KB3058168: Update that enables Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 KMS hosts to activate Windows 10

Unless you’re living under a rock you will know that Windows 10 will be available on July 29th 2015. Microsoft has prepared for this by already making an Update that enables Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 KMS hosts to activate a “later version of Windows”. This must mean Windows 10. I do not know if this means that even the versions after Windows 10 will be activated by a KMS server running this update but it might.

Select the version you need for the KMS server or servers you use and install them.


Launch the update by launching Windows8.1-KB3058168-x64.msu


Click “Yes” to install the update


Install the update


Restart the KMS Server


So there you go, you’re ready to to start deploying Windows 10 Enterprise edition which can then be activated by your KMS server when the new client OS is generally available. Good luck.

Closing note: Don’t even bother posting comments where you ask for KMS Server keys or MAK keys for Windows 10. As I’ve stated before, while it might be more fun to join the pirates we’re the navy and as such we don’t condone piracy Winking smile. Got it? GOOD!

SMB 3, ODX, Windows Server 2012 R2 & Windows 8.1 perform magic in file sharing for both corporate & branch offices

SMB 3 for Transparent Failover File Shares

SMB 3 gives us lots of goodies and one of them is Transparent Failover which allows us to make file shares continuously available on a cluster. I have talked about this before in Transparent Failover & Node Fault Tolerance With SMB 2.2 Tested (yes, that was with the developer preview bits after BUILD 2011, I was hooked fast and early) and here Continuously Available File Shares Don’t Support Short File Names – "The request is not supported" & “CA failure – Failed to set continuously available property on a new or existing file share as Resume Key filter is not started.”


This is an awesome capability to have. This also made me decide to deploy Windows 8 and now 8.1 as the default client OS. The fact that maintenance (it the Resume Key filter that makes this possible) can now happen during day time and patches can be done via Cluster Aware Updating is such a win-win for everyone it’s a no brainer. Just do it. Even better, it’s continuous availability thanks to the Witness service!

When the node running the file share crashes, the clients will experience a somewhat long delay in responsiveness but after 10 seconds the continue where they left off when the role has resumed on the other node. Awesome! Learn more bout this here Continuously Available File Server: Under the Hood and SMB Transparent Failover – making file shares continuously available.

Windows Clients also benefits from ODX

But there is more it’s SMB 3 & ODX that brings us even more goodness. The offloading of read & write to the SAN saving CPU cycles and bandwidth. Especially in the case of branch offices this rocks. SMB 3 clients who copy data between files shares on Windows Server 2012 (R2) that has storage an a ODX capable SAN get the benefit that the transfer request is translated to ODX by the server who gets a token that represents the data. This token is used by Windows to do the copying and is delivered to the storage array who internally does all the heavy lifting and tell the client the job is done. No more reading data form disk, translating it into TCP/IP, moving it across the wire to reassemble them on the other side and write them to disk.


To make ODX happen we need a decent SAN that supports this well. A DELL Compellent shines here. Next to that you can’t have any filter drives on the volumes that don’t support offloaded read and write. This means that we need to make sure that features like data deduplication support this but also that 3rd party vendors for anti-virus and backup don’t ruin the party.


In the screenshot above you can see that Windows data deduplication supports ODX. And if you run antivirus on the host you have to make sure that the filter driver supports ODX. In our case McAfee Enterprise does. So we’re good. Do make sure to exclude the cluster related folders & subfolders from on access scans and schedules scans.

Do not run DFS Namespace servers on the cluster nodes. The DfsDriver does not support ODX!


The solution is easy, run your DFS Namespaces servers separate from your cluster hosts, somewhere else. That’s not a show stopper.

The user experience

What it looks like to a user? Totally normal except for the speed at which the file copies happen.

Here’s me copying an ISO file from a file share on server A to a file share on server B from my Windows 8.1 workstation at the branch office in another city, 65 KM away from our data center and connected via a 200Mbps pipe (MPLS).


On average we get about 300 MB/s or 2.4 Gbps, which “over” a 200Mbps WAN is a kind of magic. I assure you that they’re not complaining and get used to this quite (too) fast Winking smile.

The IT Pro experience

Leveraging SMB 3 and ODX means we avoid that people consume tons of bandwidth over the WAN and make copying large data sets a lot faster. On top of that the CPU cycles and bandwidth on the server are conserved for other needs as well. All this while we can failover the cluster nodes without our business users being impacted. Continuous to high availability, speed, less bandwidth & CPU cycles needed. What’s not to like?

Pretty cool huh! These improvements help out a lot and we’ve paid for them via software assurance so why not leverage them? Light up your IT infrastructure and make it shine.

What’s stopping you?

So what are your plans to leverage your software assurance benefits? What’s stopping you? When I asked that I got a couple of answers:

  • I don’t have money for new hardware. Well my SAN is also pré Windows 2012 (DELL Compellent SC40 controllers. I just chose based on my own research not on what VARs like to sell to get maximal kickbacks Winking smile. The servers I used are almost 4 years old but fully up to date DELL PowerEdge R710’s, recuperated from their duty as Hyper-V hosts. These server easily last us 6 years and over time we collected some spare servers for parts or replacement after the support expires. DELL doesn’t take away your access to firmware &drivers like some do and their servers aren’t artificially crippled in feature set.
  • Skills? Study, learn, test! I mean it, no excuse!
  • Bad support from ISV an OEMs for recent Windows versions are holding you back? Buy other brands, vote with your money and do not accept their excuses. You pay them to deliver.

As IT professionals we must and we can deliver. This is only possible as the result of sustained effort & planning. All the labs, testing, studying helps out when I’m designing and deploying solutions. As I take the entire stack into account in designs and we do our due diligence, I know it will work. The fact that being active in the community also helps me know early on what vendors & products have issues and makes that we can avoid the “marchitecture” solutions that don’t deliver when deployed. You can achieve this as well, you just have to make it happen. That’s not too expensive or time consuming, at least a lot less than being stuck after you spent your money.

Traveling To MMS 2013

Well I’ll be traveling towards MMS 2013. A big thank you, by the way, to the team back home for keeping an eye on things while reading the Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Installation and Configuration Guide.

I’m attending this conference for the great networking opportunities and to establish the role System Center will have in our future. Many thousands of us will be attending MMS 2013 in Las Vegas (Nevada, USA) once again for that very same reason. I’m travelling over LHR to LAS with the help of British Airways as one of their Boeing 747s does the job quite adequately.


System Center 2012 SP1 has been released with full support for Windows Server 2012 whilst Windows 8 is gaining traction and the BYOD & Hybrid trends are ever increasing the challenges for management & support. Meanwhile we’re faced with ever bigger challenges keeping up with Private, Hybrid & Public cloud efforts and trends while maintaining our “legacy” systems.

I’m looking forward to discuss some serious issues we’re dealing with in managing an ever increasing varied ecosystem. Things are moving fast in technology. This means we need to adapt and move even faster with the flow.My friends, colleagues, fellow MEET members & MVPs, business partners, Microsoft employees I’m looking forward to meeting up at the Summit in Mandalay Bay!

Next to the sessions I have meetings lined up with vendors, friends & colleagues from around the globe as we optimize our time when we can meet face to face to talk shop and provide feedback. If you can’t attend follow some of the action here at MMS 2013 Live!


If you  read my blog or follow me on twitter and are attending be sue to let us know so we can meet & greet.

Failover Cluster Node Names in Upper & Lower Case In Window 2012 with Cluster.exe, PowerShell & GUI


Cluster Node Names Can Be Inconsistently Named

A lot of us who build failover clusters are bound to run into the fact that the node names as shown the Failover Cluster Management GUI is not always consistent in the names format  it gives to the nodes. Sometimes they are lower case, sometimes they are upper case. See the example below of a Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 cluster.


Many a system administrator has some slight neurotic tendencies. And he or she can’t stand this. I’ve seen people do crazy things like trying to fix this up to renaming a node in the registry. Do NOT do that. You’ll break that host. People check whether the computer object in AD is lower or upper case, whether the host name is lower or upper case, check how the node are registered in DNS etc. They try to keep ‘m all in sync at sometimes high cost Smile But in the end you can never be sure that all nodes will have the same case using the GUI.

So what can you do?

  1. Use cluster.exe to add the node to the cluster. That enforces the case you type in the name!  An example of this is when you’d like upper case node names:
    cluster.exe /cluster:CLUSTER-NAME /add /node:UPPERCASENODE1
  2. Some claim that when you add all nodes at the same time and they will all be the same. But ‘m not to sure this will always work.

Windows 2012

In Windows 2012 PowerShell replaces cluster.exe (it is still there, for backward compatibility but for how long?) and they don’t seem to enforce the case of the names of the node. For more info on Failover Clustering PowerShell look at Failover Clusters Cmdlets in Windows PowerShell, it’s a good starting point.

Don’t despair my fellow IT Pros. Learn to accept that fail over clustering is case insensitive and you’ll never run into any issue. Let it go …. Well unless you get a GUI bug like we had with Exchange 2010 SP1 or any other kind of bug that has issues with the case of the nodes Smile.

If you want to use cluster.exe (or MSClus) for that matter you’ll need to add it via the Add Roles and Features Wizard / Remote Administration Tools /Feature Administration Tools / Failover Clustering Tools. Note that there are not present by default.



On an upgraded node I needed to uninstall failover clustering and reinstall it to get it to works, so even in that scenario they are gone and I needed to add them again.

MSClus and Cluster.EXE support Windows Server 2012, Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 2008 clusters. The Windows Server 2012 PowerShell module for clustering supports Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2008 R2, not Windows Server 2008.

For more information see the relevant section at Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server “8” Beta (dsforum2wiki). You’ll have to live with the fact that a lot of documentation still refers to Windows Server 8. As of his post, it’s only been a week that the final name of Windows Server 2012 was announced.



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