Office 2010 Group Policy setting reference

There’s a useful Office 2010 Group Policy settings reference which details 428 settings which are new versus Office 2007, 125 deprecated or removed since 2007, and 98 which write to registry locations which are not version specific (and therefore might be policies which affect older and newer versions equally). This is a useful additional companion to the main settings reference (downloaded as part of the Office 2010 admin templates as discussed in an earlier post about managing Office 2010), especially to quickly identify where you may need to make new decisions rather than just replicating your original Office 2007 group policies setting by setting.

Managing Office 2010 RTM

Office 2010 has reached RTM (“release to manufacturing”) stage, and one week from today on May 12th Office 2010 will be available to business customers through Software Assurance they already have on copies of Office, or through new volume licences. (Technet and MSDN subscribers can already download the release version, and anyone can download the Beta to begin familiarising themselves with the new features.

The main (virtual) Office 2010 launch event will include a keynote speech by Stephen Elop, President of the Microsoft Business Division at 11am EDT (that’s 4pm BST for readers in the UK).

System administrators everywhere will also be pleased to find that the associated Office 2010 management tools are available to download already to coincide with the launch, unlike the time lag before they were available for Office 2007, or for the later service packs. This nearly 16MB download is a self extracting exe which will force a UAC prompt on newer OS’s, which can be useful so you can put the files in a folder which needs elevated privileges, and the contents expand to a total of about 123MB.

Read more of this post

Windows Server 2008 goes gold

Microsoft have now released Windows Server 2008 to manufacturing in the same week as Vista SP1 has also been finalised.

Release candidate code has been available since December for various subscribers such as Technet, MSDN and Microsoft partners. Read more of this post

Vista Service Pack 1 gets the green light

Vista’s much-awaited service pack 1 has had the go-ahead and is “released to manufacturing” (RTM). This means they can start pressing CD’s and get things moving through distribution channels, OEM and retail so people will soon be able to buy the product with sp1 built in (“slipstreamed”).

Read more about the release of Service Pack 1 for Vista here. The short version is that it won’t be available to actually download until mid-March

One of the benefits likely to get most press will be the changes to how Microsoft enforce their licencing through the “Windows Genuine Advantage” (WGA) programme which requires the software to be activated in order to continue using the full functionality. This has been held back from all the beta versions and will only take effect in the final released version. Paul Thurrott discusses this at his SuperSite for Windows:

First, Microsoft is disabling the two most common exploits that exist today for bypassing product activation in Vista … Pirate Windows users utilizing one of these hacks will see their systems return to the intended state–typically a grace period countdown–once SP1 is installed.

The second change is more dramatic. … If the product activation period expires, for example, Vista moves into Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM), where the user can only access the IE Web browser for 60 minutes at a time before being logged out; … Non-Genuine State (NGS), occurs when an activated copy of Vista fails a Web-based validation check, such as when you attempt to download software from the Microsoft Web site. In this case, certain features–like Windows Aero and ReadyBoost–are completely disabled, while others–like Windows Update and Windows Defender–work in limited ways only.

Beginning with SP1, RFM and NGS are a thing of the past.

Improvements to the software itself generally focus on performance and stability, but it does also improve on driver support and providing better APIs for third-party products such as anti-virus and desktop search (partly due to complaints that vendors were being “locked out” and could not develop products on an equal footing with Microsoft themselves).

One area which should be much better is the slow copying of files (even within a disk) which has plagued some systems. I will run some test copies of sets of large and small files and once I have the service pack installed I’ll post some results on how much performance gain I get.