Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Microsoft's Announcement on the Microsoft Expression Suite

Microsoft recently announced that they will be discontinuing the Expression Suite of products and providing some of the tools in the suite freely available to download such as Microsoft Expression Web 4.

You can read the full announcement here:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

ADFS v. 2.0 Training on PluralSight

PluralSight ( offers a variety of ADFS v. 2.0 training as part of their Full Library catalog.

The Full Library catalog requires a monthly or annual subscription but the material on ADFS v. 2.0, Windows Identity Foundation as well as a wide variety of other assorted topics related to development are well worth the cost!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Why Windows 8 still needs the "old" Start menu

While there is are alternatives available that add back the traditional Windows 7 Start menu such as this tool:, or even this: they still do not remain a substitute for Microsoft returning their "old/classic" Start menu back to the Windows 8 Desktop OS because they continue to have defects/deficiencies.

  1. Metro Start menu apps do not have a way to categorize or group applications by default.  Everything is added to the end of the list.
  2. Metro Start menu apps do not display all of the available programs and groupings for all of the program features installed by an application.
  3. Metro Start menu apps do not provide all of the same right click menu options that were available in the traditional Windows Start menu.
  4. When an application has been pinned to the desktop, there is no "easy" way to pin it back to the Metro Apps Start menu.
  5. Metro Apps do not display for all users of the system.  Only the installing user sees the Metro Apps as part of their Start menu.  Other users have to search for the Apps and then pin them to their own individual Start menu.

In addition, replacement Start menu tools such as ViStart have the following defects/deficiencies:

  1. When uninstalling a program, the Program Group is not removed from the Start menu
  2. The replacement Start menu does not install and display for non-Administrative users or for other users of the system.
  3. All of the right-click menu options from the traditional Windows Start menu are not available
  4. There is some additional delay in loading the Windows Start menu after loading up the desktop.
  5. There is no additional way to customize the Windows Start menu to add additional menu items in a manner similar to customizing the traditional Windows Start menu.
  6. There are no drag and drop abilities from the Windows Start menu to the desktop.
  7. There is no way to pin Windows Start menu items to the Metro Start menu.
  8. There is no way to pin Windows Start menu items to the Taskbar.
  9. When you extend the display, the Windows Start menu is not duplicated on the secondary display
  10. The standard menu items shipped with Windows 7 such as Devices and Printers does not display on the list of Windows Start menu items.

Perhaps when Microsoft releases Windows 8 SP1, they will re-include the capability to use the traditional Windows Start menu!  Here's to hoping that Microsoft listens to the complaints and voices of their users! 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Team Foundation Server Express in the Cloud

If you would like to sign up for a free Team Foundation Server Express account that hosts up to 5 users completely for free hosted in the Microsoft cloud, you can sign up here:

You can sign up with your Windows Live ID and create a custom Url for your TFS Express account.  The account includes source control as well as bug tracking and integrates immediately with Visual Studio 2012 when connecting to Team Foundation Server. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Guide to Windows System Image Manager Answer Files

I have spent a considerable amount of effort customizing and tweaking answer files for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 so I thought I would share the information I have learned and that I use often with anyone else who is interested in creating answer files for these 2 platforms:

  1. Microsoft-Windows-ServerCore-Package under the Foundation folder-This configuration setting can be used to tweak components such as the TelnetClient, WirelessNetworking and other Server Roles and Features such as IIS.
  2. Microsoft-Windows-Setup-this configuration setting can be used in multiple passes for a wide variety of operations ranging from Enabling the Firewall to Disk Configuration to various other tasks including adding/including the Product Key for Windows.
  3. Microsoft-Windows-International-Core-WinPE-This configuration setting is primarily used to set the language for the OS.(primarily en-US in my case).
  4. Microsoft-Windows-IE-ESC-This configuration setting is primarily used in Windows Server 2012 to turn off IE Hardening in the specialize pass which locks down the browser on the server OS.
  5. Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup-This configuration setting can be used to enable the Display resolution, set up the Autologon process as well as set the Registered User and Computer Name information also in the specialize pass.
  6. Microsoft-Windows-IE-InternetExplorer-This configuration setting can be used in the specialize pass to configure IE Settings such as the Home Page, Favorites etc.
  7. Networking-MPSSVC-Svc-This configuration setting can also be used in the specialize pass to Enable the Firewall for the Domain, Private and Public profiles.
  8. Microsoft-Windows-UnattendedJoin-This configuration setting can be used in the specialize pass to join the computer to a Domain or  Workgroup.  
  9. Microsoft-Windows-TerminalServices-LocalSessionManager-This configuration setting can be used in the specialize pass to configure Remote Desktop on the Client or Server OS.
  10. Microsoft-Windows-ServerManager-SvrMgrNc-This configuration setting can be used in the specialize pass to change the DoNotOpenServerManagerAtLogon setting in Windows Server 2012.
  11. Microsoft-Windows-Security-SPP-UX-This configuration setting can be used in the specialize pass for SkipAutoActivation.
  12. Microsoft-Windows-LUA-Settings-This configuration setting can be used in the offlineServicing pass for the EnableLUA setting which controls the setting for User Account Control prompts.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Vonage outgoing ring tone problem and ARRIS Modem

I recently switched my Internet Service Provider (ISP) from AT & T to Wide Open West (WOW!) which switched my modem from 2WIRE to an ARRIS DG860 modem.

Unfortunately, a side effect or consequence of this change was that my Vonage service immediately began experiencing problems namely that I could no longer hear a ring tone on outgoing calls.

After hours of speaking with 2 different Vonage customer support representatives, I did not figure out that the ARRIS modem has a firewall setting which disrupts my Vonage VOIP service.  Therefore, I decided to turn off my firewall settings as depicted below on my ARRIS modem to see if I could get it to resume normal Vonage operation and instead rely on my Vonage VPortal firewall settings to protect me from external attackers.

Once I disabled my ARRIS modem firewall settings, of course my Vonage service returned to normal operation!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tips for working with Windows 8

Here are some good articles I discovered for working with the new Start menu and Tiles in Windows 8:

What I find most interesting about these tips is how much effort it requires for a user with a mouse and keyboard to perform a set of operations!  While it may be fine for touch screen users, it seems like grouping a set of tiles is a tremendous chore comparatively.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Upgrading to Team Foundation Server 2012

If you are considering upgrading to Team Foundation Server 2012, you will have to upgrade your SQL Server version as depicted in this screenshot:

Once you have upgraded your SQL Server version, you should be able to pass the readiness check:

Once you pass the readiness checks, make sure you have backups of your Team Foundation Server 2010 databases prior to running the upgrade otherwise you may have to start all over with the upgrade process if it fails part of the way through!