How-to Microsoft

Problem Step Recorder (PSR.exe) – Screen Capture Tool

Sometimes when a user has an issue with his machine which needs an IT Pro help, the helpdesk always tries to resolve this error quickly, either involves in sending someone to the user’s desk or remote connection to the user’s machine to fix it.  When the user is not in office, its even harder to troubleshoot.

Windows 7 Logo

Most of the times, the user description of the problem may not be specific enough., and the support team may need some additional information from the user to understand the issue better.  It would be easy to understand the problem, if they could see what happened.  Thats where exactly, the Problem Step Recorder comes handy!

The problem Step recorder in Windows 7 lets the user save the steps which caused the issue, with the complete screenshots on what happened, along with the compiled html file. The user can then send this html file to the helpdesk and ease them understand the problem better.  The order of screenshots may help the helpdesk to identiy the issue more faster.

Other than Issue reporting, you can use this tool to create screencasts. Also, it proves really handy to create how-to tutorials and documents!!!

Invoking the Problem Step Recorder(psr) is as easy as typing psr (or to be in specific psr.exe) in the search bar, and hit the enter button.

Problem Step Recorder

The program starts with this below options,

Problem Step Recorder - Recording Dialog

On clicking the “Start Record” button, the program will start recording all the subsequent windows, key presses and mouse clicks. Now launch the program which is creating an issue. Observe that, the PSR shows the recording now in the status message in the dialog header.

Problem Step Recorder - Recording Now

Once you get the issues in the program, which you wanted to report… you can click on the Stop Record button. This will give you an option to save the report file.

Problem Step Recorder - Saving the report

This file contains all the steps and information that was recorded to help you describe the problem to others.  Using this report file, you can review the recorded problem steps and also review the recorded problem steps as a slide show.

Problem Step Recorder - Report

Also, at the end of the report, an additional technical summary is created to help advanced users and developers.

Problem Step Recorder - Technical Report

For the demo purpose, I have created an issue report of calculator (divide by zero error). Do check the report here to understand how funntasstic this tool is!!!

Microsoft Tools Virtualization Windows Installer, Application Compatibility and Deployments

Keep Offline Virtual Machines up-to-date: Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool 2.1

The Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool 2.1 helps organizations maintain virtual machines that are stored offline in a Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager library. While stored, virtual machines do not receive operating system updates. The tool provides a way to keep offline virtual machines up-to-date so that bringing a virtual machine online does not introduce vulnerabilities into the organization’s IT infrastructure.

The Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool combines the Windows Workflow programming model with the Windows PowerShell™ interface to bring groups of virtual machines online just long enough for them to receive updates from either System Center Configuration Manager 2007 or Windows Server Update Services. As soon as the virtual machines are up-to-date, the tool returns them to the offline state in the Virtual Machine Manager library.

This Solution Accelerator includes the following components:

  • Brief Overview. Available online only on Microsoft TechNet. Summary for business and technical managers that briefly explains how this Solution Accelerator can fit into an organization’s IT infrastructure management strategy.
  • OfflineVMServicing_x64 and OfflineVMServicing_x86. Setup files for the tool, for 64 bit and 32 bit versions of Windows with Microsoft® System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008 or 2008 R2.
  • Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool Getting Started Guide. Provides information about how the tool works, explains prerequisites for the tool, and describes how to install and configure the tool.
  • Offline_VM_Servicing_Tool_2.1_Release_Notes.rtf. Notes provide information about this release, describe known issues in the tool, and include feedback instructions.
  • Offline_Virtual_Machine_Servicing_Tool_Help. Help file for the tool. Provides instructions for using the tool.

Download the Tool here

Microsoft Tools

Free Autoruns Tool to Take Charge of Startup Apps in Windows 7

Windows 7 has a few tools you can use to peek at programs and services that run automatically at startup or logon, most notably the System Configuration utility, Msconfig. But that built-in tool pales in comparison to the undisputed heavyweight champion of the category. “Autoruns” Tool, which is available for free from Windows Sysinternals monitors programs in your Startup folder and in registry keys, showing you the exact order in which those programs will run.

You can also configure Autoruns to show Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, and auto-start services, among other categories. Shortcut menus allow you to search for more information about a process or service whose name is unfamiliar, and clearing a check box to the left of each entry disables that item. The Everything tab shown here gives you an unfiltered look at everything your system starts automatically.

You can download the AutoRuns Tool here

General How-to Microsoft Tools

Want to install Office 2010? – Use this Assessment Tool (OEAT)

This is a comprehensive Environment scanning tool (OEAT) for use in deploying Microsoft Office 2010.  This tool (along with documentation) assists a customer in the assessment phase of deployment. It identifies:

  • Currently installed applications and installation environment
  • Add-ins currently in use by Office clients
  • Programs that are not registered as add-ins but still interact with Office programs
  • Provides a report on the Environmental assessment (potential upgrade issues)
  • Also reports the  Add-ins assessment–list of third party programs and information about the compatibility of those programs with Microsoft Office 2010

You can download this Assesment Tool (OEAT) here!!!

When you execute the downloaded exe, it wil show a dialog to extract the files. (Select a folder, where the application has permission to write the files into)

Once extracted, there will be 2 files in the folder (OEAT.exe and Readme). On executing the OEAT.exe, you will see the Assesment Tool,

Use the option 1, if you are running it for an individual machine. Administrators can choose Option 2, to run a Wizard for advanced configuration like passive scan, UNC Path, Hidden execution options.  Invoking this button, will first scan your machine and create a XML file report and create it in the same location of the executable. Check a sample xml file below.

Once the scan is complete (either by Option 1 or 2)., you can compile the report. This will compress the collected data, compile them into readable format and gives the output in a excel file. On clicking the button “Compile Results”

You can Review the excel sheet (which is present in the same folder of the OEAT.exe), to analyze the follow different parameters,

  1. Machine Summary Report
  2. All Installed Addin
  3. Installed Addins which were not shipped with Office
  4. Disk Space
  5. 32bit vs. 64bit
  6. Antivirus State

For information on getting started, please see OEAT Quick Start Guide and OEAT User Manual

I would also recommend you download and use the Office 2010 Compatibility Inspector to check the Code Compatibility for Office 2010.

The key features of the Office Code Compatibility Inspector include the following:

  • It consists of four add-ins that load, one add-in per application, in Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, Word 2010, and Visual Studio 2008.
  • It runs on a per-user or a per-document basis. For VBA, users open a document and run the tool from the Developer tab. For Visual Studio projects, the developer runs the tool from the Tools menu.
  • It adds comments in the code where it finds other potential issues.
  • It displays a summary and a detailed report of its findings after it completes its inspection.
Google Tools

Google Pack – Get free software for Windows 7

Google Pack is the collection of Softwares selected by Google., which are free and ready to use in just a few clicks for Windows 7.

You also get an option to select and de-select the softwares, which you want to install. The pack contains softwares like,

  1. Google Chrome Web BrowserMake browsing the web faster, safer and easier, Search from the address bar itself
  2. Google AppsUse Google email, calendar and document applications; Create, collaborate, communicate and share with friends and family
  3. Picasa Find, edit and share your photos in seconds, Easily remove red eye and fix photos
  4. Spyware Doctor with Anti-VirusProtects your PC with advanced anti-virus detection and removal, Detects and removes spyware, adware, trojans and keyloggers
  5. Mozilla Firefox with Google Toolbar
  6. Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer
  7. RealPlayerPlay popular media formats, organise music and videos
  8. Google DesktopFind all your email, files, web history and more
  9. Adobe ReaderView, print and search PDF files via a redesigned interface
  10. Google EarthZoom from space to street level — tour the world
  11. SkypeMake free voice and video calls to anyone else on Skype

 Download the Google Pack Softwares here!!!

Best Practices Google Tools

Website Optimization – Want to know what readers are seeing in your website?

Browser Size is a tool from Google Labs, which provides you visualization of browser window sizes for people who visit your website. This is useful for ensuring that important parts of a page’s user interface are visible by a wide audience. Knowing this fact would encourage the designer to move the most important information much higher in the page so it can be seen without scrolling. For example, the “90%” contour means that 90% of people visiting the website have their browser window open to at least this size or larger.

The sizes represented in this contour are client area sizes, not browser window sizes. This means they represent the size of the browser without the title bar, toolbars, status bars, etc., and thus give a true representation of how much content can be seen by a particular segment of the Web-using population.

Check the Browser Size Tool here!!! –

To view your own Web site with this same visualization overlaid on it, simply type its URL into the “Enter URL here” textbox at the top of the window and click Go. As you move the mouse around the window, you will see a transparent rectangle following the mouse pointer. This feature allows you to interact normally with the page you’re examining even though it has a graphical overlay atop it.

You could choose either a Opaque layout map or even set the translucent effect!

Check the Browser Size Tool here!!! –

If you’re interested in learning more about the technical descriptions of Browser Size Tool, check out this post on the Google Code Blog.

General Microsoft Tools

SysInternals tools – December Update

This blog post briefs up the updates which are made to the following SysInternals Tools.

VMMap v2.5: This update to VMMap, a process memory analysis utility, now identifies thread environment blocks (TEBs), the process environment block (PEB), and reserved memory.

Disk2vhd v1.4: Now includes an option for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 that directs it to fix up the kernel and HAL to make the VHDs generated for these systems bootable in Virtual PC. It also skips sectors with CRC errors to enable the conversion of systems with failing disks.

Sigcheck v1.63: Instead of reporting ‘unsigned image’ for all signature check failures, Sigcheck now reports specific errors, such as the root not being trusted and the signing chain not being valid.


Autoruns v9.57: Now reports more group policy script entries.

PsExec v1.97: This update to PsExec fixes the interactive (-i) switch for Windows XP and a bug in the copy-to-remote (-c) switch that would sometimes prevent the copy from succeeding.

PsKill v1.13:  Fixes a bug in the process tree termination logic.

You can also use these tools using Internet, Check here –

Microsoft Tools

Repairing Windows issues using FixWin v1.0

The Windows Club team is pleased to release a first-of-its-kind application for Windows 7 & Vista: FixWin. FixWin v 1.0 is a 529 KB freeware portable application to repair & fix common Windows annoyances & issues.

While there were several tutorials and how-to’s already available on the Internet to deal with such annoyances, FixWin as a single utility was conceptualized, to fix some of the common annoyances which may be faced by a Windows user.

FixWin v 1.0 has been developed by my MVP colleague & Windows Registry Guru Ramesh Kumar, for The Windows Club.


50 problems … 1 solution … FixWin is the Windows Doctor all have been waiting for!!

You can download the Utility Here!!!

For more information on this Utility refer this article – Here!!

Microsoft Tools

Terminals – Multi Tab Terminal Services

Wouldn’t it be nice to do all the below from one window?

  1. RDP – Microsoft’s Remote Desktop aka Terminal Services
  2. VNC – Virtual Network Computing
  3. VMRC – Virtual Machine Remote Control
  4. RAS – Remote Access Service (VPN, Dialup)
  5. Telnet – Telecommunication Network
  6. SSH – Secure Shell
  7. ICA Citrix – Independent Computing Architecture

Terminals” is a tool which can do all this from a single window. Terminals is a secure, multi tab terminal services/remote desktop client. It uses Terminal Services ActiveX Client (mstscax.dll).  One of my collegue Rajiv, shared this information, this morning.  I am sure you will also like this and will greatly benefit from the same.

All credits to the developers, who have developed this phenomenal tool.

You can Download the software – Here (The current version available is Terminals 1.7e)

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

How to create a Windows Installer Patch using Wise Package

Step 1: Launch the Patch Creation tool from within your Wise product. The Patch Creation tool’s Welcome dialog appears. This dialog offers an outline of the steps for creating a patch.

Step 2:
Read the information on the Welcome dialog, and click Next when finished. The Specify Patch Settings File dialog appears.

Step 3: The radio buttons on the Specify Patch File Settings dialog indicate whether to create a new patch file or Open an existing patch settings file. A patch file (.PCP) stores settings from the Patch Creation tool, such as the names of the previous and new .MSIs and whether to include whole files or file patches when compiling the patch. For this exercise, select the radio button to create a new patch file and click Next. The Specify Previous Versions dialog appears.

Step 4: Use the Specify Previous Versions dialog to add entries for each of the previous versions of an installation that the latest version can patch. Click Add to add a previous version. The Previous Version Details dialog appears.

Step 5: Click Browse to browse to the .MSI for the previous version of your application. Click Open after locating the .MSI.

Step 6: Make any desired changes on the Previous Version Details dialog. The settings in the Validation section of the dialog indicate the requirements of the previous installation on the destination computer in order to install this patch. Please view the online help by pressing F1 on the Previous Version Details dialog for more information about the various fields.

Step 7: Click OK when finished making changes on the Previous Version Details dialog. A dialog might appear, saying that the installation database is marked as compressed and PatchWiz.dll does not operate on compressed databases. Click Yes to run an admin install to extract the files from the .MSI and continue creating the patch. Windows Installer extracts the .MSI and the Specify Previous Versions dialog shows a target path pointing to a temporary directory where the extracted .MSI resides.

Step 8:
Add other previous versions if applicable, then click Next on the Specify Previous Versions dialog. The Specify Upgrade Version dialog appears.

Step 9: The Specify Upgrade Version dialog shows the path to the .MSI that upgrades the previous versions enumerated on the Specified Previous Versions dialog. When launching the Patch Creation tool with an installation project already open, the Upgrade MSI path field contains the path to the .MSI for the current installation project. Click Browse to browse to the upgrade .MSI if the Upgrade MSI path field doesn’t already contain the correct information.

Step 10:
Click Advanced to display the Advanced Upgrade Version Details dialog. This dialog shows the Patch GUID and a field for Previous Patch GUIDs to replace. Please view the online help by pressing F1 on the Advanced Upgrade Version Details dialog for more information about the fields on the dialog. Click OK when finished making changes to the Advanced Upgrade Version Details.

Step 11: Click Next on the Specify Upgrade Version dialog. A dialog might appear, saying that the installation database is marked as compressed and PatchWiz.dll does not operate on compressed databases. Click Yes to run an admin install to extract the files from the .MSI and continue creating the patch. Windows Installer extracts the .MSI to a temporary directory, and then the Compile Patch dialog appears.

Step 12: The Compile Patch dialog shows several options for compiling the patch. The first field is the name of the Output .MSP file. Browse to the location where to store the .MSP file, or type in the full path including the file name.

Step 13: The Advanced Settings on the Compile Patch dialog determine whether to create file patches or to use entire files, whether to allow the Product Code or Version Number to differ between the previous and upgrade, and whether to create a log file. Mark the checkboxes for these options to enable them.

Step 14:
The Multi-patch Media settings indicate the starting file sequence and disk ID numbers as well as the volume label for the .MSP and the prompt that displays when the application needs to be repaired. Again, please view the online help by pressing F1 on the Compile Patch dialog for more information. Note that the Volume Label on this dialog must match the volume label on the CD or other write-protected media that distributes the patch. Click Next on the Compile Patch dialog to continue the patch creation process.

Step 15: The Patch Creation tool begins creating the patch. A dialog might appear, saying “ProductCodes between Target and Upgraded images do not match; do you want to proceed anyway?” Click Yes to continue creating the patch, or click No to stop. Another dialog might appear, saying “ProductVersions between Target and Upgraded images do not match; do you want to proceed anyway?” Click Yes to continue creating the patch, or click No to stop.

Step 16: When the Patch Creation tool has finished creating the patch, the Compile Patch dialog says Patch creation completed and has a View Log button. Click View Log to view the patch creation log, or click Finish to close the Patch Creation tool.