Windows 10 Insider Preview 10074

At the start of this month, Microsoft released another preview edition of the upcoming next edition to the Windows operating system franchise.  This is Preview 10074, and contains a few very interesting changes.  I ran up the Preview image earlier today to take a look at what’s new.

Installing Windows 10

It seems Microsoft is wedded on the concept of users specifying or creating a Microsoft Account to use their new operating system:

Microsoft Account Mandatory

This, of  course, is not exactly new as the concept of using Microsoft Accounts has been around since Windows 8.1. There is an alternative which can allow you to create a local account, although I haven’t tested this on the Windows 10 previews yet.

Logging in for the first time

Once we get past the usual install process and you’ve created an account (or associated it to an existing Microsoft account) you’ll get to authenticate and find yourself on the new Windows desktop.  In my experience, the returning start menu wouldn’t respond.

At some point dropped into the control panel when I received this hint:

Sign out?

Signing out and back in again seems to finalise some configuration or settings and the Start menu responds:

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Web Browsing Edge

Now that we’ve got that sorted, it was time to do some exploring (pardon the pun).  I located something called “Project Spartan” which you can see from the Start Menu – third blue square on the top row.  Of course I know that this was the codename for what has been unveiled as Microsoft Edge – the replacement for Internet Explorer.

Microsoft Edge

Sure enough, this preview version has an early version of Microsoft Edge included.  I’m beginning to suspect that the name was chosen because the browser has almost no UI around the web page content – incredibly minimal toolbars. status bars etc.

It also features functionality which allows you to overlay comments on web pages and to highlight sections of web pages:

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Right, what else can we see?

The “control panel” still features the redefined icons and layout, but the notification center (available via the system tray icon which looks like an IM icon) has gone on steroids and now covers more than a third of the screen when activated.

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Sign in options include an ability for touchscreen enabled users to preselect a series of lines/circles overlaid on a picture as a “smart authentication” option, over PIN and standard passwords:

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At one point the machine almost locked up due to the obscurely named “UnistackSvcGroup” of mysterious services decided to use 97% of the VM’s CPU for no apparent reason.  Stopping one of the services fixed the problem, but I’ll have to investigate what that stuff does later.

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Windows App Store

Since I used a Microsoft account, I was able to access the Windows App Store.  Naturally, I installed my own Windows apps for testing purposes.  You can obtain the Aussie Wine Guy or the Sanders Technology apps for free!

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They load fine in the app container, but I found a performance problem when doing an initial resize of the container – the desktop locked up for about a minute.

Larger screen real estate helps, but the horizontal scrolling still seems a bit odd.  Must fix that at some point.

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That’s all for now as I really need/want to return to the Windows Server preview which I started looking at on Friday.


First look: Windows Server Technical Preview 2 and ADFS vNext

Tonight I finally got around to installing the recently released Windows Server Technical Preview 2, which was published around the time of the annual BuildConf in the US.

So I ran up a Hyper-V image and hit the standard product selection screen.  I was greeted, as it has been rumoured, with two options – Server (no tools, i.e. core) or Server (with Admin tools).  This is suspiciously different to Windows Server 2012 R2 in that there’s no Server plus Graphical User Interface option.

I elect for the Admin tools, and continue.

Install Options

The usual copying of files, it doesn’t take too long to get up and running.  I suspect the OS is fairly lean in terms of disk consumption, given how fast the install took.  First thing in and it’s off to set the Administrator password.

Fast copy Set Password

Authenticated, and up comes the familiar Server Manager.  It used to annoy me that Server Manager would launch by default, but given the reality of no GUI, it’s my last bastion short of PowerShell scripting everything.

Look, no GUI!

So the first thing I do is change the Computer name, this is easily done via the old faithful System applet – however I need to also configure the Ethernet since my Lab setup (when using DHCP) doesn’t include my domain DNS as primary (i.e. I can’t join the domain right away).  Configuring networking got console-like:

consoleconsole console

So I also decided to change add the VM to the domain as well using the console tools.  It was actually very simple.  I’m going to wonder why I ever needed a GUI..

After a quick(ish) reboot, we’re back – except now I’ll authenticate using my Domain credentials instead.

checkpoint

Before I do anything further, I take a checkpoint in case I bork anything up; and then resume to do some role-based installs.

Installing Roles – ADFS vNext

Since I’ve been working with Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) lately, I’m curious if this preview contains any advances, so..

Installing ADFS

So I jump into an MMC console and add the Certificates snap-in, selecting Local Computer.  From here I request a new certificate from my local CA:

Grant Certificate

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The options haven’t changed much, I elect to have a new service account created for me and off we go.. Behold, we have success:

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Examining the next version of ADFS – Version 4?

The “current” version (shipping with Server 2012 R2), according to binary/product version is 6.3:
Microsoft.IdentityServer.Service, Version=6.3.0.0,

The version shipped with Windows Server Preview 2 is version 10:
Microsoft.IdentityServer.Service, Version=10.0.0.0

Officially, the version which ships with Windows Server 2012 R2 is AD FS 3.0, so I’m not sure if this next version should be v4.0 or not.

The first interesting thing – no Internet Information Services requirement.  The second… check out the differences between the current ADFS and the one in the Technical Preview 2:

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AD FS 3.0 (Windows Server 2012 R2) vs.

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AD FS ?.0 (Windows Server vNext)

Clearly there are some big changes ahead.  Hopefully, it’ll be the introduction of OpenID Connect and full OAuth2 authorization flow support….  So I clicked on the “What’s new in AD FS?” link, but alas, fail:

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Moving along we come to – scopes – and look at the juicy options, which includes OpenID Connect:

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Plus, AD FS now can issue certificates for User Logon and VPN access:

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Finally, some new endpoints to play with.  Notice OAuth2 is enabled by default:

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We now also have a separate window for managing clients, which gives us most of what we need for proper OAuth2 – see my previous article about Identity Server.

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The wrap-up

Well, that’s enough for one article.  I’ll start playing with ADFS (v4.0?) and see whether it can do everything I think it can do.  In the meantime, I’m going to install the next version of Internet Information Services 10 (IIS) and see what’s changed there, too.

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Until next time.

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Review: Urban Armor Gear Outland (iPhone 4S)

Given the serious investment we place in our modern smartphones, it makes a whole lot of sense to also spare a thought for how we protect these pocket sized technical innovations.  A busy demanding modern lifestyle can put your mobile device at significant risk of accidental damage in a myriad of ways.

For this reason, it’s worth shopping around when considering how you’ll protect your phone.  Enter Urban Armor Gear (UAG).  This company makes some seriously detailed cases, and today we’ll be reviewing the Outland model for the Apple iPhone 4S.

UAGUAG - Packaging

Unboxing

For a modest price you get some well thought out options, out of the box there’s instructions, a cleaning cloth with a screen protector and the case itself obviously.  The packaging is also well designed, you can see what the case looks like quite clearly, front and back.

Urban Armor Gear - Contents

It takes no time at all to slip your iPhone into the protective embrace of the UAG’s armor shell, which despite appearances manages to blend durability with a softness so that the case is protective but also nice to hold in your hand.

Installation

Installing the protective film

The first step is to apply the screen protector to the front of the iPhone.  Here, UAG have provided small adhesive panels on both sides of the protector so that you may easily separate and apply to the iPhone using the supplied utility to remove air bubbles as you go.  The protector is viscous enough to survive repeat attempts if you don’t manage to align it perfectly the first time.

Assembled Striking design

Once you’ve applied the screen protector – which does not inhibit the iPhone’s touch screen in the slightest – slipping the case around the phone is reasonably easy.  It’s a snug fit, so don’t expect that the phone will be easily released.

Features

The big drawcard is clearly the eye catching design of the case.  The case simply screams ‘tough’, but is actually comfortable to hold.  One big drawcard for my mind is that the case provides plenty of space around the camera, so there’s no interference or glare when taking photos or video.

Urban Armor Gear Outland

Our “walkabout test” provided the following feedback:

  • Eye catching design, decent selection of colour options to choose from
  • Unique moulding on the back of the case provides excellent grip
  • Buttons on the side are more user friendly, easier to use the buttons than other cases
  • Nice touch to include a screen protector out of the box
  • Case is relatively slim, doesn’t unnecessarily add bulk to the phone’s profile
  • Charging/USB cable port is easy to access

Profile

If you’re in the market for something to protect your smartphone, it’s worth taking a closer look at Urban Armor Gear’s line up.  They have cases to suit most models of modern handsets. 

Order online – free shipping worldwide (at time of writing) Site: http://www.urbanarmorgear.com