Monthly Archives: October 2011

Windows MultiPoint Server Disconnects

There is a known issue with Windows Server 2008 R2 (and Windows 7) that causes the network interface to change “location” from a Domain network to a Public network under some conditions. This is described in MS KnowledgeBase article: 2524478. The situation that causes this is made more likely to happen on a WMS server because of the Loop Back Adapters. I’ve been running this particular hotfix here for more than a week, with no ill effects. And a whole lot fewer WMS disconnects from my RDP clients! If you are using WMS, and using RDP clients, I strongly recommend that you download a copy of this hot fix and apply it if you’re seeing any unexplained disconnects from these clients.

Charlie.

Update1: There’s a new blog post up on the Official SBS Blog that talks about this. If you’re running WMS, you really want to get this hotfix.

Update2: If you’re running through a Remote Desktop Gateway (RD Gateway) to connect to your WMS server, you should install this hotfix on the RDGateway box as well. For example, on my SBS 2011 Standard network, my laptops use applications on the WMS server using RemoteApps. But I have them set to go through the RD Gateway on my SBS server, even when I’m in the office. This allows my connections to stay the same regardless of whether I’m in the office or on the road. I was still getting some disconnects even after installing this hotfix on the WMS server. But when I added them to the SBS server (my RD Gateway, remember), the disconnects went away. I haven’t had one all day. WOOT!

Configuring Applications for Windows MultiPoint Server, part II

As I said in my previous post on application compatibility in Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 (WMS), most applications run without any special configuration or changes. They see WMS as just another Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 computer. Or, if they’re fairly smart applications, as a Remote Desktop Session Host (aka, Terminal Server). But every once in a while, some aspect of a particular application doesn’t play well with WMS. Sometimes, as in the previous post, it’s really that it doesn’t play well with any terminal server because it doesn’t understand about multiple users. But other times, it’s strictly a WMS problem, and that usually makes me want to look at what is going on with networking and the application.

Why networking? Because WMS uses a bunch of “loop back adapters”(LBAs) to do some of the magic it does. And when an application sees that many network cards on a computer, sometimes it gets confused about which one to use. One such application is Amazon’s Kindle for PC (K4PC). On a normal Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 computer, it starts up fairly quickly and loads your current library, and if you’re currently reading a book, it opens to the latest page read on any device you might happen to be reading it on. Cool. But that means it needs to “phone home” to find out if you’ve read past the current point it knows about locally, and while it’s at it, it checks for a new version. Apparently, this phone home can get confused about which adapter to use and ends up taking what seems like forever to load. (It’s actually only about 30-40 seconds, but that’s a long time when you’re waiting for it.)

So, what to do about it? Two changes can make all the difference, and both are disabling automatic proxy checking. First, in K4PC, open Options from the Tools menu, and select Network in the left pane, as shown here:

 WMS_K4PC_01

Select No Proxy, or set the specific proxy settings that your network requires. Either is better than Auto-Detect. Next, change the settings on Internet Explorer to disable autodetect. (Depending on your IE version, this will be in the LAN Configuration settings, as shown below: )

WMS_K4PC_02

Again, disable Automatically Detect Settings.

Restart your WMS server to make sure there are no open IE windows and you should see a noticeable improvement in the speed of K4PC. And consider this a likely culprit for any application that has a very slow start in WMS.

Charlie.

Configuring Applications for Windows MultiPoint Server

Most applications install cleanly in Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 (WMS) without any special tricks. They’re smart enough to not attempt to write critical files that can’t be shared into locations where they shouldn’t be. But some applications simply aren’t Terminal Server aware, and those can be an issue. One we ran into recently is Audible Manager. If you’re using a Zune or Sansa or other non-Apple product to listen to your Audible books, you need Audible Manager to transfer your books to the device. Well, needless to say, as we’re moving users to WMS, one of their requirements is to be able to use Audible Manager.

The first problem was USB support so they can connect their device. That was easy, I just installed KernelPro for them. But that brought up a second issue. When two people try to run Audible Manager at the same time, the second person gets a “Can’t open Content.aud” error. Why? Because Audible Manager installs it into “C:\Program Files (x86)\Audible\bin”. That’s a really bad idea, and bad programming practice, to say the least. But I found a workaround, and it actually does what Audible should have already been doing.

  1. Close audible manager.
  2. Navigate to "C:\Program Files (x86)\Audible\Bin".  
  3. Cut "content.aud" and paste someplace you can find it and get to it.
  4. For EACH USER (this is the part that’s a pain!):
    1. Navigate to %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming
    2. Create a new folder "Audible"
    3. Drop a copy of "Content.aud" into the folder
    4. Start Audible Manager.
    5. When Audible Manager can’t find content.aud, it will prompt you to either “Create A New, Empty File" or "Browse For An Existing File".
    6. Choose Browse, and then point to the file you just dropped in Roaming for the user.
  5. Repeat the sub-steps for each user. (or, if you’re doing this on a new server, do this and then copy to the default profile, and it will happen automatically when you add a new user.)

You’ll probably want to start with an empty content.aud file to do this. And, yes, it shouldn’t be necessary. I’ve already filed a report with Audible.com, but don’t expect any fixes any time soon.

While this is just one application, it also points to a way that can work with other ill-behaved applications. No guarantees, of course. But worth a try.

Microsoft ITPro Satisfaction Survey

A couple of times a year, Microsoft sends out a satisfaction survey to ITPros. I have no idea how one does, or does not, end up on that list, but should you happen to get an email, I’d strongly suggest you take the time to fill it out. If you’re like me, you undoubtedly have a few issues you’d like to raise, and this can be a good way to do it. But you should also take the time to make sure you tell them what they’re doing right, not just what they’re doing wrong.

 

A few thoughts on things to think about as you’re filling out the survey:

1.) Help and support – how well do you think MS is doing? How easy is it to find the answers you need? And how useful are the support people when you really need help? What are some of the resources for answers? Here are a few:

One of the changes I’ve appreciated is the ease of getting hot fixes – either automated fix-its, or just the ability to download a hotfix without having to go through a bunch of rigmarole .

2.) Security – Here, I think MS is doing an excellent job. Are there things I would like? Yes – Forefront Endpoint Protection for my SBS Server. But meanwhile, Security Essentials for home and very small businesses, or Microsoft InTune for small to mid-sized businesses are both great solutions on the desktop. And IE9 is safer even than IE8, and I thought IE8 was a darn good browser.  Some security resources:

3.) Licensing – they keep telling us they’ve made it easier and simpler. Sorry, I’m not seeing it. I just spent 4 days in Las Vegas at SMBNation (good show for any one in the SMB space, by the way.) And the one thing I’m sure of is that people do NOT understand Microsoft licensing and they don’t much like it either. I’m annoyed no end that I can’t buy a copy of Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials (WSSE) from HP or Dell or my favourite distributor to build my own. So far, there’s only one OEM of WSSE available in North America, and that’s from High Rely. But by all means, put MS to the test on their licensing claims. Try one of these resources, and let them know what you think:

4.) Training and Online Resources – OK, I think they are doing a pretty good job here. There are quite a few free or reasonably priced resources available for training, and TechNet has some excellent content. Even if you have to use a third-party search engine to find it sometimes.

For training, try: .  The Microsoft Virtual Academy

For eval versions to train with: Microsoft Eval Center