such as the SharePoint 2010 Management Shell) will simply not work.  The only current workaround is to use a tool such as PowerGUI and load the appropriate PowerShell libraries.  
Overall, there are significant improvements in Windows Server 2012 which make it a much improved and worthwhile OS.  However, the new User Interface dramatically reduces the productivity associated with managing the Server.  While the new UI is definitely more touch screen friendly, I just don't foresee touch screens being used to manage servers on a day-to-day basis.  It is definitely convenient for mobile or remote workers using a cell phone or iPad to manage their server remotely when they are not in front of a workstation, but all day long each and every day??--highly unlikely.  Of course, if you are a "server purist", you will not need to rely on the GUI for server management...

Unfortunately, server and network administrators are not the only ones who have to manage servers (for example, SharePoint developers), therefore the productivity loss for developers and non-server administrators around the world will definitely be significant for this new server OS.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Adding features to Windows Server 2012 without an Internet Connection

If you have not already discovered this yourself, Windows Server 2012 employs a new "Feature on Demand" installation for Adding Features through Server Manager.

What this essentially means is that the default installation scenario connects to Windows Update over the Internet to download and install server features.

Well, if your environment does not have Internet connectivity, the installation simply fails out without any warning or indication of the underlying failure (especially if you are trying to do this through PowerShell).

Here are some more details on exactly how this works:

Of course, if you just working directly with Server Manager, you can simply specify the Alternate Source Path during the feature installation wizard:

In my scenario, I simply pointed to the Windows Server 2012 ISO Image media as my alternate source path.

If you are using a VM, it might be easier to simply have a "permanently mounted" ISO image for Windows Server 2012 to avoid copying it over to the local HDD on the VM and wasting valuable space.  An easy workaround is to simply add another CD/DVD virtual device to the VM and use that instead for any other ISO image installation media while the primary CD/DVD virtual device is mapped to the Windows Server 2012 installation media. now looks like Office 2013!

If you want to try out the revised User Interface to, you can simply log in using your Windows Live ID to

You can check out a screenshot of the new User Interface below:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Microsoft's free alternative to Windows Explorer copy operations

If you absolutely love working in the command shell or PowerShell, then you may use copy operations such as xcopy or robocopy in a command window. 

However, if you are like most average everyday users, you prefer to work with a GUI tool.  Of course, we have Windows Explorer file copies, but even in Windows 7, file copy operations are notoriously unreliable and there is definitely no resume support for any failed copy operations.

Fortunately, Microsoft has released a free alternative to using Windows Explorer file copies called RichCopy.  It fills in many of the gaps that are left by Windows Explorer and even supports up to 3 simultaneous file copy operations!  Whoa!!

You can download RichCopy from here: