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Windows Anytime Upgrade

Really? Anytime? Yup. And from OEM to Retail too.

My new PC runs Windows 7 Home Premium and I've already installed all of my apps. But I heard somewhere that it was ridiculously easy to upgrade editions under 7.

Problem was, I got a lot of noisy search results trying to bring up some info on how to do this (and lots of hits on cracking and piracy). There's lots of info out there describing the feature and roughly what's involved, but I was missing the critical first step of HOW to do it. Maybe I wasn't reading closely enough...I do that from time to time (my cowboy hat gets in the way so to speak).

I did find an article once from TechRepublic (I think) that described the process as being as simple as punching in your code for Pro (or Ultimate), or whatever. But for the life of me I couldn't find it again (and I couldn't even remember which of my computers I found it on to go digging through the IE history).

So, after looking at this for a few minutes and giving up (and repeating the process a few time), I gave my thinking a reboot this morning and did the following:

1. Clicked the Start button.

2. Typed "windows anytime upgrade" into the search field.

3. Low and behold, a wizard appeared.

4. Typed in my Windows 7 Ultimate key (which was free from a Microsoft Event).

5. Verifying.

6. Click "I Accept".

7. Click "Upgrade". WARNING: Your computer will restart automatically.

8. Done.

Windows XP Mode, here I come. I wonder how long it will take for my WHS to recognize the change (it's busy shuffling disks right now so I can't check).


Best Practices Analyzers (BPA)

Okay, it's just shocking to me the number of people that haven't heard of these. I could blame Microsoft and say that they aren't doing a good job publicizing, but I can't. Until the day comes that I read every single Microsoft newsletter that hits my inbox, I am simply not allowed to complain about Microsoft not telling me about something.

So here we go:

SBS 2008 BPA: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=86a1aa32-9814-484e-bd43-3e42aec7f731&displaylang=en

SBS 2003 BPA: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=3874527A-DE19-49BB-800F-352F3B6F2922&displaylang=en

The SBS BPA tools are absolute must haves on all SBS boxes.

Not running SBS?

Exchange Analyzer Tools main page: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/exchange/bb288481.aspx

Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=4BDC1D6B-DE34-4F1C-AEBA-FED1256CAF9A&displaylang=en

Exchange Remote Connectivity Analyzer (for anything to do with remotely accessing Exchange, also works with SBS): https://www.testexchangeconnectivity.com/

SQL Server 2005 BPA: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=DA0531E4-E94C-4991-82FA-F0E3FBD05E63&displaylang=en

SQL Server 2008 BPA (Not ready yet, but here's a link to something related): http://blogs.technet.com/andrew/archive/2008/03/30/sql-server-2008-best-practice.aspx

The Microsoft IT Health Scanner: http://blogs.technet.com/essentialbusinessserver/archive/2009/06/29/microsoft-it-health-scanner-released.aspx

You could even use the EBS Preparation Wizard to give a network a clean bill of health: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc768594(WS.10).aspx

With the release of Server 2008 R2, Microsoft has taken BPAs to the next level and included them for every single server role: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd759260.aspx

Now, one thing I feel is missing here is some kind of Terminal Server or Remote Desktop Services (RDS) BPA. I don't think the RDS BPA included with R2 really hones in on best practices that directly affect performance and the user experience, which I think would be valuable. Maybe someday soon.

The truth might not be out there, but help sure is.


Problem Communicating with the Outlook Web Access Server in RWW

WTF SBS? Re-running the Connect to the Internet wizard (see last post) apparently resets a web.config file, breaking the SSO features between RWW and OWA.


The link above applies to EBS but is also applicable to SBS as well (instead of hitting the "c:\program files\Windows Essential Business Server\Bin\webapp\Remote" folder use the "c:\program files\Windows Small Business Server\Bin\webapp\Remote" folder instead).

Changing "Sites" to "remote.blahblah.com" in the right place inside the web.config file mentioned above will sort out the issue.

Note that this may only be a problem when you need a very specific hostname configuration due to certificates, Outlook Anywhere, etc. It's unlikely this will be a problem on a vanilla SBS 2008 without much customization.

Rebooting an SBS 2008 causes the Default Gateway to Disappear

Ran into this problem today. No matter what I did, rebooting the fully patched SBS2008 caused the server to lose Internet connectivity. Turns out, the default gateway entry on the NIC was just getting blanked out - completely gone. Running the "Connect to the Internet" or "Fix My Network" wizards did not help ("Fix my network" is fairly nebulous anyway and I don't really trust it...). Anyway, after a bunch of troubleshooting, I discovered this article:


Interestingly, this SBS 2008 (like nearly all of the ones I look after) is virtualized on Hyper-V, and it was showing the exact same symptom. Unfortunately, following the steps did not resolve the problem, and rebooting the server still caused the default gateway to be lost.

But, the interesting thing about the article above is that it made me realize that I probably confused the server in the first place. See, in order to facilitate a completely remote SBS swing migration, this virtualized SBS 2008 did in fact have two NICs for a period of time (something I'll get into another time). One of the entries I found at the registry key mentioned in the above article referred to "", which was the gateway for my secondary NIC. So, even though that article didn't fix my problem, it helped me realize the root cause.

After focussing my search and doing a bit more looking, I found this Experts Exchange thread, which hit the nail on the head:


Browsing to the key:


I discovered that the "DefaultGateway" value looked like this, which is baaaad:

So, all I needed to do was remove the first line, which was blank, and causing the blank "Default Gateway" value on the NIC. Disabling and re-enabling the NIC resolved the issue, and a follow up reboot verified that the default gateway was no longer being lost.

So, watch out for this, particularly when doing SBS or Server 2008 migrations.