After a great first day at TechEd 2010, we’re on to day 2. Today’s all about attending sessions and talking to Microsoft staff. In fact, I had the great opportunity to have a quick meet-up with Long Zheng and Steven Bink before rushing off to the sessions on the floor.
Session: Keeping Windows running efficiently and smoothly
My first session started at 9:45 A.M. and promised to tell us everything about keeping Windows “running efficiently.” And it delivered.
In this session, Brad McCabe, Product Manager for Windows, told us how to solve Windows Vista and Windows 7 problems more easily and efficiently than using the built-in Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE). To prove the point, he used a tool called “Not My Fault” developed by Mark Russinovich. The tool is designed specifically to produce a blue screen. Do you know how the name “Not My Fault” came to be? It seems nearly every user who calls tech support after getting the dreaded “blue screen,” shouts out “Well, I didn’t do anything—it’s not my fault!” We obviously don’t recommend using this tool. But professionals interested in using it on a virtual machine can do a Google search for it and find it on the Sysinternals Website.
McCabe then launched “MSDaRT,” part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack. Administrators can troubleshoot their computers using MSDart. In fact, you can burn MSDaRT to a CD and perform troubleshooting on every computer that crashes.
MSDaRT, among other things, performs the following troubleshooting actions:
- Crash Analyzer Wizard: This wizard is able to analyze blue screen dumps and actually gives back readable information on the bluescreen.
- Computer Management: Even if your system no longer starts, you can easily disable drivers and services that might be causing the problem. For example, if you’ve installed a faulty sound card driver that causes a blue screen every time you start the computer, you can use Computer Management to disable it. Try this if “Safe Mode” and “Last Known Good” configuration don’t work.
- Explorer: This is a full featured Windows Explorer. In case your computer is totally busted, you can easily move all your files over to an external hard disk.
- Hotfix Uninstall: Imagine you have installed a hotfix that just crashed your PC. With Hotfix Uninstall you can easily, and relatively quickly, get rid of the problem.
- Standalone System Sweeper: If your computer doesn’t boot up due to a virus, a Trojan or other malware, you can use this virus scan – which is similar to Microsoft Security Essentials – to scan and delete.
Unfortunately, you can’t just download MDOP and run it (and rightly so). But there are several ways to get MDOP:
- If you have a MSDN or TechNet account, you can receive a trial version of MDOP which includes MSDaRT.
- Via a company volume license program.
- In some countries, including Germany, you can order a CD with a 120-Day-Trial. Unfortunately, this service is not yet available to US customers.
We spoke to McCabe after the session and asked him why MDOP isn’t more widely available, especially since it’s a tool that tech-savvy users would likely benefit from. He told us, it’s not recommended that average users download MSDart, as there are some tools like Locksmith that can reset the Windows admin password.
And Microsoft understandably does not want this floating around the Internet. Also, he thinks that if the company pushed MSDaRT among the public, average users could do more harm to their PCs than actually fix and troubleshoot them. However, if you’ve got an MSDN or a TechNet account or other means to get it, please do so! MDOP is amazing and we would love to see a (perhaps a pared down) version for the public.
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