Archive for the ‘Windows 7’ Category
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You are currently browsing the archives for the Windows 7 category.
The other week I managed to scam myself an iPad 2 from work for a few days for a test run. I have always wondered weather I would use an iPad much, but before going out and dropping close to $1000AUD on one I figured a trail run for a few days would help me make up my mind.
To start I love the magnetic covers on the iPad 2. These covers are functional and stylish. The cover has groves which allow it to be bent to act as a stand propping the iPad at about a 30 degree angle. It is also used to put the device to sleep when folded over the screen. A really good idea in both senses. Lets get down to the device itself and really it’s just a big iPhone 4 in my book.
The apps in the Apple iStore are what sets it apart in the mobile landscape from Windows Phone, Android and Blackberry. Although these stores are catching up, the range of apps in the iStore is astonishing. What surprised me though is the limited number of iPad apps though by comparison. I found this extremely disappointing.
The big apps I was looking forward to trailing where some Twitter clients, Facebook and Citrix Receiver. Twitter first I tried the native app and Echofon and didn’t like the single column only view in each. Furthermore as soon as you flick into landscape mode to type (note that the awesome cover that turns into a stand works in landscape mode) nearly 50% of the screen real estate is lost on the keyboard. This is a feature that annoys me in a number of situations on the iPad.
Facebook app for iPad is well not there… doesn’t exist but the safari experience isn’t too bad and will do.
Citrix connecting back to my Windows 7 Enterprise x64 VDI running on Xen Desktop 5 is a cool feature, but as I have previously blogged about (http://www.mickhuxley.com/?p=125) Windows 7 is not a great touch OS. It is designed for the keyboard and mouse experience. Whilst connecting back to Windows gave me a whole new host of things to do it still was greatly let down by the screen real estate disappearing when the keyboard was used. I know that more screen can be preserved using the iPad and portrait mode but this has it’s drawbacks also.
Overall this is a short review because (let’s face it) you can’t do much with the iPad that you can’t do with the iPhone. I still find the notebook / netbook a better option. In fact a slim lightweight notebook with integrated 3G, a good screen resolution (1400×1050 or better), long battery life and an i5 proc would be perfect for what I do.
The iPad is a nice device for consuming content and not creating it but do I really need a dedicated device for this purpose?? No I don’t… not for either personal or professional use.
Yesterday I downloaded and installed Citrix Xen Client. Xen Client is a desktop Hypervisor which allows virtual machines to be run on the bare metal without the need to first run up a full operating system. This works in much the same as vSphere or Xen Server in the Data centre.
I should preface this post by noting that Xen Client is currently pre-release software and as such plays up a little. My first installation attempt was on a Lenovo x201. Whilst the install completed okay and the Hypervisor loads, the graphics drivers are missing and as such I was unable to load the GUI. I had been warned during installation that the x201 was not on the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) and rightly so it seems.
Running over to Citrix.com I noted that the x200 was on the HCL so I grabbed one from the desktop team and installed Xen Client again. This time I was presented with a client screen. The interface here is very simple. Across the top of the screen are menus for the power controls, new VM’s, Settings, network adapters and battery metre.
Time to get rolling and fire up a VM. The new VM menu presents 2 options. The first is to download an image from the synchroniser (haven’t read much about this but believe it’s for central management of VM’s) and the other is to create a new VM. Creating a new VM I was a little shocked at the lack of options. Windows XP, Vista and 7 x86 only. Clearly this is a pre-release item as there is a requirement for Intel-VT and VT-d for funky graphics. Looks like Windows 7 it is.
I inserted the media, fired up the VM and was surprised at the speed both of Windows PE and also switching between the VM and the Hypervisor manager. Following the install of Windows I was able to insert the Xen Client driver disc and add all of the Hypervisor drivers and tools. I did note the following devices showed errors and had stopped. The Multimedia Audio Device, Xen Client Display Driver and USB Root Hub. Although Multimedia accepted there was a Citrix / Non Citrix equivalent that was working okay. Next I connected a NIC and check I had network access.
Finally I inserted my Optus 3G Express Card, it was found, software installed and able to connect to the Internet.
Next time for a new VM so I assigned all remaining available memory and fire it up. Next I’m looking at the ThinkPad POST. Yep full system restart, once back up I leave 10MB of free Memory and fire up my “Windows XP” guest. The Windows XP guest though has a Fedora 12 disc inserted and the OS installs and boots without failure. I can then access the network and do all the things I would hope to do. One option I did not whilst doing the Fedora install is the encrypt partition option. This got be thinking.
I rebooted the host and entered the BIOS enabling the TPM. Next reboot and fire up the Windows guest. Unfortunately there is no sign of the TPM in the device manager and as such no chance of Bit Locker at this time.
Overall this has potential to be a game changer. I can’t wait to get my hands on the desktop Hypervisor from VMware and really pull the two apart. The ability to handle Hardware agnostic images, run multiple VM’s side by side at the desktop layer is exciting and opens up a number of possibilities.
Over the last few months the amount of content coming out of Microsoft about Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 has shifted from features and functionality to deployment tools. This shift continues to the push to move from sector based deployment tools such as Ghost and onto dynamic offline serviceable images using the Windows Imaging (WIM) file format. The tools of choice for deployment, from Microsoft, are the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) and System Centre Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007. Both tools use a common set of files and SCCM simply adds additional functionality above MDT.
So to start.. MDT is basically an integrated MMC for deployment, it is the glue which brings together Windows PE, Windows Automated Installation Toolkit (WAIK) and Windows Deployment Services to provide a consolidated deployment platform for Windows client, server and Office 2007.
Personally, I’ve been using MDT since the start of the year and have built a Windows Server 2008 SOE using the toolkit. I initially selected the tool based on the marketing that Microsoft had been pushing and after a long learning process am glad I did. The MDT is provided as a solution accelerator, which are designed to get applications working quickly and for the most part MDT did have me deploying operating systems in a few hours, unfortunately customising the images took considerably longer. I will post about this later.
As Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 roles towards RTM the deployment focus is an interesting move from Microsoft. Rather then simply launching the OS and leaving IT Pros to work out deployment paths, deployment guidance is being pushed already, during the RC phase, to get IT Pros thinking not just about the product, but about how to deploy it within the Enterprise from RTM. A good move by Microsoft as many organisations are still slashing costs in the current economic climate, so providing a consolidated deployment platform at no cost gives that added boost to Organisations considering the upgrade to Windows 7. It also gives Microsoft a potential sales boost soon after RTM as Organisations may not see the need to wait until SP1, as has previously been the case.
What you may want to wait for though is MDT 2010 or more specifically the User State Migration Tool Version 4. Currently in beta, MDT 2010 and USMT4 will really drive down deployment times in the desktop space. USMT 3, available today, works by coping all of the user data off the system partition to either a network share, different partition, different hard disk, USB device etc… and then following deployment, copying the files back. This adds a considerable amount of time to the deployment for the copy. USMT 4 introduces a hard file links, so rather the copying the data of the disk, a table is constructed pointing to the sectors of the disk containing the data and they the data is left in place. Following the OS deployment the links are simply updated into the file table and the data appears back in the same folder structure. A really cool feature as it reduces the deployment time.