Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 3.0 is here!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 15.10.2014 at 20:42

The Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 3.0 (MVMC 3.0) is now publicly available and is overflowing with new features.

  1. The biggest new feature in MVMC 3.0 is online physical to virtual (P2V) conversion.
  2. Converts virtual disks that are attached to a VMware virtual machine to virtual hard disks (VHDs) that can be uploaded to Microsoft Azure.
  3. Provides native Windows PowerShell capability that enables scripting and integration into IT automation workflows.
  4. Supports conversion and provisioning of Linux-based guest operating systems from VMware hosts to Hyper-V hosts.
  5. Supports conversion of offline virtual machines.
  6. Supports the new virtual hard disk format (VHDX) when converting and provisioning in Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012.
  7. Supports conversion of virtual machines from VMware vSphere 5.5, VMware vSphere 5.1, and VMware vSphere 4.1 hosts Hyper-V virtual machines.
  8. Supports Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 as guest operating systems that you can select for conversion.

Supported Configurations for Converting Virtual Machines

VMware sources:   

  • VMware vSphere 5.5 (VMware ESXi 5.5)
  • VMware vSphere 5.1 (VMware ESXi 5.1)
  • VMware vSphere 4.1 (VMware ESXi/ESX 4.1)
  • VMware vCenter Server 5.5
  • VMware vCenter Server 5.1
  • VMware vCenter Server 4.1

Destination host servers:                        
Note   Hyper-V must be enabled.   

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2012 Standard
  • Windows Server 2012 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard with Service Pack 1 (SP1)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise with Service Pack 1 (SP1)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter with Service Pack 1 (SP1)

Operating systems that are supported for which MVMC can be installed:   

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2012 Standard
  • Windows Server 2012 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard with Service Pack 1 (SP1)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise with Service Pack 1 (SP1)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter with Service Pack 1 (SP1)

Microsoft Operating systems that are supported for conversion to Hyper-V from physical, or VMware virtual machines  

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard x64
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter x64
  • Windows Server 2012 Standard x64
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter x64
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard x64
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise x64
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter x64
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
  • Windows Server 2008 Standard (x86/x64)
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise (x86/x64)
  • Windows Server 2008 Datacenter (x86/x64)
  • Windows 8 Enterprise (x86/x64)
  • Windows 8 Pro (x86/x64)
  • Windows 7 Enterprise (x86/x64)
  • Windows 7 Professional (x86/x64)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate (x86/x64)
  • Windows Vista Enterprise x86/x64

Linux operating systems that are supported for conversion from VMware virtual machines:   

  • Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® 6 (x86/x64)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (x86/x64)
  • Ubuntu 12.04 (x86/x64)
  • Ubuntu 10.04 (x86/x64)
  • SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server 11 (x86/x64)
  • CentOS 6 (x86/x64)
  • CentOS 5 (x86/x64)
  • Debian GNU/Linux 7 (x86/x64)
  • Oracle Linux 6 (x86/x64)
  • Oracle Linux 5 (x86/x64)

Windows 10: Things You Need to Know

by Shijaz Abdulla on 08.10.2014 at 14:45

The next version of Windows was announced last week: Windows 10.

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  • Windows 10 Technical Preview is available for download.
  • What is Technical Preview?

    Tech Preview is the first pre-release build of Windows 10 – and the first instance of our new approach to software development and delivery. This first Tech Preview release focuses on businesses and the desktop. A mobile-focused version will release in early 2015.

    Tech Preview is designed for PC experts and IT professionals who are comfortable downloading unfinished software, preferably on a secondary PC. The ultimate goal of Tech Preview is for IT pros to test the bits in their native environment and provide feedback via the Windows Feedback App and Windows Insider Program.

     

  • The Start Menu is back! But now with Live Tiles integrated.
  • Search is available both on Start Menu and Start screen
  • Store Apps can open in re-sizable (classic) windows with title bars.
  • Task View button on taskbar helps you easily switch between your running apps
  • Snapping windows is now more easier and intuitive
  • You can save “desktops” which is a grouping of your screen layout with the windows you have opened and quickly switch between those “desktops”.

Download the Windows 10 Tech Preview today!

Metrash2 is now available on Windows Phone

by Shijaz Abdulla on 05.10.2014 at 21:05

image

Metrash2 app from the Ministry of Interior, Qatar is now available on Windows Phone. Download it from the Store.

Metrash2 is a mobile-based platform to access various e-services offered by the Ministry of Interior in Qatar, including Visa services, Traffic services, e-Gate, etc.

1 of 4 2 of 4

3 of 4 4 of 4

Why the iPhone 6 is still not ready for business

by Shijaz Abdulla on 04.10.2014 at 13:59

I have always used Windows Phone. When the iPhone 6 was announced and news surfaced about all the unexplainable excitement and commotion around it, I decided to take a look and see what is it that makes thousands of people around the world so crazy about these devices. I welcome change, especially when it is positive.

So I took out my credit card and pre-ordered (yes, paid for and bought) an iPhone 6 64GB Silver online and got it delivered via Aramex Shop & Ship.

WP_20140928_004

First, a little bit of background about myself – I am always on the go, I do not have a desk job. Naturally I read and write email – a lot of email – on my phone. I use the phone so that I can be productive and so that I get things done faster. And I use quite a bit of WhatsApp.

Second, I am a Microsoft employee and my primary responsibilities do not involve Windows Phone sales, and Microsoft didn’t pay for the iPhone 6 I bought nor do they pay me for writing this post. This is purely my personal point of view.

I was excited when the new iPhone arrived. Gleefully got myself a nano sim and plugged it in, created an Apple ID and started setting it up.

In just a week I’m sad to say, I was disappointed. The iPhone is a great toy. But unfortunately that’s what it is. At least for what I need from a phone, the iPhone 6 / iOS 8 poorly delivered.

Don’t get me wrong. Apple’s iPhone 6 has a great camera, feels good to hold, great screen, reasonable UI, and a lot of “non-standard” apps in the store – but that’s not all that matters.

Let’s take a deeper look:

1. The email experience

  • iOS 8 displays a single mail app icon on the home screen, regardless of how many accounts you have, and the icon displays the total number of *unread* email. This is great, except that I don’t care about unread email. I care about *new* email.
  • Windows Phone on the other hand lets you create a separate live tile for each mail account on the home screen, with instant notification of new email since the last time you opened the app. Much better, thanks. Below you see two tiles (one large and one medium) showing two different mail accounts with 1 and 4 new emails each. On the large live tile, I also get to see an animated preview of my new messages.

IMG_0002  wp_ss_20141004_0003

The basics of typing

  • OK, let’s go to actually typing an email. Guess what? The period (.) and comma (,) are the two most commonly used punctuation marks in the English language – and both of them are not available on the iOS 8 keyboard, unless you tap on the button for numbers. That’s two taps for a dot. (Yeah, you can type a double space to put a dot, but that’s two taps too)
  • On the Windows Phone, the comma and period are on the standard keyboard face. Easy.

IMG_0004 IMG_0006

wp_ss_20141004_0004

Predictive Text

  • Let’s talk about predictive text. This varies based on the example, but I have seen far better suggestions from Windows Phone than iOS 8.
  • iOS limits to 3 suggestions on the screen, meaning you will end up typing more.
  • Windows Phone shows more and better suggestions. It also predicts text using your contacts (Jane, Justin and Joseph are in my contacts list), while maintaining your privacy. It also does predictive emojis! :-)

IMG_0029 IMG_0030 IMG_0031  IMG_0036

IMG_0033 IMG_0035 IMG_0034

Now lets try that with Windows Phone:

wp_ss_20141004_0014 wp_ss_20141004_0015 wp_ss_20141004_0016 wp_ss_20141004_0025  wp_ss_20141004_0019 wp_ss_20141004_0020   wp_ss_20141004_0023 wp_ss_20141004_0024

Arabic Predictive Text

  • Doesn’t exist in iOS8, at least at the time of writing this. See link on Apple’s website for QuickType. Yes, I checked Settings too.
  • Exists in Windows Phone, and definitely much better. I think some of the intelligence comes from Bing search indexes. I was even able to type some full verses from the Qur’an merely by tapping with the help of Predictive Text Input.

image

IMG_0007 wp_ss_20141004_0026

Attaching files

  • OK let’s see how to attach a file. If you’re new to iOS, you need to fumble around a bit to figure this out. You need to press and hold an empty space in your email to open a menu, and then choose “Insert Photo or Video”. It’s more difficult than it sounds.
  • On the iPhone 6, You cannot attach more than one photo at a time! You need to repeat above process for each file.
  • On the Windows Phone, there is a simple “Attach” button on the toolbar (highlighted in red). It doesn’t get simpler than that. And, you can attach multiple photos in one go!

IMG_0020 image

2. Sharing Stuff

I was surprised when I saw how limited a sharing capability the iPhone had.

Sharing from built-in Camera app

  • On the iPhone 6, you can’t share a picture directly from the Camera/Photos app to WhatsApp. You need to open WhatsApp, tap the Attach icon, and choose the picture.
  • On the iPhone 6, you can’t share via Bluetooth with non-Apple devices. You need AirDrop.
  • On the iPhone 6, you can’t share more than 5 photos via email from the camera/photos app.
  • On the Windows Phone, you can simply share from the Camera app over Bluetooth, NFC (simply tap the phones to share), WhatsApp, email, and pretty much anywhere.

IMG_0015  wp_ss_20141004_0027

When you select more than 5 pictures, the Mail option vanishes on iOS 8.

IMG_0019

3. The Health hype

OK, so health is not very business-themed, but most people care about health including people who send emails from their phones.

  • I found the user interface and capabilities of the new Health app on iOS 8 quite mediocre, compared to what is available on Windows Phone. While the Medical ID feature on iOS is nice, it looked complicated to get the app to work like what it looks like on Apple.com. You needed to define sources for health data (which looks like other apps or maybe the Apple Watch) and only then you see a dashboard.
  • Update 10/11/2014: Fitbit just announced they currently have no plans to integrate with Apple’s HealthKit.
  • On Windows Phone, the phone starts tracking your steps, distance etc as soon as you set it up. You can also add GPS workouts and track your calories by logging what you eat.

IMG_0021 IMG_0037 IMG_0038

Windows Phone also has an animated live tile that helps you track your steps, distance, etc.

image

wp_ss_20141004_0031 wp_ss_20141004_0029  wp_ss_20141004_0030

Conclusion

Overall, the Windows Phone provided a simple, easy to use, and more importantly, a connected experience which the iOS lacks.

For the conclusion: What do you expect? I just went up to the nearest Vodafone store in Qatar and bought myself a Nokia Lumia 930 and got 5 free accessories (Wireless charging plate, Portable battery, Nokia Purity by Monster headset, portable speakerphone, and a treasure tag). And it cost me less than the iPhone 6 64GB.

As for the iPhone 6, it will find peace with an immediate family member.

IMG_0041

Preventing an image in your Outlook signature from pixelating

by Shijaz Abdulla on 29.08.2014 at 23:59

You’ve probably noticed that Outlook compresses an image you place in your signature when it sends the email, causing loss of quality. However the rate of pixelation varies by image type.

image image
Before (left) and after (right)

Here’s a quick tip that will help you get better results. Outlook compresses all images to 96 dpi before it sends the email. If you change your image to 96 dpi before you embed it in your signature you will have better results.

1. Open your high-resolution image in an image editor such as IrfanView or GIMP.

2. Re-scale the image to 96dpi.

In GIMP, you would go to Image > Scale Image.

image

In IrfanView, you would go to Image > Resize/Resample.

image

3. Save the image. If necessary adjust the height and width on the same tool.

4. Go back to Outlook, and embed the new image in your signature. You should get better results now.

Three Microsoft CEOs take the ice bucket challenge

by Shijaz Abdulla on 16.08.2014 at 14:52

Let’s watch them all in reverse chronological order of CEO-ship. Smile

1. Satya Nadella (CEO – Feb 2014 to present)

Satya Nadella doing it for ALS

 

2. Steve Ballmer (CEO – Jan 2000 to Feb 2014)

Steve Ballmer taking the bucket

 

3. Bill Gates (Founder and CEO, 1975 until 2006)

Bill Gates invents an ice bucket machine

Azure implements stronger encryption to protect customers from ‘Government Snooping’

by Shijaz Abdulla on 08.08.2014 at 01:34

I received a notification on my Azure Management Portal today. It basically said:

image

When I clicked on OK to get more information, here’s what I got:

As part of Microsoft’s promise to protecting customer data from government snooping (details at http://aka.ms/Pltfsk) Azure is implementing stronger cryptography to protect communications. The Transport Layer Security (TLS)/Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Cipher Suite enhancements and Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) are implemented in the August 2014 updates of the Azure Guest OS. These changes will be available in versions 4.11, 3.18, 2.30, and 1.38 (if released) of the Azure Guest OS. For more detailed information regarding these security enhancements or for information you can share with a customer, please see the MSDN article, "Differences between Azure Guest OS and Default Windows Server" at http://aka.ms/Ire274

Now, that is really cool.

It shows Microsoft’s commitment to protecting customer data privacy and confidentiality in the Snowden era.

According to CNN, Microsoft had challenged the US government’s search warrant when it requested Microsoft turn over customer emails stored in its datacenters in Ireland. Microsoft challenged the warrant on the grounds that it violated constitutional privacy protections and that US warrants only were valid in the United States.

On July 31 2014,  a US District Judge ruled that Microsoft has to comply with the government request.

Microsoft has immediately said that it would appeal the ruling.

VMware still ships Easter Eggs in vSphere!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 08.06.2014 at 13:29

It is not a new thing from VMware to ship Easter Eggs in their products. Numerous versions of vSphere shipped with those. While that may have been cute in 1995, we live in a very different, very connected world where this doesn’t pass muster.

clip_image002

How cute.

Surely, in this post-Snowden world VMware wouldn’t have left Easter eggs in their Enterprise Class, Enterprise Cost vSphere 5.5. I mean, come on, the Pong Easter Egg has been publicly noted and the world is more sensitive about security than ever before. VMware got rid of this right?

Nope.

This still exists in vSphere 5.5 (!!!) and who know what other surprises are in there and what they haven’t disclosed in their security audits. So much for Enterprise Class. This is more like Fisher Price class.

This post was adapted from a piece originally written by: Jeff Woolsey, Principal Group Program Manager, Windows Server Virtualization.

Run SAP applications on Microsoft Azure today!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 30.05.2014 at 23:33

imageMicrosoft and SAP have teamed up to bring you the best of both worlds, enabling you to take advantage of on-demand resources in the cloud and maximize the value of your Microsoft and SAP investments. Azure offers a reliable, security-enabled cloud infrastructure platform that enables businesses to quickly deploy SAP solutions in the cloud.

Azure is now certified for SAP products including SAP Business Suite, SAP NetWeaver, and SAP HANA Developer Edition. Effective immediately, you can run these SAP products on Azure with full support available from both Microsoft and SAP. In addition, you can deploy and provision reconfigured SAP solutions, within minutes, directly to Azure using the SAP Cloud Appliance Library tool.

With this partnership, you can use your existing SAP licenses to deploy SAP software on Azure. Standard purchase models, pricing, and terms will be applicable for underlying Azure services, and you will consume and pay for these services as with any other deployment.

For more information, visit the SAP on Azure website.

Run SAP applications on Microsoft Azure today!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 29.05.2014 at 13:50

imageMicrosoft and SAP have teamed up to bring you the best of both worlds, enabling you to take advantage of on-demand resources in the cloud and maximize the value of your Microsoft and SAP investments. Azure offers a reliable, security-enabled cloud infrastructure platform that enables businesses to quickly deploy SAP solutions in the cloud.

Azure is now certified for SAP products including SAP Business Suite, SAP NetWeaver, and SAP HANA Developer Edition. Effective immediately, you can run these SAP products on Azure with full support available from both Microsoft and SAP. In addition, you can deploy and provision reconfigured SAP solutions, within minutes, directly to Azure using the SAP Cloud Appliance Library tool.

With this partnership, you can use your existing SAP licenses to deploy SAP software on Azure. Standard purchase models, pricing, and terms will be applicable for underlying Azure services, and you will consume and pay for these services as with any other deployment.

For more information, visit the SAP on Azure website.

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