Category Archives: Windows Server

How to Find Your OfficeWriter License Keys

First Things First: What do we have, and where is it?

If you’ve ever gone through a licensing review or license audit, you know that sometimes the hardest part of the whole process is information gathering. What keys do you have? Where are they installed? What is still under support, and what is not? Are we overpaying or over-provisioned? These questions and more can drive a sysadmin to insanity, especially if your records are less than perfect.

While no method can substitute for proper record keeping, I’m here to show you how to find any OfficeWriter product keys that may be installed on your servers. Basically, what I am looking to do is get a list of license keys, versions, and where they are.


SoftArtisans stores all of its license keys in HKCR:\Licenses\Softartisans. We could manually open RegEdit on all our machines and find the keys, then copy them out into an Excel spreadsheet, but that would take WAY too long, even for my development environment.

Before we begin scripting, I first got a list of all the machines I wanted to check. Continue reading How to Find Your OfficeWriter License Keys

Windows Azure and OfficeWriter

Windows Azure and OfficeWriterWe’re taking OfficeWriter to the cloud. In these videos you’ll see how OfficeWriter runs on Windows Azure. Taking our exisiting OfficeWriter web sample projects, Andrew Brust from Blue Badge Insights made them run on the Windows Azure cloud platform.

In these videos you will:

  • Learn how OfficeWriter web samples were put on the cloud
  • Learn how the runtime environment for the Windows Azure samples compares to the ASP.NET samples
  • Have access to the OfficeWriter web samples

Windows 8, iPad Minis, & Nintendo, Oh My: What to Buy This Holiday Season

I took last Friday off to watch my son and hit the local Best Buy since we had some time to kill before picking up my daughter from school.

With the latest Windows 8 release I was hoping to check out a couple of the new touch screen devices. I don’t recall the exact models, but I looked at an Acer RT tablet, Lenovo Ultrabook/Tablet Convertible, and a Dell All-In-One desktop. I have to say after using Windows 8 on my Lenovo x220 for a month, I’m really missing not having a touch screen interface. After playing around with each of the devices, I found the Windows 8 UI to be fluid and responsive irrespective of device. Windows 8 gestures all worked as advertised. Application launched and closed in several seconds. I launched Excel on the Acer RT tablet and sure enough it dropped me to the desktop interface, where I saw the common matrix of empty cells. I even typed in a few numbers and ran the simple SUM function. The on-screen keyboard worked well enough for this task. Office on the desktop ruins the RT experience, they will probably eventually port it or a subset of it to a Windows 8 app, but the fact that it can run on an RT tablet should satisfy business users who depend on Office. Overall, I’m impressed with the few pieces of Windows 8 hardware I used.

I was also hoping to see the newer iPad Mini and thinner iMac for comparison, Continue reading Windows 8, iPad Minis, & Nintendo, Oh My: What to Buy This Holiday Season

Windows 8 in Review: The Good, the Bad, and What You Need to Know

Windows 8 TabletI’ve been using the RTM enterprise version Windows 8 on my work laptop and workstation for about a week now and these are some of my initial impressions of it.

The Good

Some of my better experiences…

It’s fast. It’s as fast, if not faster, than Windows 7. On a Dell Precision T3400 and ThinkPad x220, the experience is snappy.

It’s beautiful. Minimalist metro style, live titles, square edges in metro and desktop mode, and sleek background artwork will really catch your eye.

Keyboard shortcuts. There is basically a Winkey shortcut for almost everything. The Windows 8 secrets book has a full list in the appendix or you can visit Paul Thurrott’s Super Site for Windows for a quick guide on Windows key shortcuts.

Search. Press the Winkey and start typing. Find stuff. Enough said.

My kids could use it. I spent about 30 minutes last night reviewing metro interface with my 9-year-old. After explaining the screen gestures, she was able to download and play a couple of free metro games.


The Bad

These may be nit-picky, but I demand perfection…

No search with the Windows store.  You have to use Start Search and filter on the store to see results. This is kind of annoying.

No Hyper-V client support for my workstation. You need SLAT or second level address translation support on your processor for client side Hyper-V. This is an optional requirement for server so why not on the client. I will gladly forgo VM memory optimizations to ditch VMware workstation.  You can check if your processor is SLAT compatible by following this helpful blog post on How-to Geek.

Metro is designed for a touch experience. Not an earth shattering realization, but Continue reading Windows 8 in Review: The Good, the Bad, and What You Need to Know

What’s New In Office 15

Photo Credit:


Microsoft is pushing to make Office more of a service. In their ideal world everyone would be using Office 365 and there would be no on-premises environments. Since Office will be more of a service Microsoft is providing a few updates.

Better Experience Across Devices

Microsoft is putting emphasis on having your Office experience be very similar across different platforms and devices. With a push toward Office being more of a service, they realize you may be accessing Office from tablets, desktops, mobile phones or web browsers. Keeping this in mind, they have put a lot of work into improving the user experience.

  • SharePoint has better support for iPads and other mobile devices and is focused more on using standards such as HTML5 and removing non-cross-system/browser technologies such as ActiveX, Flash and Silverlight.
  • Office interfaces have been revamped with better support for touch interfaces. If you are using an office application in touch mode, then menus will appear the same, but the spacing will change to better support touch.
  • Settings can sync to the cloud to make your user experience easier. For example, if you are on page 40 of a 100 page word document and you switch from your desktop to the web, it will reopen at page 40.
  • Application Streaming – Office can be running in only a few minutes.

What is new in Word and Excel


Microsoft’s attempt to unify the experience across platforms brings up an interesting area of development. What can you write that will run in a web browser, on a desktop client and a mobile phone? The answer is not VBA macros or VSTO add-ins. Microsoft has introduced a new platform of development code-named Agave. You can think of an Agave as an IFRAME which can be embedded right into your document. Microsoft exposes an API through which your Agave can communicate with Office.

For Word and Excel it looks like there will be only two types of Agaves: Task Pane Agave and In-Document Agave.

  • Word will support only the Task Pane Agave.
  • Excel will support both the Task Pane Agave and the In-Document Agave.

Examples of Outlook Agaves:

  • Displaying a map when an e-mail contains an address
  • Displaying the Yelp review when someone talks about a restaurant
  • Auto-populating a new appointment window when someone suggests a meeting time
  • Quick link to bug tracker based on bug numbers

Keep in Mind:

  • Agaves only run at a document level, and are distributed with the document.
  • In order to use Agaves in Outlook, Exchange 15 is required on the server.

SharePoint _API

The big think in SharePoint 15 from a developer’s standpoint is _API. SharePoint now exposes much of the SharePoint API through REST services, such as

SharePoint Apps

The SP15 Technical Preview Managed Object Model Software Development kit includes a bunch of changes that indicate app support (SPApp, SPAppInstance, SPAppCatalog etc).

Items to Note:

  • Ribbon is minimized by default (toggle with a pin icon)
  • Outlook has metro-style nav at the bottom
  • Outlook switched “contacts” to “people”
  • You can share documents online using Windows Live

Unshackled Microsoft Declares War

[Image via Business Insider]

Microsoft Build was touted as the most important Microsoft developer conference since 1995. Believe that hype – Microsoft is alive again, unshackled by the DOJ Consent Decree that expired in May 2011. Windows 8 is only the beginning of a multi-front war Microsoft will engage in across the entire software industry.

A smiling, upbeat Steve Sinofsky portrayed a positive message throughout the overly long keynote, but the undertone was more Churchillian:

“We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in tablets, we shall fight on phones and servers, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the cloud, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the social networks, we shall fight on the desktops, we shall fight in the browsers and in the developer communities, we shall fight with interns; we shall never surrender.”

The breadth of Microsoft’s ambition is refreshing and revitalizing. The scale of Windows 8– from phones to enormous servers–is just the beginning. Microsoft’s subtle agenda is a seamless integration with the cloud. This leverages Microsoft’s strengths of being one of the very rare companies capable of making an end-to-end experience from client to corporate server to cloud under a single set of APIs, management tools and security policies. Microsoft knows and understands that integration has always been and will continue to be the key to leveraging their platform. Corporate customers have the money and desire for this integration, rather than a hodgepodge of iPads, third party security apps and inconsistent tools.

Chris Jones presented the LiveID integration. I met Chris back in 1997 at the private developer launch of IE3. IE3 was the first version of IE that was finally superior to Netscape Navigator, both in execution and extensibility. It’s exciting to see a veteran come back to attack another Silicon Valley competitor. Competition is good for the industry and the economy in general.

Let the war begin!

Windows Server 2008 R2 domain controller: Fixing SceCli Event 1202

When running IIS, SQL Server, or SharePoint on a Windows Server 2008 R2 domain controller, you may encounter this error:

Application Event
Event ID: 1202
Source: SceCli
Security Policies were propagated with warning. 0x534 : No mapping between account names and security IDs was done.

I ran into this error when building a virtual machine to run a self contained SharePoint environment, which required that the VM also be a domain controller. This event will show up repeatedly every few minutes in the application event log. The error occurs because the domain controller doesn’t have a concept of “local” accounts and doesn’t know how to resolve some account names that are added by IIS and SQL Server to the domain controller security policy. Microsoft has released a hotfix 977695 to resolve the issue. Continue reading Windows Server 2008 R2 domain controller: Fixing SceCli Event 1202

Configuring SSL Bindings Directly for Http.sys

I ran into an issue today with how the IIS 7.0 admin GUI deals with SSL certificates when assigning bindings to web sites. I had two websites that I was binding to the same IP address, but I was using different ports for each (including different ports for SSL). Even though I was using a different SSL port for the second website, it was telling me that my certificate was already in use by another website and that changing the setting would affect the other site. The strange thing was, I was using two completely different certificates. Why in the world would it tell me my certificate was in use on the other website, when it clearly was not? Changing the SSL settings on one site would end up deleting the settings on the other site. After searching online, I found out that there are some known bugs with how the admin GUI deals with bindings and SSL in general. By settings the bindings on the command line, I was able to work around the issue.

Below are some useful command line commands that can assist in creating SSL bindings manually.

To list SSL certificates in use, with their bindings: Continue reading Configuring SSL Bindings Directly for Http.sys

Running ASP.NET 1.1 on Windows Server 2008 R2

Although this configuration works on Windows Server 2008 R2, it is unsupported by Microsoft. Use at your own risk.

Use these steps to install ASP.NET 1.1 on either Windows Server 2008 x64 SP2, or Windows Server 2008 R2.

Short version:

  1. Follow all of the steps in How to install ASP.NET 1.1 with IIS7 on Vista and Windows 2008
  2. Then implement this workaround for an acknowledged bug: Workaround: Running ASP.NET 1.1 on Vista SP2/WS08 SP2

My summary:

  1. Ensure that the “IIS Metabase Compatibility” Role Feature is installed in IIS
  2. Download and install:
  3. Make sure ASP.NET 1.1 is enabled under ISAPI and CGI Restrictions
    • In my experience, this has already been enabled after installation
  4. Add this IgnoreSection handler to the <configSections> element on the .NET 1.1 machine.config, located in %windir%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v1.1.4322\CONFIG

Where Did My Server’s Disk Space Go?

Every server administrator, at one time or another, has probably built a server image with a small primary partition housing the operating system/ possibly applications (raises hand)  and in hindsight wishes they hadn’t.

With the prevalence of virtual machines now in many IT environments, it is a lot easier to expand the disk either if you get into trouble, but chances are you still have a few physical servers left in your environment (domain controllers, backup servers, etc). So what do you do when you start to see that low disk warning?

Short term solutions for freeing up space
  • Run a disk cleanup
  • Compress large folders (check the contents before attempting this)
  • Remove $folders under the %systemroot&:\windows dir – typically these folders are uninstallers for updates/patches
  • Remove unneeded logs files – search for text files with a .log extension.
  • Remove everything from the download folder located @ %systemroot%\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download – this is the temp location where patches are extracted to.
  • Run Windirstat