MDOP and EMET for Windows 10

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here now which is in part down to me being busy at home and in part due to work being full-on at the moment trying to juggle a handful of internal systems projects as well as dropping in customer engagements but you won’t hear me complaining as it’s all great work.

In the time between I last wrote anything and now, Windows 10 is full swing and we are already looking at the Threshold 2 (or November 2015 Update) for Windows 10 shipping which will see the Skype Messaging experience rolled out to the public as well as the Cortana text messaging and missed call notifications on the desktop, both of which have been available to people running the Windows 10 Insider Preview builds for a few weeks’ now.

With people looking more closely at Windows 10, there’s good news for people who rely on the slew of Microsoft tools in the enterprise as many of them are either now already updated to support Windows 10 or are working their way to support. MDOP 2015 was released back in August 2015 and this included updated service packs for Application Virtualization (App-V) 5.0 SP3, User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) 2.1 SP1 and Microsoft BitLocker Administration and Management (MBAM) 2.5 SP1 to add support for Windows 10. App-V and MBAM are simply service packs to add support whilst UE-V not only gains support for Windows 10 but also gets native support for Office 2013 via the ADMX files which means you no longer need to manually import the Office 2013 .xml templates into your Template Store.

Sadly, UE-V 2.1 SP1 shipped before the release of Office 2016 which means there is no native support for this which seems to be a common theme for UE-V; the product ships ready for a new Windows version but misses the matching Office version so. If you want to use UE-V for Office 2016, you can head over to the TechNet Gallery and download the official Microsoft .xml templates for it from https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Authored-Office-2016-32-0dc05cd8.

Aside from MDOP, Microsoft EMET is being updated to version 5.5 which includes support for Windows 10 along with claiming to include much improved Group Policy based management of the clients. I haven’t tried this for myself yet as the product is still in beta but I will be giving it a try soon and I will be sure to post anything I find that can help improve the management position of it.

As a throw-in note, If you are using System Center Endpoint Protection for anti-virus then you might want to have a read of this post by System Center Dudes at http://www.systemcenterdudes.com/sccm-2012-windows-10-endpoint-protection/, which explains the behaviour of Endpoint Protection in Windows 10.

Xbox One Streaming with Windows 10

This week, I decided to give Xbox One Streaming for Windows 10 a try and thought I would just briefly post up my experiences.

First off, I cannot speak highly enough of how well it works. Due to not getting around to installing extra Ethernet ports in my living room, I have only one port which gets used by the Plex Home Theatre PC so the Xbox One right now is wireless on my 802.11n network. I tested the streaming in a number of different scenarios including laptop and Xbox One both wireless connected to the same access point, laptop and Xbox One both wireless but with the laptop in a different part of the house on a different access point and also the Xbox One wireless with the laptop connected to a switch port.

In all scenarios, it worked flawlessly and using the little menu button in the toolbar on the app, you can bring up a bandwidth meter which appears in the bottom left corner of the stream. Over wireless I’ve seen it streaming up to about 6Mbps although I haven’t been watching this extensively so it could be going even higher. Right now I’m playing Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag which was free on Games on Gold this month in July and even a fast paced high motion game like Assassin’s Creed, I’m not seeing any negative effects compared to being locally on the console in terms of input controls.

Streaming Assassins Creed Black IV Flag

Currently, the only way to use the Xbox One controller is via a Micro USB cable. Microsoft do have an adapter in the works but there is no news on when this is going to ship right now. When the adapter does ship it means you will be able to connect your controller wirelessly to your Windows 10 PC however I personally don’t like the physical look of this adapter based on the images released thus far as it looks pretty darn big and I would have much preferred to see something a bit more sleek and minimalist like the nano receivers we see for mice and keyboards.

The problem with the current scenario and the future one though is that it all hinges on having a USB port available. One of the great potentials with the Xbox One streaming in Windows 10 was the ability to use a low-end specification, cheap and cheerful Windows 10 tablet like a HP Stream (for example) and play your Xbox anywhere in the house however the requirement for a USB port means that actually a lot of tablets are out of favour because they are too thin to incorporate a USB port into their design. I’m really hoping that Microsoft come up with a solution to this – perhaps a Bluetooth to Xbox One controller bridge as most of these small tablets have Bluetooth so it’s an ideal protocol to use and has no physical port requirements on the tablet then.

I have found one flaw with the experience I should point out. It’s only a minor thing and truth be told, I’m not even sure this is a console related issue which is why I didn’t mention it above but a game specific issue. If I am playing the game on the console locally and then I later come back to it with my USB connected controller and streaming, the controller operates the console no problems, the start screen and menus however the game, Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag doesn’t acknowledge that a controller is connected and sticks at the reconnect a controller page. This is obviously something to do with switching between a local controller and a streaming attached controller mid-session.

To work around the problem, hit the Xbox button on the controller to return to the home screen. With the large game tile selected, press the menu button on the controller, the button with the hamburger menu three lines just above the right thumb stick and select the Quit option from the menu. This completely closes the game or app that is active. After doing this, I can re-launch the game and the controller is detected no problems.

 

Windows 10 Build 10122

As we know, I’ve been running the Windows 10 Technical Previews on my daily driver laptop, a Dell Latitude E7440 provided by work since the first builds and there have been moments of greatness as well as moments of sadness.

The defining moment of sadness came with Build 10049 when the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client ceased to work due to stack changes Microsoft were making to the networking. It’s understandable that changes like this would occur but it was an inconvenience too. I resorted to enabling the Hyper-V role on my laptop and running a Windows 8.1 virtual machine so that I could get to my corporate resources.

I reached out to Cisco on Twitter at the time and they responded that they were aware of the issue and they were working with Microsoft on it. Fast forward to present time and I installed the update to move to Build 10122 last night at home after Windows Update prompted me that the update was available for download whilst in the office yesterday.

Cisco got back in touch with me last night with the following response.

The fact that Build 10122 allows VPN clients to function against is obviously positive news but I wasn’t going to build a-fresh with an unofficial .iso built from the .esd file download in part because I don’t want to have to reinstall and re-configure all my applications but also because there are threads circulating online that Windows 10 will fail to activate if it was built using an unofficial media.

You can probably therefore imagine my surprise when after doing the upgrade, I found that the Cisco AnyConnect client in fact was actually working and I responded to Cisco accordingly.

Given that their initial statement was that this would require a fresh install to work, I have no doubt that I could be in an edge case and that some people may still find this to be now working however I want to point out that I hacked or modified nothing to make this work. I didn’t previously have AnyConnect installed due to it not working so this was a clean install of the AnyConnect 3.1.05182 client package.

Although this post largely centres on my relief that VPN is now working, I am having an issue with Cortana right now where she doesn’t want to acknowledge the UK as a functioning region even though I have all the relevant language and speech packs for en-GB installed. Working from home today, when I connected my laptop to my Lenovo USB 3.0 Dock, I also found that ports on the dock weren’t detected the first time around. I had to connect and disconnect a couple of times before the Ethernet and DisplayPort connections for my screens were detected but it is all working okay now.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with Build 10122 thus far and it seems like we are slowly working towards a solid build for RTM. If only the same could be said for the current crop of Windows 10 Phone builds.

Mail Calendar and People Apps in Windows 10 Build 10049

In previous builds of Windows 10, there was a known issue with the default Mail, Calendar and People apps which caused them to become corrupted and you had to use PowerShell to resolve the issue by removing the old app instances and re-installing them from the Windows 8.1 Store. My PC downloaded Build 10049 overnight and this build seems to have the same issue however the catch appears to be that if you follow the old instructions that it doesn’t work off the bat and you have to repeat the process as suggested on the thread http://blogs.windows.com/bloggingwindows/2015/03/30/windows-10-technical-preview-build-10049-now-available/.

First, open a PowerShell prompt with the Run As Administrator option. Once launched, enter the following code.

Get-AppxProvisionedPackage -Online | Where-Object {$_.PackageName -Like "*WindowsCommunicationApps*"} | Remove-AppxProvisionedPackage -Online

Once you have completed this, restart the PC. With the restart complete, open the Administrative PowerShell prompt and re-enter the same command again. I had to do this twice in the end so just hit the up arrow to re-use the command and hit enter to run it twice.

Once you have done this, open the Windows 8.1 Store using the green tiled Store app, not the Windows 10 Store with the grey tiled Store (Beta) app. In the store, search for Mail and install the Mail, Calendar and People app collection.

If the installation fails, try restarting and re-running the PowerShell command above as it will work eventually.

Once the apps are installed, looking at your Start Menu, you may see them appear corrupted still, showing the odd looking app names. If this is the case, unpin them from your Start Menu by right-clicking on the tiles and select the Unpin from Start option and then re-pin them to the Start Menu by right-clicking the odd looking app name from the All Apps list and select the Pin to Start option. Once you re-pin the apps, they should change to show the correct app name and launching the apps should now work.

Microsoft are reporting working on fixing the issue to prevent the corruption of these apps in future builds but for the time being, it looks like removing the apps just once that worked in previous builds isn’t enough.

Intel HD Graphics Update for Windows 10 Technical Preview

Today is a good news day for Windows 10 Technical Preview users. I’ve been using the Technical Preview on my Dell Latitude E7440 laptop since it’s release and since upgrading to build 9926, I’ve been having a lot of problems with blue screens of death on startup. So much so, that from a cold boot it normally takes me four BSODs to get logged in and working so my laptop normally only ever goes to sleep to avoid the cold boots.

The problem is caused by the Intel HD Graphics driver which I’ve confirmed for myself using WinDbg to analyze the crash dumps for many of these issues. Today, it looks like my luck is in.

Windows 10 Technical Preview Intel HD Graphics Update

Delivered via Windows Update, I’ve got two new drivers waiting for me, one for the Realtek audio driver and another for the Intel HD Graphics driver. I’m installing it as you read this post but fingers crossed it is going to resolve these issues with the Windows 8.1 driver running under Windows 10.

Free Fitbit Flex with Windows Phone Purchases

If you’re in the market for both a new smartphone and a fitness aid this year, Windows Phone could defiantly be your friend.

Microsoft UK are currently running a promotion that started on January 12th 2015 and runs until March 31st 2015. If you purchase either Microsoft Lumia 735, 830 or 930 between these dates from one of the eligible retailers (almost all UK high street and network outlets are listed) then you can claim a free Fitbit Flex fitness activity and sleep tracking device.

To find out more information about the detail then visit http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/mobile/campaign-fitbit/. If you want to skip straight to claiming your Fitbit device or want to know if your device is eligible then download the Fitbit Gift app from the Windows Phone Store at http://www.windowsphone.com/en-gb/store/app/fitbit-gift/ee34cfd1-e302-4820-a3cc-0d4e349ccf6a.

I’m a Fitbit user so I like the idea of this promotion but I equally struggle to see it: Microsoft are now in the fitness and activity and sleep tracking business with the Microsoft Band but as we know, this isn’t available in the UK right now. I have to question whether this promotion would instead be against the Microsoft Band if it was available here. Given that the Flex retails for £60 and the Microsoft Band is $200 in the US, I can’t imagine it would be a free promotion like they have on the Flex but I think it would likely be a discount code for £50 off the price of a Microsoft Band.

Fingers crossed the Microsoft Band makes its was UK-side via official channels one day soon and the promotion will flip on it’s head. Don’t forget that all Windows Phone 8.1 devices are going to be eligible for Windows 10 upgrades once the new OS ships too.