Microsoft is making it easy for customers to jump into the Cloud with a new resource designed to simplify the process of setting up Microsoft Online Services.

With the Microsoft Online Services Setup Accelerator, companies that want to embrace the Redmond company’s Cloud-based offerings will be able to essentially get help straight from the software giant.

According to Microsoft, all that customers will be required to do is answer a few questions, no more than eight, and the Microsoft Online Services Setup Accelerator will be able to provide customized instructions for customers to configure the services they need.

“One of the best things about BPOS and Exchange Online is how simple it is to setup and what makes it even easier is the guide that takes you through it,” revealed Simon May, Microsoft IT Pro evangelist. More »

Microsoft is offering a range of free resources, from Solution Accelerators to volume activation tools in order to simplify the adoption of its latest technologies, including Windows 7 and Office 2010, especially as far as business customers are concerned. One particular offering from the Redmond company is the Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) 2.0, which enables IT Professionals to centrally manage Windows 7 activations. Of course, the tool is by no means limited to the latest iteration of the Windows client.

“VAMT 2.0 also manages activations for Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Office 2010 client suites and applications, Visio 2010 and Project 2010,” Microsoft’s Jodi Kogan revealed. “You can perform KMS, MAK and retail activations on remotely managed systems, all from a single VAMT console. The process is simple; VAMT first discovers the computers and installed products. Then, the product key is installed for the target systems to be activated.” More »

While a vulnerability does exist in the latest Windows client and server platforms with Aero enabled, actually getting exploit code to work and performing successful attacks are not likely to happen. Microsoft downplayed the risk users of Windows 7 64-bit, Windows Server 2008 R2 for 64-bit systems and Windows Server 2008 R2 Itanium systems were exposed to, indicating that the new zero-day, for which details had been disclosed in the wild, was extremely hard to exploit. At the same time, the Redmond company underlined that it was not aware of any attacks targeting the flaw, or of exploit code capable of reaching execution.

Jerry Bryant, group manager, Response Communications, Microsoft, revealed that the new security hole resided in the Windows Canonical Display Driver (cdd.dll). Microsoft has already published Security Advisory 2028859, informing customers of the issue and offering advice on how to stay protected until a patch is offered. More »

Customers that are using Linux and Windows Server in the same environment can also turn to a free resource from Microsoft designed to enhance the performance of the open source operating system when used together with the Redmond company’s hypervisor role. Best Practices for Running Linux on Hyper-V is a whitepaper offered free through the Microsoft Download Center, set up to highlight virtualization benefits associated with Linux on Hyper-V. At the same time, customers with heterogeneous environments can leverage the best practices described in the whitepaper in order to boost the performance of Linux when used as a guest operating system on a Hyper-V host.

“Most data centers use a variety of applications and operating systems. If you use both Linux and Windows operating systems, you can use Hyper-V to take advantage of the benefits of virtualization across your data center,” an excerpt from the whitepaper reads. “Hyper-V, the Microsoft hypervisor-based server virtualization platform, provides virtualization capabilities through the Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system infrastructure. Hyper-V lets you efficiently run multiple operating systems in parallel on a single server and fully capitalize on the power of x64 computing.” More »

It was approximately two years ago that Microsoft announced that customers running System Center would be able to leverage automated management across mixed source environments. It was at the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) 2008 that Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft, revealed UNIX and Linux support in System Center.

Fast-forward a couple of years, and it appears that customers are asking about the Redmond company’s plans to support future releases of UNIX and Linux as they will be released, according to Robert Hearn, Sr. program manager Customer & Partner Community System Center Cross Platform & Interoperability.

“The cross platform integrations currently support the following operating systems: AIX 5.3 (Power), 6.1 (Power); HP-UX 11iv2 (PA-RISC and IA64), and 11iv3 (PA-RISC and IA64); Red Hat Enterprise Server 4 (x64 and x86) and 5 (x64 and x86); Solaris 8 (SPARC), 9 (SPARC), and 10 (SPARC and x86 versions later than 120012-14); and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 (x86), 10.1 (x86 and x64) and 11,” Hearn noted. More »