Friday, December 30, 2005

Windows Desktop Deployment Resource Kit

As readers of this blog will know, I've done a lot of desktop deployment training over the past few years. I've presented the TechNet Deployment Assistance Program (DAP) Workshops and conducted training for MS Partners in the Business Desktop Deployment Solution Accelerator (BDD SA). And from January, I'll be doing BDD 2.5 training here in the UK. One constant request I've heard was for more guidance on the whole deployment story.

There's a lot to deploying Windows and applications in any sort of consistent and repeatable way to virtually any size organisation! Those of you who have mastered this subject will have done so by a combination of a lot of Google searching, plenty of playing about, and making loads of mistakes! The information on how to do this is "out there", but I know I've found it less than easy to put it all together.

I've just received a copy of Jerry Honeycutt's Microsoft Windows Desktop Deployment Kit thanks to those very nice people at MS Press (and for organising the copy, thanks especially to Martin Del Re - one of the best men I've ever worked for). This is an excellent book!! If you are deploying, or planning to deploy, a Windows platform to your organisation you should buy a copy - and maybe even one for each person on the project!

The Book covers planning, configuring, distributing and managing the deployment - and comes with some tools on an attached CD. Each chapter comes with good technical detail plus great practical tips and tricks. And by organising the book around the deployment cycle, it is a useful reference manual throughout the deployment life cycle.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Speeding up MSH Load time (redux)

Last summer I posted some directions on now to speed up the load time for MSH. As I reported, B2 setup does not generate native code for the MSH assemblies, resulting is a performace hit when MSH starts up. Directions for doing fixing this given in my earlier post need changed slightly if you are using the .NET Framework CLR V2.0. The (now) correct command to run is:

C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\NGEN install "c:\Program Files\Microsoft Command Shell\msh.exe"

Run this comannd after you have MSH all installed and running - and start up is a LOT snappier. The lack of the setup not doing an ngen is known and is meant to be fixed for RTM.

Friday, December 23, 2005

I've been a bit busy

It's been a very hectic December. I finished off the UK DAP tour, and spent a week in Copenhagen doing the TTT for the Desktop Deployment Planning Service training we'll be offering in the new year. I've got a bunch of things I've meant to blog about, so over the coming days, these will get posted!

Scripting with the Microsoft Shell

Microsoft has launched a Script Center page for MSH. Scripting with the Microsoft Shell page brings all the magic of The Scripting Guys to the Monad fold! Bookmark this page!


The EULAlyzer is a tool that examines EULA (End Userm License Agreements) and provides a detailed listing of possibly interesting words and phrases. The idea is that it can help you to determine if the software you're about to install displays pop-up ads, transmits personally identifiable information, uses unique identifiers to track you, etc.

There are two versions of EULAlyzer - a free version and a pro (non-free). The free version os a 1.7mb download. The Pro version adds some features such as EULA-Watch (detects most license agreements at install) and costs US$19.95. The Pro version also claims to provide happiness (but the small print does state: Note: Happiness is possible because of the extremely lovable nature of Otto the Owl, your EULA-Watch protector who sits in the system tray. However, happiness is not guaranteed. (Although we'd like to think that he'll bring a smile to any person's face!). And here I thought you just needed a penguin to provide happiness!

Friday, December 02, 2005

No Vista Beta 2 in 2005 - ZDNet UK News

According to ZD news, Microsoft has slipped Vista Beta 2 well into 2006. Additionally, having issued just one CTP (and having cancelled a 2nd allegedly due to poor quality) MS is apparently chopping the CTPs totally. I find this a shame as CTPs were a good idea to show progress.

At the same time, MS is still sticking to their plans for Vista's RTM by next summer. Details on how they will achieve this remain unclear. Earlier rumours were that a RC would be skipped but I've see nothing to indicate that this is actually the case.

In MSF, we have what some refer to as the iron triangle - this balances features, timescales and cost. Given the current schedule slips, the iron triangle suggests that if you want to keep to timescales, you have to either drop features or increase costs. MS seem to be trying to keep timescales, reduce cost (or not increas it) yet still keep all the features. Something has to give.

By slipping B2 to the new year, MS is putting real pressure on the team to hold end-dates. And without either removing more features, I can't see how they can do it. I don't see how putting more resources in now would do any good. The only alternative is to ship a buggy product, which would be a great plan.

We live in interesting times.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Technet Deployment Assistance Workshops

I am currently engaged in a small UK TechNet Roadshow tour - doing 4 of these in Manchester, London, Edinburgh and Birmingham. The first two events (Manchester and London) have already run - Edinburgh is next week and Birmmingham is in December. I think there's still room on both events so come along if you can.

The event is divided into two days. The first day is primarily around deployment of the XP platform, while day 2 is around deploying applications. Since attendees can go on one or both days, I'm doing some platform discussion on day 2 and some application discussion on day 1 to cater for those who come for only one day. There's a huge range of things to cover around unattended build and deployment, application compatibility, group policy, deployment of Office itself, application packaging. There's a week's worth of material, jammed into two days - and despite the title of the event, I do all the work, while the delegates listen and learn.

To support this event, I have uploaded some DAP related content to my website. There are slides from past events, but the soft copy of the curreent slides are not there yet. Mainly because they are too big (over 100MB zipped). I'm working on a solution - I'll post more details here when I've found a work around.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Passed 74-139!!!

I've just taken, and passed, the 74-139 exam. Woo-Hoo!! The exam itself was straightforward enough - basically it required you to know the Business Desktop Deployment Accelerator Standard Edition. The exam probed for understanding of the adapted MSF methodology, knowledge of how BDD SA installs (i.e. what goes where), some experience with the tools involved (including WinPE) and some practice with BDD .

This was the first Partner Competency exams I've taken. The idea, of these exams, says Microsoft, is to "validate that individuals in a partner environment are efficient and capable of deploying multifaceted IT solutions to their customer with skills across multiple Microsoft products and technologies. Interestingly enough it would appear that although charged the same, these exams do "not qualify an individual as a Microsoft Certified Professional. Shame really - somehow the concepts of MCP and Partner competency seem to overlap greatly.

So partner competency exams are here. And this is a good thing, it's a way of demonstrating competency. I'm looking forward to seeing more of these exams. I'd just like some more joined up thinking from Microsoft around the exams.

Windows "Monad" Shell Beta 2 Documentation Pack

If you want to learn more about Monad, why not take a look at the Windows "Monad" Shell Beta 2 Documentation Pack. It's got up a good getting started guide (80 pages!), plus the HOLs from PDC. Very useful!

Windows "Monad" Shell Beta 2 Documentation Pack

If you want to learn more about Monad, why not take a look at the Windows "Monad" Shell Beta 2 Documentation Pack. It's got up a good getting started guide (80 pages!), plus the HOLs from PDC. Very useful!

MFC applications leak GDI objects on computers that are running Windows XP

After re-installing XP on my Laptop (due to a disk crash), I got bit by this bug in XP SP2 again. I still can't quite work out why, when this bug was fixed in XP SP1, it was both re-introduced with SP2 and is a 'request only' fix. Just like the fix for the bug in Virtual PC that I described earlier, you have to in effect, pay just to talk to some one to resolve the issue. I got hit again by this latter bug - standing on stage, presenting a workship for Microsoft and being unable to do anything but reboot and hope for the best.

Of course, if the fix is for a bug, MS is supposed refund the money. But I resent the need to pay for a support call around a documented Microsoft bug. I also don't feel good about being forced to take the risk that MS really IS going to refund the money as well.

Anyway, I need these fixes, so I bit the bullet, and called MS Support. It took just over 1.5 minutes to navigate through the ear candy and the phone menu to reach someone. Unfortunately, the first words out of her mouth were "our systems are updating and we can not create a call - please call back later".

I don't care about their system issues, I just want the hot fixes. MS care abour "CPE" - Customer/Partner Experience - well today, they've scored a big fat zero and I look forward to having a survey to fill out awarding them that score. I've got Windows XP SP2 loaded, and I am getting hit by two known and documented bugs which MS is making it hard to resolve - this is not a good way to increase CPE.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

More on Monad with RTM .NET Framework

In a recent blog post, I pointed out that you can now run an updated version of Monad on the RTM version of the .NET Framework. The de-install and re-install is flawless - and aside from the size of the Framework download, it's pretty quick. However, the first time execution of Monad generates a tonne of errors, due to the new code-signing policy. IMHO, this is a setup bug - and while I can live with it - it sure is ugly!

Virtual PC 2004 and any virtual machines may stop responding after the computer resumes from hibernation

As a heavy VPC user on my laptop, I've seen the problem with VPC not responding after the laptop resumes from hibernation. And there's a KB fix: Virtual PC 2004 and any virtual machines may stop responding after the computer resumes from hibernation is the KB article.

Unfortunatly this appears, at first sight, to not be a free update. In order to get the fix, it appears that you have to agree to pay £35 (plus VAT) before you can even DESCRIBE the problem to Microsoft. While I appreciate MS's need for extra income, this is poor: a known bug, a known fix, and I still have to pay just to get it? Sure, the fee should be refundable - but why should I have to pay up front (and trust Microsoft later to refund my fee)??

Virtual PC 2004 and any virtual machines may stop responding after the computer resumes from hibernation

As a heavy VPC user on my laptop, I've seen the problem with VPC not responding after the laptop resumes from hibernation. And there's a KB fix: Virtual PC 2004 and any virtual machines may stop responding after the computer resumes from hibernation is the KB article.

Unfortunatly this appears, at first sight, to not be a free update. In order to get the fix, it appears that you have to agree to pay £35 (plus VAT) before you can even DESCRIBE the problem to Microsoft. While I appreciate MS's need for extra income, this is poor: a known bug, a known fix, and I still have to pay just to get it? Sure, the fee should be refundable - but why should I have to pay up front (and trust Microsoft later to refund my fee)??

Monday, November 14, 2005

Netcraft: Microsoft Update Will Remove Sony DRM Rootkit

The firestorm over Sony's use of root kit technology continues with news from Microsoft (courtesy of Netcraft in this case) stating that they are going to issue updates to their Malicious Code Removal tool to detect and Remove the Sony DRM Rootkit. Good news.

I'm all for the protection of intellectual property. I make a small bit of money writing (books and for technical magazines) and am behind Sony on the broader issue of protection. Where I disagree is over how this to be achieved. And for the avoidance of doubt, , installing a root kit is simply wron. So wrong as to wonder how Sony ever could have considered it OK! Their ham-fisted attempts to 'help' users out once the news leaked reeks of corporate arrogance taken way too far. I can not understand why Sony want me to agree to being on Sony's marketing lists in order to remove a root kit they installed without my knowedge or permission.

In my view, Sony should publically apologise for this action and should take ALL possible steps to remove all the damage. If necessary, they should be required legally to be more upfront with consumers. An given the strong arm tatcics the motion picture and recording industry uses against file sharers, Sony should face similar stong penalites: the maximum fines possible and execs facing a real possibility of going to gaol.

This issue also raises the issue of the power of blogs. Mark's original article is just 2 weeks old. Last Friday evening, a Google search for "Sony Rootkit" returned 3 million or so hits. By Satuday, this had grown to over 5 million, while today it's at 9 million. A huge PR disaster to say the least. In two weeks, Sony has turned into a pretty hated company - I've thus far not seen anyone defend Sony's actions. But it's clear that, in today's world, simple technical articles like Mark's can cause a major PR firestorm. I'm willing to bet that someone at Sony (or some other associated legal firm) is burning midnight oil trying to working out if and how they can sue Mark for Sony's losses.

The sooner Sony apologise in public, the better. In my personal opinion of course!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Monad Beta 2 on .NET Framework 2.0 RTM

Microsoft has now begun shipping .NET Framework 2.0 (and Visual Studio 2005), even though the formal launch is not till Monday Nov 7th. If you want to run the RTM version of the .NET Framework (e.g. to run Visual Studio 2005 RTM) and you want the latest version of Monad, you'll need an updated version of the latter which you can download from here (for X86). If you are using X64, you can get the X64 Monad drop here.

This drop of Monad is the nearly the same as released earlier (but targetted towards an earlier version of the CLR). The only change is that the "Restricted" ExecutionPolicy is the default, which is discussed in the release notes.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

TechNet Magazine - HTML Help Download

The latest version of TechNet Magazine (November/December 2005) is now available on the web. HELPfully, MS has also made and HTML Help version avaiallble for download. I wrote an article on Monad which is published in this edition.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Joint Status Report on Microsoft's Compliance with the Final Judgments : U.S. v. Microsoft Corporation

For any company, to be accused and then found guilty of illegal anti-trust practices has to be hard. The Microsoft anti-trust case must be particularly hard. I've seen first hand some of the issues raised by the consent decree issued 4 years ago. And I continue to feel that MS has been a bit hard done by.

The anti-trust case has been going on for a long time. And that makes the recently published Joint Status Report on Microsoft's Compliance with the Final Judgments : U.S. v. Microsoft Corporation interesting reading. It's very clear that Microsoft is doing a significant amount of work to comply with the judgement. Reading the progress report, I can't help feeling MS is doing a great job and taking it hard on the chin. Documenting the network protocols is a really hard job. I've done thousands of hours of Netmon tracing and analysis to contribute to my TCP/IP book efforts and I've written enough technical documentation on network protocols to know just how hard this is! The status report gives some praise where's it's rightly deserved.

The most interesting part, for me, is the discussion of Project Troika. The consent decree "... calls on Microsoft to create a series of Network Monitor (or "NetMON") protocol parsers and to use these parsers in conjunction with other proprietary components to compare the information in the documentation against actual client-server network traffic." This sounds at first sight like Netmon+++ and I'd love it! Please, please, please?!?!?!

Unfortunately, Troika has proved to be somewhat difficult to deliver. As the progress report says at the time Microsoft agreed to the Troika project, nothing like it had ever been undertaken. Quite frankly, Microsoft did not fully appreciate the scale, complexity, cost, and duration of the project. Further, Microsoft overestimated the capability of existing technologies to meet the requirements of the effort. This is unfortuante. but I can certainly understand the difficulties involved.

I'm sure Troika is going to be of great benefit to all us die-hard Netmon fans. FWIW: I want Troika!! Whenever it comes! And if anyone at MS is reading this, can I get onto the beta?? Like now??

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

MS Releases Details of New Certs

Thanks for my good friend Lorenzo Barbieri, I see that Microsoft has at long last released details of the new certifications. See

In the FAQ, you can see that MS have taken trouble to avoid actually saying that the current certs are dead, have no life and are now just being swept away. While you'll still be an MCSD, etc - those certs are no longer much use, since MS will be evangelising the new certs vs the older ones.

[sent from the train!]

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Monad and the command console

One of the things many old command line junkies got used to (in the MS environment anyway) was the CON: pseudo-file. Doing a "Copy CON: " is a common action in cmd.exe (and which most admins will have used at one time or another. Monad however, does not implement these CON: pseudo file. To get around that, based on a newsgroup post from "/\\/\\o\\/\\/", I've written a sample script (CopyfromConsole.msh) which I've added up on my Monad Sample Scripts page.

The script also defines an alias (copycon), and you can add both to your profile.msh. This script does wimp out a bit, and uses out-file to prompt for the output file name should you forget it. I should do a better job of prompting - maybe in Version 2!

Firefox hits 100m

I use Firefox as my default browser. I have an addin that places a counter at the bottom of my browser window that counts the number of copies of FireFox downloaded to date. Well a few minutes ago, the count hit the ONE HUNDRED MILLIONmark!!

Microsoft's Business Desktop Deployment Solution accelerator

The full name is a mouthful, I prefer MS BDD SA, or just BDD 2.5. Whatever you call it, it's cool technology! The idea behind BDD is to simplify the deployment of the business desktop through the use of automation and tools. BDD comes in two flavours: a "lite touch" approach based around disk imaging tools such as Ghost and a "zero touch" with deployment via SMS's OS Deployment Feature pack, and including monitoring via MOM. Zero Touch Installation (ZTI) can also lead to Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP), which adds a self service Share Point Portal site where users can request provisioning services (e.g. be added to a group, request an application, etc. ZTP delivers the request by using Biztalk and Exchange. NB: There are some AD requirements too! ZTP uses pretty much the entire Microsoft product set in a compelling way. But in order to deliver ZTP, you have to deliver ZTI first.

BDD 2.5 is a minor upgrade in terms of both the product and the training. If you know BDD 2.0, you'd be very familiar with BDD 2.5. There is updated documentation, of course, and by the bucket load - IIRC, the full print out set runs to around 1000 pages! The BDD process model is updated with a new Feature Team, and more guidance around the centre - the updated process wheel is updated, but familiar. The training is slicker, with most of the FGO (firm grasp of the obvious) fluff removed. The course offered in Europe is a combined 4 day technical/management/sales course, with 3 days of labs and a day of other stuff. The labs are based on the scenario, but improved and extended to cover both MOM monitoring and a working example of ZTP. The course discusses both lite and zero touch - thus there are no longer separate courses and you get to do labs on both approaches. As an aside, the labs are tough and long, and as at BDD 2.0, there is a premium to both accurate typing and doing all the steps in the correct order. As I discovered!

Another new thing with BDD 2.5 is the partner competency exam, 73-139. Known more fully as Deploying Business Desktops with Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Office 2003, the exam coves the lite touch stuff only. See the MSL site for an exam syllabus.

If you are a MS partner who has attended this training before, there is still some value from attending the new course - if only to get some hands on with MOM and Zero Touch. If you are a MS partner who has not seen this stuff - get yourself booked onto this as soon as slots open.

My understanding is that MS will start to run courses in earnest by the end of this year, with full scale rollout starting in January. The training to be offered here in the UK will be an instructor led, 3 day technical session for technical staff, supplemented by additional training for sales and business management. I am hoping we can also offer this to the wider customer base, as it's a LOT of fun and uses an awful lot of the technology - some I'm not as familiar with as I'd like!!

A note for MCTs and MVPs: traditionally, the BDD 2.0 courses were not always completely full. There have usually been open slots which we could usefully fill. If you have any interest in attending this training, then let me know by email.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Microsoft ships MCE Update

Microsoft has shipped a major software update for XP Media Center Edition 2005. Known formally as Update Rollup 2 for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, this update provides several new features:

  • Xbox 360 Extender functionality - access stuff through any Xbox 360 game console in the house.
  • Away Mode - instant on/off functionality for MCE.
  • DVD changer support - integrated support for external DVD changers allowing you to watch movies and manage DVD selections from the Media Center interface.
  • DVD-burning improvements - updates to the Sonic DVD burning engine improves the performance and capabilities of DVD burning.
  • Additional HDTV tuner support - provides support for up to four TV tuners. You can now utilise two NTSC (analog) capture boards and two ATSC (digital) capture boards.

For more information on Update Rollup 2 see the MS web site page

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Monad Information and Where to Find More

In comment to a recent blog post, Mark asked where to go for more information about Monad, particularly newsgroups. A great question! When Microsoft released Monad Beta 2, they moved the discussions from a private beta newsgroup to the public newsgroups carried on and elsewhere. Specifically, MS moved all Monad discussion to the newsgroup. You can get this group on either using NNTP from, or via Google groups.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

MS Release VHD Format

Microsoft has now released the specification of the Virtual Server and Virtual PC VHD disk formats. This includes details of how to read and modify the contained data. NB: Full access to the detailed specification is available by signing the Virtual Hard Disk Image Format Specification License Agreement.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Word to the Spammers

This is a note to the the spammers that are clogging up my mail box (to the tune of thousands of junk mails per day). I do not want sex/porn (and find most of those mails quite offensive), I do not need cheap drugs (I get my drugs free on the NHS), and I do not want a fake Rolex (I have the real thing thanks very much). And as to the stock tippers: if I were Allixon International, I would be concerned about the tips that I am getting by the bucketload - these must be against SEC regulations. The advice is simple: I will never buy products advertised this way, and will go out of my way to boycott the firms "advertising" in this way. Perhaps sending all the spam back to them will help them to get the message - and that message is simple: SPAM sucks.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Another Day Another Wiki to Edit!

I've just stumbled over The New MSWiki Site. The site is a wiki where you can add details about MS products, or point to other wikis and related information. At present there's not a great deal of content there. So why not come on over and add some!

MVP Award!!!

I'm breaking out a good bottle of wine - I've been re-awarded an MVP award - this year for "Admin Frameworks" (aka Monad). I'm as excited about this award as I've been for many years. In fact, I'm super excited!!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Google formally declares war on Microsoft

This is going to be interesting. The Inquirer reports thatGoogle formally declares war on Microsoft and is to launch free online office functionality.

If I were MS, I'd be scared about this. I can't for the life of me work out the business model Google is thinking of, or see how they'll get around the security and privacy concern. But this is a bold move - and is going to be shaking some pretty tall trees fairly hard in Redmond. And if Google can launch this before MS launch B1 of O12, it will further spike Redmond's guns.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Google and Sun tie the knot

This article on Google and Sun from is interesting. As MS continue to promise new stuff and demo early carefully crafted demos of stuff (O12, etc, etc etc), Google are delivering. If I were Microsoft, I'd be worried about this.

MSF v3.0 Resources and 70-301 exam (ex-MSF Practitioner exam)

My good friend and fellow MSF fan Lorenzo Barbieri has put together a MSF Resources page. If you are an MCT or interested in MSF - take a look!

And in an earlier post, I suggested Lorenzo was an MVP which was unfortunately inaccurate. But if and when MS get around to appointing MSF MVPs, he sure should be!

BMI - Service (not) redux

On board BD 679 ABZ-LHR. After my earlier post, the service thus far just adds to the misery. The flight is nearly empty - maybe 20 passengers total. But the catering failed to turn up, thus I can't even BUY a (stale, appalling, over priced) sandwich.

When I made my displeasure known to the flight crew, they were highly apologetic. Turns out they get 6% commission, so the lack of food also hit them. Then the SCA, Ricardo Freitas reached down and handed me a tuna salad. He was genuinely sorry about the issue, and demanded I take the salad and refused payment. His colleagues: Chrissie Juniper, Sheelie Pirie, and Beccie Fuller all gathered around and were equally nice - and I had to argue to pay for a drink. As ever on BMI, service in the air and service on the ground are worlds apart.

So while I'll probably never fly BMI again, it's refreshing to know that at least some folks understand customer service.

[in the air - again]

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

British Midland - And Why I'm NEVER flying them again

It's been a long few weeks. Two trips to the US, a suspected heart attack en route (complete with flashing red lights, paramedics, etc) and some pretty awful flights and flight connections not to mention some hard work in each continent in between. I finally got back home at midnight on Sunday. On awaking and logging on (at 11:00 on Monday), I found I had been booked on a BMI flight at 15:00 on Monday up to Aberdeen. It was a challenge to get to LHR on time, but I made it - just. Once in the air, the steward came around and offered me food/drink - and I realised that I'd not really eaten proper mean since Saturday night prior to leaving Seattle. So I ordered a sandwich and a Diet Coke (well Pepsi since BMI do not stock real Coca Cola). I was asked for £4.00 and I handed over my credit card. But this was refused since the amout was under £5.00 (although I could buy some perfume to make up the charge to over £5). Ok - so,m following a bank machine run at LHR, I handed over one of the £20 notes - but they refused it since they did not have change. So I returned the sandwich and drink and went hungry and thirsty.

So today, after a very hard bit business presentation, I arrived back to Aberdeen Airport to find that BMI would not get us on the earlier flight (even though it was 25 mintues from departure and we had only carry on). Money was not the issue - but due to "regulations" they would not rebook us since we were within 30 minutes of depature. But after asking, I was tolkd I would be admitted into the BMI lounge as as an American Airlines Platinum card holder (I even showed the clerk my card to double check). Except no one told the lounge that - and the lounge person was fairly adamant that we were not allowed in since we did not have BMI cards. We eventually paid to get in (my colleague has a card that allows him to buy our way in) but the lounged lady was about as unhelpful and hostile as you could imagine. I wonder if she's ever heard of customer service?

In the end, BMI's entire attitude just plain sucks. I'm willing to buy my food (although not all that happy!), but I need the ability to pay. I am content to buy my way in to the lounge, but I need to have expectations managed properly. I am so angry that I refuse to fly BMI again and am in the process of changing my will to ensure that should I die, my remains will not fly in a BMI aeroplane. I suspect that BMI will ignore my anger, and will just laugh and note they had my money. But never, ever, again will I fly BMI. Even dead, there are airlines better than BMI.

Updated Monad Shell Beta 2 Documentation Pack

Microsoft has posted more documentation. Go here for the Windows "Monad" Shell Beta 2 Documentation Pack

Monday, October 03, 2005

Customising Monad via Profile files

Monad, or specifically, msh.exe, implements a set of cmdlets, providers etc. These are pretty basic, but you can extend and customise Monad easily through the use of profile scripts. There are up to four profile files which are loaded when you run MSH.exe:

1. "All Users\Documents"\MSH\profile.msh
2. "All Users\Documents"\MSH\<shellid>_profile.msh
3. "My Documents"\msh\profile.msh
4. "My Documents"\msh\<shellid>_profile.msh

The "All Users documents" is dependent on where you installed the OS, specifically %SYSTEMDRIVE%\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\MSH. Likewise, "My documents" is at %USERPROFILE%\My Documents\MSH.

The <shellid> field in the 2nd and 4th profile, is a name generated by Monad to uniquely identify a specific shell. The default name, which is contained in the $Shellid variable, is "Microsoft.Management.Automation.msh". At first sight this is a little odd, but there is a logic to it. In the current builds of MSH, you have to use the make-shell command to extend monad with new cmdlets and providers. By doing so, you create a new executable (mymsh.exe for example), which would have a different name (e.g. Microsoft.Management.Automation.mymsh). This means you can have shell specific profile files - for example to provide some functions on top of custom developed cmdlets.

In the early builds of Monad, I tended to just customise the "my documents\profile.msh". But more recently, I've created my own profile (profile.tfl.msh) and I run this from within the profile.msh. That way, when I install newer versions of Monad, I don't have to worry about losing my customised settings - I just add one extra line to the default profile.msh and all my customisations are included.

One small thing about executing private scripts from within a profile.msh. Whenever you run a script, by default any variables, functions, etc created by that script are recycled when the script is completed. You can do that's called "dot-sourcing" to enable the customisations in our private profile script to be added to your current context. Whenever you run a script and start the line with a dot (followed by a space), the results of the script are added to your current scope. Thus typing "profile.tfl.msh" results in no functions, variables etc being available once the script runs. But by typing ". profile.tfl.msh", my Monad customisations are available in the msh.exe shell. The four profile files noted above are all dot-sourced.

These features are some what more complex than you have in CMD.EXE (and most Unix shells). But they do provide for considerable flexibility in terms of configuring and extending MSH. They are worth playing around with.

[On The Plane - via Email]

Monad on Windows 2000

I was chatting to a fellow MVP last week about Monad (actually I chatted with a lot of MVPs about Monad, but that's another story), and he wanted to be able to run Monad on Windows 2000. His problem was that the installation did not seem to work.

The first suggestion include foot-printing the install on a supported OS, than manually installing on Win2k. This can be somewhat time-consuming unless you have the right tools. An alternative is to use the WIX tool kit, specifically dark.exe, to work out what is being installed where. Dark.exe creates an XML file that shows all the files, reg keys, etc generated by installing Monad.

But at the end of the day, this is probably a fairly pointless exercise as Windows 2000 does not have the necessary API support to enable Monad to run properly. One specific example is Monad's use of the Attachment Execution Services (added in XP SP2 and later), which Monad uses to work out where a script came, so that the signing policy can be properly enforced.

The Monad product team suggest that while parts of Monad would run, some parts are likely to either crash or not work at all. So if you want Monad (and what admin doesn't??), you'll have to move on to XP SP2 or later.

[Written on the aeroplane, sent via email]

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Updated Version of Monad coming soon

During PDC, Microsoft released Beta 2 of Monad. I documented where to get Beta 2 in a recent blog post. However, at PDC, MS also relased an updated version of the CLR - which is incompatible with Monad B2. The good news is that an updated drop of Beta 2 is appaerntently being prepared that will target the updated CLR. No idea when this version is going to be going to a general release - but I expect is going to be coming to downloads soon.

Tweakiing Microsoft Windows Vista

Although Microsoft Vista (aka Longhorn client) is at least a year away from release, there are already sites to help you tweak Vista. has hints and tips to help you tweak Vista. Of course, many of these are tweaks are not supported. But given how poorly the current version sof Vista run on my hardware, unsupported tweaks that get Vista working are most welcome.

The Tweakvista softare is donloadable from:

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Office 12, so far

I have been searching this morning for more Office 12 information and came across Niklas’ blog and a post titled "Microsoft Office 12, so far". It's a good look at the cool things coming in Office 12. I've seen some of these features demonstrated, and I like most of them, particularly the PowerPoint improvements. As in an earlier version of Office, it'll be PowerPoint that will be my killer excuse for upgrading. And while Outlook looks nice, I'm still sticking with Turnpike for now as my main mail client.

Niklas also mentions the lack of any sort of Classic mode for the UI, and his bet with a journalist friend. While I do think that most power users can get used to the lastest Office UI, I can see an initial loss of productivity, and/or the need for some training. And of course, some of the older add-ins are not going to work as nicely as they did in the current versions of Office. It remains to be seen if this initial productivity drop and loss of features is a real issue, or just another up front cost worth paying for productivity down the line.

I'm also not sure how I'll feel, once I get over the newness, about all the added eye-candy (the floating menus, ribbons changing, etc) particularly on my older and slower systems. This makes for a very cool demo, but I wonder whether this is just more flashy eye-candy that gobbles system resources, or a valuable paradigm shift delivering greater productivity. We'll see. I'm sure keeping an open mind on the overall value, even if I can not escape the view that more conservative corporates may find a Classic Mode desirable.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Really, Really - Thank you Dell^wGetronics

Further to my Dell saga - just after 9:00 a nice lady rang my mobile to say the Engineer would be there today. Half an hour later another call and I was told the engineer would be there by 5:30. Just after 1:00, the engineer, from Getronics, turned up and in 8 minutes changed the keyboard, confirmed he sees an awful lot of this sort of problem with the 'desktop replacement' type laptops, and was off.

Summary: over an hour on the phone to get a call booked, but 8 minutes to get the problem fixed. Once again Getronics guys do a really great job. Shame about Dell India.

Office 12 Makeover takes on 'feature creep'

CNET has a story about Office 12's radical makeover. Last week at PDC, MS took the wraps off the new Office 12 UI, showing it both in private and public sessions. Many of the innovations in O12 are stunning. I am already in love with PowerPoint 12. But as I was forcefully reminded today, as an MVP, I am not the 'normal' office user.

The CNET story concentrates on the new ribbon bar. The CNET story may not be clear that O12 also loses drop down menus. Thus many of the custom add-ins as well as the product itself, will work differently. It's a radical change that even MS admits is going to take users up to 2 weeks to get comfortable with the new UI. For some power users, this is going to be wonderful - there are a ton of new features that wil make my life richer!

My only question: where's the Classic UI mode? Just like there was a Word Perfect for Word mode in earlier versions of Office, and like the ability to turn XP's theme service off to look like Windows 2000? It would appear that there is no intention to have such a mode - and if so, I feel this could be a mistake. I'd like to be proven wrong and really am looking forward to being able to use stable code to find out for myself.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

No really - thanks Dell

I reported earlier my disapointing experiences with Dell's Laptop support in Europe, currently outsourced to India. Much to my surprise and with only a few minutes to go before I had to leave for the day, another supervisor from Dell actually rang back with some good news!

He started by insisting that keyboards are not covered under the warranty - at least that's how I understood what he was saying - I continue to have great difficulty hearing and understandging. However, he said that since I am such a valuable customer, and just this one time only, and never to be repeated they'll get me the keyboard tomorrow. GREAT!/p>

But then came the news that they expected me to fit it myself. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a dangerous man with a screwdriver in my hand. And as for power tools or usign tools near power, let's not even think about going there. I patiently explained that I was really not competent to do the work. After several more explanations of my utter incomptence, eventually, he relented. An engineer is ordered up (but they can't tell me when it will arrive) and a keyboard is to be delivered.

But before the call finished, the chap did his obligatory Dell customer satistaction speach. You know - Dell are going to be sending me a questionaire and he wanted me to know how important it was, blah blah, blah. Then he started asking me a bunch of satisfaction questions as an oral survey. I really fealt obliged to say whatever he wanted to hear.

So how do I really feel now? I'm sure glad the computer is going to be fixed, but it has not happened yet. That bit is good. But I sure don't feel very good about Dell as a company.

I became a Dell customer in 1988, and must have purchased 50 or more systems for my home/business/family over the years. I was at one time a Dell VAR. I've always rated their systems - and this Inspiron was no exception. Given my extensive use, keyboards tended towards needing replacing on ocassion but I can live with that. And given the importance of the laptop to my work, I am only too happy to pay for the extended warranty. If Dell has it's figures clost to right, then they are making a profit on the warranty too. Good for them - for me the extra money is trivial in comparison to the peace of mind. Dell seem to have forgotten how imporant that is to folks like me and that is a shame.

Thanks a Lot Dell

I have a Dell Inspiron Laptop. It's a couple of years old, is well used and well worn. It was bought for me by QA, my employer via a dealer (as oppsed to me direct). On Monday, the "N" key popped off and I am at home and trying to get a service call booked to get a new keyboard. I started this entry after haning on for 20 minutes.

The first hurdle is that I do now know who the dealer was that my IT group bought the laptop through - it was two years ago! The first Dell person spoke to, "Trisha", was unhelpful. Unless I knew all the details of where we bought it, they won't service it. This was odd - as it was not a problem in the past. When they replaced the keyboard for the same fault, or when they had to replace the mother board and inernal power supplies, or when they had to provide a new screen, or when they replaced the NIC.

So then I got through to an Indian chap who insisted on a PIN number. Which I've never heard of. Unless I told him the ping numer, the original order numer, or the name of the person who placed it he could not help.

I then spoke to a supervisor. He reported the same story. He also claimed that there hand been never been a service call on this computer. Which is clearly wrong. After a discussion, he offered to conference in Cusomer Care - where we could get the tag info sorted so then he could help me. It seemed a sensible move. Except he transferred me to a woman in the Home Computer department who could not help - and she forwarded me to Dell India's main help desk who then transferred me back to Ireland.

Back to the start in 40 minutes. While holding on, I used my mobile to phone our IT manager, who was quickly able to give me the name of the dealer and so I was able, 45 minutes later to start the whole thing again. The Eire Reception were happy with the name I provided, and I then settled down again to lisetn to the recorded "we are having alot calls it will take time time...." Finally, I got to an Indian tech, "Ram", who was very hard to understsand - I had to repeat everything to him 2-3 times so he could understand me, and I had to get him to repeat things too. After a few more minutes, going through the the whole thing again - he tells me keyboards are not covered under the warranty. I then got passed to his supervisor who tells me that since it's only one key that's broken, it's my problem.

I've re-explained to the supervisor what the probelm is. I've offered to send him the phone camera pix. He's ended the call with "let me call you back" which I fear is Dell speak for no further action until I call again.

So here I am - after 54 minutes on the phone, and less than two days from an international trip and my laptop is stuffed and the manufacturer refuses to honour the warranty. Dell - I hope you are listening. This is no way to treat your loyal customers. This is my 5th Dell laptop - and it looks like being the last.

A JetBlue airliner makes an emergency landing at LAX.

What a Landing! In case you are unaware aqbout what I'm on about, here's a link to the video. Amazing flying skills!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

jaMSH - an interactive shell for Monad/MSH

I just discovered this new shell for Monad. Called jaMSH, it has a bunch of features missing in MSH. These include rich and flexible command-line editing, Emacs and VI modes,session history, as well as rich completion. jaMSH also provides run-time loading of Cmdlets and Providers and offers higher configurability than MSH. Oh - and it's freeware!

Monad at PDC

Monad-MSH was well represented at the PDC with a variety of things happening. In no particular order:

Monad Mentioned in Bob Muglia's keynote - this was perhaps the key event - once a VP announces a technology, it rarely gets cancelled.

Monad Track Lounge - there were some tables, chairs, sofas, plus net access and power, in the middle of one of the huge halls, where the Monad guys (and a few others) hung out and chattted. The sofas were incredibly comfortable, and it was fantastic talking to the Jeff, Lee, Jim, Bruce, and Jeffrey - undersanding their thinking and listing to their plans. I'd like to think that there was some good feedback too! The guy behind the really cool product called SystemScripter was there showing his latest beta - hopefully he's going to produce a Monad version soon!

Monad Hands On Labs - there were three Monad HOLs. One on scripting, one on cmdlets and the last on providers. I am hoping we can get these labs published more widely - they were pretty good and I'd like to play more with the provider and cmdnlet labs here at home!

Monad and E12 Demonstrated - as I blogged during PDC, Vivek, an Exchange guy, showed me the Monad tools for Exchange 12 - WOW!! There was also great talk on the E12 APIs where more of monad was shown. This was very refreshing to see!

Jeffrey and Jim did a Monad Talk - and this too was awesome. Not sure what the scores were, but the room was fairly full. There was a rumour going around that the session was to be repeated, but sadly it did not happen.

Language Panel - Bruce took part in a dynamic languages panel, but I was unable to get to that. :-(

Ask The Experts - more hanging out with the Monad guys, eating and drinking and enjoying the company.

It was a good week for Monad!

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Funny Thing Happend at PDC

PDC this year was a blast. Some great technology (more of which in later blog posts) and a lot of fun. On particularly amusing incident occured on the Monday, I was attending a Regional Director side meeting, with around 50 RDs from around the world, being briefed on a variety of things by key MS folks. A very useful day, but I digress.

Anyway - at one of the late morning breaks, who should show up, but Miguel de Icazza, the guy behind Mono, and now a Novell Vice President. He was handing out leaflets for his Mono off-PDC session. He had offered a Birds of a Feather session, but it had rejected. So there he was, handing out Mono stuff to the RDs - perhaps MS's best independent supporters and advocates! You had to admire his cheek. But it was done with a great sense of humour.

A litte bit later, the RDs assembled for the traditional group mug shot - Miguel tried to blag his way into the photo. And he nearly got away with it. The pictures tell the rest of the story. I take my hat off to the guy!

Microsoft Desktop Deployment Planning Services

I've just had notice that Microsoft are rolling out more partner training around Desktop Deployment. They plan to offer a course, known as Desktop Deployment Planning Services (DDPS). This training is aimed at partners servicing Microsoft Select and Enterprise Agreement customers. The DDPS course, which I understand start in November, is four days long - we're running several in both Swindon and London. The first three days are self paced Hands-on-Labs drilling down into latest version (version 2.5) of the Business Desktop Deployment Solution Accelerator. This is followed by a final day providing more details of the overall deployment programme, as well as details on how to create the lab envivironment in which do demonstrate the deployment solutions to a customers.

Microsoft says the course "has been developed to train partners to successfully deliver these pre-defined service offerings to our customers. It will help partners understand the business value of upgrading and how to assess costs of migration for customers. They will see the latest tools, technologies, and best practices for deployment including the zero-touch deployment solution. They will learn to create a lab-based setting for the customers to demonstrate the solution. In addition, they will learn how to create a high-level desktop deployment plan for customers to help them upgrade to the latest version of Windows and Office.

This should be a lot of fun, as well as useful to the partners doing deployment. So if you are a MS partner elegible to attend, please book early as these are likely to get filled up fairly quickly!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Google Blog Search is released

The guys at Google have just released another cool too - Google Blog Search. It does what it says - it searches blogs. Google has also added a blog search capability to blogger. It's in "beta" now (whatever that means these days), but it seems pretty good. And it's fast

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Wireless networks could get a boost reports on a new set of wireless chips that can transfer data at a rate of up to 240 megabits a second. Even after factoring in wireles overhead this data rate is still faster than the typical home network using 100mb Ethernet.

Monad and Exchange 12

While it's a bit early to be getting overly excited about Exchange 12, I've just had a quick demo of the MSH components in E12 from Vivek, an Exchange guy. It's pretty much what you'd expect - lots and lots of cmdlets, that work like, well, they work like cmdlets! Awesome! As I said to Vivek, this could make me enthusiastic about Exchange!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Windows Vista version of ISO Recorder

ISO Recorder is a cool too that enables you to copy a CD/DVD to an ISO file, as well as to burn a CD/DVD from an ISO file. The author has now created a version for Vista, which is now available from

This is an early build with its share of issues, but it can burn DVD images. There are both 32 and 64-bit builds.

And thanks to Mark Allen for finding the error in the earlier version of this post!


I'm at PDC - attending a side meeting prior to the PDC. Really looking forward to hearing details of new stuff - Sparkle (if you believe Mary Jo) is dead cool, and we'll be getting a new build if Vista, and one that may actually run on my laptop. Of course there will be some cool MSH sessions.

But as seems all to common at large MS conferences in the US, the wireless connectivity is poor. I've been trying to get enough connectivity to send this mail for nearly 3 hours now. I've tried 4 separate wireless cards, including an Orinoco card with an external antenna - all to no avail. The good news is that there appears to be a bunch of Ethernet cables around the place.

Additionally, the reverse lookup on MS's conference gateway has not been setup - thus my ISP rejects my attempts to send mail. I tried to mail this blog entry into Blogger , but no joy Apparently this is a "security" measure. Security trumps usability yet again. :-(

Finally, and to add insult to injury, we've just lost all power in the conference room, the whole conference centre, and , parts of the city as well.

This is going to be an interesting week.

PDC - lot of new stuff coming

I've been in a largely-NDA meeting today hearing about the new things that MS are planning on revealing this week. We've hard about Office 12, Vista, as well some new technologies whose code names are still under NDA. If you are an IT Pro,or a developer, watch out for the post-keynote blog entries! There's a TON of really cool technology coming to a PC near you.

The best news thus far is that an updated Vista build is going to be handed out to PDC delegates tomorrow. I hope this one is able to be loaded and run on my laptop.

Monday, September 12, 2005

MSH Beta 2 Relased

Microsoft has just uploaded the new release to Download Center and the bits are now live! For x86 go to: and for x64:

Questions or comments to the newsgroup nntp://

Sunday, September 11, 2005

New Version of MSH Coming on Monday

To coincide with the Professional Developer's Conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft is going to be shipping a new updated version of MSH. Major new features from Beta 1 include COM Interoperability (which means you can now interact with COM directly from the command line!) plus support for script signing. More details will be available on Monday.

I've been playing with this new version for a few days and it's great, although I've not done too much with COM interop yet. I will be posting new scripts up to page.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

PDC and Monad

I'm at Heathrow, about to leave for PDC. As I'm about the board the plane, I see that MS has announced a new build of MSH to be deliverd soon, which has COM support. There will aslo be some other Monad-MSH things at PDC. If you are at PDC, watch your Commnet Desktop/Mailbox {grin}.

Well, the boarding call has come and it's time to logoff and head to the aeroplane. See you at PDC!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Vint Cerf returns to his roots at Google

In an article on reports that . Vinton Cerf, the `Father of Internet' returns to roots with new Google job.

Mr Cerf is just the most recent hires into Google. BEA Systems Chief Architect Adam Bosworth joined in last year, and in June, so did AltaVista search engine founder Louis Monier. A slew of well-respected engineers from Bell Labs, once one of the premier research labs in the country has also joined, and just last month, so did Andy Hertzfeld, one of the original Apple Macintosh developers.

At one time, Microsoft was the company that folks grew up wanting to go work for - now it looks like Google is taking that honour! It'll be interesting to see what Mr Cerf takes on at Google!

DVD-Only Distribution Planned for Exchange 12

I remember the pain of large numbers of floppy disks, and was so pleased when I could just use a CD. My first CD drive, which I bought during the NT 3.1 beta days, cost me something like £400. Today, the CD is common place. But with the sizes of applications and OSs rising, the CD is quickly becomming the floppy disk of our generation. R2, for example, requires 2 CDs, and the Longhorn/Vista beta builds are both as DVD images (No CD image). And now comees the news that Exchange 12 will be DVD only.

The message this sends to IT pros everywhere - it's time to start ensuring that all your new servers come equipped with a DVD drive.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Win Tweak Manager

Win Tweak Manager is a neat tool that helps you to tweak Windows. Fine more information here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

The hurricane has always been a drink I associate with New Orleans. I've been knocked out more than once by the drink in NOLA - as some who know me will attest to! But now New Orleans, and a large chunck of the surrouding area, has been devestated by another hurricane. The devestation is, frankly a bit beyond my comprehension - I've never lived in or seen at 1st hand a city 80% under water.

The relief operation is going to take a very long time and a LOT of money. So if you haven't already, consider donating to the relief efforts. If you blog - add a banner to your blog (just go to the Red Cross Site and download one.

Blog Spam

I've started getting blog spam on this blog again. To be clear, this is not welcome . Comments are deleted as fast as I can to avoid you reading this spam, and to avoid the spammers benefitting in any way from spam.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Monad bloggers

I've got a couple of pages at my site around Monad. contains pointers to more information about Monad and it's various aspects. contains a bunch of sample Monad scripts for you to work with and play with. Today, I've also done a couple of more things:

First, I've set up a Monad bloggers page at This page lists all the Monad related blogs that I currently know of. This list is based on the list of Monad bloggers at If you know more, mail me and they'll get added!!

Second, I've taken this list and created a feed at This page: has the latest blog entries from these Monad bloggers.

[28 May 2008] - I've noticed that Kinja is dead and thus this link is no longer v

NB: not all the entries at or the posts from blogs at are all going to be about Monad! The authors of the blogs do have other things on their collective minds (well some do at least). Enjoy anyway!!!

Soduko helps Blog Traffic

I've noticed a recent uptick in blog traffic, and on investigating, I'm getting a bunch of hits from search engine referrals, based on a recent post regarding soduko and how the SQL junkies had been working on an automated solution. To show the global nature of the soduko craze, today, I had a hit from a danish search engine: Jubii Søg - soduko. But what I find curious is that if you search for Soduku in many search engines my post gets a top or near top billing - the post is #1 result at MSN Search (! I just hope a few of the soduku junkies stick around and read this blog!

MSH Script-O-Matic

Raymond is a Dutch MCT and a pretty smart guy. I posted a comment in a newgroup to the effect that a MSH based Script-o-matic would be a really cool idea. Shortly thereafter Raymond mailed his attempt at producing one. After a couple of little issues, it now works. So head here to download this tool! I've also posted the link to the page.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Monad at the PDC

Lee Holmes has a blog post on what the MSH team is doing at this year's PDC conference. There are two primary presentations. The first is just Monad, the other is Monad as part of a languages discussion. There also a couple of Hands On Labs. Can't wait!

Finding QA Bloggers

Further to my recent post about our QA Community site, I have setup a blog list at I'll keep this list up to date as new blogs are added, etc.

I've also pulled these blogs into Kinja's aggregation service. To read the latest blog posts from ALL the QA bloggers, take a look at :

[28 May 2008] - is closed. And QA is no more, having been taken over by a rival some time back (and most of the key bloggers have left). Thus this link no longer works and would be no use even if had worked.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Interdictor

The Interdictor is a modern survival story. Except it's not a story, it's real - and happening literally before our eyes in New Orleans. Words fail me.

QA Community Page

QA has launched our QA Community page, which links to blogs by people, plus white papers and presentations. Come on over and visit - and please provide us some feedback!!

Displaying Google Page Ranking

Mypagerank.Net are offering a service that enables you to display Google's PageRank for your site. PageRank is an exclusive technology of Google which evaluates the popularity of your Website's pages by a number between 0 and 10. You can display PageRank: either download Google's tool bar, or use the service at This site offers a couple of other Google tools too - one makes a site map for your site which can help Google determine what to index on a site and how often, and Google DC check, that checks page rank and paged indexed across Google's data centres.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Another Monad Script

In a blog entry on, you can see a basic MSH script to create a MSH Here shortcut menu within Windows Explorer. I've tarted the script up a bit, added some checking etc to look like this:

#This script writes registry keys needed to add an
#"Open MSH Here" option to the right click
#menu of any folder
#Author Thomas Lee
$key = ls HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Classes\Directory\shell\MSH -ea silentlycontinue
#check if key already exists. If so, stop.
if ( $key) {
Write-Host "Key exists, stopping"
# Create the key and populate it - the value is what will appear in the
# Right Click Menu

$new=New-Item HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Classes\Directory\shell\MSHShell
$set=Set-Item HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Classes\Directory\shell\MSHShell "MSH Here"
# Now create the command key and populate it
# First check that it does not exist.
# NB: this script has the location of MSH hard coded
# You may need to change this your site
$key = ls HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Classes\Directory\shell\MSH\command -ea silentlycontinue
if (! $key) {
$new=New-item HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Classes\Directory\shell\MSHSHell\command
$set=Set-item HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Classes\Directory\shell\MSHShell\command "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Command Shell\msh.exe -Noexit -Nologo -Command Set-Location '%L'"
# All done - write about it and quit.
Write-Host "MSH-Here Registry Key setup for use"

You can get the latest version of this script from my monad sample scripts page or directly.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Short-term Mail Addresses as Anti Spam measure

I've been over to who offer short term disposable and re-directable e-mail addresses. The idea is you use to create an email address at their site. Mail sent to this addres is then forewarded on to you. If you are posting in a newsgroup, for example, or signing up for a site whose privacy you are unclear about, you can just create a mail address and use it for a day or a week, or even a month at which point mail sent there just bounces and you do not see it. I've just created a one-month email address: and email to this address is forwarded to my primary email account. This address should last until end-Sept 2005 - when it expires mail sent to the address just bounces.

At first sight, this seems a good idea - not letting your main email address get clogged up with spam. Of course, you do have to trust not to sell your mail addresses to spammers or others!

Info on New Microsoft Ergonomic 4000 Keyboard Leaks

Just read about this new Microsoft ergonomic keyboard. I want one! I have two of the older white ergonomic keyboards, but they're old and battered, as well as being filthy! I hope they release them in the UK with the £ and € symbols soon!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Ebook: Windows XP Hacks at Tal Beta

Just saw this - an e-book of Windowx XP Hacks. Useful, although almost certainly a violation of copyright.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

MSN Messenger 8.0 Feature List

In the same week as Google launched their new chat client, news of is released about Microsoft's next update to MSN Messenger. I like MSN messenger - although I hate the ads and all the eye candy. And that's what is nice about Google Talk - no ads (well yet anyway), and no eye candy. Just a simple chat/talk interface. So while using Talk, we can look forward to what MS will bring us next year.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Jerry Garcia Stamp Petition

As many folks will know, I'm a Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia fan, with a home collection of their digital music that is huge and growing. I can remembrer where I was when I'd heard of Jerry's Death - it's hard to believe it was 10 years ago.

I recently came across the Jerry Garcia Stamp Petition which aims to get the US Postal Service to release a Jerry Garcia stamp. Please consider signing it!

Monad Team Launches Blog

The Monad team have launched the Monad Technology Blog. It's got some cool stuff about Monad from the team developing the product. I'm trying hard to ensure that samples from this blog are ported to my monad page and sample monad scripts pages.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Google Talk Launches

Hot on the heals of an updated Google Desktop, Google have launched a beta of Google Talk. The download is tiny (900k) for what seems a nice little chat client. Unlike MSN, there's no eye-candy adverts etc, just a clean and simple, no frills interface to a straightforward chat client.


The BBC has a nice discussion of this service.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Download details: Solution Accelerator for Business Desktop Deployment Enterprise Edition

Microsoft has published an updated version of it's Business Desktop Deoloymet Soution Accelerator, which comes in two versions: Enterprise Edition and the Standard Edition.

Version 2.5 includes a number of improvements which include: support for unattended installations of x64 systems, the Computer Imaging System contains supports per-build action lists, updated documentation including support for ACT 4.0. Version 2.5 also addresses reliability and manageability of ZTI, including using MOM to monitor ZTI progress.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

SQL Server Geeks Tackle Soduko

My wife has become a soduko junkie - doing most days puzzles in The Times on-line. But I have to admit, the contributors to the SQLTeam.Com forums, in a thread titled So Duko bank holiday challenge have tryly taken the cake.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Monad Webcast

Microsoft has just put up an on-demand replay of the recent Monad webcast. The webcast can be found on the Microosft Technet site. The presentation is at the 300 level and is part one of two - part two is to be broadcast next week.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Finding Great Trainers is Hard!

Things must be going well in trainer-land. The firm I work for, QA, has been looking for some time to hire several top-notch technical trainers, but we've not been able to hire anyone! If you, or anyone you know, is a developer trainer, specialising in Java and/or .NET, and are looking for a new opportunity with a great company, then contact me at thomas.Lee{at}, and attach a CV.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Download the .NET FX 2.0 SDK - And Get MSH

Although you'd not know it from looking at the download page, MSH Beta 1 (June '05 drop) is now available publically - there's no need to go through the process of getting onto the formal beta program. If you just want to play with MSH, then download the SDK and start playing (and take a look at my sample scripts page to get some cool samples to play with while you learn the product).

The SDK can be downloaded one of two ways - either the full package or the web download. The full package (cleverly called setup.exe) is 317 MB, while the web download size will vary depending on what you intall. The web setup program itself is 977KB. Sadly, there appears to be no MSI package for this download, making it just that little bit harder to deploy via Group Policy. Having said that, the program does have a silent install mode, so you could script the installation, and do the install as part of a logon script, or have the user run the script from a web site or email link.

While fantastic thus far, MSH is still evolving. There are a number of features missing (e.g simple COM interop), some features are being changed, and bugs are being fixed. The next drop, which should occur around the time of the PDC in September, promises to bring a number of welcome improvements and changes. So if you are an admin, fed up with the traditional poor command line support, and you want to contribute to the product's development, then please join into the MSH beta programme and use the NNTP news group!

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Vista - Not ready for Prime Time on My Laptop

I've spent most of today trying to get Vista loaded and running on my laptop. It's been a frustrating day, and at the end of it, I've rebooted back to Windows XP.

There is a lot to like about Vista. The new UI offers some great features, such as the bread-crumbs at the top of the screen. These offer greater flexibility in navigation. IE7 offers tabbed browsing and RSS feeds. The new searching and indexing features look very interesting, I'm keen to explore them in more detail. And the new look is both new, but familiar - the basic user's learning curve should not be too steep.

Another neat feature is the install process itself. There's no I386 folder on the product DVD, just a large .WIM file and what looks like WinPE. The old unattend.txt file, loved by Admins every since NT3.1, also seems gone and replaced by an XML file. I've not yet found details on how to script the install yet - and there appears to be no \support\tools\ file on the DVD either. There is a sample of this file (unattend_sample.xml) and it looks very interesting.

Sadly, the hardware support and stability let me down badly. The main issues I have are around drivers for the on-board hardware. I've got a Dell Inspiron 8600, and the Dell drivers for the built-in Ethernet NIC, modem and Video do not install. The Video driver installed by the OS fails to start (Vista reports that it's a driver that is not supported). The generic VGA driver is good enough to use for basic configuration tasks, but it only delivers a fully visible screen at 1280x764 (at higher resolutions, parts of the screen are not visible). At that resolution, the Insprion, in common with a lot of laptops, looks pretty awful. The in-built Intel 802.11b wireless adapter works, so I got some networking and Internet access.

Another issue I had consistently was that one Explorer.exe process would regularly drive to 100% CPU or thereabouts and pretty much hang the system. I could move the mouse around, and ctrl-esc brought up the task switcher, but besides from that, the system itself did not usefully respond for periods of up to a minute. This makes it pretty frustrating to use for any length of time.

It's also very big. The Windows folder contains a massive 21,382 files weighing in at 3.41 GB. And despite the bloat, there's no great cleanup in terms of names and locations - stuff's still dumped here and there all over the place (although this is probably some they have to do to avoid breaking applications). By comparison, the Windows folder on my current laptop build of XPSP2 is 2.82 GB and 15, 891 files - and it's got a number of added services (eg the anti-spam service) added too (and all those hot-fix uninstall folders, etc, etc!). I've not spent the time to work out just where the biggest increases are yet - a task for another day.

A bigger concern for me is that most of the AV tools I have access to are not supported. Specifically, Ez-trust 6.2 and Symantec Corporate 9.0 are known to have issues. This makes using Vista fulltime a non starter until I get AV support.

In summary, Vista Beta 2 is just not ready enough for prime time on my laptop. I'll keep the build loaded both on the laptop and in a VM - I look forward to learning the new features. And hopefully there will be a prompt solution to the hardware issues. I'm kind of disappointed with Beta 1. I would have hoped for better hardware drive support. Roll on Beta 2 and better OEM support for Vista.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Formatting Numbers in Monad

Monad is pretty clever when it comes to displaying and formatting variables. To display a variable you just specify the variable name - either on it's own or with some maths such as:

[C:\]: #display normal number
[C:\]: $number = 123
[C:\]: $negativenumber = -23.23
[C:\]: $number
[C:\]: $negativenumber
[C:\]: #display with arithmetic on the line
[C:\]: $number-23.23
[C:\]: #display formatted string
[C:\]: "String with number ($number) inside"
String with number (-23.23) inside
[C:\]: $number = 234
[C:\]: "String with arithmetic (number+1) ($($number+1)) inside"
String with arithmetic number+1 (235) inside

Well, that's all fine and well, but what if you want more control over your formatting? What if you want neat columns of numbers? I did some searching and found a blog posting from the BCL team which described formatting numbers in .NET, using C#. It was a pretty easy matter to convert the basic code presented in the blog entry into to a Monad script that demonstrates how to format numbers into strings. The script is Format-Number.Msh on my Monad sample scripts page.

As the script shows, there are a couple of ways to get nicely formatted numbers in strings. The main tools you use to get formatted numbers is the tostring() method (which every .NET object implements), the format types you can specify to tostring(), and then using the "-F" parameter to format these numbers into a display string. For example:

[C:\]: "{0,5} times 2 equals {1,10}" -f 10, $(10*2)
10 times 2 equals 20

Armed with this, it's just a matter of adjusting the format strings and the lengths of each field to get output just the way you want it.

Vista-A Saturday Morning View

Micrsoft has launched both the formal name for Windows Longhorn as well as Windows Vista Beta 1 iteself. Of course, this is probably only news to folks living in caves (who wouldn't be reading this blog entry anyway)! This is an interesting beta, in that the version I tested was downloaded from MSDN, and not from a private beta programme. So far as I can tell, there is no NDA on this version.

I started the MSDN download on Wednesday evening, but the hotel's wireless connection was pretty poor. After a day in the office (using every bit of bandwidth I could get), I finally completed the download. So it was time to install.

The first thing I found out: Vista is big, VERY big. While we can excuse a bit of debug code during a beta, the DVD image is 2.42 GB - that's right, nearly 4 times the size of XP! No wonder it took getting for 24 hours to download! But that size makes for some other problems - like for example, the fact that VPC doesn't support mounting ISO images this large. While it would be both cynical and accurate to point out that VMware Workstation does support DVD images of this size, I did not have VMware on my laptop to that was out of the question, and so was direcly loading it into VPC. But there was always Plan B - and this worked a treat. I used Daemon tools to mount the DVD ISO image to an H: drive on my host, which VPC then happily accepted.

The install into the VM took several hours on Thursday night - but by early Friday morning I had a Vista VM and was able to start exploring. While it was great for looing around, the VM was slow, and the graphics not great - the Trio card VPC emulates is not overly feature rich, and the emulation going on does hit perf a bit. But it was good enough to see that Vista is both new and familiar. Many of the same things are in the same places, but there area bunch of new features too, along with a new look UI.

The only answer was to install it fully on the laptop. Several hours of moving files around on my D: drive to make enough space, burning a DVD, etc. I left a bunch of large copy commands running (making even more space) and left the installation to Saturday morning. The installation itself went pretty smooth - around 45 minutes or so. After the final reboot, Vista came up and started running an installation programme for legacy drivers (about which more on another day!). This hung the laptop toally - I have to reboot, after which I could manually run the legacy driver installation. It looked ok, nice new background screen, new ions, but at the same time the familiar XP desktop with start bar, etc.

But once rebooted came the fun - getting drivers for the hardware. The video driver picked by the legacy installer simply does not work - the PC rebooted back into 4-bit colour. This was solved by using the built-in VGA adapter but this does not support very high resolution (1024x768) which looks suboptimal on the laptop. The driver found found for the Ethernet nic also failed to install, although the wireless card works OK(albetit slower at 11mbps than the nic at 100!).

The Dell modem driver fails to install initially - with the error that it will only run on XP and 2000. When I changed the modem driver to run in Windows XP compatibility mode, it runs, but fails to find any hardware. The mobile chipset upgrade also fails.

Running the Broadcom NIC setup utility to get the NIC drivers installed, the setup complains that the drivers are not Authenticode signed. The error message states that drivers MUST be authenticode signed in order to work in Longhorn RTM (this is going to cause a lot of issues early on!). After Clicking OK the install program just dies. Trying to manually install this nic (using Device Manager fails too.

I use Etrust AV - after installing it, Longhorn says that there is no AV program loaded, although Etrust looks installed! Given how slow the Wlan card is, I'll be leaving more software installs (generally performed across the network) for another session.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Monad Sample Script Page

I've been playing a lot with Monad, Microsoft's next genereate admin scripting tool (and generated a few blog pages too). To help me understand the product more, I've been playing with writing scripts. I thought a great way to get to know Monad better would be to try to convert some old VBS/WMI/etc scripts and in doing so, get to understand the langage and the underpinnings better.

To that end, I've put up a new sample scripts page at The idea is to show how MSH can do useful things. Some of the scripts can be pulled into your Profile.msh (or profile.custom.msh). As this gets executed when you start the shell, you end up with a load of cool new features in _your_ shell.

As Monad moves towards release, the community can create a huge repository of features that can leverage the basics of Monad while providing cool features for admins. In writing these scripts thus far, I've found the functions I've devloped are highy useful for me (thus far mainly useful for writing scripts and playing around with Monad). For example, I've defined my own tail, touch, head, plus tp (to run text pad, and Edit-NewFile (aliased enf) to create a new file (touch) then run tp on it to edit it. Versions of tail, head and touch are on the sample script page.

What has been most interesting is to note how, almost naturally, I've started to use the traditional admin script development model:

1. Type some lines directly in the shell. Play around and get something close to what I want. For example, I've created a new drive (web:) that points to \\maui\website\ I've also created a web: alias that does a CD to WEB: which made the 1st editing session very much more productive.

2. Pop the lines into a script file, or local function and get basically working. Once I found WEB: useful, I put the function and new-drive into my profile.tfl.msh file.

3. Add the function to #profile.msh and use it regularly. And as I use it, I start to add more 'production oriented " I found that you can't run new-drive multiple times without an error, so I added a check to the script to first check if web: exists and if only if it doesn't, should the new drive get created. I then added a test to see if the target drive exits (it won't when I'm offline for example) and fail more gracefully.

4. The next step would be to recode these functions into a cmdlet, or perhaps create my own hosting environment where these features are built-in. This is beyond me at present.

This leveraging process - writing loads of small little commands that make the job of using the command line shell usable and productive. I'm starting to build up libraries of libararies, if you see what I mean (eg something to parse WMI dates which is useful whenever using WMI and dates!) One of the down sides of the current drop is that the COM: scripting tools don't properly exist (this is coming in the next drop). But it's clear that Monad is gonna be a very interesiting, powerful and useful tool - I'm glad I've started to learn this now!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Monad PDC Talk

Please Click Me!!

PDC'05 - Please Click Me

Jim Truher has announced he's giving a talk at PDC in September on Monad. He currently plans on having a breakout session on the Monad language. He wants to do a deep dive, to show thow expressive it can be. I can't wait!! Monad subsite

I've put a subsite up on devoted to Monad: Thus far, it's just some links to articles and blog posts. I'm hoping to expand it in due course. Enjoy!

Discovering Networking with Monad and MSH

Monad presents administrators with great features and facilities, but there is a learning curve. One key aspect of learning any new feature or product is the aspect of "discoverability" - the ability to find things out simply. There are several ways to discover things, but the built-in reflection methods are at hand to help (although getting used to Monad and>.NET is a learning curvre!).

With Windows XP, there are over 900 WMI classes returned from the Get-WmiObject -List command, as shown:

[C:\]: $wmi=Get-WmiObject -list
[C:\]: $wmi.length
[C:\]: $wmi | format-list
(... a long list not shown!)

WMI class names are relativey self explanatory - so to find all the WMI classes that have 'net' or 'networking', you can do the following:

[C:\]: $netsettings = $wmi | where {$_.__PATH -match "net"}
[C:\]: $networksettings = $wmi | where {$_.__PATH -match "network"}

You can then use these to get the key network class names, as follows:

[C:\]: $netsettings.length
[C:\]: $networksettings.length
[C:\]: $networksettings | ft __Path


Once you have these names, you can begin exploring:

[C:\]: $nw=Get-WMIObject Win32_NetworkAdapter
[C:\]: $nw.length
[C:\]: $nw | gm
(long display - deleted)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Microsoft Certified Learning Consultant Certification Debuts for MCTs

At TechEd Amstredam, Ken Rosen formally announced that MS was launching this new certification. MCP Magazine has more details about the MCLC here. This looks like being a great way for MCTs, and the institutions that hire them, to differentitate themselves and to show they can not only "do it in the classroom" but can also do the consultative stuff: analyse client needs, design course structure and content, and finally measure value for money.

Monad - Playing with dates and time

I have been playing a bit with dates and times in Monad. In Monad, you can create a variable as a date-time object, using .NET's build in datetime class, as follows:

$[C:\]> [datetime] $xmas = "12.25.2005"

You can use this, either to assign a value or in a calculation, such as: :

$[C:\]> $xmas - [datetime]::now

Days : 159
Hours : 8
Minutes : 28
Seconds : 38
Milliseconds : 558
Ticks : 137681185582531
TotalDays : 159.353224053855
TotalHours : 3824.47737729253
TotalMinutes : 229468.642637552
TotalSeconds : 13768118.5582531
TotalMilliseconds : 13768118558.2531

At TechEd, Jeffrey Snover said his daugher was really excited about how long it is till Christmas. Just for her, here's how to jazz it up a bit and create a simple function to calculate the days till Christmas:

function cdtx {[datetime]$x= "12.25.2005"; return $x-[datetime]::now}

Jeffrey could put this function definintion into his profile.msh to have it at his fingertips should it be needed (ie when his daugter asks him again). But for even more fun, why not get monad to just tell her how many days it is, Using the say-text cmdlet I posted about earlier:

say-text "It is $($xmas-[datetime]::now).days until till christmas"

It's a little pedantic - and rather precise - but it's fun.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Is Dell Right to go Dark?

The Register has a story about Dell, titled Dell: why Customer Care had to die, which describes Dell's decision to close its Dell Community Forum (DCF). I used DCF and the community support was good.

While The Register's normal satirical style is maintained in the article, there's a serious side too. Does it make sense, in these days of transparency, to go dark like this? Seems to me that by shutting down these forums, Dell do not help themselves or their customers. Microsoft, by comparison, may not like some of the comments they get on their open newsgroups, but the groups are open for your to post away. And genuine complaints not only get listened to, but get resolution. Everybody wins.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

MS Takes A New Certification Road Starting in September

Well, now it's finally public and I can talk about it - well some of it anyway. MCP Magazine has now published the details about Major changes in MS certification which starts, says MCP magazine, in September. As MCP magazine says: "It's obvious that the new program differs significantly from the current program." So please read their article carefully (along with the official MS information once that gets posted).

There are two ways to look at this news: the first is (as my post of mid June suggested), MS is dumping the MCSE and pretty much the entire current MCP certification programme. All the current premium certs (e.g. MCSE, MCDBA and MCSD) are being given the long term chop, in favour of a whole brand new set of certifications. On the positive side, the new certification approach is far cleaner than the current tangle of MC* certifications - three main levels and that's it (and one of those, the architect level, is not a path for most IT Pros and Developers). Assuming the new exams are 'solid', there may be some ability to avoid the paper-certification reputation that parts of MCP had become. By having brand new certs, hopefully MS can restore the quality appeal that MCSE once had. Let's hope so!

So yes, there are two ways of looking at it. Talking to MSL people, they say I suffer from a glass half full vs half empty point of view problem. And to a degree, they have a point. The new stuff really is a lot better, and looks cool. But on the other hand, it's my glass and I paid for all the liquid that ever went into the glass. As one of the charter MCSEs, I've invested 12 years of time and effort maintaining my MCP/MCSE and more recently MCSA, MCDST plus the 'add-ons'. So I'm very disappointed to see it all go, especially as the death will a slow one.

Another aspect of the news presented in Orlando is that each of the new certifications are withdrawn once the related product reaches end of life. Thus MS are building obsolescence into the new programme, a mistake in my view. MS did this several years ago, with respect to MCT Transcripts - the idea was that exams for products that had retired were removed off of the transcript. There was a huge (negative) reaction from the MCT community, and MS found a way to resurrect those older exams. In today's terminology, that would mean I'd no longer be certified in NT4. Despite the fact that I had been certified or that our customers are still using NT4 and want certified professionals to assist. While NT 3.1 might not be relevant to Microsoft today, the fact I was working on it, and passing exams 12 years ago (and ever since) is very important to me. It shows my length of tenure and commitment. Yet MS are not proposing to take all that history away. Shades of NewThink! I've yet to hear if MS has reconsidered this aspect.

It's also fairly inevitable that there is going to be at least a partial Osborne effect on certification and certification business based on these announcements, something that the training industry, in particular, are not likely to be very happy about. For me as a long time MCSE, I now see no reason to take any more MCP exams for at least another year, and probably longer. From what I can tell today, it may make sense to just wait till Longhorn Server, which is 2+ years away in terms of stable exams. Many folks who are part way through their certification programme may also stop and re-assess to work out whether or not to continue the current path or just wait for the new exams. None of this helps the training industry.

And with respect to my MCSE: Al Valvano of Microsoft is quoted by MCP Magazine reassuring me that: "[The MCSE/MCSA/MCDBA titles] are not going away and those continue to remain valid, just like there are people who continue to certify on Windows 2000".

Pass the kool-aid Al - while the certificates will continue to be offered, as I understand it, there will be "no future investment" in the MCSE/MCSE/MCDBA certs. A real life analogy: yes, you can still buy a new Rover car. But I'm not too sure just how good of an investment such a purchase would be.

VPC Virtual machines may stop responding after the computer resumes from hibernation

So this is why I've been having problems with Hibernation and VPC VMs! There's a new-ish KB article: Virtual PC 2004 and any virtual machines may stop responding after the computer resumes from hibernation that explains why. Sadly, it's a suport call, which takes time and effort if past history is anything to go on. It would be nice if this was just a download and not a phone call!

Mozilla squishes latest Firefox bugs - 70M Copies downloaded

As the count of FireFox downloads passes 70 MILLION, a new update has been released which, says ZDNet UK Newssquishes a number of Firefox bugs. Known as Version 1.05, it's available at a download site near you!

Monday, July 11, 2005

MSF 4 Formal - 1st observations

MSF 4 Formal is the 2nd half of the latest update to Microsoft Solultions Framework (the first half being MSF 4 Agile). I've just downloaded it and have started to play a bit. This post documents a few initial observations, which are put down in no particular order!

1. The team model is improved by the addition of an Architect role. This recognises the importance of architecture in soloution design. It also appears to make the role of the Program Manager a little less technical, and more Project Manager oriented than in MSF 3.

2. MSF Formal is more formal than MSF Agile for a reason. CMMI describes 5 (or 6) levels of process-based predictability of an organisation (or department) in terms of their ability to produce quality software. The higher the level the better. With most organisations at 0 or 1, MSF 4 can help you work at nigher level. This is done by adopting highly predictable (but not so agile) processes, which is good for larger or more formal projects, especially in more critical environments, where predictibility is more important than agility.

3. The process model seems de-emphasised. In looking at the material issued this week, it's hard to find much discusion of the overall process model. There's one good slide, in the governance area, which shows the MSF Process model as a waterfall model, which is of course how you usualy do MSF based projects. What I can't yet find is a good set of process descriptions. And given that CMMI is about repeatable processes I find this lack of process model hard to understand (although it might just be a beta issue).

4. Using both the Agile and Formal process guidance requires Interent Explorer. Using FoxPro just does not work. I'm sort of dissapointed that MS would, again, put out such a key project in a format that is not useable within FireFox.

5. The current documentation does not put any where near enough clear water between MSF Agile and MSF Formal. While it's probably just a beta issue, MSF Agile and MSF Formal look very, very similar, when they should be different. Well, different enough for IT Pros and Devs to easily know which one is right for them, in a given situation. The current similarity and overlap may be confusing. I'm just grateful for Rafal's great presentation last week at TechEd which provide much clairity (clarity missing today from the MS documentation).

I'll write more once I've had a chance to digest this all!