http://www.sparkleshare.org/ is a new project on the Internet inspired by Dropbox (a clever fileshareing/collaboration and file syncronising util that uses cloud based storage), SparkleShares force is that it supposodly will be free/open source and you can thus setup your own servers, sounds like something to make a mantal note of..

The first version will be in Linux but should be followed by a windows version, presently no version is publicly available though (as it’s very early in the program, announced June 10th 2010).

http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2010/06/sparkleshare-aims-to-better-dropbox.html

Soluto offers to minimize your boot time, even with Windows 7 boot time is time wasted and a spark for frustration but this utility states it can cut a significant portion of your boot time.

http://www.soluto.com/
They even call it “Anti-Fustration software” 🙂

I have not tested it yet, but it does sound promising.

Hopefully you have your Windows machine set to receive updates automatically?  But do you ever check that updates are actually downloaded, and installed and what about third party software?

Well, this tip is an oldie, but still quite good and worth a mention;
Secunia (a very skilled security company) offer several products for evaluating your Software readiness (ranging from corporate products to free online personal scanners).
Check it out at (at the very least do an online scan);
http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/online/

CNet also offers a new product called TechTracker which more or less does the same thing;
http://www.cnet.com/techtracker/?tag=mncol;pm

Have you ever had a machine BSD (blue screen) on you?  and have you ever felt helpless in understanding why and what the problem is?

Well here is a Freeware product that can give you a little insight or at least give you ample time to read and analyze the BSD info.  It analyzes the minidump file that is generated on BSD..

http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/blue_screen_view.html

If you have a SA agreement with MS as part of your license, then you have access to yet another utility via “Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance” Crash Analyzer Wizard..  But as mentioned this require a SA agreement.

If you need to debug mail flow problems then make sure to visit www.mxtoolbox.com, it will offer you some quite useful insights quite intuitively – including eg. Analyze headers, blacklist checking, mx checking and much much more.

Just a quick link if you ever need to implement Microsoft Live Communications Server, here is a script that can assist you in modifying your AD users.

http://www.activedir.org/Articles/tabid/54/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/15/Default.aspx

I actually thought I had written this post long ago, but it would seem it somehow slipped my mind.

Anyhow, have you ever found yourself running out of diskspace – wandering what the h… is eating up all your diskspace… most have and it can be a complex matter to find that strange .zip or .log file (or whatnot file) that is floating around somewhere and taking up hundreds if not thousands of megabytes.

The solution is a cool freeware util Windirstat that will convert your drives filestructure to a graphical display, here you can just click on the large objects and see which file it is and thus quickly find those large files that is taking up space..

Sure there are other util’s like this, some may even be better I don’t know – but this one is simple, small, free and works..

http://sourceforge.net/projects/windirstat/

a fairly good alternative is;
http://www.jgoodies.com/freeware/jdiskreport/
this works much the same way just with a pie chart instead, and as I recall requires java installed.

Although Microsoft Windows Server Core by now has gotten a textbased menu system for basic configuration then this util seem like a neat little thing.  It’s a GUI for configuring your core servers, not rocket science but easy and convenient I would think 🙂 And it’s free 🙂
http://www.smart-x.com/?CategoryID=198&ArticleID=170&sng=1

Also check out these guys other utilities, there are some somewhat useful utils there..
http://www.smart-x.com/?CategoryID=168&ArticleID=86&sng=1

Among their more interesting utils are;
RunAs – http://www.smart-x.com/?CategoryID=223&ArticleID=181&sng=1
Folder Permissions Repporting – http://www.smart-x.com/?CategoryID=164&ArticleID=84

Getting started with Microsoft Windows KMS server..

Updated to include info on Windows 8 + 2012.

Update 2013-06
I just found a cool video by Microsoft that explain how to install on Windows 2008 R2, and it’s very clear if you just need a basic install;
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/set-up-a-kms-host-on-a-windows-server-2008-r2-machine.aspx

Original Post begin here;
So I had to install a KMS server today, up till now we had not needed one so I was a total NOOB on how to do so..

One would expect that this would be a walk in the park, however I tend to think that it has been made overly complicated and inaccessible.

First things first;
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=bbf2eb61-2b30-4f2d-bccd-df53e220b8e9&displaylang=en
This is a great intro video to KMS’ing on a Win 2008 box, it will cover all the basics and give you a good idea on how this works.

You likely need this patch to upgrade the KMS service on the Win 2008/2003 box to allow Win7 etc. to register;
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/968912 – for Win 2008 kms
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/968915– for Win 2003 kms

Now you will need to add a KMS key to the server you got this key from Microsoft as part of your license (NOT a MAK key, a KMS key).. This might confuse you as it did me, I was thinking, oh I will need to add KMS keys for all the versions of windows I need the KMS to work for, but this is not so..

On this page;
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=9893f83e-c8a5-4475-b025-66c6b38b46e3&displaylang=en
you will find a document “Volume Activation 2 0 Changes for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista SP1.doc” explaining this in more detail, but basically if you install a server 2008 R2 KMS key then this will also work for Win7, Vista etc.

How do i register a key on the KMS server;
Start an elevated CMD.exe and
change dir to c:\windows\system32

write: slmgr -IPK <YOUR KMS KEY HERE>
wait for a confirmation dialogbox, this can take a long time up to 1 min or more..
then activate the KMS key: slmgr -ATO
wait for a confirmation dialogbox, this can take a long time up to 1 min or more..
Now check the status of the KMS server: cscript slmgr.vbs -dlv
It will take a while before it is displayed.

Damn if I understand why there is no GUI for this!?

FAQ;
Help, I have machines registered with a MAK key, and now want to change this to my new KMS server – how do I do this? It is not that complicated, all you need to do is to change the license key of the workstation/officepack to a KMS key, IMPORTANT!! we are NOT talking YOUR KMS KEY, but the default KMS key from MS – confused!!? I was too, well it is not that complicated when it comes to it, when you install a MVLS product like eg. Office 2010 then it carries a default key this is the default KMS key with a limited lifespan, once you click activate this key tells the product to seek out a KMS server and try to register – if no KMS server is found the activation fails.  If you entered a MAK key at the time of installation then the product is activated and you need to unactivate it with the KMS key for that product, a list of default KMS keys can be found here;
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd772269.aspx#EOIAC

Operating System Edition  Product Key

Windows 7 Professional -  FJ82H-XT6CR-J8D7P-XQJJ2-GPDD4
Windows 7 Professional N -  MRPKT-YTG23-K7D7T-X2JMM-QY7MG
Windows 7 Enterprise -  33PXH-7Y6KF-2VJC9-XBBR8-HVTHH
Windows 7 Enterprise N - YDRBP-3D83W-TY26F-D46B2-XCKRJ
Windows 7 Enterprise E - C29WB-22CC8-VJ326-GHFJW-H9DH4
Windows Server 2008 R2 HPC Edition -  FKJQ8-TMCVP-FRMR7-4WR42-3JCD7
Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter -  74YFP-3QFB3-KQT8W-PMXWJ-7M648
Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise - 489J6-VHDMP-X63PK-3K798-CPX3Y
Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium-Based Systems -  GT63C-RJFQ3-4GMB6-BRFB9-CB83V
Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard - YC6KT-GKW9T-YTKYR-T4X34-R7VHC
Windows Web Server 2008 R2 - 6TPJF-RBVHG-WBW2R-86QPH-6RTM4
Windows Vista Business   YFKBB-PQJJV-G996G-VWGXY-2V3X8
Windows Vista Business N    HMBQG-8H2RH-C77VX-27R82-VMQBT 
Windows Vista Enterprise    VKK3X-68KWM-X2YGT-QR4M6-4BWMV 
Windows Vista Enterprise N    VTC42-BM838-43QHV-84HX6-XJXKV
Windows Server 2008  Datacenter    7M67G-PC374-GR742-YH8V4-TCBY3 
Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V     22XQ2-VRXRG-P8D42-K34TD-G3QQC 
Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems      4DWFP-JF3DJ-B7DTH-78FJB-PDRHK 
Windows Server 2008 Enterprise    YQGMW-MPWTJ-34KDK-48M3W-X4Q6V 
Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V     39BXF-X8Q23-P2WWT-38T2F-G3FPG 
Windows Server 2008 Standard  TM24T-X9RMF-VWXK6-X8JC9-BFGM2 
Windows Server 2008 Standard without Hyper-V     W7VD6-7JFBR-RX26B-YKQ3Y-6FFFJ 
Windows Web Server 2008    WYR28-R7TFJ-3X2YQ-YCY4H-M249D
Microsoft Office 2010 - VYBBJ-TRJPB-QFQRF-QFT4D-H3GVB

You can change the license key via this command (remember it has to be launched from an Elevated CMD.exe);
cscript Slmgr.vbs /ipk <SetupKey, the key from above>

Advanced tips and tricks;
Use other than the default KMS server (force a specific KMS server)
If for some reason you need to specify WHICH KMS server you wish to use (or if you need to use a remote KMS) then you do like this;
1. open an elevated cmd.exe
2  type; cscript slmgr.vbs -ipk <KMS KEY (not your own, one of the default microsoft once>
3  type; cscript slmgr.vbs -skms <IP OF KMS SERVER>:<PORT NO On KMS SERVER>  (default port is 1688)
4  type; cscript slmgr.vbs -ato

Command lines;
cscript slmgr.vbs -dlv (show status of KMS)
cscript slmgr.vbs -dli (show quick status of KMS)
cscript slmgr.vbs -dlv all (show advanced status of KMS)
cscript slmgr.vbs -upk (Remove key – unactivate Windows CAUTION!! – this may however be needed if you wish to remove the KMS role from a server)

Upgrade your KMS to accept Office 2010 clients;
Microsoft Office 2010 KMS Host License Pack
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=97b7b710-6831-4ce5-9ff5-fdc21fe8d965
IMPORTANT! Strangely enough this is NOT supported for Windows 2008 KMS servers, it works for 2003, 2008 R2 but NOT 2008. (more here; http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/officevolact/thread/b2ffee91-c6a4-4196-8a86-4974534c3dbd)

There is also some additional info here;
http://blogs.technet.com/b/odsupport/archive/2010/06/01/office-2010-kms-installation-and-troubleshooting.aspx

Debugging Office 2010 KMS;
Our KMS server somehow “lost” it’s office key, and no matter how many times I added it it kept a state of “unlicensed”, I eventually found out that entering the right key using the “slmgr -ipk <kms key>” and then issuing this command “cscript slmgr.vbs /ato bfe7a195-4f8f-4f0b-a622-cf13c7d16864” triggered the activation of the Office 2010 key.  There is more debugging tricks here; http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee624355(v=office.14).aspx

Error codes;
If you get an errorcode; Error: 0xC004F015
This may indicate that you are trying to import a KMS key that is already covered, eg. you installed a KMS key for servers KMS_B key and are trying to install a KMS for Windows7 then this Errorcode will be shown – Windows 7 is already covered by your KMS_B server key (yeah strange I agree, but that is how it works)..
(more here; http://www.vistax64.com/vista-installation-setup/173686-setup-kms-2k8.html)

Stop the KMS server (stop the KMS service on a machine) – I had problems finding the service under 2003 though;
open a commandprompt (elevated);
type; net stop slsvc – to stop the service
type; net start slsvc – to run it again

Check that the DNS records are created properly;
open a commandprompt (elevated);
type; nslookup -type=srv _vlmcs._tcp

you should see something similar to this:

_vlmcs._tcp.domain.net SRV service location:
priority = 0
weight = 0
port = 1688
svr hostname = kmsserver.domain.net
kmsserver.domain.net internet address = x.x.x.x

Firewall;
You need to check that the firewall is set to allow KMS traffic on the KMS host server (there is a standard service for that).

 

General tips and tricks;
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd996588.aspx

Volume Activation Technical Reference Guide (very useful)
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee355153.aspx

in the technical reference guide you can among other thing find this;

Customizable Activation Help

For product activation in managed environments, the Activate Windows now dialog box can be configured to display an optional Learn About Activation Online link, as shown in Figure 4.

Dd772270.image_operation4(en-us,TechNet.10).jpg

Figure 4 Learn about activation online

Clicking this custom link loads an administrator-defined URL in the user’s default browser. This URL can point to a custom Web page or other file stored on the local computer or on a network share. A Volume Licensing customer can use this link to direct their users to the customer’s Helpdesk or other activation-related resources. Displaying the link requires setting the REG_SZ value AlternateURL to the URL of the Web page to display when the user clicks it. The value AlternateURL is in the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\SoftwareProtectionPlatform\ACTIVATION registry subkey.

A bit more info from MS in both webcast and written form;
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=fda49c1f-475e-42d0-92ae-6f7edb802f3e
KMS setup Windows 7 – webcast

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=be688342-4f8a-4a15-bfa6-33b0d73c6a59
Activating with KMS in Windows 7

Windows 8 KMS (and Server 2012) (Running on Windows 2008 R2)

The default KMS service on Windows 2008R2 does likely not support a Windows 8/2012 KMS key (you try to add it via slmgr -IPK xxxxx…..), well there is a HotFix for this;
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2691586  –  it’s free but you need to request it, link is shipped via email within seconds.  I was unable to add a Windows 8 KMS key, but the 2012 server key was accepted and as far as I can tell this will both work for Windows 8 and server 2012.

Tag;
Error code; 0xC004F015 (got this for Windows 8/2012 keys before the hotfix above).

Office 2013;

OMG the “fun” never ends when it come to KMS, so when you try to activate your KMS for Office 2013 you may get;
Office KMS host setup error “0xC004F050 The software licensing service reported that the product key is invalid”
Well, that is just because you need some extra stuff on your KMS server before you can “install” the Office 2013 keys *sigh*, you need to download;

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35584

read even more here;

http://blogs.technet.com/b/odsupport/archive/2012/11/15/office-kms-host-setup-error-quot-0xc004f050-the-software-licensing-service-reported-that-the-product-key-is-invalid-quot.aspx
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee624357(v=office.15).aspx#section2

Are you setting up Outlook anywhere, outlook autodiscover or the like then this web-site may be useful;
https://www.testexchangeconnectivity.com

Be sure to use a test account so not to disclose any ‘real/live’ passwords.