Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Blast from the Past: The BackOffice Server 4.5 Daily Cycle

Lots of old friends in this video.  Unfortunately I only worked on BackOffice 2000, the last edition of BackOffice Server (excluding Essential Business Server of course). Back Office Server 4.5 released in January 12, 1999, and I joined Microsoft in January, 2000 (as an Intern).

Enjoy the blast from the past!

This video talks about what it was like to build BackOffice 4.5, the BVTs, daily meetings, all that seemed to stay the same.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Introducing a new line of Network Storage Servers for SMB

WD Sentinel DX4000

Only yesterday, a third product that I worked on over the past little while called Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials was announced, on hardware provided by Western Digital.

Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials is a mid-way point between Windows Home Server, and Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials.  And by in between, I mean you have a business class Home Server.  So you have media streaming, but no domain controller, and a limit of 25 users instead of 10 that Home Server has. 

One other unique feature it has is the ability to join a domain, that Windows Home Server does not have.  You can join any size domain, but limit (via AD security group) the number of users down to 25 who can use the NAS box.  You can only use it for up to 25 users.

This is a great solution if you want to add client backup to 25 clients on any SBS 2008 or SBS 2011 Standard networks, or just a standard server network.  Furthermore, it does have RWA with it, which means you can add an RWA solution to your standard server network if you want.

The WD Sentinel DX4000 looks pretty awesome from a hardware perspective as well.  You can jump on over to the Western Digital WD Sentinel DX4000 website to learn more.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Home Server and SBS Add-in to Automate Client Backup of your MAC

One of the most popular posts on my blog is how to enable Apple’s Time Machine backup to backup to your Windows Home Server 2011 or Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials.  As it turns out, a company named Orbital Technologies has decided to build an add-in that enables this functionality without the need for you to walk through the steps of creating those confusing sparse files.

UWHS - Orbital Backup Configuration for MacThat add-in has been reviewed over on the famous UsingWindowsHomeServer blog, specifically in a blog post here, covering the preview of the Orbital Backup Configuration for Mac.  They additionally covered the add-in again when it was available.

Simply install the add-in, open up the dashboard on the MAC client and go to add-ins, Orbital utilities and follow along.  All you  need to know is your username and password to the server.  easy right? also free!

Keep in mind that you can still do the manual steps provided in my post if you prefer not to install anything as all this add-in does is the configuration pieces for you.

You can download the add-in directly from the Using Windows Home Server Forums, or We Got Served forums. The add-in should work fine on Windows Home Server 2011, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, and also Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials.  If you’re using any other Windows product, the manual steps are for you.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Using your Home Server for more than Storage, Backup and Remote Access

Back in 2006, I was without power for 4 days in November.  It was cold, but I had friends, and an offline Small Business Server 2003 R2.  Of course I ran everything out of my house, why wouldn’t I?  Being offline my server started sending NDRs and I didn’t have access to anything, as it was all offline.  While I had been toying with adopting the cloud for the amount of spam I was getting, this pushed me over the edge.  It was at that time I decided to adopt the cloud.  My email and most things that I own are all hosted in various cloud services so if the power goes out at my house, my stuff keeps running. 

Trust me, I did a cost benefit analysis and in order to keep things running for me at home, I’d have to pay for hosting services anyways, and given I was running a “business class” server, I was forced into “business class” prices.  I am not a business, I am a consumer.

However, there are certain things that I don’t trust the cloud for, and hence I want my own cloud storage that I run and have total control over.  Enter Windows Home Server stage left. Home Server has been my personal cloud storage location since 2007, I now run WHS 2011.

Enter Cloud computing.

My Windows Home Server is perfect device to do computing for me, and it can just chug away on it all the time.  The one draw back is that there is only one account “Administrator” that has total access to the server.  this obviously isn’t good computing practice, so let me show you how to create a working account that you can have do things for you.

First step, let’s create a new user account on the server.  We’ll do this using the normal Add User Wizard in the dashboard.  I’ll call the user Working User.  I gave the user access to the shared folders it needed access to (where I can interact with Working User’s storage), and nothing more.  I didn’t even give this user remote access.

Now, by default all users created don’t have access to log into the server, we need to grant this permission.  This will make the user a standard user on the server, so it will have access to do things the same as a standard user would have access on a client PC (running applications, a /user folder with full control, and access to those folders you gave it.  it won’t be able to mess with the OS or install things.  PERFECT!

  1. On the server console, click Start, then Run, and type in gpedit.msc to edit the local policy on the server
  2. Expand down Local Computer Policy, Computer Configuration, Windows Settings, Local Policies, and click on User Rights Assignment
  3. Scroll down the list on the right until you find Allow log on locally and double click to open the property page
  4. Click the Add User or Group… button and type in the username that you created in the first step inside the Add User Wizard. Allow Log on Locally Properties Page
  5. Click OK and then OK again and close the local group policy editor.

Now this Working user has access to log in to the server locally.  Of course it can’t do any administration of the server as it’s not a member of the administrators group.

Next I want to use something as this user, say the command prompt.  I simply use a command line like the following: C:\Windows\System32\runas.exe /USER:SERVER\Working /savecred "C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe"

The /savecred will save the credentials you typed in as Working User (alias “working” in the above) and will remember it for future runs.  I actually just created a shortcut with this command in.  Now that you have a command prompt open, anything you run from this command prompt will run as the Working User.  So you can load up any application and have it work in the context of this non-administrative user.  So if you do hit something that wants to modify your system, you’ll get a UAC pop-up or an access denied (I haven’t hit anything like that yet in my set up).

Just be careful what you do, because there is no free Anti-virus for your server, and I highly recommend getting an anti-virus for your server if you plan on connecting this user up to the Internet to do anything directly on the server.  I have Antivirus on my system.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Seattle Interactive Conference: Learn the Cloud


Technical Content, Technical Experts

The Cloud Experience track at SIC is for experienced developers who want to learn how to leverage the cloud for mobile, social and web app scenarios.  No matter what platform or technology you choose to develop for, these sessions will provide you with a deeper understanding of cloud architecture, back end services and business models so you can scale for user demand and grow your business.

Register today using the promo code “azure 200” and attend SIC for only $150 (a $200 savings).

  • Attend a full day of technical sessions and learn more about leveraging the cloud for mobile, web and social scenarios. View the list of confirmed Cloud Experience speakers.  Sessions include:
    • Great Mobile Apps Make Money – Intro to Cloud Experience Track
    • Mobile + Cloud, Building Mobile Applications with Windows Azure
    • Zero to Hero: Windows Phone, Android, iOS Development in the Cloud
    • Building Web Applications with Windows Azure
    • Building Social Games on Windows Azure
  • Cloud Experience speakers and technical experts will be available to provide technical assistance and resources for developing, deploying and managing mobile, social and web apps in the cloud.

Seattle Interactive Conference (SIC): November 2-3, 2011, The Conference Center at WSCC

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

How to remove G+ and add proper sharing buttons to your Blogger Blog like Facebook, and Twitter!

If you’re not one of the few that uses Google+, then Google’s Sharing defaults inside of Google Blogger aren’t necessarily for you.  The scream Google sharing only.  The e-mail button is an icon of GMail, Google+ is the biggest sharing button.  Sure you can get to the others, but they are little buttons.  Don’t you want to be mainstream?

Here’s how I changed it with a little help from A Consuming Experience.

Getting your sharing code snippets

First, before I even touched my blog, I went to the appropriate sites to obtain my sharing buttons.  For me, that was the Facebook Like Button, Twitter’s Tweet Button, and LinkedIn’s Share Button (although I don’t use this one on my photo blog).  From these pages, you should use the UI to decide how you want the button to look for your site.  Make sure you specify a URL to Like, Tweet, or Share, this is a temporary URL, I used This is a placeholder for later.

I saved each of these code snippets into Notepad for copy/paste later.

Adding the sharing code to the Blogger blog

Inside your Blogger Dashboard, select the blog you wish to add your sharing buttons to, then click the “template” modification and choose to Edit the HTML:

Templete / Edit HTML

Choose to Proceed when you edit the HTML, and then make sure you select Expand Widget Templates that’s at the top:

Expand Widget Templates

Scroll down until you find the <b:include id=’shareButtons’ var=’post’> tag.  I deleted everything between that tag, and </b:includable> and replaced it with my own sharing code.

This is where things get fun. 

You need to replace that with the URL of the blog post.  Google puts that information into a variable and replaces it at the time the page is rendered.  So we simply need to do this as well.  Let’s take a look at the twitter code, because it’s the simplest. 

Here is what Twitter gave me:

<a class='twitter-share-button' data-count='horizontal' data-via='seandaniel' data-url=”” href=''>Tweet</a><script src='//' type='text/javascript'/>

note that I have bolded the temporary URL we need to replace with the URL of the blog post.  With the help of the above website, this is what I changed it to:

<a class='twitter-share-button' data-count='horizontal' data-via='seandaniel' expr:data-url='data:post.url' href=''>Tweet</a><script src='//' type='text/javascript'/>

Note I have added the expr: phrase which tells Google there is something to replace after the “=” sign.  I then put in the URL variable data:post.url, and also changed the quotes from double quotes to single quotes.  Google interprets that code and inserts the actual URL of the individual blog post.  Thus if they tweet on the main page with all the posts, they still only tweet the one that they are intending to, instead of the entire feed of posts.

So yeah, a little harder than their previous format where you had just put in <$BlogPostPermanentURL$>, but not too difficult all the same. 

Now on my blog you can see the following at the bottom of each post, without having to put that Google + link there.

Sharing Buttons

Cleans things up and standardizes them all in one.  Enjoy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

HP/Microsoft do an Extreme Make-Over of a Not For Profit Organization

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure to be able to participate in a very heart warming story.  Families For Effective Autism Treatment of Washington (or FEAT WA), was the first winner of the HP & Microsoft Extreme technical make-over.  FEAT really does a lot of work for children with autism, and were struggling with their hobbled together IT infrastructure. 

Microsoft and HP came together to set up the IT Infrastructure backbone running Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials on a maxed out HP ProLiant MicroServer. And for the children and office workers, Microsoft Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Premium on an HP ML 110 G7; to be connected to with the HP t5749e thing clients and HP EliteBook 8460p Notebooks. HP also improved their networking infrastructure with the HP ProCurve 1810G-24 switch.

It was so awesome to meet and help out Brenne and Amanda at FEAT of WA to do their job and help children with autism.  Check out the video:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Outlook 2010 Speed Tip: Using the Quick Step Box

Outlook 2010 has been out for a while, but one of the more recent features I started to depend on to make email faster for me is the Quick Steps box on the dialog:

Quick Steps

The Quick Steps bar allows you to make quick and customized operations on pieces of email that you have in your inbox.  There are a bunch of default ones that I use all the time, and I’ve also created a few new ones myself. 

Let’s first talk about how to use it, it’s pretty simple.  If you have a message you want to take action on, simply make sure it’s collected and select the one you want.  If you want to reply and delete it, simply click that button.  A reply message is opened to the individual, and the original message is deleted.  It’s that simple. 

Let’s say we often move mail to a specific folder in our inbox, and it involves selecting the message, dragging it to a folder that may or may not be collapsed in the tree view, and then dropping it there.  Instead, we can create a new Quick Step for this.  To do that simply:

  1. Select the Create New Quick Step image
  2. Give the Quick Step a name like “Move to Follow Up”
  3. Select Move to a folder, under the Actions drop down. 
  4. Then select the folder in the drop box that appears that you want to move the message to. 

And that’s it.  You can additionally assign a short cut key, give it tool tip text if you have complicated rules, or even add additional actions.

It’s made my life easier, with the amount of messages I get each day, I highly suggest checking out the Quick Steps.  Allows you to cut through email pretty fast.

Monday, September 12, 2011

New SBS Marketer!

David Fabritius

Well… not so new, as he’s been around as an external content vendor forever. Welcome David Fabritius to the Windows Server & Cloud marketing team here at Microsoft, with a focus on small and medium businesses. David is very familiar with the Windows Server family since he’s spent most of his time at Microsoft creating technical readiness material for the last few releases of SBS and other SMB-focused server products. David has a lot of experience as an ITPro deploying and managing server infrastructures.

David is from the Pacific Northwest and has been doing computer stuff since before college. He’s been a fan of SBS since he first bought a copy to run his own local small business. Since 2008, he’s been spending the majority of his time making sure you, the Microsoft Partner, are ready to sell SBS and have the training and resources you need to be successful.

Obviously with his new role, he’ll be helping to decide the direction of the product from within the marketing org!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Thank you BizTech Magazine – is listed in their top 50 Must Read IT Blogs

I was rather surprised last night to be browsing my @Mentions on Twitter only to find out that @BizTechMagazine listed me as one of the “50 Must-Read IT Blogs”. I first saw it when I was mentioned in their tweet. Today I was able to visit BizTech Magazine’s blog post to see that I’m not even at the very bottom!

It’s a great honour to even get a mention in a top 50!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Obtaining a Domain Name in SBS 2011 Standard and Essentials

So my second video that I did with the HP/Microsoft Coffee Coaching is now live. This one is near and dear to my heart as it’s a program that I built almost from the ground up (admittedly I had a little help from my friends at the start). I dive into the nuances of obtaining a domain name for your Remote Web Access website in these two products. The “Essentials” side of the fence also pertains to Windows Home Server (except in the view I talk about, where in WHS its, but it works the same way)

Additionally, if you are interested in some corny video footage and want to learn a bit more about me, you can view my rather embarrassing bio video. I swear it didn’t feel this corny when I was filming.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Learn about how Multi-Point 2011 Premium works with SBS 2011 Essentials on HP/Microsoft Coffee Coaching

I managed to finally get my schedule coincided with the HP/Microsoft Coffee Coaching filming crew. When I was with them I managed to create my first video which talks about how awesome MultiPoint 2011 Premium server is when you have Small Business Server 2011 Essentials already running in your network (details here). Check it out, it’s only 6 minutes of your time.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Using the new Office365 with SBS 2011 Essentials

Over on the Official SBS blog, they have a new post about how you can use Office365 with SBS 2011 for a better together story.

SBS 2011 was designed from the ground up to work with hosted versions of Exchange and SharePoint, such as Office365, or BPOS. But you don’t need to wait for any integration pieces to be in play, you can get started today. Check out these videos for more details:

What you can do Today

What you can do with the Office 365 integration module

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Basics of Local DNS for Small Business Server 2011 Essentials

[Post idea courtesy of Robert Pearman, MVP]

If you’ve used Windows Small Business Server in the past, you’ve probably figured out exactly how DNS works. With the SBS 2008 and SBS 2011 the Connect to the Internet Wizard would analyze your network and determine a static IP address to use, and then ensure you like it before making it the server’s IP address. Then as we all know, the DNS server runs on SBS and resolves local network addresses, like “domain.local” or “server” or the internal fully qualified domain (FQDN) “server.domain.local”

Since SBS 2008 and SBS 2011 are DHCP servers by default, that means they hand out IP addresses, and the server’s IP as the DNS server. DNS works flawlessly in such an environment. Internet based addresses (such as are first sent to the SBS box for resolution, and then forwarded on to the ISPs DNS servers for name resolution.

Ultimately SBS is a middle man in the peer to peer DNS infrastructure and gives the full power of DNS to the local network

So how is SBS 2011 Essentials Different?DNS!

SBS 2011 Essentials doesn’t assign itself a static IP address, and it doesn’t have a Connect to the Internet Wizard. Essentials will automatically connect to the Internet just like any client computer, using the DHCP assigned address. It does however use its local DNS server to resolve both local and Internet based names by overriding the DHCP assigned IP address to (localhost). If you dig into the DNS settings, you’ll notice that the DNS Server picks up the routers IP as a forwarder. Routers by default will hand out their own IP as the DNS Server and proxy DNS out to the WAN configured (usually DHCP but sometimes services like OpenDNS) DNS servers. This means that if the server were to ask for an Internet based address, like, it would forward that request to the router, which would intern forward it to the ISP, which could hopefully resolve it for you.

Clients on the network also still need to use the SBS DNS Server in order for Active Directory to work, or to resolve the server and other services on the network (for example, client backup doesn’t work unless DNS is operating correctly). Clients *also* get their IP and DNS Server from the DHCP server, which in Essentials, by default, is the router. This means that the DNS server is the router, essentially skipping the SBS name resolution step. Once the client goes to http://server/connect, a service is installed called LAN Configuration Service. This service monitors client IP address changes, when the client gets a new IP (ie, it turns on, or it changes locations) it immediately sends out a UPnP query looking for the server (note, this only works on single subnet environments). If a server is found, the DHCP assigned DNS address is overwritten by the server’s IP address (obtained in the return call from UPnP). If no server is found, the DHCP DNS assigned address is kept.

This means that client computers get the SBS DNS address within the SBS network, but the DHCP assigned address at a place like StarBucks. Clients can always resolve the Internet, and inside of the SBS network, they can also resolve the SBS server and Active Directory domain.

Now, for those paying attention, you’ll have recalled that the SBS server’s address is also DHCP assigned, which means it can change if the router deems it necessary. There is a similar service on the SBS server that will broadcast when it’s IP address changes, the clients on the network pick this up and update DNS, the clients off the network will just re-do the process above to get the right IP address.

A side-effect/pro of this design over the SBS 2008 or 2011 Standard design is that if the server is down for patching (we all know how long those reboots take), or another reason, the client will revert back to the DHCP assigned address after a short period of time and can continue to resolve the Internet until the server comes back online.

Can I set things up the old way?

Of course you can. SBS 2011 Essentials is still a full blow copy of server, and all the power that you’re familiar with is there. You can just jump into the NIC settings on the server and give it a static IP address of your choice. No problems there.

Additionally, if you absolutely wanted to run DHCP on the SBS Essentials server, no problems there either, simply open up the Server Manager, install the roll and configure DHCP. Don’t forget to turn off DHCP on your router, and away you go. If you’re not familiar with DHCP settings though, I suggest you leave it the way it was.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How to Manually Configure SBS 2011 Essentials Internet Domain Name

Back in SBS 2003 timeframe, having an Internet domain name for remote access to your server started to become more and more essential. With the SBS 2008 product, we added the ability to work with domain partners directly inside of the product to obtain that domain name, and also configure it. This same methodology was moved to SBS 2011 Standard product, and with the birth of Essentials, only later this year, we added the ability to also get your SSL Certificate as part of this process. Moving away from the self-issued certificate, which while can be configured correctly to work, causes a lot of work pushing the root certificate around to all the remote PCs and devices that possible connect to the server.

I believe the best path to success for you is to have your domain with one of our domain partners, because the alerts are integrated, and the solution is simple to set up, and you don’t need any additional components like 3rd party Dynamic DNS clients or static IP addresses from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). It’s a built in Dynamic DNS client, that’s been completely tested by both our 3rd party vendors as well as the Microsoft test team.

However, if you must manually configure your domain name, In SBS 2011 Essentials, the path of manually configuring your domain name is more hidden, and I wanted to share with you how to do this. First off, your domain name cannot be with GoDaddy or eNom if you want to manually configure your domain name. We optimize for the automated cases as mentioned above. So let’s get started in manually configuring our domain name.

  1. Open the Server Dashboard and click on the Server Settings link
  2. On the Remote Web Access tab, select Turn On

Server Settings

  1. Choose to configure the router, or skip the router configuration. If your router does not support the UPnP based configuration protocol, or you have and want UPnP disabled; it’s recommended that you skip the router configuration. If this is the case, you should
    1. Create a DHCP reservation for your server in your router’s DHCP server (or other DHCP server on the network) such that your server gets the same IP address every time.
    2. Open at a minimum port 443 from the Internet to the router using the TCP protocol (UDP is not needed). If you do not wish to educate users to type in https://, then you should also open port 80 to the same internal IP address. The server will automatically redirect http:// requests to the secured by SSL https:// URLs
  2. When you have finished the router configuration portion of remote access, you should choose to Set up your domain name.
  3. Click Next on the Getting started page of the wizard
  4. When manually configuring a domain name, the server assumes you already own it. Thus in the Do you own a domain name page of the wizard, select I want to use a domain I already own and type in the name of the domain, eg.
    1. Note: if your domain name is with eNom Central or GoDaddy, you’ll be asked to use that service instead of manually configuring your domain name.
  5. On the following page, select Set up my domain name manually, and click Next.
  6. On the following page, you will be shown a help topic on how to set up your domain name manually by clicking the I want to set up my domain name manually link.
  7. Outside of the wizard, to setup your domain name, you’ll have to log into your domain name provider and make the following changes:
    1. Create an A record called “remote” (if you choose to use that points to the static IP address of your server
    2. Ensure that your IP address from your ISV is static (doesn’t change). If this is not an option, you can look into a 3rd party dynamic DNS solution and ensure that that’s updated. If you go with the Dynamic DNS option, then (a) above should probably be a CNAME to the URL provided by the Dynamic DNS company.
  8. Once you have completed the above step, confirm that your domain is set up, check the box and click Next.
  9. Next you will need to have a certificate for your domain name. This certificate will secure web traffic to your domain. It’s VERY important that the certificate name ( matches the A record you created above. Without a match, your users will get a certificate warning (you can change the “remote” using the Advanced button:

Set up a Trusted SSL Certificate

  1. This generates a certificate request. You’ll have to find a certificate provider (Both GoDaddy and eNom Central offer low cost certificates for use) and follow their instructions on how to get a certificate. They will need the certificate request string shown in the wizard below. To copy this into a webpage, simply press the Copy button and paste it into the certificate providers webpage when asked.

Generate a certificate request

  1. Most inexpensive certificates are issued immediately, but if you live in a country that doesn’t do this, or you purchased a higher end certificate, you might have to wait. I do want to take a second and tell you that yes, you do only need the cheapest of certificates. The SBS team has gone to a great deal of effort to ensure that you only need the cheapest security aspect, with no multi-name or wildcard certificates needed. If you choose to upgrade, it should be for another reason than those mentioned. So if your provider needs more time, just tell the wizard and follow the instructions

SSL Certificate request in progress

  1. Once you have the certificate string, or file, you’ll have to import that into the server using the next page of the wizard:

Import the trusted certificate

  1. Now you’re finished, and your domain name is set up.

You know you’re correct when on a computer outside of your network you type in NSLOOKUP (replacing your domain name here) and it returns the static IP address of the external IP of the router (the one your ISP gives you), and that when you browse to, that you don’t get a certificate warning when the logon page comes up. This ensures you have both the router port 443 forwarded correctly, and that the certificate is installed correctly. Additionally, all the errors in your dashboard should disappear, if they were there in the first place (this can take up to 30 minutes for these alerts to clear)

That’s all there is to it!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

SMB MVP Community Roadshow

HP and Microsoft have joined together with our Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) to visit 66 cities in Canada, Australia, Europe and of course the United States.  They are touting it as a real-world experience and advice talk by the MVPs who live and breath the product ever day.  No marketing talk!

Kevin and Dana give it to you straight.

Kevin Beares and Dana Epp talk about SMB MVP Community Roadshow

These guys brought down the house in Vancouver, BC tonight.  Tomorrow night they hit up Victoria, BC.  Then are out to talk to you, in the rest of the world!

Register for the roadshow nearest you

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Windows Phone 7 Add-in for SBS 2011 Essentials and WHS 2011 (Release Candidate)

Today the Release Candidate of the Windows Server Solutions Phone Connector for Small Business Server 2011 Essentials (aka Integrating Windows Phone 7 with your SBS 2011 Essentials Server) is available


The purpose of this Add-in is to enable Remote Server Management tasks for SBS 2011 Essentials including


After you complete the authentication steps with the server that you are trying to connect to, an alerts listing is the first panorama item that the application launches into. This feature brings the Alert Viewer that you know from the server, to the phone.

If an alert is displayed white, it is active and included in the alert count. If an alert is dimmed, that means the alert is disabled, and it is not included in the alert count. Any alert item can be clicked to view the full alert text just as on a computer. Contextual menu options include enabling or disabling an alert, and performing a repair action if one was assigned to this alert.


The user-panorama item performs basic user management tasks, including:

  • Viewing user account details
  • Enable or disable a user account
  • Change a user account password

If you disable a user account, that is a reversible action. The moment a user account gets disabled, it causes the same effect as it would if you disable it by using the dashboard. The user’s access to Remote Web Access, the phone application, and any server resources is turned off.


“Devices” is a panorama item that lets you:

  • View server-joined computer and Mac details.
  • View the backup status that every device last reported to the server.
  • Start or stop a backup for any computer or the server (from the contextual menu).

Live Tile Support

If you pin the application to the home screen of your Windows Phone 7, you will be able to see a variety of at-a-glance information without launching into the application. An opt-in using the settings menu is required.

The at-a-glance information includes:

  • Count and type of network health alerts.
  • Percentage of storage use of your main disk.
  • Server name sending this information.

The Windows Phone 7 application requires both a server sided add-in to be installed on the SBS 2011 Essentials Server, as well as Windows 7 Phone application downloadable via marketplace.

If you end up getting the Windows Home Server version, you’ll also get live media streaming

Media Support (Home Server Only)

The Media panorama lets you discover and view streams of media elements that you stored on your server in the appropriate shared folders (such as Music, Video and Picture shares).


MP3 non-Digital Rights Management-protected songs will be streamed directly from the server to your phone. Album art is also transported. Your library is searchable and can be organized in different views to help find what you want fast.





“Pictures” has a variety of functions:

  • Discover all .png and .jpg images that are stored in the Pictures shared folder on the server. Subfolders are recognized.
  • Open a picture full-screen to view it on the phone.
  • Save a copy of the picture to the phone, using its original dimensions and resolution  (to be viewed later in the built-in Pictures hub of any Windows Phone 7).
  • Take a picture with the phone’s camera and upload it to the server.
  • Upload any picture that is stored in the Pictures hub of the phone to the server.


The “Videos” feature allows you to discover and view videos that are stored on your server in the Videos shared folder.

Even though discoverable by this feature, the variety of video formats is high and not all formats can be streamed. For details about which video formats can be streamed from the server and accepted by the phone, see Supported Media Codecs for Windows Phone.


For further information, and access to the downloads to start testing today please visit the SBS Connect Site, or WHS Connect site depending on your product.

Please note this is a release candidate and as such is for testing purposes only.  Link Back to the Official SBS Blog Post.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

First Preview of Windows 8

If you’ve been living in a cave since yesterday afternoon, this video is for you. Director of PM, Jensen Harris, has revealed the first look at Windows 8.

Building Windows 8–Jensen Harris

Jensen talks about the “Tile” and “Multi-Tasking” designs of the Windows 8 new shell.  Using Tiles, similar to Windows Phone 7, allows for more space for the app to bleed out goodness (personality as Jensen calls it), and give you active views.

The other slick feature I liked was the multi-tasking, the ability to flip seamlessly between apps, or show two apps at the same time, something that the iPad doesn’t do today.

Finally, the “thumb mode” on screen keyboard is *amazing*, I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to have to stretch your thumb to the middle of the screen… now designed for your thumbs….

Well, enough typing, check out the video!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Finding and Listing Add-ins for Small Business Server Essentials

Microsoft PinPoint

Finding Add-ins for Small Business Server Essentials

If you’re looking how you can extend your SBS Essentials software with add-ins designed specifically for the SBS space, then you want to point your browser over at the Microsoft Website to find the SBS Partners.  This allows you to find applications for all the versions of SBS, but to get right into the add-ins for SBS Essentials, you can skip a click and jump right to the PinPoint directory.  PinPoint is an online Marketplace for Microsoft that you can use to find services or software that suite your business.  Simply go here and you can search for the software you want.  Note that WHS 2011 and SBS 2011 Essentials share the same SDK.  As a result you see both SBS and WHS items listed here.

Listing your Add-in in the PinPoint directory

So you’re an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) and you want to list your add-in in the PinPoint directory? that’s pretty easy too.  Before starting you first need to:

  1. Join the Microsoft Partner Network. Before you can begin listing your applications
    on Pinpoint, you must create an account with the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) and create a descriptive overview for your company. It can take up to five business days for your new account to activate in Pinpoint after establishing your membership in the Microsoft Partner Network.
  2. If you are already a member, or have finished the step above, the next stop is to create your PinPoint profile.

Once you are a Microsoft Partner and have a PinPoint profile, you can being to list your application for discovery by customers world wide.  This this process is 8 steps and you can save as you go!

To get started, download this handy PDF guide.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Can Small Businesses use Windows MultiPoint Server? Yes, Yes they can!

Yours Truly (Sean Daniel) talking about MultiPoint

Varvid‘s Aaron Booker caught up with influential blogger and Microsoft SBS Program Manager Sean Daniel to discuss how Multipoint‘s traditionally education-focused offering can also work well for small- to medium-sized businesses. Multipoint is big on universal connectivity, emphasizing ease-of-use without the need for much training. To learn more about Multipoint, go to

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Windows Small Business Server Essentials 2011 on TechNet Edge


Key items talked about in the interview:

  • SBS 2011 Essentials on an HP Proliant Microserver for under $1000, 25 CALs included
  • Scale for greater users to an ML110
  • All the simplicity of Windows SBS 2011 Essentials on simple hardware

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Looking to Migrate to Small Business Server 2011?

If you’re looking to migrate to Windows Small Business Server 2011, and aren’t completely sure where to get started, you have your choice of migration options from Microsoft. 

The migration solutions provided are well documented and tested by Microsoft, but do require extra hardware, and do require you to change the computer name of your server.  Additionally, these migration whitepapers are free of charge for you to use.

There are other solutions that you can choose such as the Swing Migration, which at an additional fee you can get a customized migration paper, and access to the Swing migration forums.  Both are valuable resources and you need to determine which is best for your customer’s business.  Both solutions get you from point A to point B, the better place on SBS 2011 Essentials or Standard

Monday, May 16, 2011

How to Split a workstation in Windows MultiPoint 2011

David Belanger shows how to split workstations in MultiPoint Server

My friend and co-worker David Belanger demo’s at Microsoft’s TechEd how to split a station in two on Windows MultiPoint Server 2011.  It’s pretty brain dead simple.

How USB thumb drives work with Windows Multipoint Server

David Belanger shows how USB thumb drives work with MultiPoint Server

How to projection works with Windows MultiPoint Server

Dean Paron shows how projection works with Windows MultiPoint Server

Windows Home Server saves the day…

Being in my position, I often come across people wishing Windows Home Server was this way, or had this, or didn’t do that.  I suppose it’s the nature of the job to focus on what needs improvement, but every once in a while it’s nice to reflect on what works really really well.

On an internal discussion alias for Home Server, we had a fellow Microsoft employee leverage Windows Home Server to remotely assist his father, and I wanted to share that story here.  This same sort of story can show you what you can do with SBS 2011 Essentials as well.  Here is the story:

My parents recently moved down to NC. My father is an avid golfer and recently retired from State Farm after 25 years which explains why NC. Prior to the move south they lived about 40 minutes from me in north eastern Pennsylvania. I first installed a WHS in their home after getting tired of hitting numerous issues trying to setup remote control of their machines with the constant external IP changing. WHS solved that issue for me since it did dynamic updates in order to host the remote access webpage. I was happy for many months being able to log into the remote access webpage and then remote control their machines from the available computers connections tab. On a few occasions while they lived in PA minor issues happened that WHS was the savior but nothing major usually only saving a few hours of time for each incident.

Fast forward to last night around 9:30 at night when my father calls me in a panic stating that my mom is going to kill him for being on “her” computer. All he wanted to do was quickly check some Pittsburgh Steelers news site that he frequents. Well that site had a link to another site that my dad decided to check out and BLAM virus! We have all dealt with viruses before, some worse than others but this one was really annoying and pretty well thought out if I do say so myself. The virus somehow watched for any .exe file to be run and then popped up a dialog saying the .exe you ran contained a virus and to pay $39.99 to remove the virus. I tried all the usual tools to help me get rid of viruses in the past taskmgr, cmd, regedit and msconfig none of them would launch, I even got frustrated and tried sol, spider and chess also blocked.

The last course of action was to walk my dad through booting into safe mode and see if we figure out what is kicking off the virus and stop it from running. I checked the usual auto run locations and nothing fishy was there. I was stumped and without being able to remote control the machine I was in serious trouble. My next idea was to use my “dads” machine to download from my WHS the DART tools .iso which includes a version of system sweeper to scan for the virus. Well my dad convinced me to forget the DART disk and just make sure the virus was gone by going to the WHS and applying the backup from Monday at 3:00am. I remoted my dad’s machine and downloaded the restore CD from the Microsoft site [restore CD provided in box, later discussed on thread] and then walked my dad through the restore wizard. I got lucky that the network driver was built into the CD so no issues there and before we knew it the restore was off and running. I got an email from my parents this morning about how excited they were to have their PC back and they didn’t need to waste time and money shipping it back and forth.

I have since upgraded their browser to IE9 and installed any outstanding important updates on their PC to help stop this from happening again but if it does I know the fastest and easiest way is to have WHS save my bacon!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Small Business Server 2011 Hands On Labs

imageToday on the Official SBS Blog, the SBS 2011 Hands on Labs are released.  Recently attending the HTG Summit, we debuted these hands on labs for both Standard and Essentials. 

The labs are pretty awesome, they are all hosted on the Internet and you can launch into Virtual environments where you can play with an SBS 2011 Standard or SBS 2011 Essentials network before you buy it, or walk through a scenario after you bought it to make sure you have it ironed out. You can even send it to your employees to train them, or if you’re brave, your customers!  You can even walk through setup.  Close the VM and it’s back ready for the next person to try.

Windows Small Business Server 2011 End-End Scenarios

Access videos, Interactive HOL’s and click-thru demonstrations of the end-end demo’s for SBS 2011 Essentials and SBS 2011 Standard

Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials Technical Training

This technical training course provides you with the knowledge and skills to install, configure, administer and troubleshoot a Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials infrastructure. The course focuses on deployment, configuration and administration using the SBS 2011 Essentials Server, Management Dashboard, and add-in extensions.

Access this entire 6 HOL training today online

Download the partnering Training PowerPoint’s (you can also download the HOL click-thru’s for each of these modules below in the click-thru section)

Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard Technical Training

This technical training course provides you with the knowledge and skills to install, configure, administer and troubleshoot a Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard infrastructure. The course focuses on deployment, configuration and administration in the SBS 2011 Standard console, and SBS 2011 Premium Add-on.

Access this entire 6 HOL training today online

Download the Training PowerPoint’s, Videos and Click-Thru’s for this training

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Quick Interview with Harrybbbbb

After the Windows Small Business Server 2011 (Standard and Essentials) Launch in Vancouver, BC, Canada, I managed to catch up with Harry Brelsford from SMBNation. He had a bit of a working vacation up in BC and pinned me down on my way out the door for a quick interview. If you were interested the video is here
The conference had about 100+ SBS'rs that were in attendance and there was lots of good discussions around SBS Standard and SBS Essentials.

Harry covered a few items in his recent newsletter, where I discovered the video talking about
  1. Re-cap of the gotcha's of Migration with SBS, with shout outs to Susan Bradley and Jeff Middleton as key places for help with your migration in the community and,
  2. The use of MultiPoint 2011 in SBS Essentials,
Thanks for the quick interview Harry!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Using the KeepVault Connector to backup Roaming Client Computers

Previously, I covered the basics of Proxure’s KeepVault Online Backup, as well as what you got if you went Pro.  With the release of the RC of KeepVault for, I noticed I didn’t cover the KeepVault Connector, which is a separate add-in for Windows Home Server 2011, and Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials than the original KeepVault add-in. 

This add-in allows you to do the incredible.  Back up roaming computers via a “Sync” while the computer is connected to the Internet, anywhere.  Now I use Windows Live Mesh to sync most of my items between my computers and the cloud, but there are some things that I don’t.  For example, if I’m travelling and I process photos, those don’t get into my Mesh, but I still worry about them.  This solution solves that.

Simply download and install the KeepVault Connector for Mac & PC.  Make sure you choose the WHS/SBS 2011 version, and not the WHS Original.  Once installed, and the dashboard restarted, you’ll notice that KeepVault has an extra tab

KeepVault Connector

This add-in installs into the dashboard and adds a \KeepVault directory to your default website.  It also reads your servername (orange above), your remote access domain name (blue above) and provides an extremely secure recommended password (yellow above).  Simply click the link to Download and install the client setup.  This downloads the client component directly from your server:

KeepVault Client Download

KeepVault Connector Client ApplicationOnce installed, just find the KeepVault Connector in the start menu, or in your system tray, and load up this fancy little “Sync” application and click the Add Folder button.  This will allow you to to pick a local folder on your client computer which will perform the backup. 

For me I created a “backup to home server” folder as a test, and dropped a few files in there.  While I’m local on the network, the backups are SUPER quick, but away from the network they’ll be throttled by my connection speed back to my server.

You can also choose to modify the backup locally only, or over the Internet.  Given that the built in Client Backup functionality runs when you’re local, you might not use this.  However, it’s some nice flexibility if you use a tethered 3G connectivity, so you can choose to sync when you’re on wi-fi and by default not always.  Speaking of Sync, you’ll notice at the very bottom you can click the hyper-link to work offline, so if you end up tethering your PC to your cell phone and then dumping a ton of pictures in there, you can click that and work offline, and prevent the backup from happening over your 3G connection, if you valued cost of data over loss of data.  :o)

If I had a gripe with this system, it’s only that the KeepVault connector isn’t also available to launch directly from Launchpad via the Add-ins area.  As you can see AWIECO does take advantage of this, it’d be great to see “KeepVault Connector” in here:

Launchpad with Add-ins

Add ins

I’ve heard on a few occasions that the road warrior doesn’t like the stop in the office to do a much needed backup, perhaps this solution can help.  Backups can be done from home, or coffee shops, or in my case, at work to my home!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Now Available! New Online Help Sites for Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Windows Home Server 2011

With the availability of both Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, and Windows Home Server 2011, you probably want to make sure you have some help documentation right?  Well, our Information Experience (aka documentation team) has something for you to look at while you’re waiting for your download to finish, or stuck at the office and can’t wait to get home to play with the bits.

Online Help

Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials – Available Today!

Last week, the Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials was announced as reaching the RTM milestone. As I mentioned, that didn’t mean you could get it.  It just meant that our team was finished with the bits and we handed over our “Gold” disk to the marketing/selling engine that services you, the customer.

Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials

Well, as of this morning, it looks like that marketing engine has indeed been hard at work, and already has an Evaluation edition of the RTM bits ready for you to download, right from  In addition to this, if you are a TechNet or MSDN subscriber, you will have access to download that today.

As a recap, SBS 2011 Essentials allows you to connect up to 25 users or devices (CALs included!).  This eval copy will be valid for 180 days, and if you activate it with a product key, it just continues to run as non-eval. 

The marketing engine plans on having it available in more channels including Volume Licensing starting in May.  While our OEMs and System Builders run on their own schedule, we hear mostly dates in May as well.

Learn more at the Official SBS Blog, or can watch the video learning bites to know more detail on SBS 2011 Essentials’ functionalities. Then download a copy and start discovering the multiple ways Windows SBS 2011 Essentials can benefit you and your business.


As you know, a small set of companies had the pleasure of running SBS 2011 Essentials in their business as part of the early adoption program.  Some of the things they said are:

  • Brian Woltz of Parkway Physiotherapy and Performance Center say that “SBS Essentials has provided my company with a stable, organized and efficient foundation from which we can build our business. Most importantly it has enabled me to do some of my work from home, a big plus for my family”.
  • Seth Feist, from Northwest Insurance Brokers, who says, “Being able to monitor all the desktops and laptops from one machine is great. It saves me time from having to go to each machine and check on updates. Having each machine automatically back up at a specific time is great so I never have to wonder if every person in my office is backing up daily like they should.”
  • Brett Schulte from Loteria Grill says “SBS 2011 Essentials is so much more than just a network attached hard drive. You don't even realize how many things you can run on the server that used to be on PC."

Monday, April 04, 2011

How To Install Windows Home Server 2011 on your MediaSmart or DataVault Hardware

Well, I’m positive this is something that HP will not support, so don’t even think of calling them if you go down this road, but I figured it’d be fun if you wanted to continue to use the same hardware. I took this opportunity to get an HP ProLiant MicroServer, plus it does at least RAID1 (Mirror) where the MediaSmart or DataVault servers cannot do any form of RAID. But it’s still a cute little form factor. Also, I think the MicroServer is quieter than the MediaSmart (at least the ex475 that I had)

Additionally you’ll have to use the EX490/495 or DataVault as Vail requires at least 2GB of RAM, which aren’t in earlier models of the MediaSmart servers (e.g. EX470/475). So if you’ve got the grey top, you’ve got a lot more work to do that isn’t covered here. (I hear it works on the ex48x, but I only tried the ex49x)

Creating the Bootable Thumb Drive

SanDisk DataTraveler 8GB

The first step here will be to prepare your media, usually on your client computer. The image is slightly bigger than 4GB, so I had to step up to an 8GB thumb drive. I’m actually using the Data Traveller by Kingston. First you’ll need to format it and make it bootable. I already have instructions on how to do that here. Next up you’ll have to copy the Windows Home Server 2011 DVD to the root of the disk. This makes the Thumb drive and the DVD look identical in Windows Explorer. You’re almost there. As you probably know, the MediaSmart or DataVault server doesn’t have a video input, so you’re going to need to do the install via an “unattend file”. The unattend file is called cfg.ini, and needs to also be in the root of the thumbdrive with the WHS 2011 DVD image on it.

Inside the cfg.ini, you’ll need to answer questions, so design your file like this:

PasswordHint=some password hint

Where VAILSERVER is the name of the server, Passw0rd is the server password and some password hint is the hint to remind you of what you set your password to.

Erasing the Primary OS Hard Drive

In order to have the MediaSmart or DataVault boot off the Thumb Drive for installation, you’ll need to completely erase the primary hard drive (the lowest one in the MediaSmart/DataVault server).

Remove the drive from the server and attach it to another PC (I used Windows 7) and then erase the primary partition. When you’re finished, place the drive back into the MediaSmart or DataVault server.

Installing Windows Home Server 2011

HP MediaSmart ServerThis is where the fun starts. Installation without feedback. Please note that this will erase the ENTIRE primary hard disk on your server, so make sure you have a backup of ALL your data, and customization. While you can most likely do a factory reset to bring back WHS v1 and get access to your data on other disks in the system, I don’t cover that detail on this blog, and don’t recommend taking that sort of risk with your data.

I recommend putting the box up on the desk where you can see the Health LED light and also listen to the hard drive(s). So let’s get started:

  1. Connect your MediaSmart or DataVault server to power, and network.

  2. Insert the USB drive into the bottom-rear USB port and disconnect all other USB devices. It needs to be the bottom-rear USB port.

  3. Power on the server. The server should automatically boot off the USB key, format the drive and install all of the operating system files. The health LED will blink the aqua through the BIOS bootup, then aqua/red during the OS installation. The OS installation takes ~ 8-10 minutes. You should hear the hard drives during this phase. I also constantly refreshed my router DHCP list so I could see when the server obtained an IP address.

    1. While the Answer file should take you all the way through setup, once you find your server get’s an IP address you can browse to http://<ip address> and you should see a webpage for WHS 2011 to download and run the wizard. I’d just leave it use the answer file, but if you left out the [Initial Configuration] piece out of the answer file above, you could also just run setup from here.

  4. The installation of the rest of the server took ~20-25 minutes for me. The LED light stopped blinking aqua/red and just went back to blinking aqua when it was done. Also, when I went to http://<ip address>, I saw the remote access site being turned off: Remote Access Disabled

  5. At this point I used “MSTSC” or Remote Desktop to connect to the server. clicking Start, then Run, and typing in MSTSC /V VAILSERVER, or whatever name you called it in the file above. When you log in using the VAILSERVER\Administrator, and the password you created in the cfg.ini file, you’ll see that the server is indeed setup and ready to roll: Your Server is now ready to use

I wouldn’t say the MediaSmart or DataVault server is as fast as my MicroServer, and it certainly is lacking 4GB of RAM, but it runs reasonably well:

Windows Task Manager

That’s all there is to it. Now just plug in your USB Backup drive, and set it up however you like.


  • Make sure you choose a name for your server that doesn’t conflict with another name on the network, this will halt the unattended configuration

  • Make sure you have at least 2GB of RAM, this will halt the unattended configuration.

  • Make sure you clean the system hard drive, otherwise it won’t boot to the USB disk.

Kudos to MediaSmartServer.Net

While I did these instructions myself, I was struggling at the location of having to format the hard drive, so kudos to the folks over at for the help here. Their steps helped get me over that hump, although I noticed that their cfg.ini file is a beta version, which has since been updated. My cfg.ini file is the correct one for the RC2 and RTM releases of Windows Home Server 2011. They also go into details about using the EX47x series that I don’t cover here.

Installing Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials

I targeted this post to Windows Home Server, as it’s more likely to have enthusiasts in the consumer space try this than in the business space. Businesses typically want the hardware RAID functionality that the DataVault or MediaSmart doesn’t offer. Additionally, being able to see what’s going on in a hardware failure is critical to a business, so the lack of a video card of a headless device is a show-stopper. HOWEVER, if you’re the type that wants to run SBS in your house, or you want to take this risk on to leverage this hardware, the same steps above work for SBS 2011 Essentials as well. The cfg.ini file is different though as it has more required fields:


CompanyName=Some Company Name

You’ll want to replace the bold items above with your own. Also, you’ll notice that you can use the cfg.ini file to change the .local of your internal domain name to whatever you want. We recommend .local, or .lan, or .internal work well too. DO NOT choose the same DNS name that you plan on using for your Remote Web Access website. For example, if you plan to use as your URL, do not use as your DNS name for your internal network. Contoso.lan or Contoso.local is recommended. Or, while I haven’t tested this with SBS 2011 Essentials, I think you can choose if you absolutely must. Just don’t make them the same.