Pre-order the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4

I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on either of the new Surface devices yet, but they look very nice. I’m especially eager to try the Surface Pro 4 with 16 GB of RAM. My current Surface Pro 3 has only 4 GB of RAM, and that turns out to be a significant bottleneck.

If you’re planning to pre-order either device, please use this link:

Introducing the new Surface Book and Surface Pro 4. Available for Pre-order now.

Disclosure: I earn a commission for sales made through this affiliate link.


First post from OneNote

Hello world. This post is courtesy of the OneNote plugin for WordPress.

As longtime friends know, that’s my rescued English Springer Spaniel, Mackie.

He cheerfully volunteered to have his picture taken at the dog park for use in today’s post.

Finally, 128 GB MicroSD cards hit the market

I cannot tell you how long I have been waiting for this. For years, MicroSD cards have been stalled at 64GB, even though the spec allows larger sizes.

Finally, SanDisk has launched a high-performance card that has 128 GB of storage.

This is a very big deal if you have devices like smartphones or tablets that support expansion via MicroSD cards (that list includes Microsoft Surface devices but not, ahem, iPads). Windows 8.1 made the process of integrating this type of add-on storage much easier than it has been in previous Windows editions.


This card is currently listed at Amazon for $120, which is a very fair price. It’s temporarily out of stock, but you can place an order as I did and Amazon will notify you when it’s ready to ship and honor the price.

One big question about this device is whether it will be compatible with existing tablets and smartphones. Given that this size has been part of the standard for years, it shouldn’t be a problem, but the only way to know for sure is to try it.

I’ll keep you posted.

Disclosure: I get a commission if you order from and use the link in this post.

Moving day

I just switched to a different server.

As part of the move, I’ve eliminated all comments from prior posts, and I also made a few minor changes in the site’s design.

If you see anything broken, you can use the contact form (link is in the navigation bar at the top of the page) to let me know.


A fix for installation problems on the HP ProLiant MicroServer N40L

I know most of you won’t care about this, but if you own one of HP’s marvelous little servers this is useful information.

HP-Proliant-MicroServerI have two of these devices in my office. They are reminiscent of the old HP Home Servers, except much more solidly built. They are quiet, have four easy-to-access SATA drive bays, and at a list price of approximately $350 are quite affordable. If you’re a patient buyer it’s possible to find this model or its successor, the ProLiant MicroServer N54L, on sale for under $300. (I paid $250 each for mine, in 2012.)

For the past year, one of my microservers has been running Windows 8 (acting mostly as a media file server) and the other has been running Windows Server 2012 Essentials, performing backups and acting as a business file server and remote gateway.

After the RTM releases of Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 Essentials R2 became available, I tried upgrading both machines—and failed miserably. The upgrades went OK until the first boot, after which the system hung and refused to complete installation. I applied every update I could find, with no luck. So even as I upgraded every other Windows device in sight, these two remained stuck on last year’s software.

As it turns out, I wasn’t alone. This thread on Microsoft’s support forums turned up multiple examples of people who had been burned by the issue. I found some more on Twiiter, and lots more in this thread on the Home Server Show forums.

The problem was related to the built in network adapter on the microserver, whose firmware was giving the Windows updaters fits. And the only way to complete the installation was to disable the network card and replace it with an external adapter in one of the server’s two cramped expansion slots.

So, good news: there’s a fix available now, in the form of a firmware upgrade from HP.

If you have one of these servers, download the System ROMPaq Firmware Upgrade for HP ProLiant MicroServer (For USB Key-Media) and copy it to a local folder. Run the executable file SP64420.exe, plug in a blank USB key (it doesn’t have to be big), and launch the HP USB Key Setup Creation Utility. You can then boot the server from that key to flash the firmware.

I can confirm from personal experience that this works. And I should probably write up my experiences with both hardware/software combos someday..

Join me for a Windows 8.1 Jump Start

Next week, I’ll be up in Redmond participating in a live Microsoft Virtual Academy event:

What’s New in Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals Jump Start

November 14, 2013

10:00am-5:00pm PST

If you’re an IT pro responsible for deploying Windows in your organization, I encourage you to tune in. I’ll be asking some Microsoft experts about some hot-button topics—security, mobility, and manageability—as they apply to Windows 8.1.

Thanks to the miracle of live demos, you’ll have a rare opportunity to see a lot of these technologies in action without having to build your own test infrastructure.

If you want a preview of some of the topics we’ll be discussing, I encourage you to download my latest ebook, Introducing Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals. It’s free, and available in PDF, Mobi (for Kindle), and EPUB formats.


Got a burning question you want me to ask? Please send it along, either in the comments of this post or via the contact form at the top of the page, and I’ll do my best to make sure it’s covered.

Disclosure: I’m being compensated by Microsoft for my appearance in this event. As always, however, all opinions expressed are my own, and there are no restrictions on what I can say or ask.