Monday, August 30, 2004

Microsoft SBS Newsletter gives some insight on SP1

We were able to get some insight on the forthcoming SBS SP1 and also regarding ISA 2004 through a new internal SBS Microsoft newsletter that we were graciously allowed to see. This is pretty much what we have been hearing as of late, SP1 will come out Q1 2005 and don't install ISA 2004 on SBS 2003 just yet. The only thing that caught my eye was that the SP won't be bundled as a single download but will be a QFE (Quick Fix Engineering Download). That should be interesting, let's see how it works out. I think this is definitely one SP where the CD's will be vital to have due to the amount of information. Here's the details:

SBS SP1 Update

In the last field conference call, Guy Haycock presented an update on SBS SP1. Key highlights include the following:
Goals: Refresh SBS 2003 with latest service packs/updates, focusing on OEMs and System Builders; 2) Update SBS 2003 tools to address application compatibility and customer satisfaction issues.
Non-Goals: We will not combine all bundled service packs and updates into a single download. We will provide the SBS 2003 updates as a QFE package. This is not a broad re-launch.
Timing: SBS SP1 timing is dependent on Windows Server SP1 and is tentatively set for Q1 CY05.

ISA 2004 Availability
There have been many inquiries regarding the availability of ISA 2004 for SBS 2003 Premium customers. Below is a summary of the situation.
We will make ISA 2004 available to SBS 2003 Premium customers, but not until SBS SP1 is released (tentatively Q1 CY05 – this date is dependent on Windows Server SP1).
We will not charge SBS 2003 Premium customers for ISA 2004; however, they will need to pay a media and fulfillment fee in order to receive ISA 2004.
Since ISA 2004 launched in mid-July (is available now), but is not yet available in SBS 2003, customers/partners may inquire about obtaining it before SBS SP1.
Please strongly recommend that customers/partners wait for SBS SP1 (not purchase ISA 2004). There are two main reasons: 1) If they install ISA 2004 (outside of SBS SP1), it will break many of the SBS 2003 wizards today; 2) They would have to buy an ISA 2004 license (expensive); whereas they would receive it for free with SBS SP1.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Personal spam filter for home users

Are you fighting spam at home? Well in the SMB space one of the best antivirus and spam companies that works great and easily with SBS is Trend Micro Client/Server/Messaging Suite. Their spam filter probably isn't ranked #1 but it sure is nice to have it included with your anti virus product when you run on a tight SMB Budget.

Well now if you run Outlook at home and wish you could have spam filtering you can! Check out Trend's Free Anti-Spam pilot! Pretty cool idea and a great way for home users to enjoy Trend and then recommend it at their place of business.

Way to go Trend. This is probably one of my fav companies right now. They put out great products at reasonable prices, have great support, and a great partner program. Check them out!

Give Microsoft CRM Sales for Outlook 1.2 a performance boost with the Feature Pack

Well if any of you use Microsoft CRM and specifically the Outlook Sales client you'll be glad to know that Microsoft released the Microsoft CRM Sales for Outlook 1.2 Feature Pack which includes several fixes but to me the most important thing is performance increases. That is probably one of the biggest complaints I hear about CRM. "Man is that thing a dog." Initial load can sometimes be excruciating but my experience is that once everything is loaded, CRM runs pretty well.

Well let's hope this helps, anything will be an improvement.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Thanks Ray! Exchange 5.5 disaster averted!

I was working with a fellow SBS'er this past weekend to help him do an SBS 2003 migration from SBS 4.5. Unfortunately when we came in on Sunday morning the old 4.5 server had died a painful death and wasn't working at all. We got 2003 up and running and my fellow consultant was happy to have Internet email and calendaring on Exchange 2003 up and running.

However his client had other ideas as Tuesday at about 4 PM he called me to let me know he needed about 5 old mailboxes off of the tape backup of SBS 4.5/Exchange 5.5 and put them into the new SBS 2003 by Wed morning. Ouch, nothing like a tight deadline and a client waiting.

So after getting the tape and tape drive (if I needed it) at about 8pm I got to the office and started to proceed. I started to research what was necessary through the newsgroups and previous posts and pretty much everyone suggested reinstalling 4.5 and then exmerging everything out. But when Ray Fong (Microsoft SBS PSS Support) speaks I take a listen...

(Ray /On) An unsupported shortcut is to mount the Exchange 5.5 database directly
under Exchange 2003. The Site/Org name of Exchange 2003 will be different
than the one in Exchange 5.5. So use LegacyDN.exe to change the name. Next,
delete everything in the MDBDATA folder, and replace with priv.edb and
pub.edb. Next, rename them to priv1.edb and pub1.edb. When the database is
mounted, it will auto create the stm files. Next, run exmerge to export all
the data and use outlook to export the public folder. When everything is
done, remove Exchange 2003 completed including the Exchange object in AD.
Finally, put a clean exchange back and exmerge the data in.
(Ray /off)

Well I had a demo SBS 2003 server running so I thought why not try it as I let the 4.5 install continue. Working through some of the items above took a little bit but placing the Exchange 5.5 .edb files as stated above and using the LegacyDN.exe utility worked great! I was able to exmerge out and then copy the files to the new SBS 2003 through Remote Web Workplace (the longest part at about 1.5 hrs). Then I exmerged the .pst files back in and everything looked great after verifying a couple of logins. I didn't detail everything above but gotta give my props to Ray Fong. Without his advice above I would have never tried it. I was able to go to bed at about 2:30 this morning knowing I had learned another little something.

If you haven't checked out the newsgroups do it now and learn a bunch. Start by going to the SBS Community web site and take a look at the newsgroup section. Then run and use Google Groups to find out the answers to the very problems probably tens of others have had using SBS.

Also, just a side point, if you're a SBS'er (Small Business Server Consultant) learn from what I have recently been reminded of. Some of my greatest clients (and friends) can be what would appear as competitors. In the Consultant field we don't know everything and if someone tells you that he's full of crap. Be able to cover for others and filling in technical expertise in one area or another can be a win win for consultants and their clients. Make sure you use all the valuable people around you, including so-called competitors.

Don't think blogging works? CRN does and quotes it.

Today, (OK actually yesterday as I sit and wait for a stinking exmerge to finish) CRN quotes Susan Bradley's blog on Microsoft Plans New Small-Biz Channel Site and the prelease that Susan gave her readers in her blog.

So don't think it's worth it now to have a blog? Maybe you should rethink it. Susan is of course the diva but aside from that you've gotta write to get heard and here is a major IT publication that has quoted a blog. Don't think Susan will not get some name recognition from it...sure she will. Susan, remember the little people when you get rich and famous.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Susan is a little "vaklempt" over new MS Small Biz site

Susan Bradley today blogs about a new Microsoft Small Business Community website. This is something similar to what the Great Lakes region was doing previously and hopefully is a look forward to what Microsoft will continue to do to build awareness of products and services in the SMB community.

Take a look for yourself!

Monday, August 23, 2004

Hands-On Labs for Windows Small Business Server 2003

Someone posted a message today about needing information for a hands on lab for SBS. Well if you're a Microsoft partner you can take a Hands-On Lab online for SBS. When SBS first came out I did this hands on lab and I must say I learned several things and got comfortable with the product right from the get go by following the comprehensive yet simple instructions in the hands on lab.

So if you're interested in deploying SBS and want to try it out, feel free to go here and take SBS for a whirl.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

MBSA -vs- WU

Kevin Weilbacher's blog has a nice comparison from a Microsoft employee of MBSA -vs- WU or for those of you not familiar with it Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer versus Windows Update.

Both have their place and definitely it's worth it to use both in your environment.

Monday, August 16, 2004

MBSA v1.2.1

With XP SP2 out, the Baseline Security Analyzer has a new version out, 1.2.1. Definitely use this in conjunction with Windows Update to keep all your servers and workstations secure.

Webcast -- Deploying and licensing Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003

One of the nice benefits of joining a user group is that the benefits that come from a united voice back to Microsoft. Tomorrow a webcast that's been put together specifically for SBS user groups happens on Deploying and licensing Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003. It's not often that we get an SBS product manager and an SBS product marketing specialist together. Join in for some exclusive SBS information.

Oh and if you're not a member of a user group check out the Windows Small Business Server User Groups web page off of the new improved SBS community web site. Don't see one in your area? Go ahead and start one. I've been privileged to help start the Michigan SBS user group and the people and contacts I've made have definitely been worth it. (OK and that cool $5 limited SBS tshirt is all the rave as well!) If you want some advice on what I've done feel free to contact me anytime.

Microsoft Small Business Kit

Got a small business or getting ready to start one up? Then perhaps the new Microsoft Small Business Kit might be for you. Scheduled to come out August 25th it sounds pretty nice. I know I'll be picking one up when it comes out just to see what's included.

If it hits the mark perhaps a good idea for IT consultants of Small Businesses who feature SBS is to send one to new small business startups in the area that they know with a business card attached. Since it talks up SBS 2003 that would be a great way for an owner to get a real feel for what SBS can do for them without a sales pitch. I might start to think about doing this with my local Chamber of Commerce and some of the new startups that come along.

Marketing Got You Down?

One thing that can really strain a Small Business budget is marketing. Yep TAZ Networks runs on a limited budget too! One thing that might fit for your small business is Microsoft List Builder. The online services Microsoft has been providing lately have been getting more mature and List builder is one of them.

Email marketing, when done right cause no one likes spam, is a great effective and cheap way to get your message out to others. Check out list builder and your small investment might go a long way towards helping your bottom line!

Playing Unreal or Need for Speed? Then SP2 will break it.

Microsoft has published a KB for about 50 programs that seem to break once SP2 is installed.

While only a couple of them are games as I mentioned above (Midnight Outlaw anyone?) the majority are business class programs that need to be looked over before deployment into a production environment. SP2 will be coming down to a auto update enabled PC near you soon so make sure you look over this right now and see if in your environment anything will break.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Oracle want SBS Market

Interesting article over at Techweb on Oracle coveting the SBS market of Microsoft. Oracle wants to hit the SBS market hard it sounds like with a product that will include its app server, web server, and portal server.

Well if anyone has the deep pockets to challenge SBS it's Oracle. Competition is always good and this might be something that will drive Microsoft to make SBS even better which is always nice. However what would Oracle run on? Yep Windows Server 2003 no doubt. That's where it's hard for SMB's to justify another layer of pricing and complexity. The beauty of SBS is that the operating system and apps systems are all contained together with pretty easy management.

I see the Oracle offering as perhaps a midmarket solution for specialty applications that might be coming out with key vertical industries in mind. Hey Oracle is a giant and they might surprise us but SBS' integration sure is key right now.

KB 833167 - A Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) update package

We did a SBS 4.5 to 2003 migration this past weekend and while doing our post migration monitoring support we started to see that the backup was failing in the admin email sent out. Well the backup wasn't really failing as in "oh my God nothing is getting backed up" but rather with SBS 2003 the backup begins by doing a Volume Shadow Copy and then uses that to process the backup. That's why we can get the SQL and Exchange and running services now in the regular ntbackup. Great job by the way on Microsoft for doing this as Backup Exec is hardly used anymore for us in rollouts.

But this one had us a little stumped. We were getting the error: Error returned while creating the volume shadow copy: 800423f2. Well a quick search on Google groups and we quickly realized that a supported hotfix for KB 833167 was needed. VSS needed updating and that appears to have fixed our problems.

The cost:$0. Hotfixes can be gotten for free and as you can notice there are plenty of them out there until a real Service Pack comes out. With the SP for Windows Server 2003 and the SBS 2003 SP probably delayed until first or second quarter next year these hotfixes will continue to gap some holes (minor ones at that) in Windows Server and SBS 2003.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Mary Jo tells us MBSA needs updating

Here's a new one I hadn't heard of yet. Microsoft is now stating that the Microsoft Baseline Security Advisor will need updating to version 1.2.1 for compatibility with XP SP2.

This is definitely something for all SMB's to watch out for. MBSA is a great product for administrators and users alike to make sure all computers are patched.

Best practice: Use this along with Windows update to make sure all of your companies computers and servers are up to date.

Traveling for your SMB? Which airport is the best for wifi?

Interesting little article over at Microsoft Small Business on the 5 best U.S. airports for wireless access. I read yesterday about the Dallas airport as well where the Courtyard North is higher priced and booked more than the Courtyard at the South end of the airport. The reason? Wi-fi access in just about all areas of the hotel including the parking lot.

I know that this is really a discerning part for me in my travel as well right now. Although hopefully as wireless standards get higher data rates it won't be too big of a concern.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Yankee Group Analyst says Microsoft SBS Rules

There's a great article over at techweb that references a Yankee Group analyst on the great success of SBS 2003. This is great news for SBS consultants and resellers as well as Microsoft Partners!

We all know that SBS is awesome and now it's pretty much out in the open. 2 Concerns that have been mentioned time and again by Microsoft Partners has been 1. Licensing and 2. Advertising.

Microsoft indeed needs to simplify or rework the licensing a bit. Perhaps even a package that has 10, 25, 50 licenses out of the box for a reduced fee might be the answer...it would at least be a little simpler for the end user.

Microsoft Partners have been really heralding the other item and that is advertising. It's such a great product but we've still got a huge installed base of regular SMB customers that use plain old Windows Server and Exchange Server because consultants and end users don't know any better. Microsoft put some of that $$$ to use and do a real targeted SBS campaign with a direct link to either certified SMB SBS partners or Certified Microsoft Partners (yep TAZ Networks is in this class :) ) or a consultant directory for SMB's to easily see who to call for SBS. Let's really knock em dead in the next 2 years.

As far as the right place at the right time, I think that's a little bit of an oversimplification. It's because of great SBS partners and consultants and the tight community of knowledge and support we have with the newsgroups and Yahoo groups that have really pushed this product and reduced all of the uncertainty and doubt of running everything on one server.......Now if only I saw some of that hard cold cash they're talking about I'd be happy! Which reminds me I've got some advertising to do.

XP SP2 items

Well hope you're ready for XP Service Pack 2. It's ready for primetime and here's some links. Make sure as always to test, test, test new items and configurations before putting them into production.

This spreadsheet lists the full set of Group Policy settings described in Administrative Template (.adm) files shipped with Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2 Release Candidate 2 (RC2).

For download and installation on multiple computers on a network.

The Windows Support Tools for Microsoft Windows XP are intended for use by Microsoft support personnel and experienced users to assist in diagnosing and resolving computer problems.

Download the latest deployment tools for help installing Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) on multiple computers. This file contains updates to the deployment tools and documentation.

The Windows XP startup disk allows computers without a bootable CD-ROM to perform a new installation of the operating system.

This installation package is intended for IT professionals and developers downloading and installing on multiple computers on a network. If you're updating just one computer, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/protect.

This download contains a spreadsheet of Group Policy settings in the Administrative Template (.adm) files supplied with Windows Professional Service Pack 2.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

The Diva dishes out the feeds!

Susan Bradley as anyone knows in SBS land is the SBS Diva and a great force behind SBS. (An MVP as well). Today she mentions our blog and also several others regarding SBS. Thanks for the mention Susan and I look forward to hearing you speak at SMB Nation.

For those of you reading my blog I truly appreciate it but remember that the others as well will give you a total perspective on SBS and small business computing. One alone is not enough, feast on all the feeds!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Update for SBS 2003 to use Windows Firewall in XP SP2

Well we knew this was coming. By default the Group Policy setting in SBS 2003 will not allow the Windows Firewall in the forthcoming XP SP2 release (possibly coming out on the downloads site as soon as tomorrow according to reports) to work properly. Here's the download for KB 872769.

Definitely install this as one of the best features of the new SP2 is the Windows Firewall. We've been begging for more security from Microsoft and this is the result.

Remember, make sure and test everything regarding your SP2 rollouts before putting them into production. What did my Grandma use to say....oh yeah, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

All port GPRS access on TMobile for Free?

Smartphone Thoughts today links to discussions on using TMobile's GPRS now for free and it appears as of right now has all ports open.

Why is this such a big deal? Well in SBS land we have this thing called the Remote Web Workplace that by default uses ports 80,443, and 4125. Then you have Sharepoint Services that uses port 444. If you can use your Windows Mobile phone on the TMobile service you can get to this for FREE. Or if you have a pocket PC with bluetooth and attached to your TMobile bluetooth phone you can get these for free! This is a great deal for small businesses to stay more connected and continue to use the great features of SBS 2003 including things like Outlook Mobile Access or Outlook Web Access.

There's some discussion that this might be due to TMobile's pending HP Ipaq H6135 coming out soon but who knows?
Look into it as I know I will.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Will "Cougar" Slip?

Mary Jo Foley lets it be known today that it appears that Windows Server 'R2' Delayed to 2006. Well that seems right on schedule with all of the Microsoft delays as well.

The question for us using SBS and promoting it is this.... Will Cougar (SBS 2005) now be delayed. Wellllll, since Cougar was to include R2 of Windows 2003 Server it would appear that this would be the case. SBS 2005 will now be SBS 2006....for now.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Terminal Server in an SBS environment

Microsoft released today a guide to explain how to deploy Windows Server 2003 Terminal Server to Host User Desktops in a Windows Small Business Server 2003 Environment.

One of the biggest questions in SBS 2003 is can you run Terminal Services in application mode. The answer is no you cannot although you can run in Administrative mode. This was possible in 2000 and sounds like quite a few did it. Well, I've gotta say that that makes me a little scared, especially as a Citrix guy as well. With so many desktops running on the server with AD and Exchange and everything else, the question I ask is why? Why run it with all that stuff and risk something being messed up. Stick it on another server and run it to your hearts content. Oh yeah and follow this guide.

Microsoft CRM Mobile is out

Microsoft put on its download site today the new CRM Mobile 1.2 which allows you to use your Pocket PC and get CRM information. Great stuff and a forward step in the CRM arena.

Putting CRM onto an SBS 2003 box with the 70% discount available right now, then having this value add hits a home run for a lot of small business sales shops.

New Search Engine has PDA search

Mark Cuban of Dallas Mavs fame, and billionaire, and new host of the Benefactor...etc. has put his money and efforts into a new search engine, IceRocket. Looks like he's trying to compete with Google but with more innovative ideas. This of course is interesting because as far as I'm concerned Google is probably the most innovative big company in the world right now.

However one cool feature about IceRocket is the Email A Search from your PDA or phone option. Definitely is nice if you have limited bandwidth or on the small screen of a phone or PDA. Now if it can provide quick results then it might just be something I'll continue to use.

Check out IceRocket, they have some other nice features as well.