New XNA Game Studio Connect Headed Your Way!

Posted by sumeethevans on February 3 2009, 5:57 AM. Posted in Microsoft Solutions.

We haven’t been totally slacking off over the months of December and January. In fact soon Premium Creators will be getting a Title Update to XNA Game Studio Connect which, among other things, will allow better testing of your game before it goes live on Xbox LIVE Community Games.

Many of you have reported subtle differences (and in some case crashes) in the way your game behaves when playing from XNA Game Studio Connect versus the way it works on Xbox LIVE Community Games. When we set out to release XNA Game Studio 3.0 we worked hard to provide a very consistent experience between them. After we launched user-feedback helped us discover a few things Creators really needed to be able to test when developing and even peer-reviewing a game.

With this feedback we’ve added some new functionality that brings the XNA Game Studio Connect experience even closer to the experience consumers get when running an Xbox LIVE Community Game. Specifically:

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Moving from FRS to DFSR with Windows Server 2008 DCs

Posted by RayC on February 2 2009, 4:40 AM. Posted in Windows Server 2008, Windows 2008 R2.

The introduction of Windows 2008 brought us the famous Read-Only domain controller, the domain controller without passwords (unless explicitly approved) and one-way replication. That one-way replication also applied to the SYSVOL share. Sysvol is replicated by either FRS or DFSR depending on the initial setup of the domain. If you have upgraded your domain from Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 to Windows 2008 SYSVOL is still using FRS to replicate. When you have initially deployed Windows 2008 and set the forest functional level to use the Windows 2008 standards; DFSR is used. Usually the replication of Sysvol is two-way, you can change the contents on each domain controller and those changes are replicated to all domain controllers.

If you made changes to the SYSVOL folder on an RODC (2008), however, these changes are overwritten with the next replication cycle when you have DFSR. When you have a Windows 2008 R2 RODC the SYSVOL share will automatically be marked as read-only so you cannot make any changes.

When you have a mixed 2003/2008 domain, or did not start with the forest functional level at 2008; SYSVOL still replicates through the FRS method, and in that case horrible things can occur: If you change a file on the RODC SYSVOL that replicates through the FRS method the file get’s stamped placed in the queue for outbound replication (which will never occur) and if you make enough changes the FRS on the RODC will actually shutdown!

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Our Next Engineering Milestone

Posted by sumeethevans on January 31 2009, 6:01 AM. Posted in Windows 7.

Many posts start with a thank you and I want to start this post with an extra special thank you on behalf of the entire Windows team for all the installs and usage we are seeing of the Windows 7 Beta. We’ve had millions of installations of Windows 7 from which we are receiving telemetry, which is simply incredible. And from those who click on the “Send Feedback” button we are receiving detailed bug reports and of course many suggestions. There is simply no way we could move from Beta through Final Release of Windows 7 without this type of breadth coverage and engagement from you in the development cycle. There’s been such an incredible response, with many folks even blogging about how they have moved to using Windows 7 Beta on all their machines and have been super happy. The question we get most often is “if the Beta expires in August what will I do—I don’t want to return to my old [sic] operating system.” For a Beta release, that is quite a complement and we’re very appreciative of such a kind response.

This post is about the path from where we are today, Beta, to our RTM (Release To Manufacturing), building on the discussion of this topic that started at the PDC. This post is in no way an announcement of a ship date, change in plans, or change in our previously described process, but rather it provides additional detail and a forward looking view of the path to RTM and General Availability. The motivation for this, in addition to the high level of interest in Windows 7, is that we’re now seeing how releasing Windows is not something that Microsoft does “solo”, but rather is something that we do as one part of the overall PC ecosystem. Obviously we have a big responsibility to do our part, one we take very seriously of course. The last stages of a Windows release are a partnership across the entire ecosystem working to make sure that the incredible variety of choices you have for PCs, software, and peripherals work together to bring you a complete and satisfying Windows 7 experience.

The next milestone for the development of Windows 7 is the Release Candidate or “RC”. Historically the Release Candidate has signaled “we’re pretty close and we want people to start testing the release, especially because all the features are done.” As we have said before, with Windows 7 we chose a slightly different approach which we were clear up front about and are all now experiencing together and out in the open. The Pre-Beta from the PDC was a release where we said it was substantially API complete and even for the areas that were not in the release we detailed the APIs and experience in the sessions at the PDC. At that time we announced that the Beta test in early 2009 would be both API and feature complete, widely available, and would be the only Beta test. We continued this dialog with our hardware partners at WinHEC. We also said that many ecosystem partners including PC makers, software vendors, hardware makers will, as has been the case, continue to receive interim builds on a regular basis. This is where we stand today. We’ve released the feature complete Beta and have made it available broadly around the world (though we know folks have requested even more languages). As a development team we’re doing just what many of you do, which is choosing to run the Beta full time on many PCs at home and work (personally I have at least 9 different machines running it full time) and we’re running it on many thousands of individual’s machines inside Microsoft, and thousands of machines in our labs as well.

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XBOX Experience

Posted by sumeethevans on January 31 2009, 6:00 AM. Posted in Xbox.

Gridplane spent a few months working with Microsoft’s XBOX 360 group developing concepts for the latest graphical user interface for the XBOX 360 console.

The time was spent exploring many ways that a new menu system could allow users to browse and navigate game libraries, music, movies and TV shows. Oh, and play games too. In addition to the menu systems, we dreamt up an immersive 3D environment for users to explore the latest games, events and online activity within the XBOX Live community.



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UAC security flaw in Windows 7 beta (with proof of concept code)

Posted by sumeethevans on January 31 2009, 5:59 AM. Posted in Windows 7.

This is dedicated to every ignorant “tech journalist” who cried wolf about UAC in Windows Vista. A change to User Account Control (UAC) in Windows 7 (beta) to make it “less annoying” inadvertently clears the path for a simple but ingenius override that renders UAC disabled without user interaction. For the security conscious, a workaround is also provided at the end. First and foremost, I want to clear up two things.

First, I was originally going to blackmail Microsoft for a large ransom for the details of this flaw, but in these uncertain economic times, their ransom fund has probably been cut back so I’m just going to share this for free.

Secondly, the reason I’m blogging about this flaw is not because of its security implications - it is blatantly simple to fix - but Microsoft’s apparent ignorance towards the matter on their official Windows 7 beta feedback channel by noting the issue as “by design” and hinting it won’t be fixed in the retail version. A security-minded ‘whistleblower’ came forth to ask me if I could publicize this issue to maybe persuade them to change their mind. And that’s what I’m doing.

Now for a bit of background information on the changes to UAC in Windows 7. By default, Windows 7’s UAC setting is set to “Notify me only when programs try to make changes to my computer” and “Don’t notify me when I make changes to Windows settings”. How it distinguishes between a (third party) program and Windows settings is with a security certificate. The applications/applets which manage Windows settings are signed with a special Microsoft Windows 7 certificate. As such, control panel items are signed with this certificate so they don’t prompt UAC if you change any system settings.

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What Microsoft will NOT be showing at Mobile World Congress 2009

Posted by sumeethevans on January 31 2009, 5:59 AM. Posted in Windows Mobile.

By now it is pretty much clear what Microsoft will be showing at Mobile World Congress 2009 next month. However it is interesting, from the long-term perspective of Microsoft mobility, to notice what Microsoft will not be showing there... Firstly let's take a look shortly at what Microsoft will be showing:
  • Windows Mobile 6.5 (minor upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.5 to improve finger-based usability)
  • cloud services, including SkyBox, SkyLink, SkyMarket
Howevever Microsoft will not be showing:
  • Windows Mobile 7 (major upgrade with multi-touch support)
  • results of Roz Ho group - she has 400 people working on new, non-Windows Mobile related, secret project, among them employees of Danger company that Microsoft acquired (makers of Sidekick software); shortly speaking: competitor to iPhone - probably a proprietary Sidekick-like platform, either license-able to other manufacturers or Microsoft-only hardware

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Project: Virtual Reality Check

Posted by bink on January 29 2009, 4:25 AM. Posted in Hyper-V.

"Project: Virtual Reality Check" (VRC).

This is a independent research joint venture between our companies Login Consultants and PQR. The primary purpose of VRC is to release multiple whitepapers to provide information about the scalability and best practices of virtualized Terminal Server and Desktop workloads. The first phase of Project VRC on virtualizing Windows XP and 32-bit Windows 2003 Terminal Services on ESX, XenServer and Hyper-v.

The goal of Project VRC is to investigate, validate and give answers to the following questions:

  • How does various Microsoft Windows Client OS's scale as a virtual desktop?
  • How does a VDI infrastructure scale in comparison (virtualized) Terminal Server?
  • Which performance optimization on the host and guest virtualization level can be configured, and what is the impact of these settings on user density?
  • With the introduction of the latest hypervisor technologies, can we now recommend running large scale TS/CTX workloads on a virtualization platform?
  • How do the two usage scenarios compare, that is Microsoft Terminal Server [TS] only, versus TS plus XenApp?
  • How do x86 and x64 TS platforms compare in scalability on bare metal and virtualized environments?
  • What is the best way to partition (memory and vCPU) the Virtual Machines the hypervisor host, to achieve the highest possible user density?

All together over 150 test have been carried out. However, project VRC is not finished, and probably never will be. Additional publications are planned about virtualizing x64 workloads and the other (Vista and Windows 7) client OS's. Also, we look forward to evaluate new innovations in the hypervisor, broker and hardware arena.

The whitepapers can be downloaded freely at source

How to: Windows 7 Offline Domain Join

Posted by RayC on January 28 2009, 5:40 AM. Posted in Windows 2008 R2, Windows 7.

Since Windows NT4, clients who wanted to join a domain always needed a direct connection to the domain, either via VPN, dial-in or direct connection. New in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 is the option for an offline domain join.. how does this work.. ? read on!

A new program is introduced called djoin.exe. We can use djoin.exe to join a computer to the domain without actually having a connection to it.


How does this work?<?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = O /><O:P> </O:P>

1.      Logon to a system that already is a member of the domain with an account that is allowed to join computers to the domain

2.      Use djoin.exe to create a text file (the blob) that contains all information for the computer to join the domain when it is online.

3.      On the new computer use djoin.exe to import the blob

4.      Reboot the new computer when it’s connected to the network

<O:P> </O:P><O:P>Full story at source</O:P>


Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Release Notes

Posted by bink on January 27 2009, 3:33 PM. Posted in Office 2007.

Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Release Notes for server, clients, and devices.These documents contain important information that you should know before you deploy and use Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 and clients.
These documents contain important information that you should know before you deploy and use Office Communications Server 2007 R2 and Office Communications Server 2007 R2 clients. The following files are available for download:
  • Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 R2 Release Notes (Office_Communications_Server_2007_R2_Relnotes.htm)
  • Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 R2 Release Notes (Office_Communicator_2007_R2_Relnotes.htm)
  • Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Attendant Release Notes (Office_Communications_Server_2007_R2_Attendant_Relnotes.htm)
  • Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 Group Chat Release Notes (Office_Communications_Server_2007_R2_Group_Chat_Relnotes.htm)
  • Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 R2 Phone Edition Release Notes (Office_Communicator_2007_R2_Phone_Edition_Relnotes.htm) Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile for Windows Mobile Release Notes (Office_Communicator_Mobile_for_Windows_Mobile_Relnotes.htm)

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Microsoft to Merge Office Live, Windows Live

Posted by spy on January 27 2009, 5:28 AM. Posted in Office Live.

 Microsoft late last week confirmed recent rumors that it would combine its separate Office Live and Windows Live online offerings into a single, cohesive set of online services. Currently, the software giant is expected to simply market these services as Microsoft Live Services, but rumors persist that it may eventually change to the odd brand "Kumo."

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Windows Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1 Released!

Posted by bink on January 27 2009, 4:38 AM. Posted in Internet Explorer.

General availability for the Windows 7 Beta to end

Posted by sumeethevans on January 24 2009, 8:29 PM. Posted in Windows 7.

First off: thank you for your interest in beta testing Windows 7! As we near January 24th, we wanted to update everyone again on the next steps for the Windows 7 Beta. The amount of feedback we have received has been amazing and continues to pour in. We are at a point where we have more than enough beta testers and feedback coming in to meet our engineering needs, so we are beginning to plan the end of general availability for Windows 7 Beta.

Because enthusiasm continues to be so high for the Windows 7 Beta and we don’t want anyone to miss out we will keep the Beta downloads open through February 10th. Customers who have started but not completed the download process  will be able to do so through February 12th.

The shutdown of general availability for the Windows 7 Beta will occur in 3 phases over the course of the next few weeks:

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