Check out the new Snipping tool beta!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 27.08.2015 at 17:14

Check out the new Snip beta!

The new tool is beyond just a screen clipping tool, you can now annotate notes (audio notes included), and share the snip as a URL or an MP4 file!

Other enhancements include:

  • a handy toolbar on the top of the screen which slides in when you move the mouse over it, allowing easy one-click snips.
    • the toolbar also adds capability to snip from the camera, or just presents a white space to doodle with your pen.
  • a cross-hair pointer for precision while selecting the screen area to snip,
  • a more advanced snip editing tool, complete with a record button to record voice/audio notes.

 

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Released: Windows Server 2016 TP3 and System Center 2016 TP3

by Shijaz Abdulla on 22.08.2015 at 11:51

A few days ago, Microsoft released Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3 and System Center 2016 Technical Preview 3. If you haven’t already, be sure to read the following public blog that highlights the releases.

What’s new in Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 Technical Preview 3

In Windows Server 2016 TP3, you’ll see improvements in:

  • Nano Server
  • Software Defined Networking
  • Security
  • Remote Desktop
  • Clustering (anyone interested in clustered without AD requirements…)

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Windows 10 support on Hyper-V

by Shijaz Abdulla on 13.08.2015 at 10:23

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Q: I want to deploy Windows 10 within Hyper-V VMs. What Hyper-V host is required?

A: From a support standpoint, Microsoft uses a consistent support policy for guest operating systems that are newer than the Host OS. Specifically, Microsoft supports a guest operating system (N) on an N-1 HOST. Thus, Windows Server 2012 R2 is supported as a guest on a Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V HOST, but it is not supported on a Windows Server 2008 R2 -SP1 Hyper-V HOST (N-2).

Here are a couple examples of supported configurations:

1. Windows 10 Client is supported as a guest on Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V host.

2. Windows Server 2012 is supported as a guest on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Hyper-V host.

3. Windows Server 2012 R2 is supported as a guest on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V host.

Since there’s so much interest in Windows 10, here are further details:

Hypervisor version Windows 10 supported as guest?
Windows 8.1 Hyper-V Yes
Windows 8.0 Hyper-V No
Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Yes
Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V No

 

Finally, from a best practices standpoint, Microsoft recommends deploying the latest, up-to-date version of Hyper-V as host.

 

Q: I want to deploy Windows Server 2016 within Hyper-V VMs. What Hyper-V host is required?

A: Windows Server 2016 is still under development and thus production support isn’t available yet. However, based on our consistent support policy, you can expect Windows Server 2016 to be supported as a guest operating system on Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V.

Windows 10 and your privacy

by Shijaz Abdulla on 12.08.2015 at 10:45

Windows 10 is undoubtedly Microsoft’s best release of Windows in recent times, featuring enhanced user interface, return of the iconic Start menu, a personal digital assistant that you can talk to, sign in with facial recognitionmultiple workspaces, continuum, among others. Oh, and an all-new kickass browser that makes Internet Explorer look bad.

However, with increased attention and apprehensions over Windows 10 privacy from friends and social media outlets alike, I thought I should wield my pen once again.

Windows 10 puts customers in control by giving them choices about how information is used to deliver personalized services and experiences. Microsoft also offers customers a number of options in Windows 10 privacy settings, and customers can adjust their Windows 10 privacy settings at any time.

Q: Are there any plans to provide more information to users on how to control their privacy in Windows 10?  

A: Windows 10 Privacy information is available for customers in several places. “Settings” has a section called “Privacy Settings,” which provides Windows 10 customers a menu of privacy choices. Customers can click on the “Learn More” link, prominent when installing Windows 10, which explains privacy settings. Additionally, a Privacy “frequently asked questions” list is available here and the Microsoft Privacy Statement can be found here.

Q: In the Settings menu, you can control Microsoft’s ability to receive and share data about your computer’s unique ID, location, microphone, camera, even how you write and type. All of these are turned on by default, right?
A: Personalization is a key benefit to Windows 10. Personalized features like Cortana can help you find files on your PC, remind you of appointments you might miss, locate nearby restaurants and suggest music you might love. In order to do that well, Cortana needs to understand your interests and preferences. With Microsoft Edge, you can mark-up the Web and interact with your PC or tablet, just as you would write on a document, save items to read later, and share your mark-ups with others.

Customers have the option, using customize settings in the Windows 10 experience, to choose which settings to enable, including enabling personalized speech, inking and typing to help Windows 10 correctly recognize and personalize your input, or to deliver handy information such as restaurants near your location, driving tips to avoid traffic, and more. Many more options are available in Settings.

Wi-Fi Sense Privacy (More FAQ here)

Q: Is Wi-Fi Sense secure?
A: Wi-Fi Sense gives people choices and benefits. It does not reveal passwords, allow your friends to share your Wi-Fi with their friends, nor put your personal information from your Wi-Fi network at risk. For more information visit the Wi-Fi Sense FAQ.

Q: How does Microsoft store Wi-Fi passwords securely? 

A: Wi-Fi sense offers ease of access to Wi-Fi networks. With these settings, you can choose to automatically connect to suggested open networks or automatically connect to networks shared by your contacts. For networks you choose to share access to, the password is sent over an encrypted connection and stored in an encrypted file on a Microsoft server, and then sent over a secure connection to your contacts’ phone if they use Wi-Fi Sense, and they’re in range of the Wi-Fi network you shared. Your contacts don’t get to see your password, and you don’t get to see theirs. For more information visit the Wi-Fi Sense FAQ.

Cortana Privacy

Q: Why can’t I use Cortana without having to opt-in to data collection and personalization?

A: Cortana is a truly personal digital assistant, providing personally relevant suggestions, alerts and help. In order to do that well, Cortana needs to understand certain information about you, such as interests, location and preferences.

You have options to remove individual items that Cortana uses for personal recommendations in your Notebook, or additional information collected by Cortana in the bing.com settings. To selectively remove information from Cortana, you can access the Cortana Notebook on your device and add or remove specific items such as interests, places and others. If you add or remove an interest in the Cortana Notebook on your device, it will also remove that item from your interests in the bing.com dashboard.

Q: Can I remove what Cortana knows about me?

You have options to remove individual items that Cortana uses for personal recommendations in your Notebook, or additional information collected by Cortana in the bing.com settings. To selectively remove information from Cortana, you can access the Cortana Notebook on your device and add or remove specific items such as interests, places and others. If you add or remove an interest in the Cortana Notebook on your device, it will also remove that item from your interests in the bing.com dashboard.

If you want to remove other Cortana data, in the Cortana Settings you can disable Cortana and then hit the “Delete phone data” button. This will clear the notebook on your device. To clear the Cortana information stored online, you can choose “Manage cloud data” from your device which will bring you to a settings page on the Bing.com dashboard (settings tab > personalization). Here you can clear other Cortana data.

Q: You can choose not to activate Cortana or log in with a Microsoft account. If you do that, updates to Windows and Defender will still come through, right?
A: Yes, updates for Windows and Defender will still work without a Microsoft account.

Windows Hello Privacy

Q: Does Microsoft collect any information when Windows Hello is used to sign in to a device, service or website?
A: Your data is secured locally on the device and shared with no one but you. Microsoft gathers user data regarding how you signed in, the number of times you signed in and if each sign in was successful or not. This info helps us keep things working properly and make improvements. The data isn’t tied to your biometric data.

Q: Will my Windows Hello data be given to third parties?

A: Your Windows Hello data is secured locally on the device and shared with no one but you. A secured numerical key is provided to entities (services, social networks, websites, etc.) to authenticate user sign-in credentials. When you create your sign in data, Windows 10 creates what’s known as a key pair – a public key and a unique attestation statement. The public portion (public key) for each user and device, along with a unique attestation statement for each user and device are registered with identity providers (IDPs), third parties that need to authenticate user sign in credentials, e.g., services, social networks, websites, etc. Your actual biometric data isn’t given to any third parties.

Q: Will my biometric data be given to third parties?

A: Your data is secured locally on the device and shared with no one but you. A secured numerical key is provided to entities (services, social networks, websites, etc.) to authenticate user sign-in credentials. When you create your sign in data, Windows 10 creates what’s known as a key pair – a public key and a unique attestation statement. The public portion (public key) for each user and device, along with a unique attestation statement for each user and device are registered with identity providers (IDPs), third parties that need to authenticate user sign in credentials, e.g., services, social networks, websites, etc. Your actual biometric data isn’t given to any third parties.

Diagnostics and Performance – Privacy

Q: What information is collected when I am asked to send Windows diagnostic, performance and usage-related feedback data? Who has access to that data?
A: Customers can choose the level of information sent to Microsoft (e.g., basic, enhanced, full) to help Windows and apps run properly. Microsoft does not sell this data or use it for advertising purposes.

A small, select number of Microsoft employees and third party engineers are provided access to select portions of the information to repair or improve Microsoft products and services, or third-party software and hardware that uses Microsoft products and services. In some cases, select employees use portions of the data to help personalize services as well. That data is put through rigorous, multi-pass scrubs to ensure it does not collect sensitive or identifiable fields (e.g., no email addresses, passwords, alpha-numeric data). Data is also chopped into very small bits and stripped of sequence data so it cannot be put back together or identified.

Q: How are you putting the customer in control of their privacy? – back in.
A: Windows 10 puts customers in control by giving them choices about how information is used to deliver personalized services and experiences. To help customers make informed privacy decisions, we let them know that Windows 10 and some apps need basic device information to run properly. We also offer customers a number of options in Windows 10 privacy settings to control any additional information they choose to provide. Customers can adjust their Windows 10 privacy settings at any time. Additionally, a Privacy “frequently asked questions” list is available here and the Microsoft Privacy Statement can be found here.

Q: Can I choose what diagnostic, performance and usage information I send to Microsoft? What are my options?
A: Yes, you can choose how much performance, diagnostic and usage information will be sent to Microsoft from your device.  For more information, see the Windows 10 Feedback, diagnostics, and privacy: FAQ.

Q: What is telemetry?
A:
Telemetry is diagnostic, performance and usage information that helps us keep Windows and apps running properly on your device.

Q: Do you provide telemetry data to third parties?
A: We share aggregated telemetry information with third parties, such as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs – like companies that make PCs) and partners, in the form of business reports. These reports help our partners troubleshoot and improve their own products and services that work with Windows.  These reports do not contain personal data of Microsoft customers.

Q: What is Microsoft’s response to concerns of keylogging? Is the company in fact saving all keystrokes?
A:
No. With the customer’s permission, information about speech, inking (handwriting) and typing input can help improve the device’s ability to correctly recognize pronunciation, improve character recognition for handwritten words, and provide a personalized dictionary and text completion suggestions. This information helps Windows 10 correctly recognize and personalize input, for a more natural experience.

A small, select number of Microsoft employees and third party engineers are provided access to select portions of the information to repair or improve Microsoft products and services, or third-party software and hardware that uses Microsoft products and services. In some cases, select employees use portions of the data to help personalize services as well. That data is put through rigorous, multi-pass scrubs to ensure it does not collect sensitive or identifiable fields (e.g., no email addresses, passwords, alpha-numeric data). Data is also chopped into very small bits and stripped of sequence data so it cannot be put back together or identified.

Nutanix vs. VMware EVO:RAIL

by Shijaz Abdulla on 21.02.2015 at 09:59

SSG-NOW has released an interesting paper comparing Hyper-Converged Systems.

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Here’s a bit that I found especially interesting:

Multiple Hypervisor Support A converged system that only supports a single hypervisor, such as VMware vSphere, unnecessarily locks an organization into a single vendor and associated polices, including licensing fees and migration complexities. As venerable and ubiquitous as VMware is, there are advantages for using Microsoft Hyper-V, particularly with Microsoft Server applications, such as Exchange and SQL. Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 users are driving the adoption because these systems come packaged with Hyper-V licenses. In addition, in both private and public cloud deployments, the open source hypervisor KVM carries no license fees, thus providing substantial cost reductions. One European financial services company, who was duplicating a VMware data center in the U.K., was able to save more than a million Euros by switching to KVM-based virtualization. Nutanix’s implementation provides feature parity across VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and KVM. In addition, multiple Nutanix clusters, each running a different hypervisor, can be managed from a single console, greatly streamlining IT operations and training requirements. This is of significant benefit to the many organizations moving toward multiple hypervisors in their IT environments. For example, Hyper-V may be used in branch offices and development-test scenarios for reduced costs, while vSphere is used in the primary data center environment for continuity with IT skill sets

The article also has detailed side by side comparison between Nutanix, VMware EVO:RAIL and Simplivity.

You can download it for free from the Nutanix website after registering.

In Qatar, Mannai Trading WLL are a Microsoft partner, who are also specialized in Nutanix hyper-converged systems.

Tech Giants join Microsoft’s fight for privacy

by Shijaz Abdulla on 17.12.2014 at 08:40

The below is quoted from an article on MSN News.

Microsoft is getting some reinforcements in its battle with the Justice Department over access to emails stored on servers overseas.

Verizon, Apple, Amazon, AT&T, Cisco, eBay, HP, Infor, Salesforce, and Rackspace on Monday all signed on to legal briefs urging a federal appeals court to throw out the Justice Department’s warrant. The companies argued that U.S. prosecutors have no authority to seize the emails, which are stored in Ireland.

Business associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and BSA-the Software Alliance and civil liberties groups including the Center for Democracy & Technology, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation also filed briefs supporting Microsoft. CNN, ABC, Fox News, the Washington Post, and other media outlets also sided with Microsoft in legal briefs.

Since the Snowden leaks last year revealed the vast scope of U.S. surveillance, tech companies have been struggling to convince foreign customers that their information can be kept private.

One brief from Verizon and other companies warned that if the warrant against Microsoft is enforced, it would damage U.S. businesses, violate international agreements, and potentially lead other countries to retaliate by seizing private information of Americans.

"Collectively these briefs make one conclusion unmistakably clear. This case involves not a narrow legal question, but a broad policy issue that is fundamental to the future of global technology," Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith wrote in a blog post applauding the other companies and groups for filing their briefs.

The Justice Department has claimed that any company with operations in the U.S. has to comply with search warrants, even if the actual data is in another country. Microsoft argues that the U.S. has to work through a legal treaty with Ireland to get access to the information. The details of the case are secret.

In July, a federal judge in New York agreed with the government and ordered Microsoft to turn over the emails. Microsoft has now appealed that ruling to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

AT&T and some of the other companies had already weighed in on Microsoft’s side when its case was at the district court level. Smith said that the additional companies and organizations who filed briefs Monday "reflect the continuing growth in concerns" about the Justice Department’s bid for overseas data.

Smith argued that, regardless of the outcome of Microsoft’s legal battle, Congress and the Obama administration should update privacy laws so that people in the U.S. and other countries can trust their information is safe from prying eyes.

Microsoft’s fitness band and Microsoft Health

by Shijaz Abdulla on 31.10.2014 at 15:42

By now, you have already heard about Microsoft Band.

Microsoft Health is a new service that helps you live healthier by providing actionable insights based on data gathered from the fitness devices and apps that you use every day. It’s designed to work for you, no matter what phone you have, device you wear, or services you use. Microsoft Health makes tracking personal fitness easier, more insightful, and more holistic.

Microsoft Band, the first device powered by Microsoft Health, helps you achieve your wellness goals by tracking your heart rate, steps, calorie burn, and sleep quality. It also helps you be more productive with email previews and calendar alerts – right on your wrist.

Microsoft Band, priced at $199 sold out in about a day after it was announced and is now no longer available for ordering online.

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App Spotlight: Tetra Lockscreen re-imagines your Windows Phone lock screen!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 23.10.2014 at 13:30

The stuff you can see on a Windows Phone lock-screen just got better!

Introducing Tetra Lockscreen, the most amazing lockscreen app I have seen to date on Windows Phone.

Tetra Lockscreen is a free app that lets you add “widgets” to your lock-screen such as calendar, location, activity tracker and stopwatch, giving you easy access to these useful tools without having to unlock your phone.

Each widget can have multiple ta bs that you can swipe sideways for more views. All without unlocking your phone.

Thanks Ahmed Ibrahim for sharing this tip!

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App Spotlight: Truecaller now available for Windows Phone

by Shijaz Abdulla on 22.10.2014 at 20:58

TrueCaller is now available for Windows Phone and it works like a charm. (Not that I am personally a big fan of it, though).

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This app requires a phone restart when installed and integrates directly with the Windows Phone OS to display caller id information of unknown callers. It can also notify you of spam callers.

Reviving a non-responsive Nokia Treasure Tag

by Shijaz Abdulla on 21.10.2014 at 14:34

The Nokia Treasure tag is an amazing companion for your Nokia Lumia phone. It uses NFC (Near Field Communication) to help you keep track of your things like keys, bag/purse etc, by making an audible beep when the phone and the tag are beyond bluetooth reach of one another.

However, over time the Nokia Treasure Tag may stop responding to your phone and it may seem nothing works, including removing and re-installing the battery.

If this happens, here is a fix:

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1. Open the battery compartment of your treasure tag using a tiny screwdriver or pointed object.

2. Remove the battery.

3. Press and hold the multifunction button your treasure tag while you re-install the battery. Press and hold it till you put the battery cover back in place.

Your tag is now reset and you can pair it once again with your Lumia phone.

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