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Launcher Updated for Windows 8 & 8.1

I know how incredibly important it is to develop a standardised interface for running all applications.  For over a decade I've worked in blue chip organisations that have tried to maintain control over complex software environments.  The industry is far worse now than ever before in maintaining an understanding of what constitutes a "package" and what "packages" exist.

Programmatically Adding Windows Start Tiles

Windows 8.1 (like Windows 8) uses the Metro styled Start Screen.  Programmatically adding to the screen has proved to be a real problem for organisations that have adopted for an early move to the new operating systems.

Managing Group Policies during OS construction

As workstations are built in controlled environments, Group Policy restrictions will tend to prevent elements of an Operating System build from occuring as expected.

SCCM 2012 Applications - Speeding up slow deployments

A common problem with SCCM can be the long delays after OS deployment for a full compliment of applications to be installed.  

MDT Backups with Virtual (VHD) Disk format

Full Disk Backup – MDT 2012

Microsoft’s Deployment Toolkit continues to surprise me with what a flexible product it is.  One area that can be enhanced is with a full machine backup. 

Creating Complex SCCM 2012 Applications with Powershell

SCCM 2012 R2 is a great product but I have some strong disagreements with some elements of how it deals with software management.  By default, the product suggests that a Windows Installer Product Code can be used to uniquely identify when a package is installed to a machine.     This is a misunderstanding that “Product Codes” are not unique to Windows Installer packages – “Package Codes” are.  It also overlooks that the same utility or product may be installed in an organisation as different variants such as the “HR package” or the “Spanish package” or the “metric package”, all of which h

SCCM 2012 Operating System Operands

The Desired Configuration Management within SCCM 2012 relies upon Operating System Expressions when constructing rules for software deployment.   The Requirements tab of an Application "Deployment Type".    When scripting the creation of SCCM Applications (either with Powershell of C#) the Operation System representations have to be written in a specific format to be valid.

Application Requirements Properties View

Script Automated - Windows 8 Tile Cutomisation

After spending ages trying to find a scriptable way to control what's shown on the default Windows 8 Start Menu tiles, I happened to come across a post on customising the menu with Powershell by Ben Hunter at the Deployment Guys.

http://blogs.technet.com/b/deploymentguys/archive/2012/10/26/removing-built-in-applications-from-windows-8.aspx

Powershell Remoting - Remotely enabling

I recently was on site in an organisation that needed the ability to remotely run commands against each of their deployed workstations.   As the organisation didn't have a software deployment system, powershell remoting appeared to be the answer.

There is a problem however.  Even though Group Policy  allows Windows Remote Management to be enabled on remote machines, you'll find it doesn't actually work.  

Creating an MDT USB Boot key

Creating MDT USB boot keys is extremely easy exercise.

  1. USB Bootable keys must be formatted and made bootable.  From a Windows 7 machine, run the Diskpart utility from DOS.

The following Diskpart commands are required to format and make bootable (i.e. active) a USB Key:

DISKPART> List disk

DISKPART> Select disk (id)

DISKPART> Clean

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