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Category: Hardware

SurfaceBook

10 reasons why the Surface Book is great for IT Pros

As I mentioned in my little Surface Book review a couple of days ago, I really like the Microsoft Surface Book and it is my daily driver since November 2015. The Surface Book has a lot of reasons why it is a great device, but I want to highlight  some reasons why it is not only a great device for artists, but also for the IT professionals.

The performance is incredible

SurfaceBook

As many of you know I am using my Surface Book for a lot of demos and also testing a lot of stuff. I run Hyper-V on my Windows 10 machine and it is extremely fast. Virtual Machines boot up in just a couple of seconds and if you for example run the new Nano Server in a Virtual Machine, the installation of a new Nano Server Virtual Machine is done in under 3 seconds. If you want to run more Virtual Machines on your device, make sure you get the 16GB RAM model. Not only do you get plenty of power with the Intel Core i5 or Core i7 chip, the NVMe SSD disk is blazing fast and can be up to 1TB.

The touchscreen with the pen support is great

Surface Pro and Surface Book

If you have a touch screen machine you just get used to use your fingers while browsing or writing stuff down in OneNote. The pen is just perfect for taking notes or doing presentations or workshops with customers. Since I got my first Surface device, I never really used a whiteboard or something like that. I just used OneNote and a projector to draw and after the meeting I could easily sent the drawings to all the attendees.

Tablet Mode can be handy

Surface Book Tablet Mode

I wouldn’t consider myself as a huge tablet user, but there are several scenarios where you will love the possibility to convert your Surface Pro or Surface Book into a tablet. For my job I travel a lot and I realized, I used the tablet mode a lot while for example being in a plan or train, to just read some stuff or watch movies. This is also really handy if you sit at home in front of the TV or if you are in a hotel room and just wanted to watch some Netflix, before you go to sleep. But there are two other very useful scenarios for me. The first one is while I am doing presentations for customer I use the Surface Pen a lot, but instead of sitting in front of my Surface Book, I can take the keyboard of and walk around while doing the presentation and draw on my Surface. The second one is when I am in a meeting and I want to take handwritten notes, the tablet mode is perfect, I can just use it as a piece of paper, which makes it much more attractive to write on and also I am not hiding behind a computer screen. By the way, the tablet or screen it self is extremely light so even holding it with one hand is great.

Enterprise Security and Windows Hello

Surface Book Windows Hello

Well if you are working and traveling a lot, security is a very important part. Protecting your data using the Surface Book is very easy, since it comes with a TPM 2.0 chip you can encrypt your SSD and all the data stored on. The other thing I really like is the camera supporting face detection using Windows Hello. First I thought this feature is just a nice toy, but hey, I really got used to it, I just open my Surface Book and I get logged in without typing the password.

Battery Life is awesome

When did you get a thing and light device and you didn’t had to worry about battery life for a whole day? With the Surface Pro 3 I was very close to it, but the Surface Book finally gets me trough a whole day without the need to recharge. I get around 8-12 hours of battery life depending on the workload I am running. In the morning I can leave without a power supply and can work the whole day.

The Screen

Surface Book

This is another great feature of the Surface Book, the screen is sharp and the colors are amazing, but this is not the only reason I love the Surface Book screen. The Surface Book comes with a 13.5” PixelSense display with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a resolution of 3000 x 2000 (267 PPI). This gives you enough space on the screen to get some work done, without making the device to big. Especially the 3:2 aspect ratio is one thing I really like, especially while writing and reading.

Connectivity and accessories

Microsoft also adds a lot of great accessories to the Surface product line. The Surface Book comes with 2 USB 3.0 ports, a full-sized SD card slot, a headset jack, a Mini DisplayPort and a Surface Connect port, which allows you to connect the power supply or the Surface Docking station. It also used the latest Wifi and Bluetooth connections to connect wirelessly to networks or devices. The Surface Book comes also with great cameras, stereo microphones and speakers which make the device great for video or voice conference calls. But also the small things you will start to like, for example the additional USB port in the power supply, which allows you to charge other devices like your smartphone or your Microsoft Band, without having to carry another charger.

The Docking Station makes it a great workstation

Surface Book Home Office

If I am at home or in our company office I can connect the Surface Book to the Surface Docking Station, which turns it into a full workstation. At home I use 2 Dell 27” screens using the 2 Mini DisplayPort adapters on the Surface Docking station. I also like the additional USB 3.0 ports you get with the docking station.

Perfect device to travel

Surface Book Travel

The Surface Book and also the Surface Pro are in my opinion some of the best options if you travel a lot. First the devices are light and have a small footprint, so carrying them is easy. But they still have a lot of performance to run some heavy workloads where ever you are, and with the battery life you get, even long flights or long work days are not a problem at all. But what really makes it great, you just need one device, you don’t have to carry a notebook and a tablet to have all the options, you can simply unplug the keyboard and you can go from laptop mode to tablet mode. With Windows 10 owning a 2in1 or 3in1 devices makes even much more fun.

Deliver great presentation using the Wireless Display Adapter

Surface Book Presentation

As I mentioned before, I use the Surface Book for a lot of presentations and workshops. With the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter you can even do this wirelessly, which makes especially workshops more interactive and fun.



Surface Book

My Surface Book User Review

A couple of months ago I got a myself a Surface Book while I was in the US. You may know that I am a Surface user for a long time now. I started with the original Surface Pro, upgraded to the Surface Pro 2 and the Surface Pro 3, which was my main device for the last year. Microsoft announced the Surface Book together with the Surface Pro 4, the new Microsoft Band 2 and the Lumia 950 as well as the Lumia 950 XL.

The Surface Book is the first laptop Microsoft has ever created and Microsoft doesn’t call it the ultimate laptop for no reason. I have used the Surface Book now for the past months while I was traveling, giving presentations, working at customer sites or at home writing blog posts. With that I got a great impression of the Surface Book in the real world, not just reviewing it for a couplnowe of hours, as other tech sites do, this is more kind of a real user review.

Technical Specifications

Surface Book Box

  • Software: Windows 10 Pro
  • Exterior: Casing: Magnesium, Color: Silver, Physical buttons: Volume, Power
  • Dimensions: 12.30” x 9.14” x 0.51 – 0.90” (312.3mm x 232.1mm x 13.0 – 22.8mm)
  • Weight: Starting at 3.34 pounds (1,516 grams) including keyboard
  • Storage: Solid state drive (SSD) options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB.
  • Display: Screen: 13.5” PixelSense™ display
  • Resolution: 3000 x 2000 (267 PPI)
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Touch: 10 point multi-touch
  • Battery life: Up to 12 hours of video playback4
  • Processor: 6th Gen Intel® Core™ i5 or i7
  • Graphics i5: Intel® HD graphics 520, i5/i7: NVIDIA GeForce GPU with 1GB GDDR5 memory
  • Security: TPM chip for enterprise security
  • Memory: 8GB or 16GB RAM
  • Wireless: 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible
  • Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology
  • Ports: Two full-size USB 3.0, Full-size SD™ card reader, SurfaceConnectTM, Headset jack, Mini DisplayPort
  • Cameras: Windows Hello face-authentication camera (front-facing), 5.0MP front-facing camera with 1080p HD video, 8.0MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p HD video
  • Audio: Stereo microphones, Stereo speakers with Dolby® audio
  • Sensors: Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer

I got the Intel Core i7 version with 8GB memory and 256GB of storage. To be honest, if I had the choice I would get the smallest Core i5 version with a dedicated graphics card or the Core i7 version with 16GB of memory.

Design and Durability

Surface Pro and Surface Book

As always Microsoft did build a great piece of hardware in terms of design and build quality. As the Surface Pro 3 and the whole Surface line the Surface Book is really high quality. I really like to work with it.

Display and Audio

Surface Book Traveling

What I really like about the Surface product line are the displays. First of all, the quality is pretty good, but what is even more important for me is the 3:2 ratio. With that you get a lot more space on the screen to get work done. This especially helps when you are doing some writing or get some mails done. The Surface Book comes with a 13.5 inch screen which is just a little bit bigger than the Surface Pro 4, and this is one if the main reasons I got myself the Surface Book instead of the Surface Pro. Especially on if you are on the road and the device is not docked, a bigger screen can make a huge difference.

Audio and especially the microphones work every well and have a very good quality if you are doing Skype or other conference calls.

Heat and Fan Noise

If you were owner of a Surface Pro 3 you might had some issues with fan noise and the Surface Pro 3 could get very hot. I am running the Intel Core i7 version of the Surface Book and I don’t have any issues in terms of heat of fan noise. The Surface Book runs very quiet and cool, I never really heard the fan, even when I run some heavy workloads like virtual machines.

Wireless and Networking

Surface Book Travel

Wireless and network connectivity are as usual pretty great, no issues here. If you want to use a wired connection you have to buy a USB to Ethernet adapter, since the Surface Book does not have a build in Ethernet port, but this isn’t a real problem.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The keyboard and the trackpad are amazing, I think this is the best keyboard and trackpad combination I have ever used. Typing feels really good even if you have to write lager documents or blog posts. Of course the keyboard has also backlight which makes it great if you have to write something in a dark hotel room.

Tablet Mode

Surface Book Tablet Mode

With the tablet mode you can easily detach the screen from the keyboard so you can use it as a very light tablet. The tablet is really light, even lighter than the Surface Pro and has up to 4 hours of battery life. As cool as the tablet mode for some people may is, I basically never use it. I use the pen and the touch screen a lot, but I never really detach the keyboard from it. This is kind of different than the Surface Pro, where I detached the Type Cover a lot and just place it somewhere using the kickstand, since the Surface Book does not have a kickstand you really have to hold it all the time, and I just don’t have a use case for this.

Battery life and Performance

Performance and battery life is where the Surface Book really starts to shine. Especially in terms of disk performance using an internal NVMe disk, the Surface Book is amazingly fast. I got the version with an Intel Core i7, 8GB of memory, 256GB of storage and a dedicated Nvidia graphics card. Next time I would choose the larger version with more memory and storage but at this time in November last year it was the only configuration which was available.

Battery life is also not an issue, I get around 8-12h of battery life when I am on the road. This is enough for a full day of work.

Software and Accessories

Surface Book Home Office Surface Dock

The Surface Book comes with Windows 10 Pro, and as I mentioned I really like Windows 10. I am running the latest Windows Insider builds and the work most of the time great. Performance is really good and one thing I always loved about the Surface was the Surface Pen. I am not an artist, but I use the pen a lot in workshops with customers, instead of using it a whiteboard or to take notes in OneNote.

At home I dock the Surface Book to the Surface Dock where I have two 27-inch screens, which makes it a fully functional desktop.

Conclusion

As you can see I am really happy with the device I am using for around 7 months. The only thing which makes me want a Surface Pro again is the size. The Surface Pro with the Type Cover is much more mobile, especially when you are traveling a lot by plane or train. Otherwise the Surface Book is the perfect device.



Microsoft Band 2

Impressions of the Microsoft Band 2

A couple of months back I had the chance to visit and speak at several tech conferences, and during this time Microsoft released several devices such as the Surface Book, Surface Pro 4 and the Microsoft Band 2. I was a Microsoft Band user since November 2014 and as you can see at my review on the Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health I really liked the concept of the device.

With the Microsoft Band 2 Microsoft address some of the wishes of the users. So here are some of my impressions:

  • The Microsoft Band 2 is a welcome upgrade in terms of quality and design over the first version of the Microsoft Band
  • The new curved AMOLED display is bigger and looks much better than the old one. It also improves the touch quality after workouts with wet fingers.
  • The feel is much better. Even I got used to the first version of the Microsoft band very quickly the Microsoft Band 2 improves that and sometimes I even have to check if I am still wearing it.
  • Microsoft also added some new functionality to the Band 2 such as a Barometer and a better or always one UV sensor. But what I really like is the new Smart Alarm. When you are using the Band and start sleep mode you can also set an alarm, as a option you can also enable the Smart Alarm, and this will wake you up at the optimal wake up phase 30 minutes before the alarm was set. If you are still in deep sleep the Band will take the time you set as the alarm time to wake you up.

Microsoft also added some fun things to the Microsoft Health app. You can now compare your workouts, runs, bike rides, steps and more with your friends. And you can also create challenges and invite your friends, which is really fun.

Conclusion

The Microsoft Band 2 is a very welcome upgrade and looks much better and more mature then the first version. And Microsoft also improved some of the functionality and added some cool new features. Since I started using the Microsoft Band (v1) a while back, I also started to loss some weight. Well of course this also could have been done without any tracker, but a fitness tracker really helps you to stay motivated and have some control over your health. Now after more than a year of using Microsoft health, it is great to find and compare some data about your health, for example how much did I sleep per month, which effect did my sleep have on my running performance and so on.



Azure Remote Server Management Nano Server

Manage Nano Server and Windows Server from Azure using Remote Server Management Tools

Today Microsoft announced the preview of the Remote Server Management Tools hosted in Azure, written by Kriti Jindal, a program manager on the Server management tools team. This service allows you to manage your servers directly from Azure using a web-based HTML5 portal. I personally think that this could replace Server Manager and allows you to easily manage non-GUI servers such as Windows Server Core and Nano Server. This is the first public preview of the Remote Server Management Tools and it limited right now to manage Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview server, hosted on-prem or in Microsoft Azure. The Remote Server Management Tools today include the following features:

  • View and change system configuration
  • View performance across various resources and manage processes and services
  • Manage devices attached to the server
  • View event logs
  • View the list of installed roles and features
  • Use a PowerShell console to manage and automate

Overview

To remotely manage your Windows Server from Azure, you have to deploy a Remote Server Management Gateway into your network. This can be a Windows Server 2012 R2 Server running the WMF 5.0 (Windows Management Framework 5.0) or Windows Server 2016 with no additional preparation. You also need a Microsoft Azure subscription and an account.

Microsoft Azure Server Management Tools Topology

The gateway will handle the connection to Azure, so the Remote Server Management Gateway needs connection to the internet. The managed servers do not need a direct connection to the internet, the gateway will connect to the managed server. With that, the gateway need connection to the sever which will be managed by Azure.

Setup Server Management Tools

Well to set this up some steps are required, first create a new server for the Remote Server Management Gateway. In my case I installed a new Windows Server 2016 virtual machine. I made sure I could connect to the internet and it has the lastest updates installed.

Microsoft Azure Server Management Tools New Connection

After I created the virtual machine I logged in to the Azure portal and added a new Server Management Tools Connection. You can search “Server management tools” in Marketplace or navigate to it: Marketplace -> Management -> More -> Server management tools. This will also create the first Server Management Tools Gateway for your connection.

Microsoft Azure Server Management Tools Connection

After the connection is created you can see the connection and but you will get the information that the gateway is not ready. As the next step you will configure the gateway on the prepared server.

Microsoft Azure Server Management Tools Gateway

Under the Server Management Tools Gateway blade you can find a setup for the gateway which will generate a custom install package for your gateway. You can copy this link to the server and download this package and install it.

  1. Allow gateway updates to be installed automatically (recommended), or choose to install updates manually. You may change this later under gateway settings.
  2. Click the below to generate a customized gateway deployment package link.
  3. Use the generated link to download the gateway deployment package now, or copy the link URL to download the package later from the machine on which you intend to install the package.
  4. From the machine that you want to designate as the gateway, unzip the package and run GatewayService.MSI.
  5. Once the gateway installation completes, return to the Microsoft Azure portal and reopen your Server management tools connection.
  6. You should now be able to manage your Windows Server 2016 machine if the Microsoft Azure portal can reach it through the gateway.

Azure Remote Server Management Gateway Installer

After you have installed the Remote Server Management Gateway package on your gateway server you can see the connection in the Azure portal.

Azure Remote Server Management Nano Server

Now you start remote manage your server. As mentioned before, this is really handy if you want to manage Server Core or Nano Server.

Additional Stuff:

There are some additions for the configuration if you want to manage servers in a workgroup environment:

In order to manage workgroup machines (e.g. non-domain-joined Nano Servers), run this command as an administrator on the Server management tools gateway machine:

winrm set winrm/config/client @{ TrustedHosts=”<<IP address>>” }

When creating a Server management tools connection to the workgroup machine, use the machine’s IP address as the computer name.

Additional connectivity requirements

If you wish to connect using the local Administrator account, you will need to enable this policy on the target machine by running the following command in an administrator session on the target machine:

REG ADD HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System /v LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy /t REG_DWORD /d 1

If you wish to connect to a workgroup machine which is not on the same subnet as the gateway, run the following command in an administrator session on the target machine:

NETSH advfirewall firewall add rule name=”WinRM 5985″ protocol=TCP dir=in localport=5985 action=allow

Remote Management Server Tools Features

Azure Remote Server Management PowerShell

As mentioned the Remote Management Server Tools bring some really cool web-based management features. One of my favorites is the web-based PowerShell console.

  • Device Manager
  • PowerShell Console
  • Computer Configuration (Name, Domain,…)
  • Network Configuration
  • Task Manager
  • Process
  • Registry Editor
  • Roles and Features
  • Services
  • Local Administrators
  • Updates Management (coming soon)
  • Shutdown / Restart

More Information

 

 



SCU Asia and Australia

Speaking at SCU APAC and SCU Australia 2016

Yesterday I had the chance to announce that I will be speaking at the local Microsoft TechDays 2016 in Baden, Switzerland. Today I am pround to announce that I will speak at System Center Universe Asia and Australia 2016 both in March. After speaking at SCU Europe 2013, 2014 and 2015 I am sure my first visit to SCU APAC and SCU Australia will be great.

System Center Universe APAC 2016

This 2 days event will be showcasing upcoming System Center solutions and Cloud Technologies with integration of the latest Windows 10!

Over the past 4 years, SCU APAC have attracted attendees throughout the APAC region. Being the only event that is centered on System Center, made the decision for the team running the event to host several viewing parties across APAC region in the second year. These parties made registration for the second year double. SCU 2014 was even better and bigger although it did not have the viewing parties. It played host to more than 200 registered participants with international renowned speakers. These speakers are well known in the industry and are regulars at Tech Ed.

I will present two sessions about some new features in Windows Server 2016:

What’s new in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V?

With the next version of Microsoft hypervisor Microsoft released some great new features for your Cloud infrastructure. Come to this session to get the details of all the new stuff that is in Hyper-V and learn about how you can play with it “hands-on.”

What’s new in Windows Server 2016 Storage?

With the next version of Microsoft hypervisor Microsoft released some great new features for your Cloud infrastructure. Microsoft announced several new feature on Windows Server 2016 including a lot of new Storage features, such as Storage Spaces Direct, ReFS, Storage Replica and much more. In this session you get an overview about the new Storage technologies in Windows Server 2016 and Hyper-V.

SCU APAC 2016

Date: March 8 & 9, 2016 Conference Venue: Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

System Center Universe Australia 2016

For the FIRST time ever, System Center Universe is coming to Australia in 2016! This is a first-class community conference where you can mingle with experts and fellow industry professionals to explore new technologies. The conference has been running for many years in Asia, typically Singapore and Malaysia and also in Europe and USA.

This one days event will be showcasing upcoming System Center solutions and Cloud Technologies with integration of the latest Windows 10!

I will present a session about the next version of Windows Server 2016 Storage:

What’s new in Windows Server 2016 Storage?

With the next version of Microsoft hypervisor Microsoft released some great new features for your Cloud infrastructure. Microsoft announced several new feature on Windows Server 2016 including a lot of new Storage features, such as Storage Spaces Direct, ReFS, Storage Replica and much more. In this session you get an overview about the new Storage technologies in Windows Server 2016 and Hyper-V.

SCU Australia 2016

Conference Date March 11, 2016 Conference Venue: Crown Promenade Melbourne, Australia

If you are interested in going, please contact me and may can give you a promo code. Hopefully see you there!



SCU Europe 2015 Azure Pack

You can now watch my System Center Universe Europe 2015 Sessions on Channel9

Great news today, some of my sessions I did at System Center Universe Europe 2015 in Basel, are now available on Microsoft Channel9. You can watch them directly on Channel9 with a lot of other great sessions from SCU Europe 2015, or you can just watch them here:

Nano Server the next generation of Cloud Server in your datacenter

In this session we will walk you through how Nano Server is changing the fundamental way we look at fabric Servers and workloads. Nano Server will change the way we build servers and solve fundamental challenges which we have encountered over the pact years embracing cloud fundamentals. Speaking together with Kristian Nese (Microsoft MVP)

What’s new in Windows Server 2016 for Hyper-V


With Windows Server 2016 Microsoft adds again exiting features to its Virtualization Platform. Learn in this session what Shielded VMs, Rolling Cluster Upgrades, Storage Spaces Direct, Hyper converged, PowerShell Direct, Windows Containers, and much more is and how you can profit from these new technologies. Speaking together with Carsten Rachfahl (Microsoft MVP)

Azure Site Recovery, 365 days later

Disaster Recovery, everyone talks about it – everyone claims they have it! But does it really work as expected?! Join us in the session about Azure Site Recovery, the business continuity service from Microsoft for all cloud platforms, on-premise – service providers – public cloud. You will learn how your company or customers can use ASR in their datacenter and which new scenarios have been added in the last 365 days, since we presented this topic at SCU 2014. Speaking together with Michel Lüscher (Microsoft)

Are ITIL and System Center BFFs?


In the modern world where organizations are facing new challenges to be more competitive, they are looking for better ways to improve the quality and efficiency of their IT Service delivery using the ITIL framework. Gain valuable insights and best practices on how you can adopt the ITIL framework to Microsoft System Center and OMS from real world experiences together with Savision, Jonas Lenntun, CEO and Solution Architect at Approved Consulting, and Microsoft MVPs: Robert Hedblom, Kristian Nese, Kevin Greene and Thomas Maurer.

 



diskpart fat32 and gpt

How to create Windows Windows Server bootable USB media for deployment on UEFI based systems

When you were create a USB media for PCs, notebooks and servers which were using BIOS you could use several tools to do this. Now most of the tools do not really create a USB media drive which can be used to boot and install Windows or Windows Server on a UEFI based system such a new servers and for example the Surface Pro line. But it is very simple to do this now, just follow this steps:

  • The USB drive has to be formatted in FAT32
  • The USB needs to be GPT and not MBR
  • Copy all files from the ISO to the USB drive

diskpart fat32 and gpt

This is it, and here is how you do it:

First plugin your USB drive to your computer. The USB drive should be bigger than 4GB.

Open a CMD prompt or PowerShell using the Run as Administrator option and open diskpart. Now you can do list all this by using

Select the USB disk, in my case this was disk 1

Clean the disk. Be careful this will remove all files and partitions on the USB media.

Now convert it to GPT

Create a new primary partition. But make sure the partition is not greater than 16GB otherwise it can be formatted with FAT32.

Format the partition with FAT32

Assign a drive letter to the volume

now you can exit the diskpart and copy all files from the Windows or Windows Server to the USB drive and boot it. This works with Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016 or even Hyper-V Server in the same editions.