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Microsoft Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Windows 7 Deployment Learning Portal from Springboard Series Team

Windows 7 LogoGet helpful tips and tricks from Bytes by TechNet host Keith Combs and Senior Community Manager Stephen Rose on how to use the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) to create a technical proof of concept to help you see how Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010-as part of the Microsoft Optimized Desktop-will work in your environment.

About this Portal – The Deployment Learning Portal is an online assessment and learning tool administered by The Test Factory on behalf of Microsoft Ltd. It requires a separate registration and login process than the Windows Live login process used by TechNet. By registering for this experience, you accept that your data will be sent to The Test Factory, which is located in the United Kingdom.

Register for this Portal here – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/ff470986.aspx

You will be interested in also reading these tips –

Categories
Best Practices Enterprise Tech Featured Microsoft Tools

Top Ten Tips and Troubleshooting with Process Explorer Tool

Process Explorer tool from SysInternals, will give you a complete overview on what processes are currently running in your PC along with the details on who invoked it and how much system resources it is consuming. This tool will be very essential, if you want to identify which file or directory has a particular program opened. In this article, you will learn 10 best practices and tips which will help to use this tool better.

A process is a container for a set of resources, including one or more threads. A process never consumes a CPU. Its the thread inside the process which consumes the system resources like CPU, Memory etc. Each process at-least has one Thread.  Using this tool, you can also determine which thread of a process is consuming CPU.

Some of the benefits, this Tool gives you are..

  • Displays the Parent/Child Relationships of the Processes
  • Highlighting of different process based on their source and states.
  • Customize Columns to suit specific needs to analyze CPU performance, Threads, etc
  • Tons of Options to play around with..!

Tip 1:Process Explorer Parameters – Create a Startup Shortcut / Desktop Shortcut to this executable (procexp.exe) and add a parameter /t /e to it.

Process Explorer - Parameters

/t makes this executable run minimized and /e will make it run elevated. As most of the times, you want the system processes also.. it makes sense to run the tool elevated.

Process Explorer - System TrayWhen you invoke this shortcut, the Process Explorer will run in the System Tray as shown below. You can just double click to invoke them.

Tip 2: Configuring the Options – Goto Options Menu Item and Select Hide When Minimized and Allow only one instance. This will help you to just minimize the program, even when you click on the X close button. Sometimes, you tend to invoke the shortcut more than once, thinking that the Process Explorer is not running, selecting the Allow only one instance will help you not have multiple entries of Procexp inside the process explorer window.

Process Explorer - Hide When MinimizedTip 3: Configure Symbols – When you invoke any process and go-to the Threads Tab, you will observe a hexadecimal weird address in the Start Address Tab. These will not be helpful for you while troubleshooting. You will need to convert it to a meaninful message and thats where configuring the symbols will be useful.

Process Explorer - Hexa Thread DefinitionsGoto Options Tab, and click on Configure Symbols item.

Process Explorer - Configure Symbols

You will need to install the Windows Debugging Toolkit, so that you can configure the path of the dbghelp.dll file. Also, configure the Symbols path as both local and internet. For more information read here – http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/devtools/debugging/debugstart.mspx

Process Explorer - Configure Symbol PathsOnce you do this, the hexa-decimal code will be converted to more meaningful message for effective understanding and troubleshooting. You can see in the Start Address column now.

Process Explorer - Meaningful Thread Definitions

Tip 4: Highlighting Colors – Goto Options Menu Item and Select, Configure highlighting. Using this option, you can customize the colors which you would like to assign for certain roles of processes. By default Pink color is associated for processes with one or more – win32 services, Yellow color for processes which uses .NET Framework, Light blue color for processes which are running with the same user account as the process explorer.

Configure Highlighting of ProcessesTip 5: Configure Difference highlighting Duration: Set the Duration to 5 or more seconds. This is an important tip, which will help you distinguish in the difference of the events. The color associations and the process will exist and run for 5 seconds. For example, every process which starts new is associated a green color and every process that stops gets a red. the processes will exist in the Process Explorer for at-least 5 seconds with the same color code, so that you can see them and diagnose the same.

Configuring highlighting DurationTip 6: Verifying Processes – When you double-click on any process it opens the properties dialog; this will give you the complete information of that particular process. Its Parent process, Who invoked it, At what time, What OS version is it (32/64 bit) etc. Just observe that, this executable is not verified no matter it comes from Microsoft Corporation. Verifying the processes will help you to determine whether this process is signed to run on this particular edition of the OS. For example, if your machine performance is sluggish, you might run the verify process and see if any of the executables like antivirus are not suited for your PC.

Analyzing a Process Image

Goto Options Tab and select on Verify Image Signatures. This will start the verification process. Now you click on any column and add a new column for Verified Signer. You will start seeing all the process along with the verified status.

Verified Processes

Tip 7: Process Identification – Sometimes, there could be many processes running on your PC (for example, many instances of a same application), In this case it would be difficult to identify the associated process entry in Process Explorer. Thats where exactly, this magnifier comes to your help. Hold the magnifier button, and that will show you all the other windows executing on your PC. Just drop the magnifier on a window which you wanted to identify and that appropriate process would get high-lighted in the Process Explorer.

Magnifier Process Identifier

Tip 8: DLL/Header View – Selecting a Process, and pressing Cntl+D will show the DLL view in the hidden tab. Cntl + H will show the headers which are currently accessed by the process. This will be helpful to understand the components used by a process. You can also choose to search a dll or a Header using the Search option. For eg: If you ever encountered a failed delete action by your process, searching for ‘delete’ will give you more information on what gets called and which file did your process try to delete. You can hover over any process in Process explorer, this will get you all the win32 services running in it.

Cntl+D for DLL View –

Process Explorer - DLL View

Cntl+H for Header View –

Process Explorer - Headers View

Tip 9: Performance Graphs – Double-clicking the graph in the icon bar, will open the performance graph. The red color showcases the kernel mode and the green signifies the transition of Kernel and User mode. If you are running a multi-core PC, choose to ‘show One Graph per CPU’. This will help you manage tasks and also enables you to take a decision to set affinity for a process to a single CPU. (You can right click on a process, Set Affinity to just any of the CPU)

Set Processor Affinity

System Information - Performance Graph

Tip 10: Configure Columns – In the explorer window, Right click on a column header and add new columns. To identify an executable or a process performance, you need to add Threads, CPU Usage, Context Switch Delta and CPU Cycles Delta. This will help you identify which process has more threads and is consuming high CPU usage. Based upon your analysis, you can choose to terminate it for system performance.

Process Performance

Are you aware of any other worthwhile tip on this tool? If yes, drop in as a comment here and I shall feature it in this article appropriately!

Also read about the other SysInternals Tools here  –

Categories
Enterprise Tech How-to Microsoft Tools

How To Enable System Boot Time Logging using Process Monitor Tool

How many times have you faced issues with slow or longer boot time in your PC? Does it happen only on your computer? There could be many reasons for this. It could be too many Startup process, Run Keys, and sometimes even malware executables as well.

It would make your troubleshooting job easy, if you get to know what really happens when your PC boots. Process Monitor tool from SysInternals will exactly help you in doing the same. This tool can also be used for other process snapshot and access informations. however, in this post we will look at its Boot Logging capabilities.

First download the executable from SysInternals Site, If you face issues with Security Warning message, check this tip to fix it.

Step 1: Execute the procmon.exe; Goto Options menu, and Click Enable Boot Logging.

Enable Boot Logging

Step 2: This will further give you this below Boot logging options. You can choose to Enable the Profiling Events, if you need.

Boot Logging Options

Step 3: You can now reboot your PC. When the machine restarts, the process monitor will start monitoring all the processes and applications which gets invoked during the system boot and generates a dump file.

Step 4: Execute procmon.exe again. You will see this below dialog which tells you that, a log of the boot-time activity was created by the previous instance of process monitor. To save the collected Data, press the Yes Button.

Boot Time Activity Logs

Step 5: The file will initially be saved as a dump file in C:\Windows, you will need to convert it to Process Monitor Log (pml) log files. Save the Log file using this below dialog. This will start converting the dump file to pml file.

Saving Procmon Log - Dump to Log File

Converting Boot-time Event Data

Once the Log is converted, it will open in the Process Monitor tool.


Here you can get an idea on all the applications and processes which was executed during the system boot. This report will help you identify, which process was invoked by whom and how much time did it take to for its complete execution. You can also identify if any malwares are running in your PC, which is affecting your system boot.

Logs for System Boot

Step 6: You can choose to filter these reports; when you click on any entry you will get the below dialog which will give you a complete snapshot on the process attributes, Who invoked it, its architecture, the Parent Process Id, along with information on when did the process transition from User mode to a Kernel mode through the Stack.

Event Properties

Also read about the other SysInternals Tools here  –

Categories
Enterprise Tech How-to Microsoft Tools

How to Remove Security Warning Message – Files Downloaded from Internet

How many times, have you seen this dialog when you execute a file which was downloaded from Internet?  For example, this Process Explorer message box below. This would come-up, every-time you run this executable. Also, when you open any of the help file from the downloaded suite you see this ‘Navigation Cancelled’ dialog.

Issues because of the Security Zone Information

The problem is that, when you download any of the files from the internet, using internet explorer, it gets tagged with metadata in alternate data stream, and says what IE Security zone did it came from. and even though, when you are running it from the local file system, windows remembers that it came from the internet.

Methods to resolve this –

1. Easiest way is to remove the zone information using the file Properties. Before you extract the zip file, Right-click on the file, select Properties tab. Click on the un-block button to remove the alternate data stream – Security zone information.

Unblock - File Properties

2. The other option, is to use a Sysinternals tool called Streams. Streams will examine the files and directories you specify and inform you of the name and sizes of any named streams it encounters within those files. Streams makes use of an undocumented native function for retrieving file stream information.

Using this parameter, streams -d will remove the Zone identifier information from a file and you will not see the security warning message/dialog.

streams - Sysinternals Tool

Also read about the other SysInternals Tools here  –

Categories
General How-to Microsoft

How to Set Default Programs for File Extension Associations in Windows

When you have multiple browsers or media players on a single machine, the latest software you installed takes all the Default Program file Associations.  For instance, when you install Winamp Player on Windows, the .mp3 files by default will play on Winamp and not Windows media player. Basically, the File extension associations gets over-ridden when a new software is installed.

Some of the programs do prompt to the user, however most of the programs do not. For eg: If you have installed another web browser in addition to Internet Explorer, you can specify that you want to use that browser as your default program for opening web based content instead of Internet Explorer when the program is launched for the first time. You usually get the dialog ‘Do you want Chrome to be your default Browser?’

Now when you face a similar situation like this and want to change the default associations back, here are few of the methods you can use –

Option 1: Set Default Programs in Control Panel

Open Control Panel, and select Programs. Here you will find option to set the Default Programs (as shown below)

Set Default Program in the Control Panel

When you open the Set Default Programs, you will see the list of all the softwares installed and you can choose which Program you want to set as default. In this example, let us choose Internet Explorer and Set this program as default for all the internet shortcuts,  HTML files and other files normally viewed on a browser.

Set Default Program in the Control Panel

You can also choose, selective application types or file extensions to associate with a program. For example, in this below screenshot you will see, how specific a file type can be assigned a program.

Set Default Program for Specific File extension

Option 2: Associating a file extension Using the right click menu Option

Select the file which you want to associate, right-click on it, and select the Open With Menu Item and Click on Choose Default Program.

Choose Default Program - Right Click MenuThis will list all the available softwares/programs for this program. You can choose a program here and click on OK button. Ensure that, you select the Check box “Always use the selected Program to open this kind of file”.

Set Default Program - Right Click Menu

Option 3: Registry Key Association

If your application uses special file extensions, you might want to register them so that the application gets started when the icon associated with the file gets double-clicked. Read this article to know more – How to register a File Extension in Windows? (This is for an advanced User)

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Categories
General How-to Microsoft

Adding Artistic Effects to an Image in Office 2010

Office 2010 offers an excellent image editing feature, which would help us do a lot of stuffs with images. In the previous post, we saw how to remove the background from a picture and create a Portable Network Graphics (PNG) image. In this short tip, we will look at how to add Artistic Effects to an Image.

Step 1: Insert an image into any of the office Suite products. In this example, I will use the Word 2010.

Step 2: Double-click on the image; this will give you a separate picture Editing Menu Bar (as shown below)

Step 3: Click on the Artistic Effects button. This will give you all the shades and effects available for the image; When you hover the mouse over each of the effect, you can have a preview of the effect as applied on the image.
Artistic Effects on an Image - Office 2010
Step 4: Just select the effect and click on it. The desired effect would’ve applied on the image.
Applied Artistic Effects on an Image - Office 2010

To know how to remove the background of a picture and create a PNG image, do read this article!

You also have other image options to set the color tones and saturation in the Color menu (as shown below)
Color Menu in Image editing - Office 2010
You can also increase the sharpness, brightness and contrast of the image with the live preview.
Image Correction Menu in Image editing - Office 2010

If you have not tried the Office 2010 Version yet, Download it and Give it a shot. I’m sure, you would love it!

Categories
Enterprise Tech General Microsoft

Difference between Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise and other SKUs

Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate are the most versatile and powerful editions and are designed to address the needs of both enterprise customers and consumers who want every feature of Windows 7.

While the features in these editions are the same, Windows 7 Enterprise includes volume activation capabilities and is only available to customers with a Microsoft Software Assurance Agreement.

Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate help make you productive anywhere, enhance security and control, and streamline PC management. They also offer remarkable ease of use with the entertainment features of Home Premium and the business features of Professional, plus the flexibility to work in many different languages. Quite simply, Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate include everything Windows 7 has to offer.

In addition to the below mentioned features, these editions include the following:

  • Microsoft BitLocker™ and BitLocker To Go™ drive encryption and data protection on internal and external drives and storage devices
  • DirectAccess, which helps give you a more secure connection to your corporate network over the Internet
  • Microsoft BranchCache™, which helps provide faster access to content from remote file and Web servers at branch locations
  • Microsoft AppLocker™, which helps prevent unauthorized software from running on workers’ PCs
  • Enterprise Search Scopes, which make it easy to discover and search content on intranet portals
  • Multilingual user interface packs, which let you work in any of 35 languages

Summing up, the other SKUs –

Windows 7 Starter Edition is the entry-level edition for small notebook PCs and other PCs with limited hardware. It makes using your PC simpler. Key features that you will find in the Starter edition include the following::

Windows 7 Home Basic makes the things you do every day faster and easier. This edition is designed for value PCs in emerging markets. Home Basic includes the following:

  • Live thumbnail previews
  • Advanced networking support (ad hoc wireless networks and Internet connection sharing)
  • Ability to extend your screen across multiple monitors

Windows 7 Home Premium is the best entertainment experience on your PC. This edition provides full functionality on the latest hardware, easy ways to connect, and a visually rich environment. you’ll also get the following:

  • Advanced window navigation and personalization with several new Microsoft Aero® desktop improvements
  • The ability to create a homegroup, so you can easily share files between your networked PCs and devices
  • The ability to watch Internet TV and record TV on your PC with Windows Media Center
  • Remote Media Streaming and improved support for different media formats

Windows 7 Professional is everything you need for work and home.This business-focused edition is great for small- and medium-sized companies, and people who have networking, backup, and security needs and multiple PCs or servers. You’ll also get the following:

  • Domain Join, which gives you the ability to join a managed Windows Server network
  • Advanced Backup and Restore to help you back up your entire system to a home or business network,
  • Encrypted File System to help protect your data
  • Windows XP Mode for running older productivity applications that require Windows XP
  • Location Aware Printing, which helps you set different default printers for your home and work networks

Courtesy: Windows 7 Product Overview Notes

Categories
How-to Microsoft

Free ebook – Windows PowerShell v2: The Administrator Crash Course

Microsoft is adding PowerShell to more and more products, and going forward, the company’s plan is to incorporate PowerShell throughout all of its business products as a baseline administrative layer.

The Administrator Crash Course: Windows PowerShell v2For windows administrators who are new to PowerShell, Microsoft MVP Don Jones offers a new book from Realtime Publishers entitled The Administrator Crash Course: Windows PowerShell v2. Covering the most crucial elements of PowerShell v2, Don has constructed a set of practical tips and practice exercises that will get you up to speed in a matter of weeks. Each course section is designed to be reviewed in under an hour, so it’s a perfect way to quickly learn how to begin using PowerShell v2!

Download this Free ebook Guide to start your learning with PowerShell.

If you’re ready to get started in PowerShell, and have no experience, this is the crash course for you!

Note: You will need to create a profile in Realtime Nexus (The Digital Library for IT Pros) when you click the above link.

Courtesy: Realtime Nexus Windows Administration

You would also be interested in downloading these e-books:

If you are interested in some more Free Books/Magazines –

IT – Software & Development – Ebooks / White Papers from TradePubBrowse through this extensive list of free IT – Software & Development magazines, white papers, downloads and podcasts to find the titles that best match your skills; topics include web development, programming, software design and application software. Simply complete the application form and submit it. All are absolutely free to professionals who qualify. – Browse through the collection here

msigeek has joined hands with TradePub.com to offer you a new, exciting, and entirely free professional resource. Visit us today to browse our selection of complimentary IT-related magazines, white papers, webinars, podcasts, and more across 34 industry sectors. Try it today!

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How-to

How to get an Inventory of all the Installed Device Drivers in a Machine?

Consider a scenario, where you need to take an inventory of all the Device drivers installed on your machine. This information will be very essential to identify the vendor details, Driver files and other important stats. Driverquery command will exactly help us in this purpose.

Running the Driverquery command in the Command Prompt will list out all the drivers installed on the machine. (Run the Command Prompt in Administrator Context)

Driverquery Command - Listing all the Drivers in a machine

If you want a compact record of installed drivers in a reporting format, use this command with appropriate switches. As we saw above, DriverQuery command gives all the information; You can modify the output of the command with a variety of switches, and you can redirect the output of the command to a file so that you can load it in another program.

You can use the /v switch to produce a detailed verbose information, and add the /Fo switch with the CSV parameter to generate the output in the csv (Comma Seperated Value) format. – driverquery /v /fo csv > drvlist.csv

Inventory of Installed Drivers in a Machine

Further, Opening this file Driverlist.csv in Excel will give you a highly detailed list of all your hardware. (as shown below – Click the image for ful size)

List of Installed Drivers in CSV Format - Driverquery

Similarly, using the /SI switch to get all the information on the signed drivers installed on the machine.

Inventory of Installed Signed Drivers - DriverQuery

Signed Device Drivers Information

DriverStore is a new and a central location in Windows Vista and Windows 7 where all the driver files will be stored., before they are copied to their final destination during the device driver installation. – Read more to Understand better

For a full list of the switches available for the Driverquery command., run the driverquery with a /? switch.

Driverquery with Help Syntax

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Categories
General Google

Google Alarm – A FireFox Add-On / Chrome Extension to Alert You!

This is a sooper cool FireFox Add-On which notifies when Google is monitoring your Web Browsing. In other words, when Google Analytics is tracking your browser to send back some metrics. The Google Alarm Firefox addon visually & audibly alerts you when your personal information is being sent to Google servers.

Wilkinson released this alarm plug-in on his website last week!

Even outside Gmail and YouTube you are constantly sending information to Google through their vast network of tracking bugs: Google Analytics, Google AdSense, YouTube embeds, API calls.. all of this data be used to monitor & track your personal web browsing habits.

Google Alarm shows notifications, plays sound effects and keeps running stats about the % of websites you’ve visit with Google bugs present. Web users who install this browser plug-in hear a loud, buzzing noise whenever they visit a website that relays information to Google!

A No-Sound Version is also Available!

To Know how to Avoid or Stop Google Analytics Script from monitoring your Web Browser – Read this Article

Courtesy: