Monday, 31 October 2011

Manage-It with Quest's ChangeBASE Solution Set!



This video shows how Manage-It by ChangeBASE, now part of Quest Software, allows organisations to centrally manage the validation and impact assessment of all Windows updates, enabling them to quickly decide if it's safe to release an update or not. 

The result is an environment where changes can be introduced rapidly and with a high degree of certainty about the outcome, thus vastly reducing the amount of time that the application estate remains under any possible security risk.

For more information on Quest's ChangeBASE solution set, please visit the website.

Friday, 28 October 2011

ChangeBASE and Fujitsu help RDS to virtualise

This week, Computer Weekly has showcased how RBS built a business case for virtual desktops to cut costs

"With an annual technology spend of £1.5bn, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) wanted to move 55,000 of its users to a virtual desktop platform to change the way its employees work and cut costs," explains Jenny Williams, Computer Weekly. Through its partner, Fujitsu, ChangeBASE was used to test the entire application estate in bulk in order to rapidly assess how much of it could be virtualised.

For more information how ChangeBASE, now a part of Quest Software, can help you migrate faster, please visit the website.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Application of the Month: Adobe Acrobat 5.05, Part 2

Here's the second part of Carl Bennett's assessment of Adobe Acrobat 5.05.

Multi-Line Registry Analysis

App-V does not have any capability for merging multi-line registry keys. Quite often, several packages need to add things to a list so that Windows can manage them, however the only capability offered by App-V is to replace them. This check (in combination with our conflict checking tests) will identify those keys that are supposed to be merged rather than replaced. You would have to use scripting to enable the merge to take place.



Oh dear, something terrible seems to have occurred here; these are not supposed to be multi-line keys at all. The old version of AdminStudio used to capture this installation has hit a bug that has not been noticed by the person making the package. Luckily, AOK is watching out for these unusual things and now the person using it has the opportunity to correct the problem.


Non Supported Drivers (Streamed)

The main reason why programs are labelled as unsuitable for running on virtualised platforms is when they include driver files that are not compatible. The description in the green box in the screenshot, which you get when you click on the ‘more info’ button in AOK, explains this in more detail.


This would normally be the reason why an application would be taken off the list of those that are about to be virtualised. However, the part of the software that uses the driver may not be a part that the end-user needs to use, so it is best to follow the test-plan and to liaise with the end-users. If it turns out that the driver is a critical component then it could be deployed with an MSI, leaving the rest of the application virtualised.


Windows 7 – Windows Resource Protection Scan

This checks to see if there are any files in the package that are also protected by Windows. You might think that protection is a good thing, so what’s the worst that could happen? Well, the worst-case scenario is actually quite bad. If a file that is protected manages to make it into a sequence then it will take precedence over the one in the regular system folder. That file may have security issue, but when the system is updated on Patch Tuesday it will only know about the regular one. The virtual version with the security issues will get loaded into memory the next time the program gets used. 



Here we have five files that are protected by Windows and located in the System folder, and two that are in the application’s folders. AOK is offering to fix the five that are likely to cause the problem discussed above by deleting the files, and as they are already present in Windows this should always be an improvement. The other two are less likely to get loaded into the memory, however you can delete them manually from the package if you desire.


Virtualisation – Citrix XenApp – hosted and MS RDS

This report group deals with the readiness of an application to run on Remote Desktop Services (formerly known as Terminal Services) and Citrix XenApp. These tests were developed in collaboration with Microsoft. 


This package has passed the majority of the tests and there are just two areas of note.


Global User Data Settings Detection

These checks test a variety of the most common incompatibility issues, caused by a program writing its settings or data to a common location. In a multi-user environment, multiple users of the software need to be able to use it at the same time without affecting each other’s work. Often, programs were not tested or designed to be run in such circumstances and so these tests look for the common tell-tales that would indicate a collision of settings. 



There are two kinds of results here, folder and registry. The first two are folder issues where there are folders in the package called Tmp and Temp. The software is using these directories to temporarily store data while it is performing some tasks. If multiple users were trying to store the different data at the same time in the same place then the software could easily get confused. Windows Folder Virtualisation on Server 2008 will alleviate the worst of these problems but, by letting you know, it will help to concentrate your testing in these areas.

The screenshot here doesn’t show the complete detail but the registry issues all relate to the errors in the original package revealed by the Multi-Line Registry Analysis tests.


Printer Driver Detection

In an RDS environment printer drivers are not something you would want to install onto the server. The client computer is the one that will be set up and configured with the printers that the user will connect to and use. For this purpose, RDS has a technology called Easy Print which allows printing to work from the client computer. This test spots printer drivers inside a package so that you can install them on the client if necessary.


For this application, knowing some of the background behind how the software works helps to explain these drivers. It installs a driver that allows you to print from any program and for the output to be saved as a PDF file. These driver files present themselves in exactly the same way as regular drivers so it is not possible for AOK to distinguish between them and the ones of concern. In this case, these errors can be safely ignored.

We will see in a later test that these files are not compatible with 64-bit Windows, so they may not actually be suitable for running on RDS.


That's it for this week - part 3 will be up soon, but in the meantime why not view the full assessment here?


Technology and Browser News


Here's another snippet of industry news from Carl Bennett, Technical Specialist at ChangeBASE, now part of Quest Software.

Technology News

Microsoft have slipped to third most valuable technology company behind IBM and Apple.

I want a new computer, the best one consumes 10Mw although the old ones look nice.

Our partner, Converter Technology, write about broken links in Office documents.



Browser News

Internet Explorer 9 on Windows 7 passes 30% share in the US.

Firefox 7 has shipped, version 8 is now in beta.

What is the Internet and how does it work?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

ChangeBASE is now a part of Quest Software


Quest Software, Inc. has announced its acquisition of ChangeBASE, which specialises in automated application analysis, remediation and conversion for target platforms including Windows 7 and 8, Internet Explorer 8 and 9, Terminal Server/Remote Desktop Session Host, VDI, and Application Virtualization. The acquisition represents an expansion of Quest’s product portfolio that allows companies to develop a user-centric management focus for their Windows application, desktop, mobile, and cloud environments. With this assembled portfolio of capabilities, Quest becomes a single source for helping organisations take advantage of technology changes to benefit both IT and users alike.

For more information about this acquisition and Quest’s unique holistic approach to application compatibility, please visit www.quest.com/changebase.

Tweet This: @Quest acquires #ChangeBASE to accelerate migrations to Windows 7 & 8, Internet Explorer 8 & 9, application and desktop virtualization http://bit.ly/oQSaua

ChangeBASE at VMworld Europe 2011

ChangeBASE, now part of Quest Software, exhibited at VMworld Europe in Copenhagen last week, and a good time was had by all. It was great to see how other organisations are embracing virtualisation and to learn more about key developments in the space, including those from our hosts, VMware.
In between stand duty I had the chance to take a closer look at these new technologies by attending Stephen Herrod’s keynote. After an introduction by Maurizio Carli, General Manager for Europe at VMware, Stephen took the stage to discuss the evolution in how we think about IT – moving from a focus on servers and desktops, to services and how we, as people, consume IT.
Stephen argues that we are indeed moving to a post pc era, and that we have high expectations when it comes to accessing apps anywhere, at any time, and using any device. VMware are meeting this challenge by allowing apps to escape the captivity of particular devices, or ‘Windows silos’.
Using View 5 (to create virtual profiles to suit home and work needs), ThinApp Factory, Horizon (to manage applications over both laptops and mobile devices) and Project Octopus (allowing secure document sharing) in combination, VMware seeks to provide the access that users want. To see how the pieces link together, Stephen was joined on stage by Vittorio Viarengo, PM of EUC, who took on the role of a new employee and showed the process of connecting him with the apps he needed on his first day – simple! Vittorio could even access apps on his iPad using an HTML 5 browser through App Blast.
The lastest version of vSphere 5 has been designed on the premise that IT “should just work, and work well”, and is full of new features and improvements. With vSphere 5, a VM can now have up to 32 vCPUs and up to 1 TB of GB per VM - a ‘Monster VM’. VMware also announced vCenter Operations Management Suite 5.0, Capacity IQ and new offerings in the form of vCenter Infrastructure Navigator vFabric Application Management Suite to aid the management of these VMs.
All in all, VMware seek to simplify the process of getting apps to where they are needed, a mission that also drives ChangeBASE. We had a great show, and I’d like to thank everyone who came to see us at the stand.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Mobile and Cloud News

More industry news from Carl Bennett, Technical Specialist at ChangeBASE.

Mobile News
The new 64Gb iPhone 4S has been launched.  Apple say “It’s a good phone”.
The Samsung Galaxy SII has won every award going and has sold 10 million.

Cloud News
Windows 8 can seamlessly integrate with skydrive.

Obituary Corner
Dennis Ritchie, inventor of the C programming language, co-author of the famous book on the subject and co-creator of the Unix operating system, has died.


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Migration, Packaging and Windows 8 News

Here's a taster of the latest industry news from Carl Bennett, Technical Specialist at ChangeBASE.

Migration news

A powerpoint presentation called “Life after Windows XP containing some great arguments for upgrading to Windows 7.

Windows 7 has just passed XP as most widely used OS.

The Microsoft performance team explain the advantage of 64bit Windows.

Converter Technology look at whether it is worth skipping Windows7 and going straight to Windows8. Microsoft say 10 years is enough, just upgrade now will you?

Chris Jackson posted a link to his chat with Emily and Greg.

Packaging News

Symantec have announced that they will discontinue Wise. In my opinion they have never understood the asset that they had.  It’s not just a piece of software but the fuel for an entire industry.  It is still used by a vast proportion of all packaging teams.  Aaaagh I am so angry, upset and disappointed right now.

Can you pass the Windows 7 Deployment exam? I’ll admit that I scraped a pass by 1%.

After reporting last month that AppX may succeed, an article on why AppX Just Might Fail.

A Microsoft mindmap download is available on the topic of deployment.

A ThinApp guide to the Taskbar, and Start Menu Pinning gives you an insight into their virtualisation process.

The unattend file allows you to change some standard windows folders but not Program Files.

Windows 8 News

The Building Windows 8 Blog is a very well-written guide to the design philosophy behind the new features.  Learn about how the start menu has evolved into the start screen.

Translations are being sought for the new charm and app terminologies.

Desktop gadgets are being axed, but you never used them anyway.

Application of the Month: Adobe Acrobat 5.05, Part 1

This month Carl Bennett, Technical Specialist at ChangeBASE, has taken an in depth look into how Adobe Acrobat 5.05 behaves on different platforms, and the compatibility issues that may be encountered during a migration project.

Adobe_Acrobat_5.05_All_ENG_V3.0.msi

This is an old version of Adobe’s Acrobat Standard PDF writer. As Adobe did not make an MSI to distribute the software, this one was made by one of our partners using an old version of AdminStudio, making it a typical example of the type of package that our customers use AOK to analyse.

With any package of this age we would expect to see some issues; some of which we have solutions for, and others which will turn out to be more critical.  The software in question was never designed to run on modern 64-bit operating systems or in a multi-user environment, and was similarly never intended for virtualisation.
It is my intention to run the Adobe Acrobat MSI through all the major, relevant tests that AOK can perform in order to see how the application would behave in various modern environments, and provide you with some explanations of the meaning of the results.
This is how AOK looks after running the tests against the MSI:
As you can see, the results show 42 Reds and 63 Ambers - not a great start! That means 42 potential problems for which there are no obvious fixes and 63 issues which do have solutions, some of which can be automated by AOK.


MSI Installer Integrity
These results show how the MSI fares when tested against the Windows Installer Internal Consistency Evaluators, a standard set of checks that look at various aspects of the database itself.  All of the AOK checks in this category have automated solutions.

This looks like an error introduced during the repackaging stage.  Something or someone failed to set a table reference that is needed for .SVG files to be handled properly by a web browser.
The checkbox next to the issue indicates that there is an automatic fix for this issue.  Selecting it and pushing Fix-It corrects the problem and saves an MST transform that now passes the ICE validation checks.


Virtualisation – App-V
These checks look to see how well the package will behave when sequenced using the Microsoft App-V virtualisation solution.  Many of these AOK checks offer automated solutions, however in this case the ones that have been flagged up mostly do not.

The AOK checks here have identified five categories of issues. Some are fixable, some have automated solutions and others indicate that parts of this package will not work inside App-V.

DCOM Analysis
DCOM is a technology that currently does not work inside an App-V sequence.  AOK has identified two such issues within the Adobe Acrobat MSI.

It is very difficult to test for DCOM issues.  The only sure way is to run the application through its normal test plan, keeping an eye out for strange behaviour.  It is normally used in situations where the computer needs to communicate to programs running on other computers, so knowing a bit about how the software works helps in this situation. 

Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer Add-in detection
This test looks for elements of a software package that are designed to integrate with Office and Internet Explorer.  It looks for plugins, extensions, templates and all kinds of files that should normally be integrated.
Here you can see that add-ins to both Powerpoint and Excel have been detected.  There is no automated solution here because the fix is not something that can be done to the MSI to prepare it for sequencing.  Instead, you should make a DSC between this package and Office after sequencing so that the add-ins remain available.

That's it for today - part 2 will be up next week, or view the full assessment here! 

Windows 7 Deployment IT Pro Conference

Our partners at Microsoft are hosting the following event on Windows 7 Deployment.  It looks great, check it out!




Tuesday, 18 October 2011

AOKPulse Focus: Conflict Management

When migrating your applications to a new platform, you not only want to make sure that your applications will be compatible with the new target environment but you also want to know if all your applications will work when you install and uninstall them together on that target environment.

Conflict Management is a method of addressing inter-application conflicts and conflicts against the Operating System. There are a number of problems that are encountered, especially if a number of applications are installed and uninstalled on a system. Understanding the internal relationship between applications is a time-consuming and extremely difficult process. Often these issues remain hidden until the software is deployed to your users or a new version of an application is deployed. While application virtualisation takes away the need to conflict manage your applications and huge improvements have been made to our target platforms (Windows Resource Protection for example) and software development processes to alleviate these issues, there is no silver bullet solution. Many of you out there will still have a number of core applications installed on the Operating System and want to make sure that other applications you install there won’t conflict with one another.

Common issues we want to detect:
1.       Incompatible Versions - A particular version of a library may be incompatible  with an older or newer version.  There have been many rules put in place to prevent these situations but this can still occur particularly with older applications. Many applications relied on the bugs that existed in these libraries and when a new version is released where the functionality is fixed they don't function any more.
2.       DLL Stomping - Different installers have the ability to replace libraries on the file system with older versions. Software vendors often wrote installers that ignored versioning rules as a consequence. Windows Installer handles these correctly and will only be able to update any library if it has a newer version. With Windows 7 we can also sleep a bit better because Windows Resource Protection means that the Operating system will prevent certain files and registry keys being replaced if they are not installed with the "trusted installer".
3.       Incorrect COM Registration - In COM the registry is often used to determine the underlying resource that should be used. If the COM information in the registry is overwritten and now links to another resource, this other resource would be used instead, which can cause an application to fail.
4.       Shared-in memory modules - This only applies to 16bit resources. 32bit and 64bit resources can be loaded into the memory simultaneously apart from when they are in the same folder when memory-mapping will occur.

Other issues that we have want to know about:
·         INI Files being overwritten
·         Registry Values being replaced
·         ODBC settings being overwritten
·         File Associations being replaced
·         Files and Registry keys that will be removed during uninstallation.

Here at ChangeBASE we have developed just a tad under 40 rules for our software AOK that will inform you when one of the above scenarios is encountered. With our new Workbench Release you will be able select exactly which rules you would like to run for your applications.

Here is a sneak preview of what's coming your way:


ChangeBASE launches VMware ThinApp plug-in for AOK VReady-It.

Market leader provides cost saving solution for enterprise virtualisation objectives.
ChangeBASE, the world leader in automated application compatibility testing, remediation and conversion today announced the launch of its AOK VReady-It plug-in for VMware ThinApp.
With first look opportunities being offered on the ChangeBASE stand at the VMworld Europe 2011 event in Copenhagen, this latest plug-in is designed specifically for VMware ThinApp v4.6 and enables organisations to convert their desktop MSI applications into the ThinApp format. This new functionality builds on AOK’s current capability to automatically test and remediate applications for virtual compatibility, ensuring that they are ready for deployment to the VMware platform.
“The ThinApp Plug-in for AOK VReady-It brings a new dimension to application virtualisation. Organisations which are testing and remediating their applications for virtual compatibility clearly need to deploy those applications to their platform of choice. To be able to offer an automated solution to accelerate both of these aspects of ThinApp implementation really differentiates ChangeBASE from our competitors, and to be able to announce this at VMworld Europe 2011 is phenomenal,” commented Greg Lambert, Chief Technology Officer at ChangeBASE.

The full press release is available to view here.

Are you at Vmworld Copenhagen this week? Come visit ChangeBASE at Stand 137!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

ChangeBASE appoints Lifeboat as US distributor

Agreement also covers Canada, Mexico, and Caribbean, South and Central America markets

London, 12 October 2011 – ChangeBASE Ltd., the world leader in automated application compatibility analysis, remediation and conversion, today announced the signing of Lifeboat Distribution, a US-based international specialty software distributor for virtualization and other technically sophisticated products. Lifeboat will be ChangeBASE’s distributor of AOK in the Americas, as ChangeBASE moves to a two-tier distribution model across North and South America.



Dan Jamieson, Vice President and General Manager, Lifeboat Distribution comments:

“The US has always led the way in Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8 adoption, but for solution providers, until now it’s not always been straightforward to migrate their customers without excessive expenditure. Now, they can use ChangeBASE’s AOK to facilitate their customer’s application migration process – and do it faster, with improved quality and with less effort. That’s a great win-win for our resellers and for their customers.  We’re delighted to offer AOK to our resellers throughout the Americas.

To view the full press release, please visit our website.


Microsoft Patch Report, Tuesday 11th October 2011, Application Compatibility Update

Application Compatibility Update
By: Greg Lambert

Executive Summary
With this October Microsoft Patch Tuesday update, we see again a relatively small set of updates. In total there are eight Microsoft Security Updates, 2 with the rating of Critical and 6 with the rating of Important. This is a moderate update from Microsoft and the potential impact for the updates is minor.

As part of the Patch Tuesday Security Update analysis performed by the ChangeBASE AOK team, we have seen very little cause for potential compatibility issues.

Given the nature of the changes and updates included in each of these patches, most systems will require a reboot to successfully implement any and all of the patches and updates released in this October Patch Tuesday release cycle.

Sample Results
MS10-028: Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Visio Could Allow Remote Code Execution.



Testing Summary



MS11-075
Vulnerability in Microsoft Active Accessibility Could Allow Remote Code Execution (2623699)
MS11-076
Vulnerability in Windows Media Center Could Allow Remote Code Execution (2604926)
MS11-077
Vulnerabilities in Windows Kernel-Mode Drivers Could Allow Remote Code Execution (2567053)
MS11-078
Vulnerability in .NET Framework and Microsoft Silverlight Could Allow Remote Code Execution (2604930)
MS11-079
Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Forefront Unified Access Gateway Could Cause Remote Code Execution (2544641)
MS11-080
Vulnerability in Ancillary Function Driver Could Allow Elevation of Privilege (2592799)
MS11-081
Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (2586448)
MS11-082
Vulnerabilities in Host Integration Server Could Allow Denial of Service (2607670)




Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Chris Jackson, Microsoft, and Greg Lambert, ChangeBASE, discuss Windows 8

Chris Jackson, Principal Application Compatibility Consultant at Microsoft, and Greg Lambert, Chief Technical Architect at ChangeBASE, discuss one of today's hottest topics - Windows 8. Chris and Greg give an insight into the features to look forward to, application compatibility issues that organisations may face, and how Windows 8 fits in with migration plans.

AOKLite extended to include IE9 and Remote Desktop Services plug-ins


London 12th October 2011 – ChangeBASE, the world leader in automated application compatibility testing, remediation and conversion, today announced that AOKLite has been extended to include the recently released IE9 plug-ins for AOK. ChangeBASE is the only vendor that can provide compatibility testing for this browser, having worked closely with the Microsoft Internet Explorer team

ChangeBASE has also expanded its offering to cover Microsoft Windows desktop virtualisation technologies with the addition of Remote Desktop Services (RDS) plug-ins. These checks are designed for companies looking to move to a session virtualisation or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environment with Windows Server 2008 R2. Again, these plug-ins are the result of close alliance with Microsoft and the collaborative partnership between the two companies which has enabled ChangeBASE to create a solution that currently no other vendor is able to offer.

“We are the sole vendor offering compatibility testing for IE9 or RDS, so this really is game changing technology,” comments John Tate, Managing Director for ChangeBASE. “Our close ties with the development team at Microsoft allow us to get involved at a very early stage to trouble shoot common compatibility issues and create fixes which will help companies to migrate faster with minimal problems. There are no other products on the market that can do what we do.”

AOKLite is a free downloadable version of the AOK workbench. Accessed from the AOKLite portal, AOKLite enables organisations to sample test a small number of applications for compatibility against multiple operating systems and platforms including Windows 7, Office 2010 and virtualisation technologies including Citrix and VMware. With the addition of the IE9 plug-ins, AOKLite can now be used to test and report on compatibility for the latest Microsoft browser edition. All of the fourteen plug-ins that have been developed for the full AOK workbench have been deployed into AOKLite to provide users with the same experience as they would have when using the full AOK suite.

The new RDS plug-ins will help customers easily determine which of their applications will work, which ones may experience issues, and what exactly those issues may be. RDS is one of the core virtualisation technologies available in Windows Server 2008 R2RDS and can be a cost-effective solution for any type of organisation, particularly those with a mobile workforce as it can provide the flexibility and functionality needed in these environments. Compatibility however can be an issue. AOKLite is a useful tool for companies looking to move to an RDS environment to help troubleshoot impending issues ahead of migration.
“AOKLite is a real asset to developers and testers, giving them access to free automated testing and remediation for web applications and websites,” Tate adds. “For packaging teams entering into Windows 7, IE8/9 and Office 2010 migrations, AOKLite enables them to test our solution. We’ve found that many new customers are using AOKLite as a mini proof of concept and go on to purchase the full AOK solution. It’s the first step to getting the migration process moving.”

To try AOKLite simply click here.
# # #
About ChangeBASE
ChangeBASE is the world leader in automated application analysis, remediation and conversion. Its software suite, AOK, enables enterprises to migrate to Windows 7, the latest Internet Explorer, and virtual platforms from Citrix, VMware, Microsoft and Symantec.

ChangeBASE aspires to facilitate the application migration process, by accelerating time scales and improving the quality and consistency of output, while minimising costs and resource requirements. 6 of the top 10 FTSE companies are currently using AOK to reduce costs and migrate faster.

ChangeBASE has an extensive global partner base, and is Microsoft Gold Certified, a Citrix Ready Partner and a VMware Technology Partner.

For further information, please contact:
Emily Jones
Marketing Coordinator
ChangeBASE Ltd.
Email: emily.jones@changebase.com
Tel: 00 44 207 194 8078

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

ChangeBASE is attending VMworld Europe 2011 - are you?

The ChangeBASE team will be exhibiting at VMworld Europe in a week’s time - we’re really looking forward to going to Copenhagen and hearing what’s in store for the virtualisation world in 2012.



With Gartner having predicted a CAGR of 23.7% for virtualisation in 2011 and from our own experience in helping organisations prepare for migration, we know it is true to say that virtualisation is now a major component of every IT strategy.

You can join us on stand 137 and catch up with all the latest developments. We’ve been busy preparing AOK for VMworld to ensure we have some exciting announcements to make.

If you’re not familiar with AOK and how this world leading product helps organisations to get their applications working on virtual platforms, check out an earlier blog by our Chief Technical Architect, Greg Lambert and watch the short video. This may give you a flavour of what we’ll be announcing.

So why not join us on stand 137 and find out what we’re doing to make your journey to a virtualised environment easier, quicker and more cost effective!

We hope to see you there!
The ChangeBASE Team