Microsoft Licensing – Rental Rights


Blockbuster And Microsoft ...

Microsoft Rental Rights are aimed at customers who

“rent, lease, or outsource PCs to third parties with qualifying Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office software”

and are designed to make this previously tricky situation much easier by helping ensure all parties involved are compliant with MS licensing rules

“Rental Rights” are sold with, or on top of, existing volume licences and assigned per device. The rights exist for the life of the licensed device and cannot be re-assigned.

They have been available in a limited number of countries for a few months but, as of January 2010, they will be part of the Worldwide pricelist. The will be available on:

  • Open
  • Select
  • Select Plus

(so not available on Open Value, Enterprise Agreements or Campus/Schools)

for the following products:

  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Office Professional Plus 2007
  • Office Std 2007

Rules for Office

There are a couple of rules changes once Rental Rights are assigned.

Portable Copy:

“You may not use or permit use of additional copies of the qualifying software on a separate portable device or a network device. This prohibition overrides any right you have under the license terms that came with your qualifying software

Office gives you “Portable Installation Rights” which allows users to install their copy of Office on both a desktop AND a laptop. This is very useful for business users but, as you can see above, it is NOT permitted with Rental Rights.

Rules for Windows

Downgrade Rights:

Always a hot topic when it comes to the desktop OS, the ability to use previous versions.

“You may use a prior version of the software in place of the qualifying software only if the qualifying software was licensed under your volume licensing agreement, except for Windows XP Professional licensed from an original equipment manufacturer”

So downgrade rights are available where the original software was purchased via Volume Licensing. The exception to that is OEM XP Pro (so that came pre-installed on the machine).

Rules for both:

Remote Access:

“You may not permit remote access to the qualifying software. This prohibition overrides any right for the primary user of the licensed device or any user of a separately licensed device to access that software under the license terms that came with the qualifying software.”

Virtual Machines:

Rental Rights don’t apply in virtual environments…

“In other words, the primary customer may not create and rent virtual machines.”

How Rental Rights Work:

Here are a couple of diagrams to illustrate the whole thing:

Acquiring Software Assurance:

Software Assurance (SA) gives users many benefits including version upgrades, e-learning, training vouchers and access to MDOP among others. It is becoming more and more useful to more and more organizations in more and more ways…and businesses that lease their machines can take advantage too.

SA isn’t available to the “Primary Customer” acquiring the Rental Rights (i.e. the leasing company) but it CAN be purchased by the end user. So an organization that leases it’s machines on a long term contract can purchase SA on their own Volume Licensing agreement.

Microsoft BitLocker & Security


BitLocker is Microsoft’s drive encryption software that first appeared in Vista and now Windows 7, along with Bitlocker to Go for USB devices. Having Hard drive and USB drive encryption built into the desktop OS is a great idea, as it reduces the cost & complexity barriers for companies looking to adopt better security practices.

Recently, a story came out that Bitlocker had been “broken” and that a commercially available tool was now able to bypass the security (I saw this on Ars Technica but I’m sure many other places reported it too). When I saw the headline I thought “Oh sh*t…that’s a fly in the old ointment ain’t it?” (don’t ask me why I was thinking in that style of voice!) but then I read the article and saw this gem in the 1st paragraph:

“It scans a physical memory image file of the target computer and extracts all the encryption keys for a given BitLocker disk.”

So this requires the machine to be “hot” i.e. on…as soon as it’s turned off, the memory is dumped and it’s ok…not exactly crack of the century is it?! 🙂 Plus most, if not all encryption offerings from TrueCrypt, PGP etc are vulnerable to this…

The vast majority of comments on Ars Technica saw this for the ineffectual non-story that it was:

 

image

image

although there were of course a few people who took this as a chance to point out that Linux was better that Microsoft and all proprietary software evil…but that’s nothing new!

Ars Technica have made an update to the article saying:

“this isn’t exactly a "crack" for BitLocker”

but it doesn’t really show, in my opinion at least, how pointless the story was and doesn’t re-assure that BitLocker is jsut as safe as people thought it was.

Paul Cooke of the Windows Blog team has a great post all about BitLocker and these recent claims here:

http://windowsteamblog.com/blogs/windowssecurity/archive/2009/12/07/windows-bitlocker-claims.aspx

Microsoft Black Screen of Death


Recently, a new buzz phrase has risen up…”Black Screen of Death”. Supposedly Microsoft’s latest updates for November have been causing user’s machines to boot up into blackness with no system tray, side bar, desktop etc. The cause, according to PRevX, is that the registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\Shell key

was being edited.

This issue was brought to light by security firm PrevX, who said “millions” of people have been affected. However, actually finding someone who’d experienced one has proved very difficult…even on Twitter and the internet at large. This was strange but it didn’t stop it becoming the #1 story on the BBC site today and starting to become quite a talking topic. Microsoft have just released a statement about this saying:

“We’ve investigated these reports and found that our November Security Updates are not making changes to the system that these reports say are responsible for these issues…Thus, we don’t believe the updates are related to the “black screen” behaviour described in these reports.”

As the information and issues weren’t given directly to Microsoft, they are unable to give a definite answer as to what is causing the problem. However, the important thing is to reassure users that Microsoft Updates are safe and should still be applied regularly as normal.

You can see the full MS statement here:

http://blogs.technet.com/msrc/archive/2009/12/01/reports-of-issues-with-november-security-updates.aspx

Prevxlogo.gif

Thoughts

It is still an odd state of affairs as PrevX are a reputable company with some great technology that has really helped me, and our customers, out of some sticky situations. So it’s unlikely that they’d just make it up but perhaps almost as unlikely that they’d be this wrong about something they’ve publicised so much. On the other hand, it’s even less likely that Microsoft would be wrong! So where does that leave us? To be honest I’m not sure…could it be that they’re both right?

MS note that “Black Screens” can be caused by the “Daonol” family of Malware…but “Black Screens” are known in Windows…as this Wikipedia page shows.

File:EMM386.PNG

A Windows 3.0 BlSOD error message.

Maybe if you have a machine infected with certain Malware AND you do the updates, then the “BlSOD” is triggered?

I honestly don’t know but I’m intrigued to learn more and see how this case is solved!

Update: They’ve Apologised

PrevX have released a statement on their blog confirming Microsoft’s statement that the November updates from MS did NOT cause the Black Screen of Death.

“Having narrowed down a specific trigger for this condition we’ve done quite a bit of testing and re-testing on the recent Windows patches including KB976098 and KB915597 as referred to in our previous blog. Since more specifically narrowing down the cause we have been able to exonerate these patches from being a contributory factor.” (Bold mine)

You can read their full statement here:

http://www.prevx.com/blog/141/Windows-Black-Screen-Root-Cause.html

Thanks to @Jamestutt for letting me know

Windows 7 Stuff


We had our Windows 7 launch day at work last week and we all got Windows 7 pens and Windows 7 slinkies…which are officially awesome!

The slinky and pen:

IMAGE_837IMAGE_838

The posters we got up around the office:

SDC10745

They’re nice and clean and simple-I like them.

As an added bonus, here’s my software poster wall:

 SDC10744 <—This isn’t the only one!

Hope you like it 🙂

There is a picture of me in front of the big Windows 7 stand thing we had but I, oddly, can’t find that one anymore 😉

MS Exam 70-680 training videos


Exam 70-680 is the new Microsoft MCTS exam for Configuring Windows 7 that builds towards the MCITP accreditations.

I’ve been thinking of taking this exam for a little while and now there is what’s shaping up to be an excellent series of training videos available from @Bibbleq. He’s an IT Admin and has started putting these videos together in his spare time to help out anyone looking at this exam – so ‘nuff respect for that 🙂

I’ve watched the 1st 2 videos that are available and they’re really good. Well presented, clear and I’ve definitely picked up a thing or two, which is what it’s all about isn’t it?! I’m not sure how many will be in the series but I’m confident that once you’ve seen them all, you’ll be in a position to pretty much go and take the exam straight away!

First video is here.

Second video is here.

Third video is here.

Fourth video is here. This is the start of Section 2.

Section 2 Module 2 is here. This covers DISM & ImageX.

Homepage is here.

Nice one Bibbleq!

Windows 7 & AutoDesk: Project Cooper


Windows 7 has officially been launched. Today is general availability (GA) day (which means you can pop down to Comet/PC World etc and get it off the shelf) and we’ve seen a number of launch events all around the world. Numerous other manufacturers have been presenting alongside Microsoft to show how their technologies inter-operate but one that caught my eye was AutoDesk.

AutoDesk are makers of CAD (Computer Aided Design) software, most notably AutoCAD & AutoCAD LT. I have to say I’ve never really considered that they would have any kind of relationship with Microsoft, so I was a little surprised to see that they were taking part in today’s launch event in New York, presenting Project Cooper. This new product:

“will allow users to easily and quickly create professional-looking drawings and sketches, or precise drawings with real-world dimensions, and share this information with others”

according to AutoDesk Senior Director, Emerging Products Amjad Hanif.

It has been

“engineered to take full advantage of Windows 7 support for multi-touch, including panning, zooming, rotation and flick functionality”

and is designed for those times that a mouse/keyboard just isn’t going to work. With it being CAD software this will be architects, interior designers, building planners etc when they’re on site. They’ll be able to sketch out ideas there and then, increasing productivity and collaboration – 2 key messages from Microsoft.

From a software reseller’s point of view, this represents yet another opportunity for Wondows 7 to open up new revenue streams and help us create better, stronger relationships with our customers.

You can see the original post on the Windows Blog here.

... When You've Got Alice Cooper

Windows 7 BitLocker to Go Reader


One of Windows 7’s many great new features is BitLocker To Go-a built in encryption tool for removable USB devices. Enabling users to store important/sensitive data on USB sticks and protecting that data should the device be lost. As it’s a new feature in Windows 7, people have been wondering about inter-operability with previous OS versions such as Vista & XP. The answer is here:

Windows 7 BitLocker To Go Reader

This enables users with BitLocker encrypted USB devices to share data with users on Vista and XP. It will allow you to copy encrypted files from the drive onto the Vista/XP machines but:

“Once you copy the files from the encrypted drive, they will no longer be protected by BitLocker in the new location, even though they’ll still be protected on the encrypted drive”

It’s worth noting that you can only unlock the drive using Reader if you’ve got the password information etc…it doesn’t just allows random unlockings 🙂

For more information and step by step instructions on using BitLocker to Go Reader on XP/Vista, see:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/what-is-the-bitlocker-to-go-reader

To go and download the program and get started, go to Microsoft Downloads here.

Microsoft: The New Efficiency


At today’s “New Efficiency” launch event, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spoke about Windows 7 deployments and how customers can save money with the latest OS. He particularly mentioned that Windows 7 “will bring $90-$160 saving per pc per year”.

He also discussed the “Consumerisation of IT”, where users bring/force change in Corporate IT via their expectations from using software at home. He said that it isn’t a new phenomenon (it just has a new name) and that it will continue to be a huge driving force in the way that software is designed and used-such as the extra social networking features being added into Office, Exchange & Sharepoint.

This all led to the launch of a new website:

http://vepexp.microsoft.com/thenewefficiency

which contains dozens of videos from MS execs covering topics such as:

  • Discover Windows Optimized Desktop
  • Learn about Optimized Server
  • Experience Unified Communications
  • Explore Business Ready Security

There are a bunch of videos on Exchange 2010 such as:

  • Upgrade & Deployment
  • High Availability
  • Mobility & Active Sync
  • Email Archiving

and more. These are a great source of information on Exchange 2010, some of which I’ve collected here.

The banner below is a great representation of the products & ideas behind the New Efficiency.

image

There are way too many sessions to list here but MS have put together some suggested sessions listings for:

  • Enterprises
  • Mid-Size
  • SMB’s

They contain links to the videos on the New Efficiency site and can be downloaded from my SkyDrive here.

Windows 7 Enterprise Trial


  • Windows 7 Enterprise is the most feature rich version of Windows 7 and offers much more than Windows 7 Pro including:
  • Direct Access
  • Branch Cache
  • App Locker
  • Bit Locker (To Go)
  • 4 Virtual licences

and more…

The only way to obtain the Enterprise version is to purchase Windows 7 Pro with Software Assurance.

Microsoft have released a 90 day trial of Windows 7 Enterprise which is generally available online, rather than restricted to Technet/MSDN, giving an even wider audience the chance to see what benefits Microsoft’s new OS will bring to them.

You can see more info and download the trial here. The trial is available in the following languages:

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Japanese

If you haven’t had the chance to play with Windows 7 and it’s Enterprise features, I implore you to download this trial 🙂 Move quickly as the trial is on a” first come first served basis” until March 31st 2010.

MED-V


MED-V or Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization is like SUPER XP mode 🙂

As great as XP Mode is, it has caused a few problems where people are now wondering if MED-V has been replaced-it hasn’t.

First up-MED-V is used for virtualizing legacy applications so they can be run on new OS’s like Vista and Windows 7. Yes that sounds a lot like XP Mode but MED-V introduces a whole extra management layer for use in the corporate world-specifically:

“MED-V provides important centralized management, policy-based provisioning and virtual image delivery to reduce the cost of Virtual PC deployment”

Stephen L Rose has got a great post over on the Windows Team Blog about the differences between these 2 technologies so, rather than re-invent the wheel I’m going to respectfully copy & paste 😉

How does MED-V adds management to Windows Virtual PC?

To provide a managed, scalable solution for running virtual Windows XP applications, MED-V addresses many of the IT challenges around deployment and management including:

  • Deployment – deliver virtual Windows images and customize per user and device settings
    • Automate first-time virtual PC setup based on an IT customized script – including assignment of a unique computer name, joining to AD domain
      (for instance: assign the virtual PC a name that is derived from the physical device name or the username to simplify identification and management)
    • Adjust virtual PC memory allocation based on available RAM on host, so that the virtual PC does not take significant resources from the user
  • Provisioning – define which applications and websites are available to different users
    • Assign virtual PC images according to users and groups
    • Define which Windows XP applications will be available to the user through the start menu
    • Define which websites (e.g. internal sites that requires a previous version of Internet Explorer) are redirected automatically to Windows XP
  • Control – assign and expire usage permissions and Virtual PC settings
    • Control the network settings of the Virtual PC (e.g. whether it connects through NAT or DHCP, whether its DNS is synchronized with host)
    • Authenticate user before granting access to the Virtual PC
    • Set expiration date, after which the Virtual PC is not accessible to the end user
  • Maintenance and Support – update images, monitor users and remotely troubleshoot
    • Update images using TrimTransfer network image delivery – update a master Virtual PC image, and MED-V will automatically distribute and apply the changes to all endpoints
    • Centralized database aggregates events from all users, and provides troubleshooting information on malfunctioning virtual PCs
    • Administrator diagnostics mode allows faster resolution of Virtual PC issues
    • Run on multiple platforms – MED-V will work on both Windows 7 and Windows Vista, and will not require processor-based virtualization support

MED-V is available only as part of MDOP and thus is only available to certain volume licence customers with active Software Assurance.

This technology builds on Microsoft Virtual PC and the new version has got some great new features including:

USB Support: Access USB devices connected to your Windows 7 machine directly from the Virtual Machine.

Clip Board Sharing: Copy and paste between your Windows 7 desktop and your Virtual desktop.

Printer Redirection: Print directly from your Virtual PC.

More can be found over at The Windows Team Blog.

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