Eric Kraus

Eric Kraus


ChronoZoom is an open-source community project dedicated to visualizing the history of everything. Big History is the attempt to understand, in a unified, interdisciplinary way, the history of cosmos, Earth, life, and humanity. By using Big History as the story line, ChronoZoom seeks to bridge the gap between the humanities and sciences an enable all this information to be easily understandable and navigable.

Check it out!


Check out a time when there was no “time”



Earth and the Solar System is actually such a small window in history



Learn about a time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth



See the how the United States’ history relative to the universe.


Microsoft’s Private Cloud

On a frequent basis, I am asked by customers to explain “How Microsoft does….” with a wide variety of fill-in-the-blank technologies and scenarios.  I encourage similar request to first check out: “How Microsoft Does IT”.  However, I wanted to answer a popular request now with a current trend around “the cloud.”  Specifically, the Private and Hybrid Clouds.

Let’s first take a stab at defining these concepts.  Private means using resources that are dedicated to your organization, almost always on-premise.  Hybrid, as you may guess, combines on-premise infrastructure with shared infrastructure hosted by a provider.  There are definite trade-offs between these models – including: cost, control and capability.

The definition of “cloud” is more difficult because it depends on the company and the given pain points within IT.  However, most implementations share similar characteristics.  Most private clouds utilize resource pooling, self-service capabilities, elasticity and pay-by-use services that traditional infrastructure can not provide.

The general benefits of a private cloud include increased agility and responsiveness, reduced TCO, and increased business alignment and focus.  In addition, private clouds are more cost effective because of their ability to maintain higher workload densities and resource utilization.


Microsoft’s Private Cloud offers four specific benefits.  They are All About The App, Cross-Platform Support, Best-in-Class Performance, Cloud on Your Terms.

All About the App

To an business user, it’s all about the App.  Most business users don’t care whether or not their application uses a “cloud” or a “rainbow” to access their data.  Just as long as it works, works well and works always.

Microsoft allows you to manage applications across the entire application lifecycle from design to deployment to upgrades and decommissioning.  System Center 2012 includes a new technology called Server Application Virtualization which allows organizations to simplify their deployment and management of server applications.

Cross-Platform Support

Microsoft understands that customer needs will vary.  Interoperability and cross-platform support from the metal on up is a core value of Microsoft’s Private Cloud.  Technologies supported include:

Hypervisor – Hyper-V, XenServer, VMware ESX/ESXi
Operating System – Windows, Linux: RedHat, SUSE, CentOS)
Application Development Framework – .NET, Java, PHP, Ruby, Python


Best-in-Class Performance

Virtualize applications like SharePoint, SQL Server, and Exchange on Hyper-V for best-in-class performance and scalability.  Test lab results show the scale of Microsoft’s Private Cloud solutions:

  • 450,000 concurrent SharePoint 2010 users on 1 physical host (5 virtual guests)
  • 80,000 OLTP users on 1 physical host (4 virtual SQL Server 2008 R2 guests)
  • 20,000 Exchange 2010 mailboxes on 1 physical host (4 virtual guests)

Microsoft is recognized by Gartner as a top-right Magic Quadrant leader in x86 virtualization.

Cloud on Your Terms

Microsoft recognizes that many organizations have investments across on-premise infrastructure, private/hybrid and public clouds.  Microsoft’s Private Cloud offering includes the following common tools that work across all three infrastructure scenarios:

  • management – System Center
  • identity – Active Directory
  • virtualization – Hyper-V
  • development tools – Visual Studio / .NET

These common tools allow customers to move to the cloud as needed by the organization.  Whether the end goal is to move services to the public cloud or to simply become more mature with on-premise services, Microsoft’s Private Cloud offering enables customers to meet the needs of the business today with the option to adapt when the needs of the business change.




Microsoft’s Private Cloud solution is a cost effective solution for gaining maturity within your IT service offering.  In order to deliver the same level of cloud capability, VMware costs 4.8x as much as Microsoft.



Facts on Microsoft’s Private Cloud Infrastructure.

3,000 host servers (2500 clustered)
15,000 virtual guests

64 blade servers
128 processor sockets, 768 processor cores, 1536 logical processors
12 TB RAM, 16 x 10Gbps Ethernet, 32 x 8Gbps Fibre Channel

MSIT builds 300-400 VMs per month

Migration: MSIT migrated 200,000 configuration manager 2007 clients to 2012 in less than 90 days




Microsoft Private Cloud White Paper

System Center 2012 Capabilities and Feature

How Microsoft IT Uses System Center Virtual Machine Manager to Manage the Private Cloud

How Microsoft IT Developed a Private Cloud Infrastructure

Microsoft Research TechFest 2012

I recently attended TechFest 2012, an inspiring event put on by Microsoft Research out in Redmond.  The event happens once a year and allows Microsoft employees and select guests the opportunity to view research projects from Microsoft’s labs around the globe.

While there were some really, really amazing applications demoed at the event, I would have to say my two favorite projects were FetchClimate and Cliplets.  They are both projects available for the general public to use and provide feedback on today!


FetchClimate is a fast, free and intelligent climate data retrieval service that operates on Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.  FetchClimate allows users to access climate data for any geographical region during year ranges between 1900 and 2010 in various formats and share this information via a unique URL.


FetchClimate – Try it now!



An interactive application that allows users to create a type of imagery, a “cliplet” which resembles part photo and part video.  The applications provides the ability for users to import a video and mask certain parts of the video to play and others to remain still.

Here is an example I created.  Keep an eye on the bird in the middle!


more information on Cliplets >>


TechFest Project Info

A complete list of the projects shown at TechFest can be found on the TechFest 2012 site:

Follow Microsoft Research

You can follow more of Microsoft Research discussions on Twitter or Facebook.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview is here!

At a Windows 8 Consumer Preview event in Barcelona, attended by partners from Europe and around the world, Microsoft shared some key new updates in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview:

Broad range of product changes and improvements. Since the Developer Preview in September, designed to preview the programming platform, Windows 8 has progressed across every dimension. From completing the user experience for touch, keyboard and mouse to refining the development platform, the Consumer Preview improves performance, quality and reliability across all subsystems. With the added features, it represents a more complete view of the capabilities of Windows 8.

Windows Store with new apps. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview marks the beta opening of the Windows Store, which is filled with a variety of new Metro style apps from both third-party developers and Microsoft. During the Consumer Preview, these apps are available to try and experience at no cost to users. The Windows Store will offer personalized recommendations, and Windows 8 gives users the ability to take their apps and settings with them across multiple PCs, making it easy to discover and try new apps while offering developers the greatest opportunity of any platform.

Connecting to the cloud across Windows-based PCs and Windows Phone. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview offers seamless integration with the content people care about across their devices. An optional additional sign-on with a Microsoft account provides access to a host of features, including the ability to roam all settings, use cloud storage, communicate with email, calendar and contacts, and connect to a broad range of services. Your connection to the cloud works across your Windows-based PCs and your Windows Phones.

Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview 5. The best way to experience the Web on Windows is with Internet Explorer 10. The browser has been re-imagined to create a new experience designed specifically for Windows 8 devices. It provides an edge-to-edge user interface that is all about less browser and more Web. Fast and fluid, Internet Explorer is hardware-accelerated to enable Web performance.

Preview of new hardware capabilities. At the event, Microsoft also showcased Windows 8 running on a wide range of new x86- and ARM-based reference hardware. This hardware will be available to select developers for trial and testing as previously announced.

Learn more and download here:

Continue to follow the Building Windows 8 Blog by Steven Sinofsky for general updates on Windows 8.


To install Windows 8 Consumer Preview from USB drive:

1.  Download Windows 8 Consumer Preview in ISO format

ISO Format:

2.  Follow the instructions on the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to make a bootable USB drive.


Consumerization of IT at Microsoft

At Microsoft, we have been supporting “Consumerization of IT” long before it was hot industry trend. Our internal IT department (MSIT) has always had a strategic goal of enabling the workforce and not inhibiting it. Employees are empowered to use devices that increase their productivity, including devices running Windows and even devices running non-Windows software.

However, Microsoft sees Consumerization of IT as more than just devices. Here are a few additional challenges MSIT frequently evaluates:

  • Devices (Phones, Tablets, Slates, Netbooks, etc.)
  • Identity (Corporate, Live, OpenID, etc.)
  • Social Media
      -Internal (OfficeTalk, //mysites, SharePoint, Lync, etc.)
    -External (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, blogs, etc.)
  • Cloud Services (SkyDrive, LiveMesh, Google+, Mozy, etc.)
  • Application and Media Marketplace (Zune, iTunes, Amazon)
  • Rich Media (YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, etc.)

With consumerization planning, organizations need to weigh Business Value against Risk Mitigation.


Business Value at Microsoft

Hardware – Microsoft has a 3 tier model for classifying user hardware. MSIT Standard, MSIT supported consumer, Self-hosted consumer devices.

Support – The global helpdesk is tiered much like hardware is. Standard hardware has full support from MSIT, whereas supported consumer products are supported by an offsite third party.  Self-hosted devices have no MSIT support.

Mobile – Microsoft recognizes the EAS (Exchange ActiveSync) logo certification process in determining which devices should be allowed to connect.  Line-of-business applications are supported and identity is handled through an intranet portal.

External Sites – Microsoft supports social media and encourages employees to use sites appropriately through regular training and awareness.  Very few sites are blocked at Microsoft and employees are allowed to connect with other employees, partners and customers through these mediums while at work.

Rich Media – Microsoft does not block rich media as it has become an effective way of distributing information.

Productivity – Enabling Anywhere, Anytime, Any Device mindset enables user to be productive in new ways.

Risk Mitigation by MSIT

Data – Blurring the line between business and personal data is risky.  Microsoft invested a great deal of time defining policies around data security (within IT and within the user population).

Procurement – Based on the tiered model of support, the Procurement department prepares hardware from the standard list as it would normally.  In the case of supported consumer devices, MSIT may work with third-parties to purchase these devices.  Self-hosted devices are purchased by the end user.

Provisioning – Microsoft manages both standard and supported devices under tools such as System Center – Configuration Manager. At this time, consumer devices are unmanaged and are the sole responsibility of the end user.

Software – Some applications are known to be problematic (e.g. peer-to-peer sharing software). Those software packages are among the few that are blocked from running on managed devices.

Management – Both standard and supported devices are domain joined and grant CorpNet (intranet) access. Self-hosted devices are not managed by MSIT.  However, there is limited connectivity to CorpNet available for these devices.

Support – Because all standard MSIT devices include a TPM chip, those devices in addition to supported consumer devices that also have a TPM chip, are allowed to configure DirectAccess. Consumer devices that do not meet these requirements must connect through Exchange ActiveSync.

Training – Microsoft has developed training modules on effective use of public social media tools.  Microsoft employees are also required to participate in regular training around disclosures and confidentiality.


As a Microsoft employee, I am able to choose the right device to do my job most effectively.  As a user, there is little thought I need to invest when it comes to how I connect a device to do my job.  The experience is seamless.  More than ever Microsoft is making investments in supporting multiple platforms, heterogeneous environments, and enabling users with a word-class software experience.

Efficient Email

When you receive 200 emails per day, it can become challenging to keep straight which emails need a response, which ones you’ve already responded to and which ones are overdue for a follow-up response.

I work very disjointedly throughout the day. I may receive an email in the morning, but I may not respond until the afternoon. However, I don’t think this is a-typical. Making sure I stay on top of emails is a priority of mine.


To assist with this, I’ve developed what I’ll refer to as the “Email Triage System” for managing email. It follows a similar framework as an Emergency Room. Highest priority cases get bumped up to the front of the line and lower priority items wait. In the case of my emails, priority is based on the status of an email.

This system has effectively got me “caught up” on emails and within any given day I can respond to all high priority emails.

Check it out for yourself.  Feedback welcome!

Controlling your happiness and success

I just got done watching a fantastic TEDtalk by Shawn Achor.  While the focus of the talk is about rewiring our brains that a successful career will bring us happiness, the common theme can be applied to life in general.  It is encouraged that we explore how having a positive take on life will more closely determine our success in life and work, than the other way around.

I encourage you to check it out.  just 12 minutes.  Funny and inspiring.

ARM support for Windows 8

windows-8Today, Microsoft officially announced support for Windows 8 on ARM processor architecture.

Steven Sinofsky’s blog post is long, but thorough and interesting.  Here are some highlights from the post.

Windows on ARM

  • Windows will run on ARM Smile
  • Windows on ARM is still under development with expected milestones that align with x86/64
  • Metro style applications will run on ARM
  • Windows on ARM will ship with new versions of desktop applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote (currently ‘Office 15’) and Internet Explorer 10
  • Windows on ARM will support a desktop experience similar to X86/64 with File Explorer and Internet Explorer

Support for Connected Devices Services

  • Mobile Broadband
  • Printer
  • GPS
  • Sensors (accelerometer, rotation, gyroscope, compass, magnetometer)
  • Bluetooth
  • Media Transfer Protocol over USB and IP
  • Windows Update

Other Notes

  • Developing apps for ARM will be the same as developing Metro style applications on WinRT.
  • Applications for Windows on ARM will only be serviced through the Windows Store (metro applications)
  • Windows 8 will run on all Windows 7 logo PCs


You can find the entire post here:

Windows 8 Consumer Preview

What a way to kick off the new blog… Microsoft has officially annouced that Windows 8 Consumer Preview (beta) will be available for download on February 29th.  If you haven’t had a chance to look at Windows 8 yet, it’s worth a peak.  Here is a short list of some of the features coming:

  • Windows (App) Store
  • Metro (Tile) Design
  • Resilient File System (ReFS)
  • Live Tiles on Start Screen
  • Fast Boot up / Sleep Wake up
  • Picture Password
  • and MUCH more…

For more information on Windows 8, be sure to check out these resources:

Hotmail Plus Addresses

I’m not talking about the paid service for Hotmail Plus.  I’m talking about +addresses.  I just found this listed (amongst others) on the Hotmail Tips site.

Hotmail Plus Addresses allows you to send an email to your  and the email will still be delivered to your email address.  Then in your email settings, you can create a rule for a message sent To/cc and route that email to a certain folder.

Pretty cool, huh?

I just set up all my bills to be sent to +bills   my receipts to +receipts  and my wife will love that she gets a rule for  +important

Check it out here: