imageIT Professionals can use the tools in the Windows ADK to facilitate deployment of a new version of Windows.

  • The Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) inventories applications used in your organization and identifies potential applications compatibility issues.
  • With the User State Migration Tool (USMT), IT Professionals can migrate user data from existing Windows installations.
  • Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) enables IT professionals to deploy Windows installations in their organization and manage the activation status of their PCs. 
  • Assessments are for OEMs, IHVs, enthusiasts, and IT professionals who measure the operational characteristics of a computer, including its performance, reliability, and functionality.
  • Windows assessments are tools that help you make these measurements, diagnose problems, and determine how to make improvements. Windows assessments can help reduce support costs by identifying potential issues as you create your hardware and software experiences.

By using these tools, you can help ensure that the hardware and software that you develop are responsive and high-quality.

Posted by: kurtsh | February 23, 2015

DEAL: Surface Pro 1/2 Pens for $24 (Refurbished)

imageInterested in getting an official Surface Pro 1/2 pen on the cheap? 

Here’s an easy way.  The Microsoft Store online is selling them for $24/each refurbished. 

The Refurbished Surface Pen works exclusively with Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, and makes it easier to draw and take notes in Office applications. A pen is included when you buy Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, so get this one as a spare, or have one at home and one at the office.

This product has been refurbished to its original specifications for electrical performance by Microsoft.

Get ‘em while you can.  Or alternatively, you can get another Wacom Stylus that will work on your Surface Pro 1/2 for $9.

Posted by: kurtsh | February 22, 2015

RELEASE: Cloud Platform Roadmap

image_thumb1The Cloud Platform roadmap provides a snapshot of what we’re working on in the Cloud Platform business.

Use the roadmap to find out what we’ve recently made generally available, released into public preview, are still developing and testing, or are no longer developing. Learn more about the types of updates you can expect to find on the Cloud Platform roadmap here.

Visit the Cloud Platform Roadmap site here:

imageThe Office 365 team just announced that the length of time items remain in the Deleted Items folder in Exchange Online has been extended to indefinitely or according to the duration set by your administrator.

Previously deleted items would disappear after being in that folder for 30 days.

Read more about this change here:

I actually stumbled upon this myself at the end of last month and planned on writing about it earlier but never got around to it.

Verizon Wireless’ Nokia Lumia Icon is now supported by Softcard, the mobile payment system that uses your phone to wirelessly pay for transactions at the point-of-sale.

Softcard enables you to pay for things at cash registers with your phone.  It’s a system that uses the Near Field Communications (NFC) transceiver on your Nokia Lumia Icon to securely transmit your “payment information”.  This payment information may be a credit card, a debit card, or an American Express charge card.Softcard receiver in front of you that looks like this:

Basically all you do is, when the retailer give you your total cost, you hold your phone up to the Softcard receive (that has the symbol in the photo above) and your phone will transmit the appropriate payment info to the register and pay for your purchase.

Here’s a video that visually explains the process of using Softcard:

Meet Softcard


For more information on how Softcard works, check out the following URL:

I was excited about being able to use Softcard because of a number of reasons:

    When you use Softcard, your credit card number and details is never visible to the person working the register.  There’s no opportunity for individuals to steal your credit card details because they never see them.  It’s all done electronically & securely.
    If you’re one of the 100’s of millions of consumers who’s credit card information was stolen by hackers from Target, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, etc. you know that things are a lot better when you’re not handing over your credit card number to a retailer.  Softcard eliminates the possibility of someone stealing your credit card information while it sits in some store’s databases… since it never actually passes that info to the store.
    When you purchase things via Softcard, there are certain promotions & offers that you get, such as “buy 4 snacks from an eCard vending machine, and get the 5th free”. (This is an actual promo)
    Also when you pay for an item, it can automatically transmit your rewards/loyalty card information, if the vendor support loyalty card transmission.
    I’ve discovered that after making a Softcard payment, I’m usually not asked to sign a receipt like I would with a credit card swipe.

There are 4 things that you need to use Softcard:

  • Supported Windows Phone
        • HTC One (M8) for Windows
        • Nokia Lumia 1020 (AT&T)
        • Nokia Lumia 1520 (AT&T)
        • Nokia Lumia 830 (AT&T)
        • Nokia Lumia 920 (AT&T)
        • Nokia Lumia 925 (AT&T)
        • Samsung ATIV S Neo (AT&T)
        • Nokia Lumia Icon (VZW)
        • Nokia Lumia 822 (VZW)
        • Nokia Lumia 928 (VZW)
  • Supported payment card which includes:
        • American Express & AMEX Serve
        • Chase cards
        • Wells Fargo cards
        • Debit cards
  • Supported carrier – which includes AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile.  (Sorry Sprint)
  • Security-enabled cellular SIM card.  This is most current SIMs however not all.  If Softcard doesn’t work on your phone and you meet all other requirements, it means you need to trade your phone’s SIM for one that’s got security-enabled.

AT&T & Verizon Wireless both support it now and T-Mobile does as well however I’ve heard mixed things about T-Mobile’s Softcard availability.  Go the the web site to download the Softcard app for your phone and carrier.

Posted by: kurtsh | February 18, 2015

DOWNLOAD: OneNote 2013 for Windows – now 100% FREE

Holy cow. OneNote 2013 for Windows. 100% FREE.  As in, all feature restrictions removed.  The best note taking tool for Windows is now completely free.

imageToday we’re happy to share that we’re adding even more to the free edition. We’re removing all feature restrictions from OneNote 2013. Starting today you’ll be able to access the full power of OneNote on your PC, including these features previously reserved for paid editions:

  • Password protected sections—Add a password to protect sensitive information.
  • Page history—Easily see or go back to prior versions of a page.
  • Audio and video recording—Take notes while recording, and easily jump to the relevant section later.
  • Audio search—Search for a word in a voice or video recording.
  • Embedded files—Insert Office documents or other files directly in your notebook.

imageOoh. Free eBook!

We’re happy to announce the release of our newest free ebook, Microsoft Azure Essentials: Fundamentals of Azure (ISBN 9780735697225), by Michael S. Collier and Robin E. Shahan. This is the first ebook in Microsoft Press’s free Microsoft Azure Essentials series. Future ebooks will cover specific Azure topics, such as Azure Machine Learning, Azure Automation, and others.


Microsoft Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, providing a wide variety of services you can use without purchasing and provisioning your own hardware. Azure enables the rapid development of solutions and provides the resources to accomplish tasks that may not be feasible in an on-premises environment. Azure’s compute, storage, network, and application services allow you to focus on building great solutions without the need to worry about how the physical infrastructure is assembled.
This ebook covers the fundamentals of Azure you need to start developing solutions right away. It concentrates on the features of the Azure platform that you are most likely to need to know rather than on every feature and service available on the platform. This ebook also provides several walkthroughs you can follow to learn how to create VMs and virtual networks, websites and storage accounts, and so on. In many cases, real-world tips are included to help you get the most out of your Azure experience.
In addition to its coverage of core Azure services, the ebook discusses common tools useful in creating and managing Azure-based solutions. The ebook wraps up by providing details on a few common business scenarios where Azure can provide compelling and valuable solutions.

Who should read this ebook

This ebook focuses on providing essential information about the key services of Azure for developers and IT professionals who are new to cloud computing. Detailed, step-by-step demonstrations are included to help the reader understand how to get started with each of the key services. This material is useful not only for those who have no prior experience with Azure, but also for those who need a refresher and those who may be familiar with one area but not others. Each chapter is standalone; there is no requirement that you perform the hands-on demonstrations from previous chapters to understand any particular chapter.

We expect that you have at least a minimal understanding of virtualized environments and virtual machines. There are no specific skills required overall for this ebook, but having some knowledge of the topic of each chapter will help you gain a deeper understanding. For example, the chapter on virtual networks will make more sense if you have some understanding of networking, and the chapter on databases will be more useful if you understand what a database is and for what you might use one. Web development skills will provide a good background for understanding websites, and some understanding of identity will be helpful when studying the chapter on Active Directory.

This ebook might not be for you if…
This ebook might not be for you if you are looking for an in-depth developer or architecture-focused discussion on a wide range of Azure features, or if you are looking for details on other public or private cloud

Download the eBook below:

Posted by: kurtsh | February 12, 2015

RELEASE: Office for Mac 2011 14.4.8 Update

imageQuite silently, we’ve released the Office for Mac 2011 14.4.8 Update. 

This update provides the latest fixes for Office for Mac 2011. These include the following:

  • Functionality in Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac 2011
    This update fixes an issue in which you cannot manipulate textboxes by using the keyboard in PowerPoint for Mac 2011 if you are using different input methods.
  • Functionality in Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011
    This update fixes an issue that causes repeated password prompts for Office 365 Exchange Online accounts.
  • Functionality in Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011
    This update fixes an issue that causes messages to be displayed incorrectly when you import certain .pst files that have Rich Text Format (RTF) encoding.

Weird how this isn’t even on the Office for Mac blog.


Communications and Media Global Outlook 2014-2017 provides insight into the Microsoft and partner technologies that are being developed for communications and media companies to drive positive change and address new trends.

Topics around mobile, cloud and the Internet of Things are covered in the technology roadmap and regional perspective sections of the guide.

A comprehensive directory section also provides business information about some of the innovative technology suppliers in the industry, helping you to make positive technology decisions for your own company.

Here’s a glimpse at the contents:

  • Page 14: Technology Roadmap: “Devices & Studios”
  • Page 18-: Regional Perspectives, “The continuing rise of digital”
        • Page 20: North America
        • Page 22: Europe, Middle East, Africa
        • Page 24: Asia-Pacific
        • Page 26: Latin America
  • imagePage 77: ESPN
    ”Sports media group ESPN joins the Windows 8 platform with the help of NV Interactive”

Get it here:

imageUPDATE 2/11/15 10:30AM
Oh, it’s here alright.  My phone is downloading it as I type!  Key posts about the update:


ORIGINAL POST 2/11/15 9:00AM
imageWOW.  If you’re a Verizon Nokia Icon user and been paying attention to the recent social chatter, the Windows Phone 8.1.1 + “Denim” firmware update was semi-announced/leaked as of last night.

Per Daniel Rubino of Windows Central:

HOLY… Lumia Icon + Denim update is ALMOST here. Verizon announced it. Likely due tomorrow.…

Since I have the Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview installed, I’ve personally been getting ready to reset my phone and back it down to the old Windows Phone 8.0 to get the upgrade.

Lo and behold, today, Joe Belfiore tweeted:

“Hey #Icon users… thanks for being patient!  Denim is arriving today, but sit tight. You WON’T need to reset & use recovery tool to get it.”

Mind blown.  I did not expect to have a seamless upgrade from the WP8.1 Dev Preview to the production version from Verizon. 

Everything is awesome.  Can’t wait to upgrade to this… so many features that will be unlocked with this release, like Miracast wireless display “casting”.

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