Windows 8.1 Available for Download

October 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Windows 8.1 has been available for some time now for MSDN subscribers, but today Microsoft has just publicly released Windows 8.1 for Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro users. You can get this new update through the Microsoft Store. It is packed with many updates, fixes, and tweaks that will hopefully improve the user experience. Of these changes, my favorites are:

  • The return of the Start button
    The Start button now sports the new Microsoft logo and launches the start screen. The veteran Windows users would like to see the return of the original start menu, however, this is a welcomed improvement over the previous method where you had to put your cursor in the very bottom left corner of the screen.
  • The option to boot directly to the desktop
    To turn on boot-to-desktop, right-click the Taskbar and choose Properties, and then Navigation. Finally, under Start screen, check the box that says “Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in.”
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How to Use a Command Prompt During GUI-Mode Setup

June 29, 2013 2 comments

In some cases, it may be helpful to have access to a command prompt during GUI-mode Setup for the purposes of troubleshooting, partitioning the disk, copying drivers, starting and stopping services, starting tools such as Task Manager, or other for other needs.

To gain access to a command prompt during GUI-mode Setup, press SHIFT+F10.

Latest Microsoft Update Causes Issues For Some

April 12, 2013 7 comments

For some, Microsoft’s latest set of patches for April 2013 has caused headaches. Microsoft is investigating behavior where systems may not recover from a restart or applications cannot load after installing security update KB2823324. This marks Microsoft’s second botched update this year. Microsoft recommends that customers uninstall this update. As an added precaution, Microsoft has removed the download links to the KB2823324 update while they investigate.

If you have installed this update but have not yet restarted your computer, you can uninstall the update by going to Control Panel > Programs and Features > View Installed Updates. Select “Security Update for Microsoft Windows (KB2823324)” and choose uninstall. If you manage a large number of machines, you can create a script to uninstall it with the command:

wusa.exe /uninstall /kb:2823324 /quiet /norestart

or by using Microsoft’s Sysinternals PsExec

Psexec -d -s \\remotemachine wusa.exe /uninstall /kb:2823324 /quiet /norestart

If you were among the unfortunate who installed the update, rebooted, and received a blue screen of death, chkdsk or other type of error, try one of the following procedures:

I suggest you try these in order. All of these require using ‘System Recovery Options’. You can get to this by pressing F8 during startup and choosing ‘Repair your Computer’ or by booting from a Windows 7 DVD or USB bootable media. The first two recover windows using System Restore points. The third tries to uninstall the update from the command line.

  1. Use ‘System Restore’ to restore Windows to an earlier point in time (before the Microsoft Update was installed)
  2. Use ‘Command Prompt’ and issue the command ‘dism /image:C:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions’
  3. Use ‘Command Prompt’ and issue the command ‘dism /image:C:\ /remove-package /PackageName:Package_for_KB2823324~31bf3856ad364e35~x86~~6.1.1.1’

Reboot your computer after performing each step and hopefully you will be able to boot again normally. Good luck.

For more information visit: You receive an Event ID 55 or a 0xc000021a Stop error in Windows 7 after you install security update 2823324

EDIT: Microsoft has released KB2840149 to address the security issue that was suppose to be fixed by the botched update.

The original update created a conflict with certain third-party software installed on user machines. This resulted in system errors that caused the reboot loop. Microsoft immediately pulled the update to prevent any more issues from coming up. Microsoft eventually released a secondary update which removed the first update. If you are running Windows 7, head over to Windows Update to download the latest security fix. If you have automatic updates enabled, you probably already have it.

Using Network Time Protocol with Windows Server

April 2, 2013 1 comment

We all know that time synchronization is a crucial aspect for all the computers on the network, especially servers. In Windows, client computers obtain the time from domain controllers and the domain controllers obtain their time from the domain’s primary domain controller operation master. The primary domain controller obtains its  time from an external source, usually Microsoft (time.windows.com). If you would like to have your primary domain controller synchronize with a NTP server, the process is fairly simple. My department maintains our own SNTP servers but you could use one from the NTP Pool Project.

For my fellow administrators in the North American continent, you would use:

  • 0.north-america.pool.ntp.org
  • 1.north-america.pool.ntp.org
  • 2.north-america.pool.ntp.org
  • 3.north-america.pool.ntp.org

I recommend you use the DNS name instead of an IP address because the IP addresses may change in the future for what ever reason. Now lets configure our primary domain controller to synchronize with our NTP server.

      1. Sign into your primary domain controller with Administrator credentials. If you do not know which of your domain controllers is the primary domain controller, you can query a domain controller using netdom. Use the command ‘netdom /query fsmo’.
      2. Open a command prompt window.
      3. Stop the W32Time service by using the command ‘net stop w32time’.
      4. Now it is time to configure the external NTP source. Use the command: w32tm /config /syncfromflags:manual /manualpeerlist:<NTP Servers here> /reliable:yes
      5. Start the W32Time service again by using the command ‘net start w32time’.

NOTE: If you are going to use more than one NTP server, you must enclose them in quotes and delimit each entry with a space. Ex: “ntp1.domain.com ntp2.domain.com ntp3.domain.com”.

The Windows Time Service should begin to synchronize the time with external NTP server you chose. You can view your current configuration by using the command ‘w32tm /query /configuration’ and check your Event Viewer for any error messages.

Sysprep Fatal Error With IE 10 (FIX)

March 15, 2013 72 comments

My fellow system administrators, there is a bug with sysprep and Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 7. My department maintains a Windows 7 image that we use on all our desktops. Today I installed some Windows updates which included Internet Explorer 10. When I tried to sysprep the machine like I usually do I received an error that a fatal error has occurred while trying to sysprep the machine. After looking at the logs (setupact.log and setuperr.log) I discovered what the issue was:

Error      [0x0f0085] SYSPRP LaunchDll:Could not load DLL C:\Windows\SysWOW64\iesysprep.dll[gle=0x000000c1]

It turns out that Internet Explorer 10 was the culprit. Strangely, ‘iesysprep.dll’ does exist within C:\Windows\SysWOW64. I have posted about it on the TechNet forums and it appears I am not the only one having this issue. Another user on the TechNet forums, sgennadi, has posted what appears to be a solution. It calls for modifying sysprep registry values and changing them back from SysWOW64 to System32. I personally have not tried his/her solution. I reverted back to a previous image and installed the new updates again, minus Internet Explorer 10, and sysprep works fine. Personally, I will be waiting for Microsoft to address this in a Windows Update before I upgrade to Internet Explorer 10.

EDIT:
I decided to add the proposed solution here in case anyone wants to fix it themselves. Again, credit goes to sgennadi for the solution.

After installing IE10, open the registry editor (regedit). You should make a backup of the registry before making any changes in the event that something goes wrong. You can do this by choosing File > Export and make sure you select ‘All’ under ‘Export range’.

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup\Sysprep\Cleanup

Locate: Value Name {EC9FE15D-99DD-4FB9-90D5-5B56E42A0F80} Value Data C:\Windows\SysWOW64\iesysprep.dll,Sysprep_Cleanup_IE
Replace the value with: C:\Windows\System32\iesysprep.dll,Sysprep_Cleanup_IE

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup\Sysprep\Generalize

Locate: Value Name {EC9FE15D-99DD-4FB9-90D5-CE53C91AB9A1} Value Data C:\Windows\SysWOW64\iesysprep.dll,Sysprep_Generalize_IE
Replace the value with: C:\Windows\System32\iesysprep.dll,Sysprep_Cleanup_IE

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup\Sysprep\Specialize

Locate: Value Name {EC9FE15D-99DD-4FB9-90D5-676C338DC1DA} Value Data C:\Windows\SysWOW64\iesysprep.dll,Sysprep_Cleanup_IE
Replace the value with: C:\Windows\System32\iesysprep.dll,Sysprep_Cleanup_IE

Now you should be able to run sysprep successfully without receiving the IE10 related error.

Windows 7 receives Internet Explorer 10

February 26, 2013 6 comments

With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft launched the latest version of Internet Explorer; Internet Explorer 10. Windows 7 users, however, did not receive the Internet Explorer upgrade. Microsoft has now released Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7. Internet Explorer 10 will be available through Windows Update in the next few weeks but if you want to download it now you can by visiting the link I have provided below.

Internet Explorer 10