WindowsNetworking.com Newsletter of April 2008

WindowsNetworking.com Monthly Newsletter of August 2009 Sponsored by: GFI

Welcome to the WindowsNetworking.com newsletter by Thomas W Shinder MD, MVP. Each month we will bring you interesting and helpful information on the world of Windows Networking. We want to know what all *you* are interested in hearing about. Please send your suggestions for future newsletter content to: tshinder@windowsnetworking.com

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1. XP Mode - It's Not a Mode!

You have probably heard about the new feature included in Windows 7 called XP Mode. What XP Mode is designed to do is allow you to run legacy applications on a virtual instance of Windows XP. To get this to work, you first install Windows Virtual PC on a Windows 7 computer. You can download the Windows Virtual PC application from the Microsoft Web site - you need to download the application because it's not included with the Win7 operating system.

After you download and install Windows Virtual PC, you next download a licensed copy of Windows XP. No, you do not download installation files or an .iso, you actually download a licensed copy of a Windows XP virtual machine. The Windows XP virtual machine you download will have a special installer, so getting the XP virtual machine running is a bit more straightforward than putting together your own virtual machine solution from scratch.

Once Windows XP is installed in a virtual machine on your Win7 host computer, you can then start installing applications that won't run on Windows 7 in the Windows XP virtual machine. Where the oohs and ahhhs come in is when you click the Start button on the Windows 7 host computer and see the applications running on the Windows XP guest machine appear there. When you click the Start menu item for the application, the application appears on the host system's desktop just as if the user had launched it from a host system installation. They call this "seamless integration". Not too shabby, eh?

But the question comes now, where is the "mode" in all of this? What part makes XP mode a "mode"?

Why even ask this question?

You need to ask this question because Windows XP is not the only guest operating system you can install on a Windows 7 host running Windows Virtual PC. You can install 32-bit versions of Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 on the host Windows 7 computer using Windows Virtual PC on the host. You also get the same seamless application integration with the host computer when you create your own XP, Vista or Win7 virtual machines. So, clearly application integration is not the "mode".

Is it the installer file that you use to install the "XP Mode" Windows XP that makes it a "mode"?

Is it the application integration that you use to make virtual applications appear on the host desktop? If so, is there a Vista Mode and a Windows 7 Mode?

Is it the free license you get to run Window XP that makes it "mode"?

The problem is that there is no "mode" in the XP Mode. It is a marketing term and nothing more. Do not try to infer any technical meaning into the name, otherwise you will drive yourself crazy. XP Mode is just a marketing term for running a pre-built Windows XP virtual machine on Windows 7 using Windows Virtual PC as the virtualization engine. The free Windows XP license is only available when you buy Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate.

One more thing about XP Mode; it is considered to be an unmanaged solution for small and midsized businesses. However, there is nothing to get in the way of you making it into a managed solution. There are two general approaches that allow you to do that:

  • Change the default networking behavior from NAT to bridged in the XP virtual machine. The default is NAT because small and midsized businesses do not have to worry about IP address management or depletion. But if you want to manage the Windows Virtual PC virtual machines, you will want to change from NAT to bridged.
  • Use Microsoft enterprise virtual machine management tools such as Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) and Microsoft Application Virtualization (APP-V). MED-V and APP-V can be used together to enable robust management of a virtual client infrastructure.

There you have it. XP Mode is cool. But remember, there is no "mode" - do not look for the mode, do not search for the mode, do not ask about the mode and do not dream about the mode. There is no mode. A second take-home message is that virtual machines installed on Windows 7 using Windows Virtual PC can be managed just like any other machine on the network.

Thanks!
Tom
See you next month!
tshinder@windowsnetworking.com

For ISA or TMG firewall, as well as other Forefront Consulting Services and Microsoft virtualization technology consulting in the USA, call me at 206-443-1117 or visit Prowess Consulting web site.

Got a networking question that you can't find the answer to? Send a note to Dr. Tom at tshinder@windowsnetworking.com and he'll answer your question in next month's newsletter.

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Quote of the Month - "Sometimes the appropriate response to reality is to go insane. - Philip K. Dick (1928 - 1982)
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3. WindowsNetworking.com Articles of Interest

4. Administrator KB Tips of the Month

Given that we can not get KB article information based on the date the article was published anymore, I think it is time to say “good bye” to the KB article of the month section. It has been over a year since they removed the ability to limit the KB searches by date, and there is no indication that they intend to fix the situation.

The new section is going to be the "Administrator KB Tips of the Month". Over at WindowsNetworking.com we keep a database of administrator tips. We have tips on Windows 2000, Windows Server 2008, Windows 2003, NT, XP, Vista and Windows 7 (in the future). The admin KB is a wealth of information that any admin will get something good out of.

This month, our admin KB tips of the month focus on DHCP. Check out these nuggets:

For more admin tips, check out the entire database!

5. Windows Networking Tip of the Month

You might have heard about BitLocker. First introduced with Windows Vista, BitLocker enables you to encrypt drive partitions or volumes. The first incarnation of BitLocker allowed you to encrypt the system partition only. Subsequent versions in Vista allowed you to encrypt data volumes as well. While there has always been 3rd party support for whole volume encryption, it is nice to have it integrated into the operating system.

Windows 7 introduces BitLocker to Go. With BitLocker To Go, you can encrypt USB keys and other external devices. Very nice, but like with regular BitLocker, there have been 3rd party tools that allow you to do the same thing and they are often included with the USB key itself. However, like I said, it is nice to have integrated operating system support.

I was playing with the new BitLocker To Go feature yesterday and learned of a few limitations that you should know about. First, BitLocker to Go is available only with Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate - so if you have Home versions or Pro, forget about it. Also, full functionality is available only on Windows 7 machines.

What do I mean by full functionality? First, you need a Windows 7 machine to encrypt the USB key. During the process, you assign an unlock password. Now you can take the encrypted USB key to any other Windows 7 machine and read and write to the encrypted USB key after entering the password. Nice. You can also take the encrypted key to a Vista SP1 and above or Windows XP SP3 machine and read the data on the key. There is a BitLocker To Go executable on the key that you can see in the Explorer windows. Double click on that and you can enter the unlock password. This opens a window that allows you to view the files on the encrypted key and open the files that you view. However, you cannot write to the key, because encryption is only supported on Windows 7 machines.

Well, there ain't that many Windows 7 machines out there right now - so be careful with BitLocker To Go if you want to be able to read and write to your encrypted keys. You do not want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with a Windows XP or Vista machine and need to write to the key because it is not going to work.

Automatic Event Log Monitoring

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6. WindowsNetworking Links of the Month

7. Ask Dr. Tom

QUESTION:

Hi Tom,

I know there is a lot of cool stuff included with Windows 7, but I have not had a chance to look at it yet. I was talking to a buddy yesterday about routine tasks we do without Windows XP machines and the topic of defrag came up. I heard something about defrag being different with Windows 7 but was not sure what the difference was. Is there still a built in defragger with Windows 7? If so, anything new?

Thanks! - Jeremy.

ANSWER:

Hi Jeremy,

You bet there's new stuff in the Windows 7 defragger. What you probably heard about was the fact that the defrag fragmentation map is no longer included in the Windows 7 defragger. You will get some progress information, but no cool map like with other defrag products, or even the cruddy map you got with previous versions of the Windows defragger.

However, Microsoft does try to make it up to you by building in a scheduler right into the defrag applications. But default Windows 7 will defrag you disks once a week. However, you can customize the schedule to your heart's content. That is about it. As for any architectural changes in the Windows 7 defragger, check out this blog post Disk Defragmentation - Backround and Engineering the Windows 7 Improvements.

Got a question for Dr. Tom? Send it to tshinder@windowsnetworking.com.

Automatic Event Log Monitoring

Let GFI EventsManager do the dirty work - Have event logs monitored automatically and get warned about critical events. Easily control and manage Windows event logs, W3C logs, Syslog events and SNMP traps network-wide. See for yourself how GFI EventsManager can make your life easier!

Download a 30-day trial today!