Finding solutions for Microsoft problems v2 – The TechNet Wiki

Google, by itself, only gets you so far when you’re hunting down a Microsoft problem.  Sometimes you need to do some advance searching to find your answer.  Here are some of the things I try when a plain Google search doesn’t give me the solution.

Microsoft Help and Support (aka the Knowledge Base)
This is where Microsoft record details of issues they have in their products. You can use the Google “site:” search parameter to narrow your search to the
This is how you do it (click on the picture to see the results):
google site search

Looking for a patch or fix? Use the Microsoft keywords to narrow the search down.
support keyword fixes
Microsoft has documented the list of keywords here.

Microsoft blogs.
These are the hidden gems. Written by the folks who design & support the products, often you’ll find an answer here.
TechNet blogs are used by the support teams.
technet blogs search

MSDN blogs are used by programming types.
msdn search

TechNet Wiki Beta
”The home of community-generated content about Microsoft technologies — that anyone can edit!  Dive straight in! Use the search (above), tag cloud, featured articles page, or portals below to find the information you need.”

And finally, check the Microsoft Forums.
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How to select a good anti-virus product

Well, if you didn’t receive emails with viruii attached, or surf to “dubious” websites, you wouldn’t get infected. For the rest of us, we would be looking at either Microsoft Security Essentials, or something which costs money.

Or you’re a corporate customer, who has “business” needs, you’ll be needing to spend money.
If for no other reason that most anti-virus prohibit the use of their “free” products in a commercial setting.

The following are the questions I ask myself when I’m looking at an anti-virus product.

Personal use.

  1. Does it have a history of “false positives”?
    False positives are when the anti-virus product detects “good” files as being a virus.
    For personal use I wouldn’t buy Symantec, McAfee or CA eTrust products.
    Far too many false positives for my taste, which I wrote about here.   Heck, McAfee can’t even be bothered to test their product updates against known good Microsoft Windows PCs.
  2. What choices does the product give me if it finds a virus?
    Does it give me the choice to ignore the issue, quarantine the file, or just delete it?
    This is an important point for me, after having had McAfee delete some files I wanted to keep.
  3. Is it from a vendor I trust?
    This is a personal choice, but I wouldn’t ever buy McAfee products.  Ever.
  4. Will it slow down my PC if I install it?
    You used to pay a performance penalty for running an anti-virus product on your desktop.  But not so much now, with computers having gotten faster over the years.
    It is useful to be able to exclude programs from anti-virus monitoring, if you know the program is trustworthly.

For home use, I’d recommend Microsoft Security Essentials.

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WMI and WMIC example text for common queries

This is straight from the Microsoft Technet July 2005 CD set.  I’ve not seen it elsewhere, and since I’ve found it so useful, I’m going to repost it here.  WMIC is the command line interface to WMI.  Using the WMIC alias makes it easier to return computer information, all from a command line.

The following table contains example text of common queries using WMIC Aliases.  To run one of the queries, cut the entire contents of a cell in the Example Text column, paste at the WMIC command prompt, edit the variables as appropriate, and press the ENTER key.

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“How do I extract Microsoft CAB files?”

asked our newest SOE Developer.  The best tool I’ve found for this is CABPACK v1.4, which was last updated in 1999.  The age of the program might give you some idea about how often we need to extract files from CAB files these days.
ie. not very often.

It was fairly common back in the DOS/Windows 95/98 days to modify CAB files.  Often you’d do it so you could add new hardware drivers to an install floppy disk.  CABPACK was what I used.  There were others; and if you Google for them, you’ll find them.

And to be honest with you, I am glad that the days of crafting custom CAB files have gone.  No more the time consuming reboot testing to see if the CAB file change worked (this was before Virtual Machine image testing became fashionable).

With the march of technology, later Windows operating systems now use the Microsoft DPINST utility to embed drivers into the operating system.

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“The Diary of a Microsoft Marketing Man”

Must remember not to have a mouthful of coffee while reading one of Phil Factor’s blog posts:

The Diary of a Microsoft Marketing Man

I woke up, in a ‘one stop’ process requiring a subtle paradigm shift. I was in my bed at home, a complete integrated platform. The Sun™ was streaming through the Windows™. The world outside seemed people-ready. To drive decisions on getting out of bed, I enumerated multiple insightful, timely reasons for aligning with domestic goals in a familiar and powerful way.

On reaching the kitchen, I achieved unparalleled connectivity in the kettle by plugging it in, and leveraged the capabilities of the toaster by switching it on in real time. Today, I felt I had a flexible and connected infrastructure around me. I empowered the agile and adaptive cat at every level by opening the cat-flap
(continues here)

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The top 10 books borrowed by Microsoft UK staff

Originally saw this over at the Microsoft UK Schools Blog.

The Top 5

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 51Osk63EaBL._SL160_ Have read this myself.  Worked with a bloke who thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.  Considering that Mark Macy was one of the sharpest operators I’ve ever worked with, I’d recommend a read.
I thought the next book was a better read.
Getting Things Done412mHGHqzzL._SL160_ This is the book I loved when I read it.
My biggest problems with GTD is that
a) I fall off the wagon, and
b) I’ve yet to find a rigorous method to manage my tasks.
How Would You Move Mount Fuji?41EKJT9JEYL._SL160_ “Microsoft’s Cult of the Puzzle: How the World’s Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers”

Or, as I’ve often said to people, the thought process  on how to work though solving the problem is more important than just knowing the answer.
I would move Mt Fuji by erecting a SEP field.
But why are Microsoft staffers reading a book on how companies like Microsoft are selecting staff?

The Tipping Point.41iEG6VDU9L._SL160_ Have not read this book, and judging by the Amazon reviews, I won’t be anytime soon.
Linked.41f2lxLHk8L._SL160_ “How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What it Means for Business, Science and Everyday Life”
Apparently talks about how everything is inter-linked.
That everything is interlinked, does not surprise me.

The bottom 5

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So you think you’re funny.

Those bunch of funsters over at Microsoft Education have found a way to measure humour as a job competency.  It makes me want to barf.

Level 1: Basic Level 2: Intermediate Level 3: Advanced Level 4: Expert

Generally uses humor in a positive way

Uses humor to bring people together

Knows exactly when and where a joke or story will be effective

Can see humor in almost everything

Is conscientious about timing and setting for humor

Uses humor to boost morale or decrease tension

Has a great sense of timing

Sought out by others for guidance in this area

Tries to defuse tense situations with appropriate humor

Uses humor to make for a more relaxed and productive atmosphere

Realizes when and where humor will backfire, and withholds

Uses humor as a uniting dynamic across a range of situations

Can laugh at self and others

Allows others to be funny

Understands that laughter makes a more comfortable meeting, classroom, etc

Recognizing and appreciates a great sense of humor in others

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Dilbert talking about Microsoft licensing & pricing?

I saw Ed Bott’s “Microsoft’s Grinch kills Windows 7 Family Pack”, and then saw today’s Dilbert:


It kinda fits.  Ed talks about Microsoft removing the Windows 7 Family Pack offering.  From my past experience, Microsoft pricing is hard to understand, with it’s multiple ways to buy and license a product.

But don’t you worry, you can become a Microsoft Certified Professional for Licensing Solutions!

Acquiring and managing software licences can be complex and daunting. That’s where your expertise can help. Providing licensing solutions and services to businesses opens opportunities for you to attract customers, develop continuing revenue streams and expand your services business. Learn how attaining the Licensing Solutions competency can help grow your business.

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Microsoft commits to releasing Outlook PST format

This is big news, particularly if you’ve ever tried to convert an OST file to a PST file.

… In order to facilitate interoperability and enable customers and vendors to access the data in .pst files on a variety of platforms, we will be releasing documentation for the .pst file format.  This will allow developers to read, create, and interoperate with the data in .pst files in server and client scenarios using the programming language and platform of their choice.  The technical documentation will detail how the data is stored, along with guidance for accessing that data from other software applications.  It also will highlight the structure of the .pst file, provide details like how to navigate the folder hierarchy, and explain how to access the individual data objects and properties….
Paul Lorimer, Group Manager, Microsoft Office Interoperability

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VBscript to uninstall a Microsoft security patch

This is a small script I wrote many years ago to uninstall security patches.  I customise it when I need it.

In this example, I’ve customised it for MS09-032, but the principles apply to most patches.

Note that I don’t check for admin rights, I’m assuming that I’ll be using a desktop software deployment tool to run it on the user’s desktop.

' VBscript to roll back a security patch, in this case MS09-032.
‘ Dale Robinson – 2006 –> 2009

Option Explicit
On Error Resume Next

Dim bUninstallFileExists, OSSystemRoot, objWSHShell, objEnv, sMS09032Installed, sPatchCmd,sUninstallExe

Set objWSHShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
Set objEnv = objWSHShell.Environment("Process")

' MS09-032 sets this registry key if it's installed.

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