Friday, 28 July 2017

Pro Tip: Beware of the Aftermarket Video Cards with Secure Boot

If you have some older video cards in your environment, you might not realize until deployment time that some of your systems will fail to display video or Windows will simply not use the card at all. The root cause of the is due to older video cards not being Secure Boot compatible. To fix the issue, you have three paths that are all valid, but I believe have to be evaluated carefully.

The first option is to remove the video card that wasn't supplied by the hardware vendor of the motherboard and use the onboard video. In some cases, this might be satisfactory, but depending on your needs you may need to look at another option such as disabling Secure Boot in the BIOS. Disabling secure boot is cheap but will not protect your system against malware that infects the boot environment of your machine, so you have to question the value of such an approach in an enterprise environment.

A more expensive approach would be to modernize your hardware, this could be as simple as giving the user a new PC because at this point with Windows 10 most enterprise hardware that currently has Secure Boot capability. The other choice is to replace the display card, but before buying that display card, you should evaluate the cost of a new card on hardware with a limited remaining lifespan versus purchasing a new system.

If you need to upgrade many machines, it might make more long term value to get these systems out of your fleet rather than taking a reduced security posture or buying new hardware for a device that may only be in the fleet for another year. To make an informed decision use tools such as System Center Configuration Manager to determine the affected systems through hardware inventory data it can capture. To me, secure boot is a no brainer that enterprises should enable by default with Windows 10.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Come join us! Calgary Citrix User Group Local Kickoff Meeting

I've entered into a new venture into IT user group communities by helping form the Citrix User Group Community for Calgary headed by Rod MacCormack. We saw the need to get the local Citrix community reestablished so that Citrix professionals could get together and share their experiences while keeping updated on the latest trends with the technologies they work with on a day to day basis. Essentially our goal is to allow our user base to build their knowledge on Citrix and Citrix related products so they can better perform their job.

Now that we have finally got all the initial logistics out of the way our first event will take place at Craft Beer Market on Thursday, June 8. Our sponsor this round is Nutanix, and they will be present for a technical presentation on their latest offerings for VDI. Citrix will also be present to recap some of the announcements from Synergy. We will also have room for open table discussions so we can all get to know each other, share experiences, and of course ask questions!

We also have giveaways. food and refreshments so be sure to pop by.

Monday, 1 May 2017 - Monthly Newsletter - April 2017

Since July I have been writing a newsletter for, and I figure it is about time I let's all my other social media readers know about it. I know, sometimes I suck at self-promotion, but I will post the summary each month to the blog going forward so if you don't subscribe you might check out the newsletter if there is a topic or two of interest. So let's kick things off with the intro to the April 2017 newsletter.

Hello and welcome to the next edition of the newsletter. I’ve picked a couple of topics in the news this month by looking at some new developments at FSLogix where they have a solution focused on Office365 users. VMware has an upgrade out for customers that add some enhancements to their server virtualization platform. After the articles of the month, I will look at hypervisor security since I think there is some work to be done in this area.

Read more at:

Monday, 24 April 2017

Azure Global Bootcamp with the Calgary Microsoft User Group

April 22, 2017, the Calgary Microsoft User Group held its first Azure Global Bootcamp event by holding a hands-on event about creating virtual machines. We had a well-attended event having over 30 people in the room.

The focus was about deploying Windows and Linux virtual machines in Azure using different management methods. We started off with the Azure Portal then moved into the Azure CLI and eventually Powershell to show the different ways that Azure can be managed.

We plan to hold more hands-on Azure events as they are very popular with the group. We'd like to thank our sponsors that helped make this event a success and contribute to ensuring that we can do future events!

AMTRA Solutions
Jet Brains

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Windows 10 Creators Update (1703) Available for Download!

The Windows 10 Creators Update has hit current branch but will not be available via Windows Update until April 11, 2017. What this means for customers/enthusiasts that want to start using this release of Windows 10 they need to go out to the Windows 10 download site to get the latest release. This installation is driven by the upgrade assistant where you can create media or perform the in-place upgrade to Windows 10 1703.

For enterprise customers and developers, the ISO media for Windows 10 1703 can be found on your volume licensing site or MSDN. If you are building Windows images for deployment be sure to update your ADK environment to 1703 as well hosted over in the hardware developer center. There has been some news about potential issues with the new ADK so review the following blog articles by MVP Mikael Nystrom:

OS Deployment – Installing ADK 1703 on Windows Server 2016 could fail

OSD – App-V tools are missing in ADK 1703 when being installed on Windows Server 2016 (sometimes)

Need to know what is new with 1607 for IT Pros?
No problem, Microsoft has published documentation over here.

New Windows 10 IoT Core Images Available!

Today Microsoft has released a set of images for running Windows 10 IoT core on the Rasberry PI, DragonBoard, and MinnowBoard MAX. The announcement had me interested in what the capabilities of the platform would be since I usually end up managing devices through Configuration Manager and/or Intune.

First, let's start off with what this version of Windows is meant for. The Windows 10 IoT Core edition is the smallest footprint of Windows 10 available for devices. If you look at the infographic below, you can see that Windows 10 IoT comes in many flavors with different levels of functionality. Essentially the Windows 10 IoT Core version of Windows 10 is intended for single purpose use cases. There is no Windows shell and no command prompt, but you do get the ability to run Universal Windows Platform applications. Win32 applications are still supported, but they will not output to the console.
Many may wonder what is the point to running Windows under such limited circumstances, but I believe there are some very valid use cases that should be considered. There obviously is the hobbyist market, and though Linux is currently the dominant platform, some developers may feel more comfortable using a pure Microsoft stack to build out their custom creations. The other side is the business market where you want an IoT device that leverages existing developer expertise in the Microsoft stack and has integration into Intune or System Center Configuration Manager to provide updates and management of these devices.

When I first started looking IoT, I saw management and security taking a back seat, but as I've witnessed in the news, this lack of care and feeding has created security and operational issues. IoT was overlooked at being too basic and non-business critical to be on the radar for many organizations but now that these devices are being infected with malware, spyware and participating in BotNets all of a sudden the need for management has become a clear requirement for not just businesses but consumers as well.

It will be interesting to see where the smallest of the Windows 10 IoT editions finds itself in the marketplace but I am hesitant to write it off as a hobbyist product because of the integrated management, the ability to continue using Visual Studio and integrate your solution with Azure's IoT Suite. If you are looking for the latest releases of IoT core I've put a set of links below so you can start downloading them right away!

Rasberry Pi 2 & 3


MinnowBoard MAX

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

MVPDays Western Canada

Alan Rafuse, Crystal and Dave
Recently I finished the latest tour of MVPDays in Western Canada and it was a great time reuniting with fellow MVPs and IT professionals. In case you haven't been to an MVPDays event yet you should keep track of the dates, news and speaking opportunities via the MVPDays official Twitter account @MVPDAYS. This conference has been the brainchild of local MVP Dave Kawula and his wife Cristal who is a Veeam Vanguard. Both of them have worked tirelessly to put together these community events featuring Microsoft MVPs talking about some of the hottest technology out there.

The event was originally put together to fill the void that was left when TechDays Canada was no longer being put on by Microsoft Canada. Dave felt that these sorts of events were very important to the community and started with a round of events in Western Canada. Soon MVPDays expanded to Central Canada and the USA featuring more MVPs from across Canada and the USA. I've been personally amazed at the dedication and enthusiasm of everyone involved especially Dave and Crystal has this can sometimes feel like a thankless job.

Speaker preparation the night before in Vancouver
I've been glad to be a part of most of these events as I believe it is important to have more technical events that are independently run rather than being driven by a large software vendor. The big conferences are important, but I find these more intimate conferences offer a unique opportunity to speakers and the attendees where the conversations are more open and less driven by product-specific messaging. The idea isn't so much vendor bashing but to have honest conversations about what works and what doesn't plus who is the interesting underdog in the market that might be blazing a new path in the world of information technology.

You can check out the website to see some of the past speakers plus the past and future dates. The speakers are important, but more importantly, I am going to list off hopefully a complete list of past and present sponsors because without them events such as this wouldn’t happen. Events like this need volunteers, sponsors and most importantly organizers that do it for the IT community.


TriCon Elite
Nimble Storage

Gridstore (now HyperGrid)
5nine Software
HPE by Avnet

If you would like MVPDays in your area and think you can get at least 200 people to commit to attending then contact the MVPDays team, the contact form is at the bottom of the website.

Curious About Modern VDI?

For the latest set of MVPDays events in Western Canada, I had the opportunity to speak about VDI. The MVPDays team was really on the ball this time around to record some of the presentations, so I had the opportunity to have my video posted to Microsoft's Channel 9. It was a great time to reconnect with fellow MVPs and customers in Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver. Hope to do it again next year.

The session looks at how new hardware, software and the cloud is changing the world of VDI. Many smaller organizations have found traditional VDI to be too complex and expensive to adopt while enterprises have struggled to manage it. In this session, I have an overview of some of the modern challenges facing VDI and the options you have to overcome it.

I will review some of the latest trends in hardware to create easy to deploy VDI environments on-premises and look at how the cloud is simplifying the design and operation of VDI. I also explore other technologies at the software level that manage the VDI environment from the hypervisor all the way up to the user data. It has been a long journey for VDI, but I believe we finally see cost effective solutions that make a stronger case for organizations to phase out traditional desktop computing devices.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

App-V 5.2 Client on Windows Enterprise 1607

In this video, I show how to enable the App-V client and load an App-V sequence side by side with an older version of the same application that is installed traditionally. I explore the differences between an App-V application and the locally installed version so you can see how the App-V client redirects the registry and file system to allow two versions of the same application to exist side by side.