Category: Windows Server

Microsoft System Center is Microsoft’s flagship enterprise management product line, made up of 6+ major products. As this is both a critical product for Microsoft and a critical product for enterprises that adopt pieces of the System Center suite, Microsoft offers MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist) certification options for System Center. While I don’t see a way to use these exams toward a MCITP, you will still have a MCTS in a System Center specialty. Specifically, there are 3 different certification tracks available for System Center which covers just 3 of the 6+ System Center products (but 3 of the major SC products).

MCTS: Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007, Configuration

Formerly known as SMS (Systems Management Server) in previous versions, SCCM is used to manage the PC, laptop, and server hardware and software (including applications and operating systems) of a mid to large size enterprise. Microsoft Exam 70-401 covers a number of important SCCM 2007 skills. Specifically, the exam covers things like:

  • Deploying SCCM
  • Configuring SCCM Infrastructure
  • Managing Resources
  • Distributing Applications
  • Deploying Operating Systems
  • Securing a Network Infrastructure
  • Managing and Maintaining SCCM Infrastructure

(For the full list of SCCM Exam 70-401 test topics, click here)

As for training material, here are some recommendations:

MCTS: Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007, Configuration

Formerly known as "MOM" (Microsoft Operations Manager) in previous versions, SCOM is used to monitor performance capacity resources (and alert) across all devices in the enterprise. Microsoft Exam 70-400 covers skills like:

  • Configuring SCOM
  • Deploying and Configuring Management Packs
  • Building and Deploying Custom Management Packs
  • Maintaining SCOM
  • Configuring Client Monitoring

(For the full list of SCOM Exam 70-400 test topics, click here)

Some of the best resources available to prepare for your SCOM certification test are:

MCTS: Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, Configuration

The last of the three MCTS certifications covering System Center products is the MCTS covering Virtual Machine Manager. SCVMM or VMM is a centralized management product for the Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization platform (it can also manage VMware ESX Server). With VMM, the ability to perform many new advanced features of Hyper-V is possible.

To prepare for Microsoft Exam 70-403, I recommend the following resources:

  • Installing SCVMM – server components, administrative console, self-service portal, pro tips
  • Administering SCVMM – configuring user roles, setup self-service, maintain VMM library, configure hosts, monitor jobs
  • Maintaining and Monitoring hosts – configure VM hardware, manage virtual instance checkpoints and patches, monitoring and reporting on VMs
  • Deploying and Migrating VMs – convert P2V, move VMs between hosts, deploy VMs, deploy HA in VMs

(For the full list of SCVMM Exam 70-403 test topics, click here)

One of the best certification resources I have read on this lately is the Train Signal Certification Guide for  Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM Exam 70-403). In fact, that certification guide recommends the following resources to prepare for the SCVMM 70-403 exam:

Of course, the best preparation for any certification exam is actually using the product (and especially in the "real-world" on a production network, if possible).

Reposted from :



Hypervisor technology is software on which multiple virtual machines can run, with the hypervisor layer controlling the hardware and allocating resources to each VM operating system. Hyper-V is the virtualization platform that is included in Windows Server 2008. Microsoft also recently released a standalone version, called Hyper-V Server 2008, that’s available as a free download from the Microsoft Web site.

As server virtualization becomes more important to businesses as a cost-saving and security solution, and as Hyper-V becomes a major player in the virtualization space, it’s important for IT pros to understand how the technology works and what they can and can’t do with it.

In this article, we address 10 things you need to know about Hyper-V if you’re considering deploying a virtualization solution in your network environment.

#1: To host or not to host?

Hyper-V is a “type 1″ or “native” hypervisor. That means it has direct access to the physical machine’s hardware. It differs from Virtual Server 2005, which is a “type 2″ or “hosted” virtualization product that has to run on top of a host operating system (e.g., Windows Server 2003) and doesn’t have direct access to the hardware.

The standalone version of Hyper-V will run on “bare metal” — that is, you don’t have to install it on an underlying host operating system. This can be cost effective; however, you lose the ability to run additional server roles on the physical machine. And without the Windows Server 2008 host, you don’t have a graphical interface. The standalone Hyper-V Server must be administered from the command line.


Hyper-V Server 2008 is based on the Windows Server 2008 Server Core but does not support the additional roles (DNS server, DHCP server, file server, etc.) that Server Core supports. However, since they share the same kernel components, you should not need special drivers to run Hyper-V.

Standalone Hyper-V also does not include the large memory support (more than 32 GB of RAM) and support for more than four processors that you get with the Enterprise and DataCenter editions of Windows Server 2008. Nor do you get the benefits of high availability clustering and the Quick Migration feature that are included with the Enterprise and DataCenter editions.

#2: System requirements

It’s important to note that Hyper-V Server 2008 is 64-bit only software and can be installed only on 64-bit hardware that has Intel VT or AMD-V virtualization acceleration technologies enabled. Supported processors include Intel’s Pentium 4, Xeon, and Core 2 DUO, as well as AMD’s Opteron, Athlon 64, and Athlon X2. You must have DEP (Data Execution Protection) enabled (Intel XD bit or AMD NX bit). A 2 GHz or faster processor is recommended; minimum supported is 1 GHz.


Although Hyper-V itself is 64-bit only, the guest operating systems can be either 32-bit or 64-bit.

Microsoft states minimum memory requirement as 1 GB, but 2 GB or more is recommended. Standalone Hyper-V supports up to 32 GB of RAM. You’ll need at least 2 GB of free disk space to install Hyper-V itself, and then the OS and applications for each VM will require additional disk space.

Also be aware that to manage Hyper-V from your workstation, you’ll need Vista with Service Pack 1.

#3: Licensing requirements

Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition allows you to install one physical instance of the OS plus one virtual machine. With Enterprise Edition, you can run up to four VMs, and the DataCenter Edition license allows for an unlimited number of VMs.

The standalone edition of Hyper-V, however, does not include any operating system licenses. So although an underlying host OS is not needed, you will still need to buy licenses for any instances of Windows you install in the VMs. Hyper-V (both the Windows 2008 version and the standalone) support the following Windows guest operating systems: Windows Server 2008 x86 and x64, Windows Server 2003 x86 and x64 with Service Pack 2, Windows 2000 Server with Service Pack 4, Vista x86 and x64 Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions with Service Pack 1, and XP Pro x86 and x64 with Service Pack 2 or above. For more info on supported guests, see Knowledge Base article 954958.

Hyper-V also supports installation of Linux VMs. Only SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, both x86 and x64 editions, is supported, but other Linux distributions are reported to have been run on Hyper-V. Linux virtual machines are configured to use only one virtual processor, as are Windows 2000 and XP SP2 VMs.

#4: File format and compatibility

Hyper-V saves each virtual machine to a file with the .VHD extension. This is the same format used by Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 and Virtual PC 2003 and 2007. The .VHD files created by Virtual Server and Virtual PC can be used with Hyper-V, but there are some differences in the virtual hardware (specifically, the video card and network card). Thus, the operating systems in those VMs may need to have their drivers updated.

If you want to move a VM from Virtual Server to Hyper-V, you should first uninstall the Virtual Machine Additions from the VM while you’re still running it in Virtual Server. Then, shut down the VM in Virtual Server (don’t save it, because saved states aren’t compatible between VS and Hyper-V).

VMware uses the .VMDK format, but VMware images can be converted to .VHD with the System Center Virtual Machine Manager (referenced in the next section) or by using the Vmdk2Vhd tool, which you can download from the VMToolkit Web site.


Citrix Systems supports the .VHD format for its XenServer, and Microsoft, Citrix, and HP have been collaborating on the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) that runs on Hyper-V and utilizes both Microsoft components and Citrix’s XenDesktop.

#5: Hyper-V management

When you run Hyper-V as part of x64 Windows Server 2008, you can manage it via the Hyper-V Manager in the Administrative Tools menu. Figure A shows the Hyper-V console.

Figure A: The Hyper-V Management Console in Server 2008

hyper-v console

The Hyper-V role is also integrated into the Windows Server 2008 Server Manager tool. Here, you can enable the Hyper-V role, view events and services related to Hyper-V, and see recommended configurations, tasks, best practices, and online resources, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B: Hyper-V is integrated into Server Manager in Windows Server 2008.


The Hyper-V management tool (MMC snap-in) for Vista allows you to remotely manage Hyper-V from your Vista desktop. You must have SP1 installed before you can install and use the management tool. You can download it for 32-bit Vista or 64-bit Vista.


If you’re running your Hyper-V server and Vista client in a workgroup environment, several configuration steps are necessary to make the remote management tool work. See this article for more information.

Hyper-V virtual machines can also be managed using Microsoft’s System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, along with VMs running on Microsoft Virtual Server and/or VMware ESX v3. By integrating with SCCM, you get reporting, templates for easy and fast creation of virtual machines, and much more. For more information, see the System Center Virtual Machine Manager page.

Hyper-V management tasks can be performed and automated using Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and PowerShell.

#6: Emulated vs. synthetic devices

Users don’t see this terminology in the interface, but it’s an important distinction when you want to get the best possible performance out of Hyper-V virtual machines. Device emulation is the familiar way the virtualization software handles hardware devices in Virtual Server and Virtual PC. The emulation software runs in the parent partition (the partition that can call the hypervisor and request creation of new partitions). Most operating systems already have device drivers for these devices and can boot with them, but they’re slower than synthetic devices.

The synthetic device is a new concept with Hyper-V. Synthetic devices are designed to work with virtualization and are optimized to work in that environment, so performance is better than with emulated devices. When you choose between Network Adapter and Legacy Network Adapter, the first is a synthetic device and the second is an emulated device. Some devices, such as the video card and pointing device, can be booted in emulated mode and then switched to synthetic mode when the drivers are loaded to increase performance. For best performance, you should use synthetic devices whenever possible.

#7: Integration Components

Once you’ve installed an operating system in a Hyper-V virtual machine, you need to install the Integration Components. This is a group of drivers and services that enable the use of synthetic devices by the guest operating system. You can install them on Windows Server 2008 by selecting Insert Integration Services Setup Disk from the Action menu in the Hyper-V console. With some operating systems, you have to install the components manually by navigating to the CD drive.

#8: Virtual networks

There are three types of virtual networks you can create and use on a Hyper-V server:

  • Private network allows communication between virtual machines only.
  • Internal network allows communication between the virtual machines and the physical machine on which Hyper-V is installed (the host or root OS).
  • External network allows the virtual machines to communicate with other physical machines on your network through the physical network adapter on the Hyper-V server.

To create a virtual network, in the right Actions pane of the Hyper-V Manager (not to be confused with the Action menu in the toolbar of the Hyper-V console or the Action menu in the VM window), click Virtual Network Manager. Here, you can set up a new virtual network, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C: Use the Virtual Network Manager to set up private, internal, or external networks.

virtual network manager

Note that you can’t use a wireless network adapter to set up networking for virtual machines, and you can’t attach multiple virtual networks to the same physical NIC at the same time.

#9: Virtual MAC addresses

In the world of physical computers, we don’t have to worry much about MAC addresses (spoofing aside). They’re unique 48-bit hexadecimal addresses that are assigned by the manufacturer of the network adapter and are usually hardwired into the NIC. Each manufacturer has a range of addresses assigned to it by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Virtual machines, however, don’t have physical addresses. Multiple VMs on a single physical machine use the same NIC if they connect to an external network, but they can’t use the same MAC address. So Hyper-V either assigns a MAC address to each VM dynamically or allows you to manually assign a MAC address, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D: Hyper-V can assign MAC addresses dynamically to your VMs or you can manually assign a static MAC address.

MAC addresses

If there are duplicate MAC addresses on VMs on the same Hyper-V server, you will be unable to start the second machine because the MAC address is already in use. You’ll get an error message that informs you of the “Attempt to access invalid address.” However, if you have multiple virtualization servers, and VMs are connected to an external network, the possibility of duplicate MAC addresses on the network arises. Duplicate MAC addresses can cause unexplained connectivity and networking problems, so it’s important to find a way to manage MAC address allocation across multiple virtualization servers.

#10: Using RDP with Hyper-V

When you use a Remote Desktop Connection to connect to the Hyper-V server, you may not be able to use the mouse or pointing device within a guest OS, and keyboard input may not work properly prior to installing the Integration Services. Mouse pointer capture is deliberately blocked because it behaves erratically in this context. That means during the OS installation, you will need to use the keyboard to input information required for setup. And that means you’ll have to do a lot of tabbing.

If you’re connecting to the Hyper-V server from a Windows Vista or Server 2008 computer, the better solution is to install the Hyper-V remote management tool on the client computer.

Additional resources

Hyper-V is getting good reviews, even from some pundits who trend anti-Microsoft. The release of the standalone version makes it even more attractive. IT pros who want to know more can investigate the Microsoft Learning resources related to Hyper-V technology, which include training and certification paths, at the Microsoft Virtualization Learning Portal.

Reposted from:


Love all, Serve all,



Sysinternals has been around for quite some time and was acquired by Microsoft in 2006. As many of you know, these are great little tools for getting some heavy hitting Windows things done and sometimes done better than when using the built in tools for a task.

The entire suite of products is available for download at

While this is the easiest way to get the tools because they are bundled together, there are some tools that I find myself using far more than others. This post will focus on my five favorite tools in the Sysinternals collection (or the ones that I use the most).

#1 PsList and PsKill

I listed these together because I typically use them in that order. The goal here is to see processes on a machine — with PsList, I find the process ID, and then use PsKillto terminate said process. Suppose a system on your network is performing very slowly, Task Manager is a great tool but only works on the local machine and many times interrupting a user for investigative work is something frowned upon even when things are not performing as they wish.

With PSList, you can use a command like the one below to get an overall list of the processes running on a remote machine.

C:\Sysinternals> PSList \\remotemachine1

The arguments available for PSList, shown in Figure A, are:

  • -d shows thread details
  • -m shows memory details
  • -x shows processes, memory, and thread information (or the whole works)
  • -t shows the process tree
  • -s[n] runs PsList in task manager mode for the number of seconds specified for n
  • -r n shows task manager mode refresh rate in seconds
  • \\computername shows the processes running on the remote computer specified
  • -u is the username for remote PC access
  • -p is the password for remote PC access
  • Name shows process information for all processes beginning with the name specified, for example, a command like pslist -d chrome shows all the process details for processes beginning with Chrome
  • -e shows process information about exact matches for the name specified
  • Pid shows information about the process specified
Figure A

PsList showing all of its arguments

As you can see there are quite a few ways to return information with PSList and the best part is the fact that it works on local and remote machines.

PSKill works similarly to PSList except it is used to terminate processes by process ID.  Once you have obtained the process ID for an application or service, you can enter a command like the one below to terminate that process on the remote machine.

C:\Sysinternals> PSKill -t \\remotemachine1 -u <username> -p <password> <process ID>

Note: When using PSKill you will need to specify a username and password with access to the remote machine; leaving the password out will cause the utility to prompt you for a password.

To see a general list of processes on your local machine, simply navigate to the directory where you unpacked PSList in a command prompt and enter PSList. You will be prompted to accept a license agreement on first run, but it does not prompt again after that. For the syntax and arguments available in PSList, type PSList /? (or PSKill /? if you are using that utility).

#2 Process Explorer

Process Explorer is a great tool for digging into open files or resources. Trying to open a file, but getting a notification that it is already open? Process Explorer can help determine which application or process has the file open. It is a GUI-based utility and can be used as a task manager replacement. The utility has two panes of information, the top pane shoes currently active processes on your system and includes information about the name, the account that owns the process, and the CPU usage of the process.

The bottom pane of Process Explorer has two modes of operation, handle mode and DLL mode. When handle mode is enabled, selecting a process in the top portion of the window will show you the handles that the process has open. In DLL mode the pane displays the DLLs and memory mapped files loaded by the selected process.

In essence, the Process Explorer utility takes task manager to a whole new level by drilling into the processes running on your system. Figure B shows process explorer running on my system as I write this with OneNote selected.

Figure B

Process Explorer in action

#3 ZoomIt

ZoomIt is a utility for the public speaker in all of us. When presenting information, sometimes it is helpful to show a certain area of the screen magnified to call attention to a dialog box or other item. This is what ZoomIt does in a nutshell.

When configured, it will integrate with PowerPoint to allow macro keys to trigger functions during a presentation. Figure C shows the configuration dialog box for ZoomIt.

Figure C

Setup ZoomIt for the first time

The items available to configure are:

  • Zoom: This option will allow you to turn zoom on or off, when its turned on, the scroll wheel on a mouse or the up/down arrow keys control the amount of zoom.
  • Live Zoom: Supported in Windows Vista and later versions, this option shows updates (if any) in a window while zoomed.
  • Draw: This setting allows you to draw on the screen with the left mouse button while zoom is active. If you want to draw without zoom enabled, you can use Ctrl+2 to enable drawing.
  • Type: From within Drawing mode, pressing [t] will enable type mode which allows you to type over the screen. Escape on the keyboard or the left mouse button exits type mode.
  • Break: Allows you to configure a break timer as needed for presentations. When enabled, a countdown timer is displayed on the screen as shown in Figure D.
Figure D

Time for a break

#4 PsLoggedOn

Finding the user who is logged on to a system can be quite a challenge. Sure, the net session built-in command can do the job on a local system, but many times you already know who is logged in on your local system.

Sysinternals has come up with a utility, and a definition of locally logged in, that might be a bit more useful. PsLoggedOn uses a registry scan to look through the HKEY_USERS key to see which profiles are loaded. Looking at the keys with a user ID SID, PsLoggedOn looks up the username of the SID and displays it. This shows you who is logged on in any session to a PC.

When querying remote systems, your userid will be found as a connected user session as well.

The remote and local users are returned separately to help distinguish logon types, shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Users logged on to my local system

While PsLoggedOn isn’t the fanciest tool, it is very useful when trying to track down a user.

#5 Autoruns

You know how malware likes to invade the startup folder and other locations on infected systems? Seems that these are the hardest things to find and get rid of when trying to clean up spyware/malware/ infections. Autoruns can help with that. It looks through all possible locations where applications can be listed to automatically start when Windows starts and displays them to you in a tabbed, easy-to-follow GUI.

You can hide Microsoft-signed entries to eliminate the good items from the list of things that start up on your system.

Figure F shows the Autoruns utility. When I first discovered this one I was a bit shocked by the number of things that auto-start in a standard Windows installation.

Figure F

Autoruns finds things that start up when Windows starts

The application also allows information to be compared between runs. You will need to save/export scans to compare the previous to the current, but selecting File | Save will create the file needed.


Reposted from: TechRepublic

If you’re trying to install Windows 7 on a netbook (or are having issues with your PC’s optical drive), the free USB Download Tool from Microsoft allows you to take a .ISO image and turn it into a bootable flash drive.

This was created not only for netbook users, but for anyone that opted to download Windows 7 from Microsoft in lieu of ordering an installation DVD. Windows 7 USB Download Tool can create a bootable flash drive (or DVD, if you prefer) from the downloaded .ISO file in quick fashion—just install it and follow the on-screen prompts. Note that if you opt to use a flash drive, it must be 4GB or larger to hold all the files.

The coolest part: Microsoft has open sourced this little app. Why, you ask? They got a bit of flak early on in the project for re-using open-source code and improperly documenting it (as well as making the program itself closed source), but true to their word that it was only a mistake, it’s been brought back and declared open source for all to use. So if you still haven’t gotten Windows 7 installed on that netbook of yours, head on over to CodePlex, Microsoft’s open-source repository, and download the tool now.

Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool [via
Download Squad]

Source :




Reposted By: aaRDee

1. Enable Hardware Virtualization

My workstation is a x64 machine with hardware virtualization capabilities. This means I can run Hyper-V on my machine. Even if your machine’s hardware supports virtualization it is most likely not going to be enabled by default. You have to enable it via your BIOS setup.

2. Install the latest Graphics and Audio drivers

Being a server OS Windows 2008 carries with it basic graphics and audio drivers. To utilize the full strength of your hardware ensure you install the latest drivers for both graphics and audio hardware. Only with the proper graphics drivers will you be able to enable the “Aero” experience on Windows 2008.

3. Desktop Experience Feature

The Desktop Experience Feature enables a bunch of stuff that is by default present on a desktop OS. Most importantly it includes Themes, Windows Media player and the Aero related features. You will have to enable it form the Server Manager. The “Turn Windows features on or off” / “Add remove windows components” has all been rolled into the Server Manager now.

Server Manager > Features > Desktop Experience

Installing the Desktop Experience feature does not enable them. You have to manually set them up.

4. Themes

To enable Themes you will basically have to enable the Themes Service. Again being a server OS it is not enabled by default.

Services.MSC > Themes

Set the start up type to Automatic

Enabling the Aero Theme.

For this go to Control Panel > Personalization >Theme and select Windows Aero

5. Search

Search is also disabled by default on Windows 2008. Searching is important for me as I use it a lot to find my emails. To enable search you will have to add the File Services Role via Server Manager.

Server Manager > Roles > File Services > Windows Search

Outlook relies on this search service.

6. Disable Shutdown Event Tracker

Since I am using it as a workstation I do not want to keep a track of all the Shutdowns. The Shutdown Event Tracker is the pop up that you get asking you for a shutdown reason. To disable it

Open mmc.msc

Add the Group Policy snap-in

Under Administrative Templates expand System

Set Display Shutdown Event Tracer to Disabled

7. Audio

For audio you need to enable the Windows Audio service. You do this by setting the startup type to Automatic.

Services.msc > Windows Audio

Ensure you have proper drivers for your audio hardware… for me the default driver was not enabling the headphones … it started working fine after I got the proper driver.

8. SuperFetch

As a workstation, enabling SupertFetch will give you that additional bit of responsiveness. The SuperFetch services is disabled by default and when you try to enable it you will most likely get an error message “The operating system is not presently configured to run this application

You will have to make two registry changes to enable this service. I basically copied them over from my Vista machine.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters

EnablePrefetcher DWORD 3

EnableSuperfetch DWORD 3

9. Get a codec pack.

For media hungry buffs download a codec pack. This will ensure you can play all media files.

10. Enable Hyper-V

With Hyper-V you can run virtual machines on your workstation. This is useful if you want to run your tests on older OS versions. Enabling  Hyper-V is easy

Server Manager > Roles > Hyper-V

Remember you need a Hyper-V enabled Windows 2008 license and also your hardware has to support virtualization.

Also If you are using an existing VHD it may ask you to re-Activate Windows as it detected hardware changes.

One good thing about Windows Server 2008 is that it no longer asks for the i386 folder like Windows 2003 while you enable features.

11. Processor Scheduling

As pointed out in a comment on my previous post; On Windows Server 2008 background services are given preference over interactive programs. You can change this behavior by

Control Panel > System and Maintenance > System > Advanced System Settings > Advanced > Performance > Settings > Advanced > Processor Scheduling

Setting this to Programs will make foreground programs more responsive.

12. Visual Effects

One thing you will notice on Windows Server 2008 is that by default you will not see Preview Thumbnails in your Documents / Music / Video folders. This has to be enabled explicitly.

Control Panel > System and Maintenance > System > Advanced System Settings > Advanced > Performance > Settings > Visual Effects

Based on your preference you can tweak these settings.

13. Power Options

Do your bit for a Green World! The Balanced (default) power plan on Windows Server 2008  does not turn off hard disks by default. On Vista hard disks are turned off after 20 mins. You can change this by

Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options > Change plan settings

It does take a bit to kick start the hard disks when you resume work but that’s a sacrifice worth making for a greener world :).

14. IE Enhanced Security 

IE Enhanced Security Configuration has been moved from Add Remove Windows Components (on Windows 2003) to the Server Manager on Windows Server 2008.

Server Manager > Security Information > Configure IE ESC

You now have a choice to disable it only for Administrators. 

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