Office for iPad

Office for iPad

Microsoft are pleased to announce their new Office for iPad app. Makes the iPad less useless in business now……I’d still take a Surface Pro anyday 🙂

Microsoft vs VMware – Comparison of key technologies

Hypervisor comparison

With this particular slide we’re able to compare, like-for-like products between Microsoft and VMware.

The key point to address in this particular scenario is MS will provide the Hypervisor free of charge (either by a standalone ‘server core’ or as part of the Windows Server 2012 purchase), the other components are part of System Center.

From a VMware point of view, they sell you the hypervisor with various ‘levels’ that unlock the ability to add bolt-ons. To realise the full potential of the solution, you will be required to license the ‘software’ at an ‘Enterprise’ level.

Microsoft have gone for the ‘undercut’ approach with regards to pricing, there are significant costs savings with regards to licensing the features, and Microsoft have a simpler model, if you want more, get System Center and you can have it all!

For a little more information Microsoft have a website allowing you to check the hardware you have is supported by Microsoft. is the site for checking your hardware and what is available/supported

If you have requirements you cal always call PCS and we can spec and price a solution for you – 08452414155

Microsoft Partner Enablement

As a Microsoft Partner, we’re often invited to attend various courses and seminars, this one in particular peaked my interest, an in-depth technical overview of some of the latest products and updates from Microsoft.

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

The course title was – Microsoft Visualization with Windows Server 2012 R2 & System Center 2012 R2

Coming from a VCP background and attended the relevant courses for the VMware VCP – vSphere Datacentre exams I was intrigued to look a bit more in depth to the Microsoft offering of Hyper-visors and the technology that Microsoft are looking to bolt into it to make an all encompassing container for business.

To my delight it is on par if not better. I say better because I use Microsoft products and they way it has been designed is similar to what I am used to with other Microsoft products, this I particularly like. It makes my hunting for particular features intuative and a better use of my time. At then end of the day, I want to complete something, not only do I want it done right, but I want it done quickly. An important first point I’d imagine a lot of technical people in my position would agree with.

The technology itself is very similar, there are swings and roundabouts that offset against each other in comparison tables, but for me Microsoft have it. Not only are they creating the Operating Systems and putting all the work into that side of things, but they are genuinely a player in the Hyper-visor level now, run an OS in a third party virtual environment or use a virtual environment that has been designed with the Operating System build in mind. It all makes obvious sense. Exchange and SQL performance improvements are a great example of this. *Insert ‘stat here* 🙂

The delivery of the course was by a very technically minded marketing person, he knew what he was talking about and didn’t sugar coat that there were some areas that need improvement, but better than that, each time we were informed of a possible issue with something and then quoted a possible time frame for this to be resolved and improved. Microsoft work on things, now! An understanding that not everything is going to be perfect first time round is the reason they are THE player in what they do – business IT solutions (all encompassing these days)

I digress…..

I am looking a bit further into a number of points that were raised during the course, new products and services available to utilize as well as some ‘features’ that were not available in the SP1 release of Windows Server 2012.

The list of other items I hope to tick off include (but not limited to);

Windows Azure

Windows Intune

System Center Configuration Manager

System Center Operations Manager

Hyper-V (R2)

As well as the inner workings of all of these products.

Windows 1.0, the first version, released in 1985

Windows 1.0, the first version, released in 1985 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not going to be able to do this all over night so I will tick the list off and post links on this particular post so you can see the progress, although checking back in to see the newest posts wouldn’t hurt the statistics? 😉

Anyhow, as a conclusion – Microsoft have done some pretty amazing things recently, I for one have had my glass emptied with VMware and now I’m ready to pour in the sweet sweet nectar of Hyper-V and all the possibilities the CLOUD OS provides.

Check back soon and thanks for viewing!

Microsoft UK HQ – Cloud OS Seminar #microsoft #cloudOS

Overview of Cloud OS

The vision associated with the whole ‘Cloud OS’ infrastructure and service is designed to address the following areas;

Microsoft UK HQ

Microsoft UK HQ

  • Social Web Analytics
  • Advanced Analytics
  • Cloud Scalability
  • Live Data Feeds
  • Mobility

The idea behind Cloud OS is to address the above but it does so much more than that, looking at the services that are provided by Microsoft shows its ability to create excellent Cloud Services and using its own design to fully establish successful applications and infrastructure.

The Cloud services Microsoft provide include over 200+ well established cloud based solutions, these include;

  • Bing
  • XBOX Live
  • SkyDrive
  • Exchange Hosted Services
  • Office365
  • Skype
  • Lync
  • A multitude of other services covering everything from mobile devices (Intune) to fully hosted servers (Azure)

Microsoft were very keen to promote the idea of using Microsoft products on the journey to the cloud, by using Windows Server 2012 as the beginnings of a cloud journey. The particularly stressed the importance and ease associated with moving a Server 2012 Virtual Machine from on-prem to the cloud in Azure.

The idea was to create a platform that was consistent not only for the end users who utilise the ‘end result’ as such, but for administrators and the decision makers for the whole IT infrastructure of a company.

When I use the term ‘Cloud OS’, Microsoft defines this as some of its major products based in the cloud, as detailed below;

  • Azure – the platform of the cloud infrastructure sold as a service to utilise and scale as required.
  • Windows Server 2012 – The on-prem implementation of a virtual environment enabling fast transition and ease to the cloud.
  • SQL – Utilising data and enabling a data rich function to compliment the fantastic work of the Azure platform.
  • System Centre – enabling control and management of devices, users, profiles, software. This could be seen as the administrator’s hub for maintaining the cloud infrastructure and connected devices.
  • Visual Studio – For the developers of the world, this will enable excellent products to be released utilising the cloud, Visual Studio has been revamped for the cloud and as such will give the developers what they need to create fully functioning products for companies to utilise.
Microsoft know how to put on a good breakfast! :-)

Microsoft know how to put on a good breakfast! 🙂

Office 365 Introduction – #guru365

Office365 has marginalised the gap between big business (enterprise) and the small to medium size businesses. For many this will increase the competitive advantage of smaller businesses, in my eyes, a fantastic opportunity to level the playing field.

SharePoint is a fantastic example of this playing field being levelled. Before the world of online SaaS – SharePoint was a huge investment, requiring dedicated servers, even farms to allow the kind of productivity that enterprise has been used to and invested in for years.

Even for enterprise there isn’t a stationary situation, Exchange Online allows enterprise to move their operationally important systems out into the cloud, allowing Microsoft to maintain and manage the hardware associated with these systems. This allows onsite technical staff to concentrate on the line of business applications and improve the productivity regard bespoke systems and settings on their infrastructure, leaving what could be seen as the mundane administration tasks of the Office infrastructure to Microsoft.

Exchange Online has been seen as one of the more popular components of Office365, one of the major advantages I see with regards to Exchange Online, you do not have the bottleneck of your broadband/internet connection. For Example, a on site hosted Exchange server requires an internet connection in order to send and recieve email, if this goes down you will need some sort of mail continuity service in order to queue mail until the internet is back online. Iin a situation where your emails are hosted in Exchange Online, you will simply need to connect a dongle or use a backup internet line to retrieve mail. Your mail will continue to flow inwards as the internet line of your business no longer effects the recieving of email to the server, just to your client, this makes a massive difference to administering and also the continuity is kind of built into Exchange Online, and even if that isn’t the case Microsoft financially back their uptime, which I’m very sure they will maintain through their excellent infrastructure.

Although setting up an Office 365 infrastructure from scratch is a fairly simple process, the migration to Office 365 can be a complicated process, depending on what you are currently using and how you wish to use Office 365. Don’t get me wrong, with reading and experience with Exchange it is fairly simple, but please don’t think this ‘Microsoft Service’ makes an Exchange Migration to the Cloud as simple as setting up an Outlook Profile. Hopefully my blog will shed some light on the ‘tricky’ parts of Office 365, ADFS appears to be one of the most commonly asked questions, which I have addressed in the ADFS section of my blog. If you do  have any further questions, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to delve into your particular question topic and answer with as much detail as I can.

Kind Regards

Steve Pothecary

Hardware Requirements for Installing Windows Server 2012

Hardware requirements define the absolute minimum required to run the server software. The actual hardware requirements depend on the services that the server is hosting, the load on the server, and how responsive you want the server to be.

The services and features of each role put a unique load on network, disk, I/O, processor, and memory resources.

Virtualised deployments of Windows Server 2012 must match the same hardware specifications as required for physical deployments. Windows Server 2012 is supported on Hyper-V Server 2012 and certain third-party virtualisation platforms.

The minimum hardware requirements for Windows Server 2012 are shown in the following list;

Processor Architecture – 64 bit

Processor Speed – 1.4GHZ

Memory (RAM) – 512MB

Hard Disk Drive Space – 32GB


Microsoft Exam Share

Many thanks to Jon Prince for the following information.

I just thought I’d share some of the resources which I’ve recently found helpful in studying for the 410 exam.

The “Born To Learn” site was quite good as it has a “Prep resources by objective” which includes video’s, TechNet links and Labs.



410 –

411 –

412 –


MCSE: Server

413 –

414 –


The following YouTube channel was also of help:

There is a playlist featuring Ed Liberman and Cynthia Wang who review 410, 411 and 412:

Or you can try here: which has vids and links to forums.


There is also an overview of loads of Server 2012 stuff on the MVA site:


If you ever need any assistance please call Comms Group UK Ltd on 0844 848 8144

Outlook 2010 – Unable to open hyperlinks in Outlook 2010 due to restrictions in place

I have just come across a strange issue this morning, when attempting to open a link from outlook 2010 a user will get the error message “‘This operation has been cancelled due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Please contact your system administrator’.


A common cause of this is the removal of Google Chrome whilst it is still set as the default browser.


To fix this you need to:

  1. 1.     Reinstall google chrome and make it the default browser (restart outlook and check links work)
  2. 2.     Make IE your default browser (restart outlook and check links work)
  3. 3.     Uninstall Google Chrome
  4. 4.     Restart outlook and check links again.


Or run the Microsoft fix it –

Downgrading 2012 Remote Desktop CALs to 2003 TS CALs

Activating 2012 Remotedesktop CALS on 2003 server

In order to do this you need to ring Microsoft on 0870 241 1963 option 2,3.

You will need to provide the license number and authorisation number which will be included on the license receipt.

They will require the terminal server ID which can be obtained by opening up Terminal server licensing (on the TS License server)

To find the server ID right click on the server name within terminal server licensing and change the install method to telephone


Press ok to the change, then right click on the server name and click on install license, press next on the first screen and this will give you the server ID


Microsoft will need this when downgrading the licenses.

If they advise you that the licenses do not exist then you need to wait for around 24 hours for them to appear on the portal.

Once they appear the Microsoft representative will provide you with a Key Pack which you type in the box shown above, this will then install the licenses

ADFS Terminology

A quick overview of the terminology used for ADFS


 Adfs-editFSproperties01Please click here for an overview video from MSDN’s Channel 9 service


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