Category: Windows 8.1

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Surface Pro Storage Spaces Boot

Boot from Storage Spaces Virtual Disk in Windows 10

A couple of weeks ago I got my new Microsoft Surface Pro, I decided to go with the 1TB version to have enough space.

Surface Pro Storage

After the first minutes of setup I quickly wanted to run disk optimization, which for SSDs usually does quick trim operations. In my case this was running way longer then on my Surface Book, so I checked what was going on, and I realized that it was running Optimization on a Storage Spaces Virtual Disk, which is kind of strange.

Surface Pro PowerShell Storage Spaces Boot

I checked the disk configuration and really, my Surface Pro (2017) does have a Storage Spaces Virtual Disk which it boots from. The Storage Spaces Pool does include two physical 512GB NVMe drives with one Virtual Disk on top configured as simple (striped) volume. Right now I don’t know how they did it, but it seems now possible to boot Windows from a Storage Spaces Virtual Disk with the Windows 10 Creators Update or some Surface team magic. Then when Storage Spaces was introduced with Windows 8, boot from Storage Spaces was not possible.

 



Hyper-V Enhanced Session Mode

10 hidden Hyper-V features you should know about!

Microsoft added some amazing new features and improvements to Hyper-V over the past few years. A lot of them you can use in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V today, but there are also a lot of features hidden in the user interface and they are also included in Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise. I think this list should you a good idea about some of them.

Nested Virtualization

Hyper-V Nested Virtualization

Hyper-V Nested Virtualization allows you to run Hyper-V in a Hyper-V Virtual Machine. This is great for testing, demo and training scenarios and it work on Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise. Microsoft Azure will also offer some new Virtual Machine which will offer the Nested Virtualization feature in the Azure public cloud. Nested Virtualization is not just great if you want to run virtual machines inside a virtual machine, it is also great (and I think this will be the largest use case in the future) you can also run Hyper-V Container inside a Hyper-V or Azure Virtual Machine. Hyper-V Containers are a feature will brings the isolation of a Virtual Machine to a fast, light and small footprint container. To enable Nested Virtualization you have the following requirements:

  • At least 4 GB RAM available for the virtualized Hyper-V host.
  • To run at least Windows Server 2016 or Windows 10 build 10565 (and higher) on both the physical Hyper-V host and the virtualized host. Running the same build in both the physical and virtualized environments generally improves performance.
  • A processor with Intel VT-x (nested virtualization is available only for Intel processors at this time).
  • Other Hypervisors will not work

Configure the Virtual Machine for Nested Virtualization follow the following steps:

  • disable Dynamic Memory on Virtual Machine
  • enable Virtualization Extensions on the vCPU
  • enable MAC Address Spoofing
  • set Memory of the Virtual Machine to a minimum of 4GB RAM

To enable the Virtualization Extensions on the vCPU you can run the following PowerShell command

PowerShell Direct

PowerShell Direct Enter-PSSession

Hyper-V PowerShell Direct is also one of the great new features in Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V. PowerShell Direct allows you to connect to a Virtual Machine using PowerShell without connecting over the network. Instead of the network, PowerShell Direct uses the Hyper-V VMBus to connect from the Hyper-V host to the virtual machine. This is handy if you are doing some automation or you don’t have network access to the virtual machine. In terms of security, you will still need to provide credentials to access the virtual machine.

To use PowerShell Direct you have the following requirements:

  • The virtual machine must be running locally on the Hyper-V host and must be started.
  • You must be logged into the host computer as a Hyper-V administrator.
  • You must supply valid user credentials for the virtual machine.
  • The host operating system must run Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, or a higher version.
  • The virtual machine must run Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, or a higher version.

To use PowerShell Direct just use the Enter-PSSession or Invoke-Command cmdlets with the -VMName, -VMId or VM parameter.

Hyper-V Virtual Switch using NAT

Hyper-V Virtual Switch NAT Configuration

If you are running Hyper-V on your workstation, laptop you know that networking could have been kind of a problem. With the Hyper-V Virtual Switch using NAT, you can now create an internal network for your virtual machines and still allow them to for example have internet access, like you would run your virtual machines behind a router. To use this feature you have the following requirements:

  • Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 build 14295 or later
  • Enabled Hyper-V role

To enable you can first create an internal switch using PowerShell, the the IP Address on the Virtual NIC on the Management OS and then set the NAT configuration:

To create NAT forwarding rules you can for example use the following command:

Virtual Battery for Virtual Machines

Hyper-V VM battery

With the Windows 10 Insider Build XXXX and later with the release of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Microsoft enabled a Virtual Battery feature for Hyper-V Virtual Machines. This will allow Hyper-V VMs to see the battery status of the host. This is great when you are running Hyper-V on a notebook or if you have a SUV battery on your server

Hyper-V VMConnect – Enhanced Session Mode

Hyper-V Enhanced Session Mode

Interacting with Virtual Machines can be difficult and time consuming using the default VM console, since you can not copy paste or connect devices. VMConnect lets you use a computer’s local resources in a virtual machine, like a removable USB flash drive or a printer and in addition to this, Enhanced session mode also lets you resize the VMConnect window and use copy paste. This makes it almost as if you would use the Remote Desktop Client to connect to the Virtual Machine, without a network connection, instead you will make use of the VMBus.

The Enhanced Session Mode feature was introduced with Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1. Enhanced session mode basically provides your Virtual Machine Connection with RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) capabilities over the Hyper-V VMBus, including the following:

  • Display Configuration
  • Audio redirection
  • Printer redirection
  • Full clipboard support (improved over limited prior-generation clipboard support)
  • Smart Card support
  • USB Device redirection
  • Drive redirection
  • Redirection for supported Plug and Play devices

Requirements for the Enhanced Session Mode are:

  • The Hyper-V host must have Enhanced session mode policy and Enhanced session mode settings turned on
  • The computer on which you use VMConnect must run Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2016, or Windows Server 2012 R2 or higher
  • The virtual machine must have Remote Desktop Services enabled, and run Windows 8.1 (or higher) and Windows Server 2012 R2 (or higher) as the guest operating system.

You can simply use it, by pressing the enhanced session button (if you have all the requirementsOn the Windows 10 Client this is enabled by default on the “host”. On Windows Server you have to enable it first in the Hyper-V Manager under Hyper-V Settings

Hyper-V Manager Zoom Level

Hyper-V VMConnect Zoom Level

In the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft introduced a new feature to the VMConnect Console. This feature allows you to control the zoom level of the Virtual Machine console, this is especially handy if you have a high DPI screen.

Virtual TPM Chip

Hyper-V Virtual TPM

If you are running Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 or higher you can make use of a feature called Shielded Virtual Machines. This allows you to protect your virtual machines form being accessed from the outside. With this feature Microsoft added different levels of security enhancements. One of them is the possibility to add a Virtual TPM chip to the virtual machine. With that enabled you can use BitLocker or another encryption technology to encrypt your virtual machine disks from inside the VM.

Enable Hyper-V vTPM PowerShell

You can enable the Virtual TPM chip using the Hyper-V Manager or PowerShell. The virtual machine needs to be shut down.

Just to make sure, if you really need full protection, have a look at Shielded Virtual Machines with the Host Guardian Service (HGS).

VM Resource Metering

Hyper-V VM Resource Metering

With Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Microsoft introduced a new feature in Hyper-V called VM Resource Metering which allows you to measure the usage of a virtual machine. This allows you to track CPU, Memory, Disk and network usage. This is a great feature especially if you need to do charge back or maybe even for trouble shooting.

You can enable VM Resource Metering using PowerShell

To measure the virtual machine, you can used the following command

Export and Share Hyper-V Virtual Machines

Export and Share Hyper-V Virtual Machine

Another feature a lot of people do not know about is that you can export Hyper-V Virtual Machines to copy them to another computer or server. The great thing about this, this can even be done while the virtual machine is running and you can even export the state of the virtual machine with it. You can use the UI to do this, or you just run PowerShell using the Export-VM cmdlet.

In the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Microsoft also added a button to shared the Virtual Machine. This does not only export the virtual machine but it also create a compressed VM Export File (.vmcz).

Hyper-V Containers

Hyper-V Windows Containers

In Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 you can run Windows Containers using Docker. While on Windows Server you can choose between running a Windows Container or a Hyper-V Container, you will always run a Hyper-V Container on Windows 10. While Hyper-V Containers and Windows Containers are fully compatible with each other, what means you can start a Windows Container in a Hyper-V Container runtime and the other way around, the Hyper-V Container gives you an extra layer of isolation between your containers and your operating system. This makes running containers not just much more secure but since the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and Windows Server RS3 (Redstone 3), it will also allow you to run Linux Containers on a Windows Container Host, which will make Windows the best platform to run Windows Containers and Linux Containers side by side.

I hope this short list was helpful and showed you some features you didn’t know were there in Hyper-V. Some of these features are still in preview and are might not available in production versions of Hyper-V. Leave your favorite secret Hyper-V features in the comments!



Open website from PowerShell

Open website from PowerShell

If you want to directly open a website from the PowerShell console, you can use the Start-Process cmdlet. This will open the website in the default browser:

You can also use “Start” which is an alias for Start-Process:

 



Installation Windows Server 2016 VPN

How to Install VPN on Windows Server 2016

This post shows you how you can install a VPN Server on Windows Server 2016 Step-by-Step. It shows you how you can easily setup a VPN server for a small environment or for a hosted server scenario.

This is definitely not a guide for an enterprise deployment, if you are thinking about a enterprise deployment you should definitely have a look at Direct Access.

I already did similar blog posts for Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2.

You can simply follow this step by step guide:

First install the “Remote Access” via Server Manager or Windows PowerShell.

Install Remote Access Role VPN

Select the “DirectAccess and VPN (RAS)” role services and click next.

DirectAccess and VPN (RAS)



diskpart-usb-drive

Create a USB Stick for Windows Server 2016 Installation

If you have download the latest version of Windows Server 2016 you can create a USB stick to install it on a physical server.

For UEFI Systems:

  • The at least a 8GB 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-usb-drive

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 6GB.

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.

For MBR systems:

  • The at least a 8GB USB drive has to be formatted in FAT32
  • The USB needs to be MBR
  • Partition need so be set active
  • Copy all files from the ISO to the USB drive

diskpart-usb-drive-mbr

 

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 6GB.

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.

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

Set Active

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.

 

Important:

If Install.wim is larger than 4GB, you cannot copy the file to the drive, because of theFAT32 based partition limitation. The solutions for this is to split the wim file into smaller files.

split wim file using dism (you may have to change the drive letters):

 



PowerShell get Drvier Version

Get Installed Driver Version using PowerShell

If you are using Windows Server Core or you just want to check the driver version using PowerShell you can using the following command:

You can also filter a specific driver name using the following command:

 



FindTime for Outlook – Doodle for Business

Scheduling meetings can be a real pain you have to do calls, ask people and check calendars which can be a huge time effort. Lucky there are solutions like Doodle to schedule meetings and a lot of us are using Doodle in our personal life which is great, but it could be a lot better, especially if you are using it for business meetings. Microsoft released a Outlook solution for this a couple of months ago called FindTime for Outlook. But since not a lot of people seem to know about FindTime I decided to write a quick blog post about it.

FindTime is a Office Plugin for Outlook which allows you to schedule and plan meetings. To use FindTime just do the following steps:

  1. Install FindTime
  2. Restart Outlook and the Plugin will automatically appear (btw. Works with Outlook 2013, Outlook 2016, Outlook for Mac and Outlook on the Web)
  3. Compose a new email or reply to an existing email
  4. Click “New Meeting Poll” in the Message tab of the email. This will open a new poll and will automatically check if people in your organization are available or not, depending on there calendar. External people will just show up in grey.
    FindTime New Meeting Availability
  5. You also have different options from Online Meetings (using Skype for Business) or meetings in different locations. People will then get the link to vote for the meeting date. You also have different options like Notifications when someone votes, Auto scheduling of the meeting if everyone required has voted and more.
    FindTime Send Invite
  6. People can now vote on the FindTime website. People can also use preferred dates and can see how others have voted. You can schedule the meeting manual or you can set the option to auto schedule, this will automatically send the invites after everyone required for the meetings has voted.
    FindTime Meeting Voting

For me FindTime for Outlook is a huge time saver if you have to schedule meetings and appointments with other attendees. So make sure you have a look at it, the only thing your organization needs, is a Office 365 subscription.