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Enterprise Tech How-to Microsoft Tools

How to Enable Data Collection (RACTask) for Reliability Monitor Tool

Reliability Monitor is an advanced tool that measures hardware and software problems and other changes to your computer. Reliability Analysis Component (RAC) aggregates, analyzes and correlates problems at the operating system and application levels. The location of Reliability Monitor data files is stored in the registry. If the monitor does not show data to you, then you will need to Enable the Data Collection Task.

To learn more on How you can measure Hardware and Software problems using Reliability Monitor in Windows 7 – Read this article

Reliability Monitor uses data provided by the RACTask scheduled task. Reliability Monitor will start displaying a Stability Index rating and specific event information 24 hours after system installation.

The RACTask scheduled task runs by default after the operating system is installed. If it is disabled, it must be enabled manually from the Task Scheduler snap-in for Microsoft Management Console (MMC).

Step 1: Start the Task Scheduler. you can run taskschd.msc in the searchbox, and then press ENTER (or) Right click on the My Computer, and then select the Manage option. Choose Task Scheduler.

Computer Management

Step 2: In the navigation pane, expand Task Scheduler Library, expand Microsoft, expand Windows, and click RAC.
Choose RAC in Task Scheduler
Step 3: Right-click RAC, click View, and click Show Hidden Tasks.
Show Hidden Tasks for RAC - Task Scheduler
Step 4: Click RACtask in the results pane. On the Action menu, click Enable.
How to Enable Data Collection for Reliability Monitor Tool

To learn more on How you can measure Hardware and Software problems using Reliability Monitor in Windows 7 – Read this article

Categories
Enterprise Tech How-to Microsoft Tools

Analyze Hardware and Software problems in Windows 7

Reliability Monitor is an advanced tool that measures hardware and software problems and other changes to your computer. This helps IT professionals better manage the stability of machines in their organization. Reliability Analysis Component (RAC) aggregates, analyzes, and correlates problems at the operating system and application levels. It calculates a stability index that indicates overall system stability over time. RAC also keeps track of any important changes to the system that are likely to affect stability, such as Windows updates, application installations, and driver installations.

The Reliability Monitor is intended for advanced computer users, such as software developers and network administrators.

You can Invoke Reliability Monitor perfmon /rel and pressing ENTER in the command prompt.

Invoking Reliability Monitor in Windows 7 using Command Prompt

You can also search for Reliability monitor in the Control Panel.

When you click on the ‘View Reliability history’, you will get this below dialog. This is actually refreshing and generating the report.

Reliability Monitor in Windows 7 - Report Being Generated

This will open the Reliability Monitor. Users can view RAC data via the Reliability Monitor, which displays data collected from RAC in a stability chart and correlates the computer’s stability index with important events that are likely to affect stability, such as driver failures and software installation.

Reliability Monitor in Windows 7

When you double click on any of the events, it would give you the detailed information on how that event occured. For eg: I  see a WindowsExplorer event, which gives the Summary information that the ‘User canceled a hung navigation’. When I double-click it, you can see this below detailed information.

WindowsExplorer Hung Error Information

Another example for an Successful Message – Let us look the details of the VirtualBox USB Driver Installation message.

Reliability Monitor in Windows 7 - View Technical Details and Summary

Reliability Monitor in Windows 7 - View Technical Details of Virtual Box ErrorIf some applications events triggers an error, you can check for a solution online and also send the report to Microsoft. If the solution is not found online, they will appear in the Action Center when the information in available later.

In Windows 7, Reliability Monitor uses data provided by the RACTask (Reliability Analysis Component scheduled task). Once enabled, This tool will start displaying a Stability Index rating and specific event information 24 hours after system installation. Find the detailed instruction on how to enable this task.

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Microsoft Tools Virtualization

Download Linux Integration Services v2.1 for Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V R2

The Microsoft Virtualization team announced the availability of the Hyper-V Linux Integration Services for Linux Version 2.1. This release marks yet another milestone in providing a comprehensive virtualization. They have supported Linux as a guest operating system on the virtualization platform from the days of Virtual Server and continue to enhance the support in that regard.

The following features are included in the 2.1 release:

  • Driver support for synthetic devices: Linux Integration Services supports the synthetic network controller and the synthetic storage controller that were developed specifically for Hyper-V.
  • Fastpath Boot Support for Hyper-V: Boot devices take advantage of the block Virtualization Service Client (VSC) to provide enhanced performance.
  • Timesync: The clock inside the virtual machine will remain synchronized with the clock on the host.
  • Integrated Shutdown: Virtual machines running Linux can be gracefully shut down from either Hyper-V Manager or System Center Virtual Machine Manager.
  • Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) Support: Supported Linux distributions can use up to 4 virtual processors (VP) per virtual machine.
  • Heartbeat: Allows the host to detect whether the guest is running and responsive.
  • Pluggable Time Source: A pluggable clock source module is included to provide a more accurate time source to the guest.

Download the Linux Integration Services v2.1 for Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V R2 here

This version of the integration services for Hyper-V supports Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP3, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 / 5.3 / 5.4 / 5.5.

For support questions, please utilize the Linux Integration Services forum here: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/linuxintegrationservices/threads

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Microsoft Tools Virtualization

Download System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal (SSP) 2.0

System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal (SSP) 2.0 lets you build the foundation for an on-premises cloud infrastructure, enabling you to deliver IT as a service for your organization. Using SSP, you can respond more effectively – and at lower cost – to the rapidly changing needs of your organization. SSP is freely available, and fully supported by Microsoft. This solution is built on top of Windows Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V, and System Center VMM. You can use it to pool, allocate, and manage resources to offer infrastructure as a service and to deliver the foundation for a private cloud platform inside your datacenter.

VMMSSP includes a pre-built web-based user interface that has sections for both the datacenter managers and the business unit IT consumers, with role-based access control. VMMSSP also includes a dynamic provisioning engine. VMMSSP reduces the time needed to provision infrastructures and their components by offering business unit “on-boarding,” infrastructure request and change management. The VMMSSP package also includes detailed guidance on how to implement VMMSSP inside your environment.

Download System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal (SSP) 2.0 here

The self-service portal provides the following features that are exposed through a web-based user interface:

  • Configuration and allocation of datacenter resources: Store management and configuration information related to compute, network and storage resources as assets in the VMMSSP database.
  • Customization of virtual machine actions: Provide a simple web-based interface to extend the default virtual machine actions; for example, you can add scripts that interact with Storage Area Networks for rapid deployment of virtual machines.
  • Business unit on-boarding: Standardized forms and a simple workflow for registering and approving or rejecting business units to enroll in the portal.
  • Infrastructure request and change management: Standardized forms and human-driven workflow that results in reducing the time needed to provision infrastructures in your environment.
  • Self-Service provisioning: Supports bulk creation of virtual machines on provisioned infrastructure through the web-based interface.Helps business units to manage their virtual machines based on delegated roles.

Important: VMMSSP is not an upgrade to the existing VMM 2008 R2 self-service portal. You can choose to deploy and use one or both self-service portals depending on your requirements.

Courtesy: Microsoft TechNet

You would also be interested in downloading these Books / WhitePapers from TradePub –

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General Microsoft Tools

Review Website/Blog with Free SEO Toolkit from Microsoft

Start with the free download, review your website, and make changes fast. The SEO Toolkit with its detailed analysis and search engine friendly suggestions helps improve the relevance of your website in search results right away.

  • Increase Website Traffic and Revenue – Analyze your website and find ways to boost your number of hits. Use SEO recommendations to improve traffic and increase your revenue stream.
  • Influence and Update Search Engines – Control the access and display of your content in search results. Keep search engines current with the latest information from your website.
  • Improve Customer Experience – Discover and solve common problems in your website content and design to enhance your end user experience. Make it easy for your customers to find what they’re looking for

Download this Free SEO Kit here

To learn more on this tool and How-To instructions read the blog here – http://learn.iis.net/page.aspx/791/getting-started-with-the-seo-toolkit/

You would also be interested in reading –

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General Microsoft Tools

SQL Server 2008 R2 Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) Diagnostic Tool

SQL Server 2008 R2 Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) is a diagnostic tool which is designed for administrators who want to determine the overall conformance of their SQL Server instances and topology with established best practices. BPA examines your SQL Server instance for system events, reviews login permissions, scans your SQL Metadata for advisable settings, and recommends solutions to items that do not conform with established Microsoft best practices.

BPA runs within the framework of the Microsoft Baseline Configuration Analyzer (MBCA 2.0) and supports both, SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2. It is supported on a variety of operating systems including Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7.

For more information and download – go here

If you face any issue installing SQL 2008 R2 BPA relating to Remoting, refer this link

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Google Tools

Android Scripting Environment (ASE) – Edit and Execute Scripts on Device

The Android Scripting Environment (ASE) brings scripting languages to Android by allowing you to edit and execute scripts and interactive interpreters directly on the Android device. These scripts have access to many of the APIs available to full-fledged Android applications, but with a greatly simplified interface that makes it easy to get things done.

Scripts can be run interactively in a terminal, in the background, or via Locale. Python, Perl, JRuby, Lua, BeanShell, JavaScript, Tcl, and shell are currently supported..!

Currently, the ASE project provides:

  • Scripting language interpreters that have been compiled to run on the Android platform.
  • An abstraction layer above the Android API that simplifies common use cases (e.g. reading sensors, displaying dialogs, changing settings, etc.)
  • IPC to the abstraction layer from processes that do not have access to the native Android APIs.
  • An on-device development environment for supported scripting languages.

Read more and Download the Android Scripting Environment here – http://code.google.com/p/android-scripting/

ASE is designed for developers and is alpha quality software. To install ASE, you will need to enable the “Unknown sources” option in your device’s “Application” settings.

Categories
Microsoft Tools Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Standard User Analyzer (SUA) – Tool to Test Applications

Many of us work with Applications; either we develop or deploy them! While doing so, its important to test the developed application as a Standard User. Especially when the organization has a locked-down environment or the New Generation Operating Systems with UAC.

This helps in understanding the application behavior better. Standard User Analyzer tool exactly helps you in this purpose! This tool is a part of the Application Compatibility Toolkit.

Step 1: Install the Application Compatibility Toolkit and Start the Standard User Analyser. You dont need to run this as administrator; you can just launch it.

Standard User Analyzer

The application launches as below,

Standard User Analyzer - Application Launches

If you are aware of the SysInternals Tools Filemon/Regmon, this tool pretty much does the similar job. When you launch an application, it will monitor all the files, registries, INI files modified, the name-spaces which the app calls, the credential Privilages Process calls etc. This will give a detailed analysis on how this application behaves as a standard user.

You also have an option to run the same application as an administrator user and compare these 2 reports. This can be done, by marking the checkbox “Elevate” in the Launch Options.

Step 2: In the Target application tab, browse to the executable which the application will be launching. In this example, it is StockViewer.exe. Click on the button Launch. (You can also specify any command line arguments / parameters for this executable)

Launch Executable in the Standard User Analyzer

This tool needs a pre-requisite “Application Verifier”. If you have not installed this application, you will get this below dialog. Download and install this app.

Application Verifier is designed specifically to detect and help debug memory corruptions and critical security vulnerabilities. This is achieved by monitoring a native application’s interaction with the Windows operating system, profiling its use of objects, the registry, the file system, and Win32 APIs (including heaps, handles, locks, etc), and indicating issues when and where they are discovered. Application Verifier also includes checks to predict how well an application may perform under various account privileges. You can download it here

Application Verifier

Once Application Verifier is installed, This will actually start monitoring your application usage.  You may also get this below warning message,

Warning Message

Step 3: Start your application which you want to monitor; you can perform all the operations which an end-user would do!

While this demo, i launched my application and found that this application asked for administrator rights while launching, and also gives some ‘access denied’ error. When I close this app, the Standard User Analyzer has fetched all the requirement information which the application has accessed.

Standard User Analyzer - Application Reports

These logs and reports will explain you on the application behavior. It will also help your developers to fix this application easily. Looking from the application Compatibility front, this tool also gives you an option which identifies the mitigations and provides you options to fix them.

Apply Mitigations

When you click on the Apply Mitigation, you will get the below dialog with the list of shims which would mitigate the issues identified.

Mitigations List

You can also export this mitigation as an msi, so that you can deploy the same using any deployment tools in your organization!

Categories
General Microsoft Tools

Microsoft Released the All new Hotmail and Live Messenger

Microsoft today introduced an all new and cool Hotmail that helps you INTERGRATE, SHARE and CUT THE CLUTTER in your inbox like never before. The innovative new Hotmail integrates Windows Live Messenger, other email accounts and updates from your social network all within a single intuitive interface that allow you to do so much more with your Hotmail be it on the Web, mobile phone or a PC.

The smart new Hotmail brings together emails from other services like Gmail and Yahoo right into your Hotmail Inbox. You can stay active and connected in the social networking scene with updates from Facebook, LinkedIn, etc and Live Messenger integration all within your inbox. Hotmail users can access images and videos from Bing or photo albums from Windows Live SkyDrive without having to leave their inbox or having to worry about the size of the attachment – as the new Hotmail has a phenomenal 10 GB limit per message. With added capabilities to make your inbox CLUTTER FREE by enabling views by conversations and highlights and Sweep functionality, Hotmail becomes the one stop shop destination for all your virtual needs.

The new smart interface helps make a clutter-free inbox with features such as:

  1. With conversation view never lose a chain of thought or let emails be all over the place
  2. One click sweep which allows consumers to take bulk action to clean, delete or organize emails into folders
  3. With Automated highlights users can immediately see if they have new e-mail from friends, social network updates, shipments, appointments and birthday reminders — all in a single glance on logging in
  4. Categorization of email which saves precious time wasted by sifting through emails.

Underneath the neat intuitive interface lies a secure emailing experience through:

  • Powerful new spam filters: which the new Hotmail has to help combat spammer infrastructure head-on, which makes sending spam more difficult, and helps cut down on spam.
  • Microsoft SmartScreen: that helps intuitively distinguish between legitimate e-mail messages and spam
  • Trusted Senders a feature that will visually demarcate e-mails in inboxes from specific senders that it recognizes as legitimate, helping users easily tell the good from the scams with a safety logo next to messages from Trusted Senders.

The fun and excitement in enhancing consumers’ digital experience does not stop with just Hotmail, the new version of Windows Live Messenger that was recently launched brings Video Chat in High Definition for a fully loaded experience. It allows consumers to Share photos from SkyDrive and Facebook in real-time and Share and update across social networks with a single click.

Further, Live Messenger seamlessly integrates Bing search, making it easier to add links, photos and videos without leaving the conversation window.

Another fun and innovative feature is the ability to set availability status by category, for instance, consumers can be online for family, while appearing offline to co-workers! The new Live Messenger is a must-have social dashboard, with updates from across social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace, as well as videos directly from YouTube – all in one place.

The new Live Messenger can be previewed today at http://www.messengerpreview.com/

So with all new loaded Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger, stop sending emails and start connecting with people you love. Stop Instant Messaging and start having conversations with your buddies!

Also read – What is Email Phishing and How can you avoid email hacks?

Categories
How-to Microsoft Tools Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Understand Microsoft Volume Licensing and Activation Management Tool 2.0

Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) User Guide

This user guide shows step-by-step instructions for how to register, view account details, download products and more from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC). It also includes screenshots, technical support information, and a glossary. Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) User Guide.

Download Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) User Guide [.pdf format]

Download Volume Activation Management Tool 2.0 (Beta)

Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) 2.0 (Beta) is a managed MMC plug-in with support for Office 2010 Beta. Administrators may use it to manage volume editions of Windows and Office 2010 Beta installed with a Key Management Service (KMS) client key or a Multiple Activation Key (MAK). A convenient command line interface (CLI) allows automated, scheduled VAMT tasks without UI interaction.

Download Volume Activation Management Tool 2.0 (Beta) [.msi format]

Manage Activation Using VAMT 2.0

VAMT can be an important tool to help you centrally manage and automate a range of activities related to Windows activation. Core benefits of VAMT include:

  • The ability to protect product keys by retaining them only in the VAMT console, vs. including a key in an image or distributing it in plain text
  • Perform activations without each system having to connect and activate with Microsoft activation services
  • Inventory and monitor systems in the environment from an activation and licensing standpoint VAMT enables you to remotely activate managed systems. You can perform MAK, KMS host, KMS client, and retail activations. VAMT uses WMI to remotely manage activations and other related tasks on managed systems. VAMT also can assist with license compliance, letting you monitor license state for the systems under management

Download Manage Activation Using VAMT 2.0 White Paper here[.docx format]

Product Activation Using VAMT 2.0

This document explains how to perform the following activation-related tasks using VAMT 2.0: 1. Discover computers and installed products 2. Remotely install a product key on those products 3. Remotely complete typical product activations that you might use in your environment—online, proxy, and Key Management Service (KMS) client activation 4. Save the Computer Information List, and perform local reactivations using that list These tasks can be performed for Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Office 2010 client suites and applications, Visio 2010 and Project 2010 clients.

Download the Product Activation Using VAMT 2.0 [.docx format]

Manage Product Keys Using VAMT 2.0

VAMT helps adminsitrators to manage keys acquired through a Microsoft volume license agreement, subscription programs such as MSDN, TechNet or Microsoft Partner Network, or the retail channel. VAMT 2.0 enables management of the following product key types, for Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Office 2010 client suites and applications, Visio 2010 and Project 2010:

  • Key Management Service (KMS) host keys (CSVLK)
  • KMS client setup keys
  • Multiple Activation Key keys (MAK)
  • Retail keys

Download the Manage Product Keys Using VAMT 2.0 Guide [.docx format]

Reporting Activation Information Using VAMT 2.0

VAMT 2.0 can be used to track and report activation data for Windows operating systems activated using Key Management Service (KMS), Multiple Activation Keys (MAK), and retail keys. VAMT 2.0 supports Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008, Office 2010 client suites and applications, Visio 2010 and Project 2010 clients. VAMT can provide information on license status, and whether installed software is genuine. This information also can help you with license compliance. VAMT can be used in addition to any tool you already may be using for the purpose of software asset management or license management.

Download the Reporting Activation Information Using VAMT 2.0 guide [.docx format]

Also read – New Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) to manage Multiple Activation Key(MAK)