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Brand New Waters

When Microsoft recently announced that the .NET Core runtime would be available as open source there was a clear reaction from the development community that this was a welcome change. This move helped remove any doubt that Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella is committed to reasserting Microsoft’s place in the developer’s toolbox.  The list of GitHub projects is impressive and developers are responding.

While this change was indeed welcomed, it is only part of what appears to be a significant shift in the direction of the software giant. In less than a year we have seen Azure cloud services reemerge as a significant, Windows 8 has gone EOL, free Office products on competitive platforms, Bing search has been growing market share, and of course there is the Windows 10 announcement. All of these changes could be perceived as small on their own, but when viewed as a whole it reflects the larger shift occurring within the walls of Microsoft.

These course corrections and changes are the clear result of a new and different vision of Microsoft. Much of the credit for this vision goes to Mr. Nadella and his clearly stated plans to create a cultural shift at Microsoft which appear to be finally starting to take hold. The change in leadership seems to be having an effect on the ebb and flow of the people inside Microsoft. Getting “lean and mean” is starting to pay off with ideas and execution.


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I Made A Scary Microsoft “Boo Boo”

Having supported Microsoft licensing for over 25 years, I have built up quite the library of war stories on customers that have made some scary Microsoft licensing “Boo Boo’s” with “Boo Boo” being the friendliest way to put it.   I can generally spot the “boo boo” early in a discussion and feel my stomach start to turn when I realize the customer may have made one scary mistake.  Let’s be honest here and just know that I have made my own fair share of scary Microsoft “Boo Boo’s”.  It simply come’s with the territory and is part of learning these highly complex licensing programs.

I’m actually writing this blog to help those that are new to Microsoft licensing with no intentions of shaming anyone on their Microsoft “Boo Boo”.  Hopefully by pointing out some of the top pitfalls that customers can easily trip over we’ll be able to help others avoid these “boo boo’s”.

Let me jump right into one of the scariest which involves Microsoft Volume licensing.  The real world example is typically where a customer has been shipping Volume licenses for a few months and they mention they want to buy some to stock up or hold inventory.  The problem is Volume licenses are tied to the end-user or final owner of the license and it’s not a physical product that you can order extra copies to keep on hand and sell when needed.  It’s an actual Microsoft Agreement with licenses being placed in the end-user’s company name.  We had a customer that had been shipping SQL Volume licenses all over the world to over 250 different end user customers however they had bought all the licenses in their own name!  That means all of these end user customers have SQL Server running but the license doesn’t belong to them and if they get audited they’ll discover sadly that even though they paid money for the licenses, they aren’t in their name and are out of compliance in a very bad way.  You can’t buy 10 SQL Volume licenses in your name and then resell them to 10 different customers.  Don’t fall into that mistake as it can be very difficult to recover and restore the licenses to the proper owners.  Volume licensing is strictly for when you know who you are selling to and can order the licenses in your end-user customer’s name.

My next favorite is the statement I hear often where the customer says they have a site license and they don’t pay for any Windows or Office licenses.  They’ll tell me they don’t need to buy any Windows licenses because they have a site license and get unlimited licenses.  I let them know that there is no such thing as an unlimited site license from Microsoft.  Typically this is an easy miss-understanding of the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement or it involves Windows Server Datacenter edition.  What most people don’t understand is if you are large enough to have an Enterprise Agreement, it does give you the right to load more licenses during the year.  However, come true-up time you’ll be paying for the licenses and it isn’t by any means an unlimited Windows free for all.  Also Windows Datacenter provides for unlimited Server VM’s on the server that has the Datacenter license assigned to it.  So sometimes people get confused and don’t realize that they do need to pay for the Datacenter license and for every processor the VM’s are running upon. So don’t ever fall for the “Site License w/unlimited Windows licenses” as it simply is not true.

Coming in next is the “Microsoft gave me a defective key” statement…..  this one is a minor “boo boo” that I hear quite often when a customer has entered an OEM key into their O/S install and for some reason it just doesn’t accept the key or it gives an error that it isn’t valid.  99% of the time this is simply a result of the customer miss-reading the key code and typing an “8” instead of a “B”.  Microsoft makes the characters difficult to read on purpose.  Not to make your life difficult but to make pirates who are scanning or capturing keys a little more time consuming.  If you ever think you have a bad key let me know and I can test it for you.

“The Windows Embedded Standard 7 eval won’t accept my production key and I still have time left on the eval”.   This one is still a regular occurrence because most people miss the small warning text during an install of WES7 where it proclaims that if you do not enter a key or if you enter an eval key then you will get an eval edition and it will require a clean install in order to make a production non eval image.  We’ve had customers that are down to their deadline ready to go into production only to find that they have to start over and perform a full clean install in order to create a production non expiring image.  The reason for this is because WES7 uses a by-pass activation method and has removed the SLUI command from the product.  Even if you use the SLMGR command to add a new key it will still not convert to a non eval image.  So if you are working with WES7 please get with me and get your production key early in the process and don’t spend time using evals.

Did you say “Cow”?  No I said “CAL”.  Client Access License would be probably one of the top questions we get asked about and if you want to get into a complex area where just about everybody has probably made a “Boo Boo” or two it would certainly be on CAL’s.  Just about every single Microsoft server product typically requires a license for the client to access it.  One of the top mistakes involves virtualized desktops – aka VDA licenses.  Customers typically always forget the connection broker requirement which means you need a method of getting from the physical computer to the virtual desktop running on the server.  Most of the time folks are using Vmware for the host and VDA subscription for the Windows VM’s however there is that all important third requirement which is the connection broker.  You can use Microsoft RDS CAL’s or you can use another 3rd party like Vmware View but don’t forget it because if you have 50 to 100 users that could turn into an expensive “Boo Boo”.

Let’s wrap things up with the last common “Boo Boo” which involves SQL CAL’s.  I’ve run into many a customer that claims they only want to buy one SQL CAL because only one user or machine accesses the SQL Database.  We had a very large customer that had designed a system where 200 workstation devices collected data and these workstations weren’t even running a Windows O/S so they just assumed that because they weren’t Windows workstations and didn’t have Windows user Accounts that they didn’t need Windows Server CAL’s or SQL CAL’s.  The workstations passed all the data back to a system that collected it all and then passed it onward to the SQL database.  They weren’t too happy to find out that this is called Multiplexing and that all those 200 systems required SQL Device CAL’s and Windows Server Device CAL’s as they all used the services of the database server.

Hopefully these overviews of common and scary mistakes will help you in preparation for your Microsoft complex solutions but if you still need help please send my team an email to and we’ll make sure you don’t make a scary “Boo Boo”.


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The Internet Of Bicycles

I recently attended my 10th Microsoft World Partner Conference which was hosted in our nation’s capital Washington DC.  Microsoft always has a theme and a focus for these conferences with the plan to drive that focus and goal into your brain before you head back home.  Over the past 5 years the theme has always been heavily focused on the cloud and then typically other smaller goals mixed in with the cloud message.  This year however I was extremely happy to see that my embedded device world had reached the top and was being talked about in almost every session.  The new CEO Satya Nadella stood on the stage in front of 16,000 Microsoft partners from around the world and proclaimed the main focus and vision of the Partner network would be how to support a “Mobile-First – Cloud First” world.  Then he proceeded to give some live demos of how the “Internet of Things” was going to take over our Mobile First and Cloud First world.

While in DC at the conference, you didn’t have to go far to find the Internet of Things as just outside the convention center I stared at the Capital Bikeshare row of rental bikes.  Such a simple concept and yet one that fits the IoT model 

perfectly.  You see the bikes are smart bikes that you rent and use as needed.  The bikes collect all kinds of data from distance travelled to when and where they are located.  They have the capability of keeping track of service/maintenance required as well as how often they get rented.  Much of the data the bikes collect is actually posted right to the company’s website: As I looked into the company, I realized they weren’t the largest provider of this type of service and I also found citibike located in New York City with over 330 stations and 6,000 bicycles – all sending data to the cloud.

It’s a simple system like these bike sharing programs that easily shows you what our future is going to be like in just a few years.  Just about everything in your life has data points that can now with today’s technology be captured and used hopefully in ways to improve our lives and our products and our business models.  Let’s take a look at a few examples where technology has improved.

Let’s start with sleeping as they now have devices that can collect data on how well you are sleeping.  Throw in intelligent mattresses that can now control the temperature and firmness as well as even support methods all with hopes of giving you a better nights rest.  Next let’s jump to the intelligent toothbrush which will provide data on how many strokes and how long and often you brush your teeth.  Not sure I want that data sent back to the cloud for my Dentist to review at the next checkup but that could be coming to our worlds.  Next food, our fridge is now monitoring food consumption to help you know when to pick up that gallon of milk on the way home as it’ll send a reminder to your personal assistant which is now Cortana for me and Siri for others.  Our smart phones will interact with our daily lives on levels that will make many people uncomfortable but for our kids it will be the norm.

I recently purchased a new car and I realized as I loaded the OnStar app on my Windows 8 phone that the dealership was now collecting a ton of data on my car that included oil consumption, mileage, tire pressures and just about every statistic possible that the car has in its computer.  They now send me monthly reports on how my car is performing and reminders on when the next oil change due to occur. Add to that the fact that I can now control my car from my phone to lock and unlock the doors as well as starting the engine from desk before walking out into the 114 Arizona weather.

The Technology curve that we are all riding is one that is trending upward in an alarming pace.  It’s one that we might not notice on a daily basis but if you look backwards just 6 short years you would realize that most of us didn’t even have a smart phone and many had not even heard of Facebook.  In the past 6 years the technology around us has exploded and resulted in more and more technology breakthroughs.

Although many consumers would see Microsoft as not doing that well in the mobile phone and tablet space (aka Windows 8 Phone and Surface), they would only be seeing the tip of the enormous Microsoft portfolio which is clearly and firmly established on a huge cloud and mobile foundation, that being Windows Azure and Windows Developers. When you step back and look at the larger picture and certainly include the Windows Embedded space, Microsoft is very well positioned.  I was excited after hearing Satya Nadella’s keynotewhich I’ve linked as he has a very good grasp of this new world we are moving toward at a very high rate of speed.

It will certainly be a world based on The Internet of bicycles or... you fill in the blank.


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