Windows 8.1 Update 1 Power User guide showcases twenty pages of what’s new

Windows 8.1 Update 1 Power User guide showcases twenty pages of what's new

Microsoft unveiled the next big update to Windows 8.1, called Update 1, and is set to go live tomorrow, April 8th, via Windows Update. However, you can get a head start on learning about the new features by downloading the official Power User guide for Windows 8.1 Update 1, offering 20 pages showcasing the new features of the update.

“This 20 pages brochure-type guide is designed for end-users who want to learn more about the advanced features of Windows 8.1, such as Taskbar customization, Task Manager, Internet Explorer 11, Mobility Center, Windows To Go, Miracast, OneDrive for Business, and File Explorer. Power users will enjoy learning about how they can get the most out of their Windows 8.1 devices,” Microsoft stated.

In the guide, Microsoft offers pointers for non-touch users, offering tips on how to access key areas of the operating system using your mouse and keyboard. The devices and services giant also showcases new shortcuts on how to maneuver around Windows 8.1 Update 1, and you can take a look at these shortcuts via the image below.

“With the new Windows, you have everything you need to work efficiently. Your familiar desktop is better than ever with advanced functionalities, like the new customizable taskbar and streamlined file management. Internet Explorer 11 gives you instant and fluid access to the world. And best of all, you can use all these features feeling confident that your important data is secure,” the guide states.

Grab the guide (PDF) via the download link below. Windows 8.1 Update 1 is set for general availability tomorrow, April 8th. If a 20 page overview is not good enough, here’s an official Microsoft TechNet post detailing all of the new features in Windows 8.1 Update 1:

Windows 8.1 Update 1 Power User guide showcases twenty pages of what's new

Exploring Windows 8.1 Update – Start Screen, Desktop and Other Enhancements

Welcome to Ask PFE Plat’s coverage of the next chapter in Microsoft’s on-going refinement of Windows. As with 8.1, we continue to evolve and improve the OS and last week, at the Build 2014 conference, we released “Windows 8.1 Update” to MSDN. On Tuesday, April 8th, the Update will be released to the Windows Update Catalog, Windows Update and WSUS channels.
Our prior post on the “dot 1” update to Windows 8 RTM from October of last year sparked great conversation – in fact, it was our most-commented post; we (PFEs and Microsoft as a whole) appreciate the feedback and discussion. Several of us have been chomping at the bit to bring you details of the changes coming with this Update. This is a “roundtable post” with discussion from myself (Michael Hildebrand), Jeff “The Dude” Stokes, Kyle Blagg, Mark Morowczynski and who can talk about Windows 8 without talking to Joao Botto?
Let’s roll…
The Update, as we’ll call it here, is actually a series of packages that install collectively and provide UI and functionality improvements (many geared towards keyboard/mouse users), a big IE feature-add as well as some heavy-lifting internal changes to Windows boot structures and memory/resource awareness and management. For additional information, check out the following:
This post will focus mostly on the UI changes – there may be future AskPFE Platforms posts that dive into some of the other aspects of the Update.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s cover a few heads-up/FAQ comments:
  • It will likely change your system’s current behavior:
    • For starters, unless the device is a tablet, a system with this update will boot to the desktop by default
      • You can still choose one way or another but I was surprised when I rebooted and was taken to my desktop instead of my Start screen
    • See the chart further down in the post for a clear list of what default settings are changed and how
  • It does NOT include the Start menu that you may have seen/heard about at the recent Build conference. That is some exciting near-future stuff, which demonstrates our on-going commitment to deliver on customer feedback (such as your comments on this very blog)
  • It is defined as an “Important – Security update” in our Windows Updates framework
  • It is a cumulative update to Windows 8.1 that includes all previously released security and non-security updates
  • It is a required update to keep your Windows 8.1 device current
    • Failure to install this Update will prevent Windows Update from patching your system with any future updates starting with Updates released in May 2014 (get busy!)
  • Windows 8.1 is a prerequisite (vs Windows 8 RTM)
    • Windows 8.1 media/WIMs/TechNet ISOs/Store bits/etc will be slipstreamed with this Update in the near term
  • KB2919442 is a pre-requisite update – released in March 2014 – you’ll need this before 2919355 will be recognized
  • Additional info can be found in the KB – which obviously, you should read
  • The Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) has been updated to accommodate the changes to Windows with this Update
To get the Update, make sure you are running Windows 8.1 and then hit Windows Update or the Windows Download Center
Let’s start with Start
Now that you have everything installed and your reboots are done, sign in and make your way to the Start screen. You’ll notice a few things that folks have asked for:
  • Power
    • Many of you have adapted with a variety of ways to turn off or reboot your PC, but now, there is a simple power UI on Start. Handy-dandy!
      • A quick note on ‘Sleep’ – Have you tried the ‘Sleep’ functionality recently? On prior generation devices, I never had much luck with Sleep. It seemed like it took longer to go to sleep than to shut my old laptop down, and resuming seemed to take longer than a full boot up. However, with the newer devices, SSDs and Windows 8, I find sleep a much-improved experience and very close to an ‘instant on’ solution that I prefer most of the time to a typical shutdown.
    • If your screen is less than 8.5″, then you won’t see the Power icon – you’ll only see the Search icon (next up).
  • Search
    • Again, many of you have likely learned to “just type” on the Start screen for searching but we’ve added a clickable Search icon that will ‘fly-out’ the Search box – this helps visual people like me. I often wondered where my typing was going in the early days of Win8.
  • If you’re using a mouse, you can now right-click Tiles and get a familiar “context” style menu to manipulate them.
Some of the early Windows 8 feedback was that folks didn’t like booting to the Start screen. With Windows 8.1, you could choose – boot to Desktop or boot to Start.
That flexibility remains unchanged in this Update but going forward, there are new defaults – as mentioned before,Windows 8.1 Update now boots to the desktop as the default unless the device is a tablet form factor.
There is a new group of Tiles that are added to a new user’s Start screen for some of the more commonly-used settings/locations:
  • This PC (a.k.a. “My Computer”)
  • PC Settings
  • Documents
  • Pictures
  • You will *NOT* see these added to your established Start screen – only new profiles get these
  • Windows RT users only get the “PC Settings” Tile
The Apps View
Let’s review some of the changes that you’ll find in relation to the Apps view.
First off, when you install a new application(s), now there is an indicator and count at the bottom of the Start screen.
Click the arrow or swipe-up into the Apps view. Those new Apps are highlighted and have a bright blue NEW next to the title (this will go away once you click/open the new App).
The columns have been made wider and spacing increased to account for applications with longer names.
You can sort your Apps your way and now, clicking on the headings will zoom-out so you can jump through your installed applications quicker.
You can subtly shrink the icons in the Apps view to fit even more Apps into the screen, if you so desire:
  • From within the Apps view, bring up Settings > Tiles
  • Slide the “Show more apps in the Apps view” slider to Yes
This can be VERY helpful if you have a lot of Apps installed:
Desktop Changes and Integration with Modern Apps
Now that we’ve covered the Start screen and App view changes, let’s flip to the Desktop and talk about some of the big changes there.
One recurring request for Windows 8 has been to facilitate a better “connection” between the Modern UI and Windows Store Apps with the traditional Desktop. In 8.1, the ability to show your Desktop background on the Start screen helped.  This Update furthers the integration between the Desktop and Modern UI/Apps.
For starters, you likely already noticed the bright green icon in your Taskbar for the Store after installing the Update….
Yes, friends, you can now pin Store Apps to your Taskbar.
But wait – there’s more! Not only can you pin Store Apps to the Taskbar; now, running Store Apps can show up on your Taskbar, just like a traditional Desktop App would.
You can see the App’s thumbnail and operate any controls, such as skipping/pausing songs in the updated Xbox Music App, and close the App, too.
If you’d rather not have Modern Apps taking up that precious real estate on your Taskbar, once again, we provide you the choice of configuration.
  • Right click the Taskbar and select Properties – you’ll see the following new option (highlighted below) which you are free to select/deselect:
After the Update                                                                    Before the Update (for comparison)
Another option to consider – drag your Taskbar up and make it 2x tall – you’ll have more space for a bevy of Apps – Modern and/or traditional
Modern Apps get “minimize” and “close” buttons as part of this Update. I am still a frequent keyboard/mouse user and these two controls make multi-tasking among my open apps more intuitive with how I’m used to working.
In order to see these, hover the mouse pointer at the top of the App.
Also, there is a right-click context menu for splitting the running App across the right or left half of your Desktop (along the lines of the “snap” feature)
DUDE!? – where’s my MINIMIZE?!
Depending on your settings, you may not see the “Minimize” option for Modern Apps.
Above, I showed how to configure Taskbar settings so Modern Apps are displayed on the Taskbar:
That checkbox also determines if you’ll see the Minimize “bar” (checked) or not (unchecked) for a Modern App.
  • You’ll get the close “X” button either way
  • You can pin Modern Apps to the Taskbar regardless, too
One more aspect of the tighter integration between the traditional Desktop and the Modern UI/Apps – the Taskbar can be brought up while using a Store App or on the Start screen.
When the “Show Windows Store apps on the taskbar” option is checked, drag your mouse downward along the very bottom of the screen. The Taskbar will slide up and you can use it to switch between Apps, access the Start button, etc.
  • You can see the Taskbar on the Start screen regardless of the “Show Store apps on the taskbar” setting
 There are some additional changes to OS behavior that may catch you by surprise – here’s a chart to help clarify:
Default Behavior and Settings
Device Type
Before Windows 8.1 Update
After Windows 8.1 Update
  • Boots to Start Screen
  • Closing App takes user back to Start Screen
  • Pictures, Music and Video files open with Modern App
  • Boots to Start Screen
  • Closing App takes user to the previously used App.
  • Pictures, Music and Video files open with Modern App
  • Boots to Start Screen
  • Closing App takes user back to Start Screen
  • Pictures, Music and Video files open with Modern App
  • Boots to Desktop
  • Closing App takes user to the previously used App.
  • After closing all Apps the user ends in the Desktop
  • Pictures, Music and Video files open with Desktop applications
App-specific Changes
The Update introduces changes to some of the in-box Apps such as:
  • Internet Explorer 11
    • There are changes to both the Modern and Desktop versions
    • A future post here will dive into the details of these changes
  • SkyDrive
    • Updated throughout the OS to reflect the new name, OneDrive
    • OneDrive has recently-enhanced features, such as manual Sync and Taskbar icons to provides the status of synchronization
  • XBox Music
    • Now you can pin artists & playlists to the Start Screen, drag & drop songs and albums to edit your playlist
    • There are media controls provided in the Taskbar thumbnail
Modern UI
We’ve added helpful additions to some of the Modern UI screens
Disk Space
  • Easily keep tabs on the amount space that your Apps take up and uninstall them right from here (click “See my app sizes”)
Rename your PC and/or change domain membership with a tap or a click:
The WiFi ‘fly-out’ returns
  • A context menu provides convenient controls for managing WiFi network connections
  • This was removed in Windows 8.1
Touch and touch-keyboard:
  • “Tap and a half” is a new, more intuitive touch gesture for touch-pads – allowing you to tap twice but hold second-tap to highlight text or an object, and then drag and drop it.
  • When working with Office documents, you can lock the touch keyboard via this icon on the bottom right corner:
  • Dismiss or bring up the touch keyboard:

 Source: Technet Blog

Springboard Series Blog: Announcing Windows 8.1 end-user readiness content

Today we’re announcing the availability of the Windows 8.1 business user guide package. The package provides a range of guides and video tutorials that will ensure your users take full advantage of Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.1 Quick Guide for Business – for online distribution
This 16 page brochure-type quick guide provides a basic introduction to key Windows 8.1 features and capabilities in business settings – how to get around, navigate, manage apps, work on desktop, and personalize Windows 8.1. It can be used as first introduction of Windows 8.1 to business users.
Windows 8.1 Quick Guide for Business – raw files for printing
This package allows you to produce your own hard copies of the Windows 8.1 Quick Guide for Business and give it away as training assets to your end-users. This zip file includes the content in PDF, PowerPoint, and Adobe InDesign formats that you can use as-is or customize to match the requirements of your organization.
This 20 pages brochure-type guide is designed for end-users who want to learn more about the advanced features of Windows 8.1, such as Taskbar customization, Task Manager, Internet Explorer 11, Mobility Center, Windows To Go, Miracast, SkyDrive Pro, and File Explorer. Power users will enjoy learning about how they can get the most out of their Windows 8.1 devices.
A series of short videos (~4 minutes each) designed to educate business end-users on basic Windows 8.1 features and capabilities via guided, step-by-step instruction. Each video consists of real-world business scenarios, a full-screen demo with touch, mouse and keyboard guided by a voiceover providing additional information. These videos can be used as self-learning tools for your users and facilitate Windows 8.1 adoption.
1) Windows 8.1 Video (1): Meet the new Windows
2) Windows 8.1 Video (2): Get around faster with the charms
3) Windows 8.1 Video (3): Your familiar desktop, only better
4) Windows 8.1 Video (4): Make Windows all about you
7) Windows 8.1 Video (7): Internet Explorer 11
8) Windows 8.1 Video (8): Exploring PC Settings
You can also access the Windows 8.1 business user guide package from the Windows Enterprise site |Resources |Training.
This is only the start of the end-user readiness content we will be releasing over the coming months. In February, we will be releasing a THRU-IT End User Support Toolkit which enables IT departments to communicate, educate, and evangelize the Windows 8.1 experience to end-users. The toolkit will include in-house trainer kits to help IT organizations efficiently deliver Windows 8.1 trainings to users, as well as end-user tip sheet, email template library, posters and flyers designed for IT to create user awareness and excitement to facilitate adoption in Windows 8.1 deployments.
source: MS Blog

Software-Defined Networking with Windows Server and System Center Jump Start


Free online event with live Q&A with the networking team:

Wednesday, March 19th from 8am – 1pm PST


Are you exploring new networking strategies for your datacenter? Want to simplify the process? Software-defined networking (SDN) can streamline datacenter implementation through self-service provisioning, take the complexity out of network management, and help increase security with fully isolated environments. Intrigued? Bring specific questions, and get answers from the team who built this popular solution!

Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 are being used with SDN implementations in some of the largest datacenters in the world, and this Jump Start can help you apply lessons learned from those networks to your own environment. From overall best practices to deep technical guidance, this demo-rich session gives you what you need to get started, plus in-depth Q&A with top experts who have real-world SDN experience. Don’t miss it!


Register here:


Check out the for other free training and live events.

Microsoft to launch new standalone OneDrive for Business subscription plan on April 1st

Microsoft launches new standalone OneDrive for Business subscription plan

Microsoft is set to roll out a new standalone OneDrive for Business subscription plan, which comes with Office Online, as well as enhancements to SharePoint 2013 with Service Pack 1 (SP1) that enable on-premises SharePoint users to configure OneDrive for Business with just a few clicks. OneDrive for Business was formerly known as SkyDrive Pro.

Microsoft has made it even easier for customers to get up and running in the cloud. With OneDrive for Business, Microsoft’s personal online storage for a company’s employees, you can store, sync, and share work files across multiple devices. Thanks to OneDrive for Business, you can also collaborate with others in real time within Office and even edit documents anywhere in real time using Office Online. Plus, you have access to Windows Phone, Windows 8, iOS, and Android apps. Here are the key features of OneDrive for Business:

  • OneDrive for Business will be available for purchase as a standalone service. It’s also still available as part of many Office 365 for business plans, but the new standalone plan makes it easy to get started using cloud storage and sharing.
  • It’s now easier to access, find, and manage your work files because of new user experience enhancements to OneDrive for Business.
  • On-premises SharePoint customers can now configure OneDrive for Business more easily – with just a few clicks – with Service Pack 1 on-premises SharePoint customers to configure OneDrive for Business with just a few clicks with Service Pack 1.

Beginning April 1st, OneDrive for Business with Office Online will be available as a standalone service, which comes with 25GB of storage per employee with the option to purchase additional storage. You can already get OneDrive for Business as part of your Office 365 and SharePoint Online plans.

Starting April 1st, Microsoft will also feature a promotional pricing, which consists of a 50% discount: $2.50 per user per month in all licensing agreements/programs. Customers who have Office with SA or Office 365 ProPlus can pay $1.50 per user per month.

Microsoft extends life of Malicious Software Removal Tool on XP


Microsoft confirmed today for ZDNet that they will continue to create and distribute the Malicious Software Removal Tool for Windows XP users until July 14, 2015.

A Microsoft spokesperson said “Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool is aligned with the company’s antimalware engines and signatures and as such, the removal tool will continue to be provided for Windows XP through July 14, 2015.”

The clarification of policy was first reported by Computerworld on Sunday, citing sources close to the company.

The MSRT is a tool produced monthly by Microsoft for Windows users on Patch Tuesday. It searches for and removes certain widespread malware infections on Windows systems. When Windows users run Windows Update it may be run automatically and silently. It is also available for download and execution from the Microsoft.

Microsoft reiterated that continued availability of the MSRT is not a good reason to stick with Windows XP, nor are malware detection and removal tools adequate protection for users.

SkyDrive to be OneDrive

Skydrive will soon be renamed to OneDrive
The main Preview page:

Microsoft extends Windows XP Security Essentials support to July 2015

Microsoft will kill support for Windows XP this April, but for those of you who are using antimalware products, Microsoft will continue supplying those signatures until July of 2015. This means that Microsoft’s Security Essentials will still be updated after the April cutoff date, but the underlying OS will remain vulnerable.

This is an interesting move as Microsoft has been pushing hard to get everyone off the aging OS. Seeing that they will continue to support Security Essentials past the support deadline sends mixed signals to consumers, as they will likely read that OS updates are no longer being distributed but that Security Essential support is still valid. Because the average consumer isn’t very tech savvy, he or she could easily confuse this to mean that XP is still a supported and safe product to use if Security Essentials is installed.

The announcement came on Microsoft’s Threat Research & Response Blog, though it does little to explain why they will provide additional support on XP after the April 2014 cutoff. In fact, they admit that “their research shows that the effectiveness of antimalware solutions on out-of-support operating systems is limited.”

Microsoft will also be supporting System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security, Forefront Endpoint Protection and Windows Intune running on Windows XP as well with antimalware support into July 2015 ts well. Again, this appears to undercut their push for the corporate entities to move off of XP as they will have supported products running on an unsupported OS.

Image via Microsoft


Free ebook: Introducing Microsoft System Center 2012 R2

cover for Introducing Microsoft System Center 2012 R2We’re happy to announce a new free ebook – Introducing Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 by Mitch Tulloch with Symon Perriman and the System Center Team.


Download the  PDF – here

Download the Mobi file for Kindle – here

Download the ePub file – here



Microsoft System Center is one of the three pillars of Microsoft’s Cloud OS vision that will transform the traditional datacenter environment, help businesses unlock insights in data stored anywhere, enable the development of a wide range of modern business applications, and empower IT to support users who work anywhere while being able to manage any device in a secure and consistent way. The other two pillars of the Cloud OS are, of course, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Azure, and Microsoft Press has recently released free Introducing books on these platforms as well.
Whether you are new to System Center or are already using it in your business, this book has something that should interest you. The capabilities of each component of System Center 2012 R2 are first described and then demonstrated chapter by chapter. Real-world and under-the-hood insights are also provided by insiders at Microsoft who live and breathe System Center, and those of you who are experienced with the platform will benefit from the wisdom and experience of these experts. We also included a list of additional resources at the end of each chapter where you can learn more about each System Center component.

New Disk2vhd V2.0 with vhdx support

Disk2vhd is a utility that creates VHD (Virtual Hard Disk – Microsoft’s Virtual Machine disk format) versions of physical disks for use in Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs). The difference between Disk2vhd and other physical-to-virtual tools is that you can run Disk2vhd on a system that’s online. Disk2vhd uses Windows’ Volume Snapshot capability, introduced in Windows XP, to create consistent point-in-time snapshots of the volumes you want to include in a conversion. You can even have Disk2vhd create the VHDs on local volumes, even ones being converted (though performance is better when the VHD is on a disk different than ones being converted).

The Disk2vhd user interface lists the volumes present on the system:
It will create one VHD for each disk on which selected volumes reside. It preserves the partitioning information of the disk, but only copies the data contents for volumes on the disk that are selected. This enables you to capture just system volumes and exclude data volumes, for example.
Note: Virtual PC supports a maximum virtual disk size of 127GB. If you create a VHD from a larger disk it will not be accessible from a Virtual PC VM.
To use VHDs produced by Disk2vhd, create a VM with the desired characteristics and add the VHDs to the VM’s configuration as IDE disks. On first boot, a VM booting a captured copy of Windows will detect the VM’s hardware and automatically install drivers, if present in the image. If the required drivers are not present, install them via the Virtual PC or Hyper-V integration components. You can also attach to VHDs using the Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 Disk Management or Diskpart utilities.
Note: do not attach to VHDs on the same system on which you created them if you plan on booting from them. If you do so, Windows will assign the VHD a new disk signature to avoid a collision with the signature of the VHD’s source disk. Windows references disks in the boot configuration database (BCD) by disk signature, so when that happens Windows booted in a VM will fail to locate the boot disk.
Disk2vhd runs Windows XP SP2, Windows Server 2003 SP1, and higher, including x64 systems.
Here’s a screenshot of a copy of a Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V system running in a virtual machine on top of the system it was made from:

(click image to zoom)

Command Line Usage

Disk2vhd includes command-line options that enable you to script the creation of VHDs. Specify the volumes you want included in a snapshot by drive letter (e.g. c:) or use “*” to include all volumes.
Usage: disk2vhd <[drive: [drive:]…]|[*]> <vhdfile>
Example: disk2vhd * c:vhdsnapshot.vhd
Note: Physical-to-virtual hard drive migration of a Windows installation is a valid function for customers with Software Assurance and full retail copies of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Software Assurance provides users valuable benefits—please contact Microsoft Corporation for further information. Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 installed by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) using OEM versions of these products may not be transferred to a virtual hard drive in accordance with Microsoft licensing terms.
Run Disk2vhd now from