Windows 10 – Did You Know?

Microsoft is releasing Windows 10 soon, and for the first year of its release, they will be offering it as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. If you are planning to upgrade to Windows 10, you should plan to do so within the first year of its release, or you will be required to pay for the upgrade later on.

Windows 2003 Server End of Life

Why am I writing an article in 2014 about an Operating System that is almost 12 years old? Because in July 2015, Microsoft will end support for Windows 2003 Server.

What does that mean to you?

Well, if you are a casual user and don’t have anything important on your Windows 2003 Server box, then it will just mean that you will no longer receive patches, updates, and security fixes from Microsoft. If you choose to be OK with that, then you don’t have to do anything at all.

If you are a business user, or if you happen to have some sensitive data or applications running on your Windows 2003 Server, you need to take action. You have several choices:

  1. You can do nothing and risk the compromise of your Server, your data, and your applications.
  2. You can contact Microsoft about a Custom Support Agreement (CSA) – they will charge you a fairly significant, recurring fee for this, and they will also require you to show them a plan to migrate away from Windows 2003 Server.
  3. You can migrate your Windows 2003 Server to Windows 2008 Server or Windows 2012 Server – you will need to test any of the applications that are on your Windows 2003 Server boxes to ensure they are compatible with the destination Operating System. You should also know that there is no direct path from Windows 2003 Server to Windows 2012 Server. You should also be aware of any dependencies that exist between your applications and any services that are running in your environment (SMTP, DNS, DHCP, etc.) and ensure that you are grouping the servers so that you don’t break an application when its host server moves.
  4. You can make a strategic and longer-term decision to migrate your old services and applications to a Public / Private (Hybrid) Cloud solution – this enables many efficiencies, including on-demand service and application delivery, on-demand server delivery, near-instant deployment and recovery of test and development resources, configuration control, reduced data center footprint, and more. Even though this choice requires a lot more work and planning up front, the return on investment is significant if done right.

Those are your choices. Now for the real question – do you have the time, capability, and capacity to do what needs to be done by July 2015?

Windows Phone 8 – a Quickie

I recently got my hands on a couple of Windows Phone 8 (WP8) devices – the Lumia 822 and the HTC 8X. My first impressions are that they are lightweight and have big, beautiful screens. The Lumia has a nice feel to it and feels good in your hand. The HTC is THIN and also feels good in your hand.

The live tiles are cool and all, but for me, they made my home screen too busy. I really only care about new email and calendar activity, so I got rid of the Photos tile and the People tile (among others). They were just too distracting. The Microsoft Store has some good and familiar apps, but it doesn’t compare to the Apple App Store or the Google Marketplace. I hope that Devs support it and build apps for it. There is currently no VPN support, nor is there support for a proxy server in the web browser (even though there is a Web Proxy app that allows user-enforced proxying).

As for end-point security, Microsoft is saying that Anti-virus, Anti-malware, and Firewall are not necessary due to the device OS architecture and the application approval process for the Microsoft Store. This is a similar story to what RIM says about the BlackBerry and what Apple says about the iPhone. For device encryption, MS leverages TPM 2.0.

Overall, I like both of these devices, and I like the OS pretty well. Not giving up my iPhone yet though.

Convert EPOCH Time to Date/Time in Excel

And now for something completely different. I was recently asked to retrieve SMS messages from an old iPhone. I was able to get to the backup of the SMS database easily enough, and it opened with SQL Lite, and I exported the messages to Excel. When I started looking at the messages in Excel, I noticed that the “date” field was a string of numbers that looked something like 1302180658.

After looking into this, I discovered that this was the Epoch Time (aka the UNIX Time). This is the number of seconds since January 1, 1970 00:00:00 UTC. I then spent a little time using Google to find out how to convert this to a real Date/Time. I found plenty of online tools to do so, and I even found a site that had a formula for Excel. When I used the formula from the web site, I got a date in the future, so I knew something was wrong.

I then broke down the formula into its components and discovered that the constant that was provided in the formula I got from the web site was wrong. Anyhow, enough back story. Here is how to convert Epoch Time (UTC) to Date/Time (UTC) in Excel:

Row A contains the Epoch Time (i.e., 1302180658)
Cell B2 contains the date January 1, 1970 (in a date formatted cell that is named – I called mine EPOCH)  This is a constant.
Row C contains the following formula: =sum(A2/86400)+EPOCH

Here is a visual

Hope this helps – please let me know if you have questions or issues with using this.  Thanks for stopping by!

More about the Motorola Froyo Update

I just got the details on the updated version of Android on Motorola devices that doesn’t work with Exchange Active Sync: version 2.2 Kernel version 2.6.32.9-g874c292 Build number FRG22D.

Again, if you are having trouble with this (things were working fine last week, and on Friday or Saturday EAS suddenly stopped working), please contact Motorola and your carrier and complain about this.

I would love to hear about your customer service experiences related to this.

Motorola Pushes an Android 2.2 (Froyo) Update that Breaks Active Sync

Three or Four days ago, Motorola pushed an update to Android 2.2 (Froyo) that broke Exchange Active Sync (EAS). If you have one of these devices and EAS is no longer working for you, you should contact Motorola and your carrier and let them know. In the interim, you can use Touchdown to continue the synchronization of your Exchange mail, calendar, and contacts.

Windows Phone 7 Released to Manufacturing

Just a quick note to let everyone know that the Windows Phone 7 product team has released the Windows Phone 7 OS to manufacturing. I hope it does well, but I fear that MS is too late to the dance.