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My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together
You can download and install the new, updated RDC 7.0 client for free for any OS from Windows XP SP3 and later (it ships with Windows 7) known issues here and detailed feature comparison per OS here and downloads for various client OS’es are below
A nice touch that i discovered by accident is that you can move the top title bar along the top of a full-screen RDP session by clicking and dragging, this is really handy if you work on multiple full screen RDP sessions inside another RDP session – for example a jump-off box to a protected subnet or when you have a full-screen application.
AkA Terminal Services client, Remote Desktop Protocol Client, RDS Client, Remote Desktop Client, RDC, RDP, RDS 🙂
Taken from a download on the Microsoft Partner Licencing Specialist site, the following diagram makes for a useful quick reference chart for what licencing options are applicable to the big MS Server apps – far easier than having to check the product sites and documentation individually if you are trying to spec something up.
Also lots more useful information on this site – it’s designed to train people to become Microsoft licencing specialists (MLSS/MLSE) it’s mainly sales staff orientated training, but some useful/easy to digest reference material for techies/consultants alike if you’ve ever struggled to understand Microsoft licencing.
Revision Presentations – .PDF files to download https://partner.microsoft.com/UK/40033119
Training Videos – downloadable http://www.microsoft.com/uk/partner/learningpaths/?id=licensing.mlss
I use a single laptop for my day-day use, it has all the stuff i need, I run Vista and Office 2007, for our corporate mail we use Exchange like everyone else and I use Outlook Cached Mode to work online/offline..
My own personal email is also an Exchange mailbox – provided by fasthosts (why – well, because..ok?) the problem with this is that I can’t have a single copy of Outlook connected to more than one Exchange server at the same time or run multiple instances of Outlook (I’ve tried all the hacks and Thinstall etc.), and to be honest even if I could it would probably violate the security policies of all the involved organisations as it would be quite simple for an Outlook-aware worm to try to propagate itself across multiple organisations or harvest confidential details.
The problem is further compounded by the fact that I often work on long-term customer projects and have to have a mailbox on their Exchange system as well… which leads to multiple diary sync nightmare, maybe I’ll blog about that some other time).
So at present I have 4 Exchange mailboxes that I need to keep track of, auto-forwarding mail between them is a no-no, I used to be an Exchange admin and I’ve lost many bank holidays due to corporate->Hotmail NDR mail loops!
So, up until now I’ve had to run one full Outlook client and multiple OWA clients in a browser, which is ok as long as I’m connected to the Internet, but no good if I’m on a train unless I want to close and restart Outlook with multiple profiles, which is a pain especially when you are collaborating on a project between multiple organisations. To be honest as good as OWA 2003 is it’s no substitute for a full outlook client. (still waiting for Fasthosts to go to Exchange 2007, oh and enable EAS!).
So, anyway a solution – VMWare Unity, this is a feature like Parallels for the Mac which lets you “float” an application window out of a guest VM to the host desktop meaning you can use the applications without working within a single VM’d desktop window.
To use Unity you need to have upgraded the virtual machine to 6.5 “hardware” by right clicking on the VM in the sidebar pane (below) and install the latest VM Tools – it also only seems to support XP at present, or at least it didn’t work on the Server 2003 VM I had.
Boot the VM… and install the latest VM tools.
VM Workstation Screen – note VM is set to “Unity mode”
My Vista desktop (yes, I have the start bar at the right hand side – widescreen laptop!) with the popup menu for the VM, showing all the start menu for applications installed within in it.
It even shows up on the start bar with the correct icon; although this doesn’t seem to work until its been run a couple of times; I assume it needs to cache an icon or something.
it also seems to respect the window snapshots you get whilst Win-Tab between applications, even for pop-up windows
Technically I can use this to run n x Windows XP/Outlook 2003 VM’s presenting Outlook through to my Vista desktop and comply with all organisations security policies, as each VM and its respective copy of Outlook runs in isolation from each other with the relevant company-specific AV client (or at worst, the same level as if I were using a machine connected to a public network in that they all share a vm network) – I don’t enable shared folders between the VMs.
It’s still a beta feature at the moment, and there seem to be a few bugs particularly when resizing windows sometimes it doesn’t work properly and double clicking to expand to full screen overlays the start-bar on my vista machine.
And it does seem to get confused sometimes and not allow keyboard input, so you have to flick back to non-unity mode and then back to continue, and sometimes a reboot of the guest VM but it is an early build so I would guess this will be resolved.
As an added bonus VM Workstation seems to allow the Vista host OS to go into sleep mode even whilst VMs are running, this is something I’ve not had much luck with in the past – it would generally refuse to sleep when I closed the lid (but thats not a scientific comparison… it may have just been bad luck!)
So, the pay-off – 2 copies of Outlook (2003 and 2007) seemingly running on the same desktop, alt-tab works ok and you have access to all the functionality of both without having to switch between or run multiple OWA sessions and from a security perspective it’s not really any different from having 2 physical PCs in front of you (slight memory overhead, but my laptop has 4Gb RAM, so not a huge issue).
Opening attachments is obviously going to be a bit of an issue, as you’ll technically need an individually licenced instance of Office 2003 in each VM as they can’t (yet) exchange data between them… and that would compromise the security principal.
There is a new site here (disclaimer: it does seem to be promoting a commercial service, but has some useful information that has been put into the public domain); describing some methods to roll your own P2V backup approach; I’ve not read in detail yet; but looks like Frane Borozan has solved some of the challenges I’ve encountered in the past automating the Free VMWare Convertor tool.
When I get some time I will revisit my build a better test lab series (and update it!) I hope to be able to integrate some of Frane’s ideas.
Thanks to Techhead for passing on the link; we worked together on the platform underlying the Build a better test lab series and he did a lot of work on the P2V and post-P2V automation tasks – he’s got a lot of handy scripts for doing this on an HP platform
Virtualized DR is going to be big this year; I have a long line of customers with this high on their list of priorities… Both for cross site 100% VMWare implementations and for the ability to backup/restore physical platforms to VMWare grid in a DR situation.
It just makes so much sense; no delay whilst racking & stacking recovery kit or problems restoring to different hardware etc. your admin’s can even do it from home – which can have some significant advantages in the event of a natural disaster like Katrina or floods like we had over the last couple of years in the UK
PlateSpin Forge is something we are seriously looking at as well as Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery Server Edition (who win a prize for extending the longest, most annoying product name! despite acquiring it from Veritas).
Will be an interesting year; I’m sure Sungard and all those recovery centre facilities will be moving to a grid/resource rental model rather than pure rack/floor space and retained hardware on-contract.