Mark Minasi's Final Tech Page:  I'm Retiring, But...

Issue #117, June 2017

Document copyright 2017 Mark Minasi

What's Inside

Last Call for Classes!

Because of all of your support, I have been able for 35 years to make a living doing something that I love — traveling the world teaching tech classes to great audiences.  I think, however, that it’s time to roll up the projector screen, unclip the lavaliere, and power down the laser pointer.

I plan to do that by the end of 2017, but heck, that’s months away, so if you’ve been thinking of hiring me to deliver my two-day Windows 10 Support class or my two-day  hands-on PowerShell class to your techies, then please do.

No More Emails, So Please Follow Me on Twitter at @mminasi

In short, doing bulk emails has become impractical, so from now on I will not email notifications about blogs, podcasts or whatever but will instead tweet at @mminasi.  So if you'd be kind enough to want to keep getting what were my email notifications, then expect not emails but tweets (although you do have to follow me to get them, of course). It's actually a more lightweight way of communicating in my experience, and will make those infrequent blogs et al easier for me to do.

"Waitaminute, didn't you say you were retiring?"  Yes — no more classes, audio sets or the like.  But I'll still have tips, occasional short reviews of products that I really like, infrequent podcasts or blogs, and if you'd like to know about them, please follow me at @mminasi.  I promised not to spam you on the mailings 19 years ago, and in that time I have sent only 182 emails total, if my records are right. My max "tweet frequency" is about five a week, not including responses to questions.  In other words, please — let's stay in touch!  <g>

Controlling Which Apps Office 2016 Installs

So I got a new computer late last year.  When setting it up, I thought, "hey, I may as well put the latest Office on it," and got a copy of 2016 "ProPlus," as I use OneNote, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.  The setup was incredibly easy, and in fact, I thought, "hmmm... too easy."  I let it run and in a trice, it told me that Office was installed.  So I looked on my Start Menu, and what do you know, Office installed all of the Office apps.  That unfortunately included stuff I don't use and don't want like Publisher, Project and the like.  Looking at the Add/Remove apps section of Control Panel offered no options.  I uninstalled Office, paid closer attention as I re-installed it, and still... no choices.  A few hours later, I discovered how to get Office to install but a few apps rather than gooping up my drive with the other junk.  Basically the trick is to copy the install files to a folder, download the "Office 2016 Deployment Tool" from the Microsoft site, build an XML file (it'll be easy), and run setup — the step-by-steps follow.

  • Get the ProPlus 2016 ISO
  • Create a folder "C:\Officefiles" on your hard drive where you can copy the ISO's contents, as we need to modify it a bit to seize control of our copy of Office.
  • Open the ISO.  You'll see two files (autorun.inf and setup.exe) and a folder ("office").  Copy the "office" folder — and not the two other files — to the C:\Officefiles folder.
  • Download the Office 2016 Deployment Tool from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49117>
  • Run the exe.  It'll ask where to extract its files — tell it C:\Officefiles .  The C:\Officefiles folder will then contain two new files, setup.exe and configuration.xml.
  • Delete that configuration.xml file.  Open Notepad and copy the XML text below (starting with "<configuration>" and ending with "</configuration>" into Notepad. If you need a Product Key, replace the bogus value in my example below. (Enterprise customers may not need the line at all — sorry, I don't know as I don't have an Enterprise license for Office.) Save the resulting Notepad contents to c:\Officefiles\configuration.xml:
<Configuration>

  <Add OfficeClientEdition="32" Branch="Current">
    <Product ID="ProPlusRetail" PIDKEY="THISD-OESNT-WORKV-XXXXX-X"> 
      <Language ID="en-us" />
      <ExcludeApp ID="Access" />
      <ExcludeApp ID="Groove" />
      <ExcludeApp ID="InfoPath" />
      <ExcludeApp ID="OneDrive" />
      <ExcludeApp ID="Project" />
      <ExcludeApp ID="Publisher" />
      <ExcludeApp ID="SharePointDesigner" />
      <ExcludeApp ID="Visio" />
    </Product>
  </Add>

  <Updates Enabled="TRUE" Branch="Current" />
  <Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="TRUE" />
  <Property Name="AUTOACTIVATE" Value="1" />
  <Logging Name="OfficeSetup.txt" Path="d:\OfficeFiles" />

</Configuration>
Open an elevated command prompt and type the following:
  C:
  CD \OfficeFiles
  Setup /configure configuration.xml                  
Result:  a much trimmer Office install.  Of course, you can add things back by removing their appropriate 'ExcludeApp" line in the XML, and if you use 64-bit Office, replace the "32" with "64."

Converting BIOS/MBR Systems to UEFI/GPT Quickly with MBR2GPT

In the UEFI newsletter I did last year, I extolled the virtues of "UEFI" firmware and its newer "GPT" disk format over the very old and  very familiar team of "BIOS" firmware and "MBR" disks.  The one problem, I noted, is that converting an already-working BIOS/MBR system to a UEFI/GPT system was possible but really hard.  Fortunately, Microsoft apparently disagrees, and included a neat new utility called "mbr2gpt" in the "Creators Edition" (yes, there should be an apostrophe there, but Microsoft doesn't use one so I'm following their lead), the new version of Windows 10 that's also called "1703."  It works best if run from the built-in WinRE, the Windows Recovery Environment.  You can get there via Settings / Update and Security / Recover / Advanced Startup / Troubleshooting / Advanced Options / Command Prompt and once you're there, you'll see in a minute that the MBR2GPT command syntax is simple.  From an elevated command prompt (WinRE command command prompts are elevated automatically), type

mbr2gpt /validate

That will check to see if mbr2gpt thinks it can safely convert your system.  If it's okay with it, just type

mbr2gpt /convert

Now, that assumes that you're booting from disk 0.  If not, add "/disk:disknumber and in any case, it'd be a really good idea to use a image backup tool like Veeam's free "endpoint" backup tool before you tried the conversion.

What's that you say, you're impatient and want to do this without all that diving through menus to get to WinRE? Well, you can try running MBR2GPT from a regular elevated Windows command prompt by adding the option "/AllowFullOS," although it doesn't sound like a great idea to me.  So, to repeat:

  • This only works on Windows 10 1703 (type Winver to verify).
  • Do an image backup first.
  • boot to WinRE.
  • Run MBR2GPT with the /validate option.
  • If that goes well then finally /convert.

Once your system drive is a GPT drive, all you need to do then is to visit your firmware settings and change your system from booting in BIOS/MBR mode to UEFI/GPT mode. As I described in the newsletter, exactly how you do that varies with your hardware, as it's the hardware vendor rather than Microsoft who lays out the firmware settings UI. And then you are totally modern!

I’m Doing Two More Conferences Before I Go

No time to hire me to come talk at your site?  Well, I'm appearing at two upcoming conferences:

  • Techstravaganza Atlanta Friday 18 August 2017: my old friend Gary Olsen and his great user group once again bring their free "TechStravaganza" mini-conference to Microsoft's Atlanta location.  I'm doing a couple of talks, my buddy Ashley McGlone will make us all smarter about PowerShell and many other speakers will fill out this three-track bill!  Register at http://atlts.org . (Did I mention it's free?)

  • TechMentor Redmond August 7-11:  this one costs money, but it's worth it.  Several days of top-flight speakers and a slightly different spin on IT conferences, as some sessions are three hours in length and let us get pretty down-and-dirty on the topics. (Heck, these guys even pay their speakers, unlike a startling number of expensive IT conferences nowadays... but that's a blog for another day.)   Use this URL to register and save $500:  http://bit.ly/TMSPK14Reg .  I've got four talks.

Finally...

Let me take just a line or two to say again how grateful I am to all of you who ever brought me in to teach a class or do a talk, signed up for a public seminar, purchased an audio set, bought a book, attended a webcast, read a column or recommended my services and products to a friend.  What you paid me bought me the time I needed to be able to do in-depth, independent research on PC hardware, networking protocols, operating systems, cloud services or whatever, and that enabled me to produce information that so many of you have kindly told me was of a unique quality. It was a a good symbiosis, I think, and I hope you think so also. I wish you all the best of luck and as much happiness as you can stand!

     — Mark

Got a comment or question?  Drop me a line at help@minasi.com.