Showing posts with label windows server 2012. Show all posts
Showing posts with label windows server 2012. Show all posts

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Scheduling Application Pool Recycles in Windows Server 2008 and 2012

TimeSpan[]Array and the TimeSpan Collection Editor

The process for scheduling an application pool to recycle at specific times in Windows Server 2008 and 2012 is a bit different then in previous versions. Launch IIS Manager, expand application pools and highlight the application pool to modify. Under the Actions menu on the right hand side, select Advanced Settings.

Scroll down to the Recycling section and expand it. You are looking for the TimeSpan[]Array entry of Specific Times section, highlighted in the example above. Click the three dots to the right of this entry.

Click the Add button under the Members window on the left hand side. This will produce a new value in the Properties window. click the new value and modify it using a 24 hour / military clock standard. Select OK and you're all set!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

List of Windows Activation Keys for KMS

Includes Keys for Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008, Windows 8, Windows 7 and Vista

This list of keys for KMS can be a real hassle to find in Microsoft's online documentation, so provided here in the hopes of saving you some time. Please note that these are not stolen product keys and as such publishing them is a time saver for administrators managing large deployments of fully licensed Microsoft products  - so if you are a thief or an Internet police person, sorry to disappoint but you've made it to the wrong site.


Windows Server 2012 Core

Windows Server 2012 Core N

Windows Server 2012 Core Single Language

Windows Server 2012 Core Country Specific

Windows Server 2012 Server Standard

Windows Server 2012 Standard Core

Windows Server 2012 MultiPoint Standard

Windows Server 2012 MultiPoint Premium

Windows Server 2012 Datacenter

Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Core


Windows 8 Professional

Windows 8 Professional N

Windows 8 Enterprise

Windows 8 Enterprise N


Windows Server 2008 R2 HPC Edition

Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter

Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise

Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium-Based Systems

Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard

Windows Web Server 2008 R2

Windows Server 2008 Datacenter

Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V

Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems

Windows Server 2008 Enterprise

Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V

Windows Server 2008 Standard

Windows Server 2008 Standard without Hyper-V

Windows Web Server 2008


Windows 7 Professional

Windows 7 Professional N

Windows 7 Enterprise

Windows 7 Enterprise N

Windows 7 Enterprise E


Windows Vista Business

Windows Vista Business N

Windows Vista Enterprise

Windows Vista Enterprise N

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Windows Server 2012 Activation Problems, Questions and Solutions

[Please note this article deals with general questions related to Windows Server 2012 Product Activation. For tips on activating the Windows 2012 GUI from Server Core, try this article instead.]

I've heard multiple reports of people having issues with Windows Server 2012 Product Activation. Here are a few hints on how to resolve:
-Ensure your server is connected the the internet
-Ensure correct DNS resolution is available
-Resolve any outstanding routing issues (Firewall or IPS blocking your new server? DHCP misconfigured?)
-Attempt product activation from the command line:

slmgr.vbs -ipk [enter your product key without brackets]
slmgr.vbs -ato

This is still a new OS, but I've yet to experience an issue that wasn't resolved by one of these for in cases where the product key is valid.

Other Helpful Commands:

slmgr.vbs /dlv Displays the active product key
slmgr.vbs /upk Uninstall the current product key

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Windows Server 2012 Product Activation:
What is KMS?
KMS stands for Key Management Service, and allows for product license activation to occur within the local network of your organization without the need to contact an external Microsoft licensing server. KMS runs incredibly light, so although I would typically recommend for security purposes using a small dedicated server or VM for licensing purposes and keeping it as far away from everyday normal network traffic as possible, you can easily use the same box to handle Terminal Services licensing, printer services, and other tasks best addressed on your local network. KMS handles licensing for Windows Server as well as MS Office suite applications, however you must meet minimum licensing utilization thresholds to qualify. To be clear, to use KMS you have to activate or have activated at least this many computers, servers and/or Office products, depending on what product you will be using KMS for. So if you want to use KMS for Windows Server, you will need to have activated 5 server licenses already, or intend to activate at least 5 licenses immediately. Here is a list of all the minimum thresholds :

To activate Windows Server 2012/2008 - 5 servers are required
To activate Windows 8/7/Vista - 25 computers are required
To activate Microsoft Office - 5 computers must be licensed for Office, Visio, Project, or some combination thereof

2012 functionality in KMS is available as an update for those already operating a KMS server for 2008 and Windows 7.

Here is a time-saving list of KMS activation keys for Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008, Windows 8, Windows 7 and Vista.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Changes to Windows Server 2012 Media Handling Reduce Bandwidth Requirements for Remote Desktop (RDP) and Terminal Services

RemoteFX Media Streaming Introduced

Over the years I have worked at both Internet Service Providers and server hosting companies. In both environments, customers have found thin client deployment and virtual desktop provisioning stymied by the bandwidth needs of remote desktop when used for day-to-day desktop computing style tasks. I can't remember how many times I have worked with a company whose entire network has failed or flapped because of employees downloading torrents or watching Youtube videos from a remote server. Other times, I have worked on Terminal Services capacity planning projects, and found myself impressed by the difficulty of giving reliable estimates even where good data is available.

Many companies have been completely unable to reap the rewards of hosted desktops (fast provisioning and restoring, centralized management, easy hardware replacement) because of the costs of reliable high-throughput internet connections to their office. Data center bandwidth isn't cheap, either. A number of companies have been founded (and a few, like Citrix, have flourished) around introducing appliances and applications to further compress the data on both ends of a remote desktop connection.

The rewards to the end user, then, of improving multimedia performance over RDP are huge. Microsoft is claiming to have done just that with Windows Server 2012.

Changes From Windows Server 2008 / Windows 7

Windows Multimedia Redirection (WMR) was the name for special multimedia handling in the last version of Windows. WMR had some positive innovations of its own - rendering takes place on the client side, and as a result, CPU load on the server is decreased. Under normal circumstances this is accomplished without a significant reduction in quality. There were a number of problems with the implementation - WMA, WMV, MP3 and DivX are handled, but unsupported protocols get handled without any special rendering (unsupported includes Flash, Silverlight and Quicktime - basically almost all video on the web). The client requires RDP 7.0 when connecting to take advantage of any of this. Bandwidth consumption is wholly dependent upon the bit rate of the original video. The frame rate sucks and becomes worse with scale.

Windows Server 2012 addresses the issues differently - WMR is replaced by RemoteFX. Through some secret mojo that has yet to be fully explained by Microsoft at this point, RemoteFX identifies regions of the screen that are to render video. The video content is encoded using H.264 codec and RemoteFX Progressive Codec. Audio is encoded by using the AAC codec. This is accomplished regardless of how the video is displayed - Silverlight, Flash - every protocol is supported. Because video behavior is consistent, capacity planning should become a more straightforward task, as the biggest variable for client resources finds a reduced range of possible values.

Microsoft is publishing some big claims on performance improvement. 90% bandwidth reduction claims should be greeted with skepticism, but other claims of frame rates over the WAN staying around 20 fps look promising. Testing demonstrates (I am working on embedding the video, should have it up shortly) that in a side-by-side comparison of Windows 7 and Windows 8 remote desktops using the same uplink - 2 Mbps throughput, 250ms round-trip latency, and 0.5% random loss - Windows 8 shows significant and noticeable graphical improvement, performing almost indistinguishably from a local display while playing the same Youtube video. Windows 7 struggles - several times a second, the video pauses to re-render a new image, making the display irritating and unwatchable. Keep in mind I have yet to test or see test results with multiple concurrent RDP connections, so at this point I would not recommend capacity planning using those numbers.

More testing is needed - what will be valuable is a greater understanding of the amount of resources (especially throughput) needed per RDP client, reliable maximum client per server numbers, and any additional provisos for virtual environments. If your projects are graphically intensive or involve unique image, audio or video handling, then running a few of your own stress tests is highly recommended.

When performing your own tests, note that WMR is still used for LAN connections in Windows Server 2012. Whether you are on a LAN or WAN is determined by latency - if your connection is under 30ms latency, WMR will be used. If your connection is over 30ms latency, RemoteFX is used. There are a lot of ways to control latency for testing - I am partial to NIST as Cisco's recommended WAN emulation software. Although NIST is Linux based, the previous link will take you to full installation media with detailed instructions (so you don't need to be an expert Linux administrator to get it working). That said, there are Windows-based WAN emulators too. Jperf (the java fork of iperf) and WANEM should do the trick, as well. Be sure to publish your results! Here is a link to the forums if after testing you would like to share your data with the community (I am also happy to publish your results here, or link to findings on your blog or website).

The tests so far I have seen look very promising - hopefully these changes continue to encourage the implementation of virtual desktops, as well as the adoption of Windows 8/2012 itself.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Websockets and IIS8 - Enable the WebSocket Protocol Module

A few months ago, I wrote a post about websockets and IIS7, explaining how some extensive hacking is needed to get websockets working and providing a link to an application that would accomplish just that. That post was very popular - Microsoft developers are obviously looking for ways to implement web sockets, and there is not a lot of documentation out there to assist them yet.

With the release of Windows Server 2012, Microsoft is now including native support for WebSockets. Unfortunately the 2008 hack (released by HTML5Labs) is now deprecated, and has been removed from the developer's website. Because there is so much interest, and no longer a fix to implement websockets in IIS7 that I am readily aware of, I am going to start putting together some information for developers here on IIS8. This post will just have the basics, and I will expand on the topic through later posts.

To get started, it is necessary to enable the WebSocket Protocol Module. The module is available as a Server 2012 feature. Launch Server Manager, select Manage, then click Add Roles and Features. Click Next. Select Role-based or feature-based installation, then select your server from the Destination Server Page. Click Next to skip past Roles and go straight to Features (If you haven't already enabled the IIS8 Server Role, do that before skipping the roles page). From Features, navigate to Internet Information Services --- World Wide Web Services --- Application Development Features --- WebSocket Protocol, Select it, click Next and then click Install. Features can also be added through PowerShell, by launching an elevated PowerShell session and using the Install-WindowsFeature command(Here is a link to a complete guide on adding Features and Roles in Server 2012).

With the Feature enabled, you are now ready to begin. So far, I am familiar with two ways of handling WebSockets requests. One is to use IHttpContext3's GetNamedContext API to point requests to the IWebSocketContext interface. Alternatively, you may also use the .NET 4.5 framework's new System.Web.WebSockets namespace and call the AspNetWebSocket class. We will expand further on these two topics in the next post on this topic.

While I prepare the next post, I would recommend consulting Brian Raymor's excellent post on WebSocket API implementation.

And for developers who are still stuck with Windows Server 2008 - I have not forgotten you! I am still looking for good published hacks, however for the time being, it may be worth checking out SignalR as one alternative to websockets, which relies on APM functionality for fast connections that can be deployed in 2008 and using older browsers.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Activating Windows Server 2012 GUI after Installing Server Core Only

[This article deals with issues with installing the 2012 GUI from Server Core. Do you need help with activating your license key? If so, try this article instead.]

Update: James Stephan, currently Senior Analyst with Dell Health Services, was kind enough to point out to me that I had neglected to mention this procedure will only function with fully licensed versions of Windows Server 2012. If you have downloaded and installed the free edition of Windows 2012 Server Core, you cannot activate the GUI. For quite a bit of detailed information specific to the free edition of 2012 Server Core, follow this link to James' blog.

So I just started playing with Server 2012. Right out of the gate, I encountered issues on installing to a hard drive with a pre-existing Windows 7 installation. I nuked the partitions during the install, however when trying to install the full server GUI, I got a "Windows component cannot be found" error. I believe this was the result of the installer attempting to salvage data from the existing partitions, I still don't know (if you do know, please shoot me an email).

The installation media image was intact, so instead of banging my head on it I reinstalled server core only, and activated the GUI component following the installation. 

If you have installed the full GUI from the installation media, you can activate/deactivate/reactive it by launching sconfig from powershell or the command line as Administrator and selecting option 12. If you have not installed the full GUI first, there is no option 12 displayed in sconfig.

Easy fix. Launch powershell from the command line, and use dism to activate the component (this assumes your installation media is on D:\ but you can replace with any path to your installation ISO):

dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:ServerCore-FullServer /source:d:\sources\sxs

This will take some time to process, so be sure to be patient (it took about 10-15 minutes for me). Do not reboot following completing the command. First, activate the shell: 

Add-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell

Now reboot, and you're done.


NSA Leak Bust Points to State Surveillance Deal with Printing Firms

Earlier this week a young government contractor named Reality Winner was accused by police of leaking an internal NSA document to news outle...