New rules for activation

Product activation has been a part of Windows for the past 15 years, starting with Windows XP. Like its predecessors, Windows 10 requires activation as part of the license agreement. Typically, that process is automatic, with Windows checking a product key (or other authorized method) against an activation server to confirm that the installed version of Windows matches the product key, and the device is authorized to use the associated Windows license.

Windows 10 allows you to complete setup without entering a product key, for reasons I explain a bit later in this section. You can skip the product key and postpone activation, but doing so means certain features aren’t available.

The concept of activation using a “digital entitlement” is new in Windows 10 and is created when you upgrade a PC that is currently running a properly activated copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. If you start Setup from within that older Windows version, you do not need to enter a product key. Windows confirms that the underlying system is properly activated and creates a digital entitlement based on the unique hardware ID. (This behavior, of course, is predicated on the free upgrade offer that runs for one year after the initial release of Windows 10. Microsoft hasn’t said what will happen on July 29, 2016, when that year is up.)

If you are using bootable installation media to perform a clean install on a PC that was previously upgraded and given a digital entitlement, you do not need to enter a product key during setup. After the installation is complete, Windows contacts the activation servers and sends the hardware ID. (It’s hashed, so it can’t be used to identify the specific device.) When the server finds a stored digital entitlement for that hardware ID, the system is activated automatically.

If you are using bootable installation media to perform a clean install on a PC that has never been upgraded to Windows 10 and activated, you will need to enter a product key to activate the system. If your installation media is for Windows 10 version 1511 (build 10586) or later, you can enter a product key from a matching edition of Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1. That option also results in a digital entitlement, and there’s no further need to enter that product key.

You can see even more detailed activation information about the current Windows installation by opening an administrative Command Prompt window and entering the command slmgr.vbs /dlv.

Of course, other activation options are available as well:

■ New PCs with Windows 10 preinstalled by the manufacturer are activated automatically by the OEM. The license information is coded into the firmware of the device, allowing reinstallation of the same Windows 10 edition without requiring a product key.

■ Retail and OEM copies available through resellers include a product key that can be used to activate a specific Windows 10 edition that has never been activated.

■ Volume License customers can use Multiple Activation Keys or a Key Management Server to activate properly licensed copies of Windows 10 Enterprise.

Source of Information : Microsoft Introducing Windows 10 For IT Professionals

Windows 10 Compatibility and preparation

If you’ve already begun planning a wide-scale Windows 10 deployment, congratulations! You’re ahead of the vast majority of your peers. But even if you aren’t ready to begin a major migration, you can certainly make life easier on your future self by doing two things now:

■ First, take inventory of your existing hardware and make some intelligent decisions for future purchases.

■ Second, start some pilot projects to familiarize yourself and other members of the IT staff with Windows 10.

Existing touchscreen-equipped devices running Windows 8.1 offer a straightforward upgrade path to Windows 10, using Windows Update.

For conventional (non-touch) desktop PCs and laptops running Windows 7 Service Pack 1, there’s an equally straightforward path to Windows 10. In fact, Windows 10 is available as a free upgrade on any PC with a properly activated copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 (also known as “Genuine Windows”).

Windows 10 is also compatible with most virtualization software, including Hyper-V in Windows Server installations and Windows 8.1 PCs.

Source of Information : Microsoft Introducing Windows 10 For IT Professionals


Cortana is one of the signature features of Windows 10, combining local and web search with the ability to understand spoken commands and enough smarts to convert those commands into tasks, appointments, or instructions. Essentially, Cortana acts as a personal assistant, complete with an occasionally sassy personality (with the name and voice taken from the Halo franchise on Xbox).

Cortana is not enabled by default on Windows 10. The first time you click in the box to the right of Start, Cortana gives you the option to enable it or leave the feature disabled. If you don’t want users in your organization to interact with Cortana, you can disable the feature using Group Policy. Cortana setting, which is accessible under Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search.

If you don’t enable Cortana, the box to the right of Start performs simple searches of the local file system, settings, and the web, minus any personality and also without any connection to your personal data.

Although Cortana has been part of Windows Phone for nearly a year, she appeared for the first time in the Windows 10 Preview in late January 2015. Because much of Cortana’s magical powers derive from web-based services, she’s getting smarter with age. What you see in current releases is only a fraction of what you’ll see after another year (or two or three) of continuous improvements.
The best way to understand Cortana is to type something into the box just to the right of the Start button, or click the microphone icon and say it instead.

After you and your users get past the novelty of it all, take a look at Cortana’s notebook (available from the icon just below Home in the navigation bar on Cortana’s left edge). That’s where you can fine-tune the information—news, upcoming appointments, weather, reminders, and so on—that pops up instantly when you click in the Ask Me Anything box. (That summary is replaced with search results as soon as you start typing.)

The list of Notebook categories isn’t complete, and within each category the options can expand as Cortana becomes more capable. Scrolling down reveals more categories, including Weather, Sports, and Reservations, where you can allow Cortana to scan your email in search of restaurant reservations, movie times, and other likely events.

Source of Information : Microsoft Introducing Windows 10 For IT Professionals

Windows 10 user experience

How you react to Microsoft Windows 10 depends to a great extent on what your Windows desktop has looked like for the past few years.

If you and your organization stuck with Windows 7 (especially if you completed a migration from Windows XP shortly before its end-of-support date in 2014), you’ll have to adjust to a few new ways of working. The redesigned Start menu is the most obvious change, followed closely by the relocation of many system settings from Control Panel to the modern Settings app.

Ironically, the learning curve is considerably more complex if you and your users were early adopters of Windows 8. Not only will you have to learn the new elements of Windows 10, but you’ll have to unlearn some techniques you mastered with Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

Feedback to Microsoft after the release of Windows 8 made it clear that the radically revised user experience caused significant frustration. Even with the refinements introduced in Windows 8.1, the change in user experience was substantial for anyone accustomed to the familiar desktop and Start menu.

As a result, the Windows 10 user experience offers another significant round of changes, designed to bring together the best elements of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 and smooth the transition between the familiar desktop ways and the new touch-friendly techniques.

In Windows 10, you and your users can take advantage of rich, new Windows apps on a traditional desktop PC or laptop, alongside familiar Windows desktop applications, interacting with those new apps in resizable windows. On a touch-enabled mobile device, you can turn on Tablet Mode, making it possible to work with apps in a full-screen setting, minus clutter and distraction.

A new set of navigation techniques replace the sometimes-confusing “hot corner” techniques from Windows 8, and the addition of virtual desktops in Windows 10 makes it possible to shift between groups of apps instead of shuffling windows around.

Regardless of your starting point, moving to Windows 10 requires a thoughtful and thorough plan for training and orienting new users, especially if they work primarily in a traditional desktop environment. This chapter describes what you need to know about the changes in the Windows 10 user experience so that you can make those plans intelligently.

Source of Information : Microsoft Introducing Windows 10 For IT Professionals

Hyper-V backup process


The host side includes Hyper-V VSS writer, the VSS provider, and the backup application, which acts as the VSS requestor. DPM acts as the VSS requestor, which initiates the backup operation periodically and triggers the Hyper-V VSS writer to quiesce the VM.

To enable an application-consistent snapshot of the application running within the VM, Hyper-V communicates to the guest operating system through the Hyper-V integration service. Hyper-V inside the guest acts as the VSS requestor and requests the workloads to quiesce. For instance, if SQL Server is running inside the VM, the SQL Server writer participates in the VSS protocol and flushes in-flight data buffers to the disk, and when it is done, the VSS provider takes a volume snapshot.

After the volume snapshots have been created inside the guest, the VSS provider on the host creates a shadow copy of the volume that contains the VHDs. The volume snapshot enables the application, the VM in this case, to continue to make changes to the VHDs that are attached to the VM while the backup operation takes place.

DPM maintains a bitmap file per VHD that is being tracked, and it can easily identify the blocks that have been modified since the last synchronization event. The block size is maintained as 16 KB to optimize the amount of data that is transferred and stored on the replica. Since the bitmap only indicates which 16-KB blocks are modified, the DPM backup agent reads the modified data from the storage snapshot. These changes are then transported to the DPM replica server and stored on the replica volume. To maintain versions of backup data, DPM maintains recovery points, which are essentially snapshots of the data on the replica storage pool. When a new recovery point is created on the DPM replica storage, a volume snapshot is taken, and only new changes are written to the replica volume, while shadow copies are maintained for older recovery points. This mechanism of synchronization is called an express full backup.

Because DPM maintains a bitmap for each file that is being backed up, it requires a list of files to back up. The Hyper-V VSS writer not only participates in the backup operation, but it also enables the VSS requestor to track the list of files that need to be backed up. For instance, if a VM has two VHDs, the file specification with VSS will maintain a list of VHDs and their locations. This not only enables DPM to maintain the right tracking mechanism, but also enables DPM to capture the corresponding volume on the host machine. This enables the backup operation to detect any changes in the file specification. For instance, when a new VHD file is attached to the VM, DPM automatically makes an initial copy of the VHD as part of the next synchronization event.

During the restore process, an administrator can recover the entire VM or restore files and folders that are within the VM. For a VM, the restore can be to the same host, to the same cluster, or to a different cluster.

To ensure consistent backups are captured for Linux VMs, it is critical to install Linux Integration Services. The mechanism to quiesce the workloads within the guest operating system exists only in a Windows operating system. Hence, for Linux VMs, the Hyper-V VSS writer uses a different approach to quiesce the workloads. The Hyper-V writer leverages the file system-level operations, such as freeze and flush, to ensure that the data is file-system consistent. Therefore, from a user’s perspective, the file-level consistency is always maintained by the backup process.

Source of Information : Microsoft System Center

Deployment and manageability

Deploying Windows 10 in an organization is faster and easier than in Windows 7, thanks to new features originally introduced in Windows 8.1. Improvements in deployment processes for Windows 10 can make it even easier to standardize on a corporate configuration.

The traditional “wipe and load” option is still available for Windows 10 upgrades. That process involves capturing data and settings from an existing device, deploying a custom operating-system image, injecting drivers and installing apps, and then restoring the data and settings.

An additional option is the in-place upgrade, in which Windows handles the process of migrating apps and data from an existing image to a new (standard) image. This process is similar to the upgrade process consumers use via Windows Update, but it’s managed by System Center Configuration Manager and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, both of which should be familiar to IT pros.

Windows 10 adds a new provisioning option, which transforms a device with an OEM installation of Windows 10 into an enterprise-ready device. This procedure removes unwanted items from the OEM configuration and adds items, apps, and configuration details that would have been part of a standard custom image. The result is the same as a wipe-and-load deployment, but it’s simpler and more flexible.

On unmanaged devices, the new recovery options in Windows 10 help streamline the process of reinstalling the operating system. These options, which have evolved significantly from their original Windows 8 versions, allow users to restore or repair a Windows 10 device without having to make an appointment with the help desk. The new recovery options in Windows 10 include a significant benefit: the restored operating system contains all but the most recent cumulative update, meaning that the user doesn’t have to go through a tedious round of system updates after repairing the installation.

As with Windows 8.1, the reset option includes data-wiping capabilities that make it possible for a user to transfer a device to a new owner without worrying about inadvertently disclosing sensitive personal or business data.

Source of Information : Microsoft Introducing Windows 10 For IT Professionals

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