PSA: Microsoft UserVoice Resources

As we continue to dive deeper into the products and services offered by Microsoft, I’ve been bookmarking feedback pages for the services we use or are exploring. This morning this all came to a head and I decided to centralized and organized those bookmarks here. This is not a definitive or exhaustive list of links, but it does touch a decent number of Microsoft products. I’m not promising to keep this up to date but I’ll do what I can as time permits and as I remember to do so.

Product / TopicLink
Azure – Gateway to many other Azure-specific feedback pages–general-feedback
Bing Ads
Business Center
Configuration Manager
Dynamics 365
Enterprise Library
Expression Coder
Microsoft Ignite
Multilingual App Toolkit
Office 365 – Gateway to several other Office 365 feedback pages
Office 365 Admin
Office 365 Admin Mobile
Office 365 Business Center
Office 365 Groups
Office 365 Security & Compliance
Office Developer Platforms
Office Lens Home Page
Outlook Web Access
Power BI
SCOM UserVoice
SharePoint Developer
Skype for Business
SQL Server
Windows Developer
Windows Server – Gateway to several other feedback pages

Good Providence to you!

Practical Use: Manipulating XML Files With PowerShell

In my previous post I talked about getting values from XML files.  Today we’re going to update a value in an XML file.

As before, I’m not a PowerShell or XML guru, but what I’m going to cover below works for me and I can’t think of a reason it wouldn’t work for you.

We’re going to continue using the sample XML file provided by Microsoft.  Copy the XML content & paste into a new file, books.xml, & save it some place convenient.

Getting the Current Value

We want to change an author’s name from Stefan to Stephane.  First, let’s find the entries that we need to change:

[xml]$XML = Get-Content "C:\Users\Julius\Downloads\books.xml"
$ | ? { $ -like '*stefan' }


Great only one result so we don’t need to loop!

Setting the New Value

We know the property we want is author so we can simply  do something like this to set the new value:

($ | ? { $ -like "*stefan" }).author = "Knorr, Stephane"

But I find it helpful to do something like this instead

$Node = $ | ? { $ -like "*stefan" }

$Node = $ | ? { $ -like "*stefan" }

"Old Author: {0}" -f $

$ = $'Stefan','Stephane')

"New Author: {0}" -f $


If you had multiple entries, as is the case with author Eva Corets, you could do this:

foreach($Result in ($ | ? { $ -like "Corets*" }))
        write-host "Book #$($ Written by $($"
        $ = 'Mendez, Eva'
        write-host "Book #$( Updated to $($`r`n


Saving the Updated XML

The save operation is super easy:


But I’m a big fan of having backup copies, so I opt for something like:

[string]$XMLFile = "C:\Users\Julius\Downloads\books.xml"
[xml]$XML = Get-Content $XMLFile
foreach($Result in ($ | ? { $ -like "Corets*" }))
        "Book #{0} Written by {1}" -f $,$
        $ = 'Mendez, Eva'
        "Book #{0} Updated to {1}`r`n" -f $,$
Copy-Item -Path $XMLFile -Destination "$XMLFile.ORIG.$(Get-date -Format 'yyyymmdd_hhmmss')"


Function Set-XMLValue

Try to think of this function a more of a framework than a complete solution.  I recently had to update a few different XML files, some of which were on a few hundred machines and used this to do the heavy lifting.

Function Set-XMLValue





                    [string]$NewFile = $null

        if(!(Test-Path -Path $XMLFile -PathType Leaf)) { return 2 }

        [bool]$DoUpdate = $false

                [xml]$XML = Get-Content $XMLFile

                $XMLPath = '$XML.' + $XMLTreePath

                Foreach($Node in (Invoke-Expression $XMLPath | ? { $_.$Property -ieq "$OldValue" }))
                        # Check to confirm that particular property exists
                        if([string]::IsNullOrEmpty($Node)) { Write-host "ERROR: NO PROPERTY [$Property] FOUND CONTAINING ORIGINAL VALUE [$OldValue]"; [int]$Return = 2 }

                        # Get current value from XML
                        $CurrValue = $Node.$Property

                        # Phase 1: Analysis of parameters and values

                        # Check if the old value was specified
                                # When the old value is specified, the script check if the current value matches the old value.

                                # If the current value matches old value and will need to be updated
                                if($CurrValue -eq $OldValue) { $DoUpdate = $true }

                                # If the current value doesn't match the old value but matches the new, its already up to date
                                Elseif($CurrValue -eq $NewValue) { [int]$Return = 0 }

                                # If the current value doesn't match the old or new value we won't change anything but return the current value
                                Else { [string]$Return = "WARNING: The current value [$CurrValue] did not match the specified [$OldValue] so NO changes were made." }

                        # If an old value was not specified, we'll update regardless of the current value
                                # If the current value doesn't match the new value it will need to be updated
                                if($CurrValue -ne $NewValue) { $DoUpdate = $true }

                                # If the current value matches the new value its already up to date
                                elseif($CurrValue -eq $NewValue) { [int]$Return = 0 }

                        # Phase 2: Performing the update if deemed necessary
                        If($DoUpdate -eq $true)
                                # Update value
                                $Node.$Property = [string]$NewValue

                                # If we're using a new file, we don't need to backup the original file.
                                if([string]::IsNullOrEmpty($NewFile)) { $XML.Save($NewFile) }
                                        # Backup existing XML
                                        Copy-Item -Path $XMLFile -Destination "$XMLFile.ORIG.$(Get-date -Format 'yyyymmdd_hhmmss')" -Force -ErrorAction Stop

                                        # Save new/updated XML (overwrite existing)

                                # Success!
                                [int]$Return = 0
        Catch { Write-Warning "ERROR DOING XML UPDATE OPERATION for [$XMLFile]: $_"; [int]$Return = 1 }
        return $Return

$UpdateResult = Update-XMLValue -XMLFile "C:\Users\Julius\Downloads\books.xml" -XMLTreePath -Property author -OldValue 'Knorr, Stefan' -NewValue 'Knorr, Stephane' -NewFile "C:\Users\Julius\Downloads\newbooks.xml"

write-host "UpdateResult [$UpdateResult]"

This may not be fancy, and arguably complicated, but if you’re dealing with multiple XML files, PowerShell can be a huge timesaver.


Good Providence!

Practical Use: Getting Values from XML Files

A number of applications we use in the organization have XML-based configuration files and occasionally the need arises to validate the settings from the configuration.  For example, we might want to verify that a user is pointed to the right server, or that a particular setting is set to X.  We could treat XML files the same way we would a typical text file, as seen here, but where’s the fun in that?

I’m not a PowerShell or XML guru, but what I’m going to cover below works for me and I can’t think of a reason it wouldn’t work for you.

To keep things simple, we’ll be working with a sample XML file provided by Microsoft.  Copy the XML content & paste into a new file, books.xml, & save it some place convenient.

Ingest An XML File

In order to get started, you need to pull in the XML into a variable for further manipulation as such:

[xml]$XML = Get-Content "C:\Users\Julius\Downloads\books.xml"
# OR
$XML = [xml](Get-Content "C:\Users\Julius\Downloads\books.xml")

Six of one, half a dozen of another; whatever works for you.

If you type $XML you should see something to the effect of:


Browsing the Structure

Once your XML variable is populated, it’s time to walk the XML tree structure to find the key that contains the data you’re looking for; And in order to do that you have to know the tree structure.

Without going too deep into this

  • The first line is the XML prolog containing the version information
  • The second is the <catalog> and that is our root element or node
  • All of the <book> nodes are children of the root
  • Each <book> node has a number of children: author, title, genre, price, publish_date & description.

Keep in mind this is a pretty simple & basic XML example, so the structure doesn’t go too deep.  You may find that your application XML’s are several layers deep.

If I wanted to see all the books, I would use


Which would then list the books:



Locating the Right Data

If I wanted to find all books by written by authors Stefan Knorr and Eva Corets, I would use

$ | ? { $ -like &quot;*stefan&quot; }

$ | ? { $ -like &quot;Corets*&quot; }

That would quickly narrow the scope:


Getting Specific Values

To grab key bits of details from Stefan Knorr’s book I could do

$ | ? { $ -like &quot;*stefan&quot;} | select id,price,publish_date

# OR

$Node = $ | ? { $ -like &quot;*stefan&quot; }





I try to be as specific as possible when searching for data.


Function Get-XMLValue

This function is more of a framework as it depends squarely on the XML you’re working with and what you want to retrieve.  I recently had to verify a setting on a few hundred machines, so I used a modified version of this function to do the heavy lifting.

The function below is geared to return the book description when supplied the ID.

Function Get-XMLValue





        if(!(Test-Path -Path $XMLFile -PathType Leaf)) { return 2 }

                [xml]$XML = Get-Content $XMLFile

                $XMLPath = '$XML.' + $XMLTreePath
                $Return = @()
                Foreach($Node in (Invoke-Expression $XMLPath | ? { $_.$AnchorProperty -ieq &quot;$AnchorValue&quot; })) { $Return += $Node.$Property }

                if(-not $Return.count -gt 0) { Write-host &quot;ERROR: NO PROPERTY [$Property] FOUND BASED ON QUERY: [$AnchorProperty] = [$AnchorValue]&quot;; [int]$Return = 2 }
        Catch { Write-Warning &quot;ERROR RETRIEVING VALUE OR PROPERTY [$Property] BASED ON QUERY: [$AnchorProperty] = [$AnchorValue] FROM [$XMLFile]: $_&quot;; [int]$Return = $_ }
        return $Return

I couldn’t think of an elegant way to retrieve the values I wanted without specifying some qualifiers.  For instance, if I wanted the price of all Eva Corets books

  • The AnchorPrperty would be: author
  • The AnchorValue would be: Corets, Eva
  • The Property would be price

This way I’m certain to get the results I’m looking for.

Is there a better way?  Maybe.  This is what I came up with that met my need.


# These two work
Get-XMLValue -xmlFile &quot;C:\Users\Julius\Downloads\books.xml&quot; -value bk108
Get-XMLValue -xmlFile &quot;C:\Users\Julius\Downloads\books.xml&quot; -value bk107

# This deoesn't
Get-XMLValue -xmlFile &quot;C:\Users\Julius\Downloads\books.xml&quot; -value bk100

It may not be the most elegant solution but I’m hoping it’ll at least point you in the right direction should the need arise to get data from XML files.


Good Providence to you!

Practical Use: Find & Replace in a Text File

A number of applications rely on simple text-based configuration files versus some proprietary format.  This makes editing files – ones that can’t simply be replaced via GPO/GPP or Login Script – really easy to update.

Back in my VBScript days I would likely

  1. Ingest the file via ReadAll()
  2. Check if it contains the value via InStr
  3. Replace(old_value,new_value)
  4. Write out the file with the updated content

I figured Get-Content was going to behave similarly but I discovered each line is its own separate object which meant iterating through the array for the content.  No big deal but something new and good to know.

The method for locating your text is important depending on what you’re searching for.

Locating X File

If it’s simple text, you can get away with either operator: -match or -like.

  • Match will simply return true or false and is geared towards regular expression based searches.
  • Like will return the actual objects that match.

So if you just want to know whether or not the file contains X, you could go either way.

[string]$File = 'C:\windows\Temp\ASPNETSetup_00000.log'
$OriginalContent = Get-Content -Path $File
[string]$Find = 'Vista'

# Search via Match
($OriginalContent | % { $_ -match $Find }) -contains $true

# Search via Like (similar concept)
($OriginalContent | % { $_ -like &quot;*$Find*&quot; }) - contains $true

But if you want to locate X and do something with it, -like is your friend.

[string]$File = 'C:\windows\Temp\ASPNETSetup_00000.log'
$OriginalContent = Get-Content -Path $File
[string]$Find = 'Vista'
$Results = $OriginalContent | % { $_ -like &quot;*$Find*&quot; }


I don’t want to get too deep into this, because it’s well documented elsewhere, but I just want to mention that if you’re searching for something that contains special characters some additional care is necessary.

If you’re using -like, you should be fine:

# Like
[string]$File = &quot;C:\WINDOWS\temp\ASPNETSetup_00000.log&quot;
$OrigContent = Get-Content -Path $File
[string]$Find = '\/\/I/\/D0WZ'

# Return true/false
($OrigContent | % { $_ -like $Find }) -contains $true

# Get the lines that match
$Results = $OriginalContent | % { $_ -like &quot;*$Find*&quot; }


But if you’re using -match, you’ll need to either escape those characters manually:

# Match
[string]$File = &quot;C:\WINDOWS\temp\ASPNETSetup_00000.log&quot;
$OriginalContent = Get-Content -Path $File
[string]$Find = '\\\/\\\/I\/\\\/D0WZ'
($OriginalContent | % { $_ -match $Find }) -contains $true

Or rely on the Escape() method of the Regex class:

# Match
[string]$File = &quot;C:\WINDOWS\temp\ASPNETSetup_00000.log&quot;
$OriginalContent = Get-Content -Path $File
[string]$Find = '\/\/I/\/D0WZ'

($OriginalContent | % { $_ -match [regex]::Escape($Find) }) -contains $true

Replacing the Content

Now that you’ve confirmed file X contains Y, its time to replace it.  Since humans are prone to making mistakes, I always like to have a way of backing out of programmatic changes like, so the steps below include a backup process.

# Replace&amp;nbsp;X with Y and store it in a new variable
$NewContent = $OriginalContent | % { $_ -replace $Find,$Replace }

# Create a new file that will ultimately replace the existing file.
#     If you want a UTF-8 file with BOM use this
#$NewContent | Out-File -FilePath &quot;$File.NEW&quot; -Encoding utf8 -Force

#     If you just want a UTF-8 without BOM, this does the trick.
$NewContent | Out-File -FilePath &quot;$File.NEW&quot; -Encoding default -Force

# Backup the existing file
Copy-Item -Path $File -Destination &quot;$File.ORIG.$(Get-date -Format 'yyyymmdd_hhmmss')&quot; -Force

# Move the new file that we staged to overwrite the orignal
Move-Item -Path &quot;$File.NEW&quot; -Destination $File -Force

To the experts, this is really simple and basic stuff.  To those less seasoned, this is practical. 🙂

Good Providence!

Preparing for Windows 10: Upgrading to Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 7/8[.1]

To most, this is really old news.  But some organizations on Windows 7 are still running Internet Explorer 8/9/10 due to [potential] compatibility issues.  This is bad because these organizations are in an unsupported configuration:

Beginning January 12, 2016, only the most current version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates. Please visit the Internet Explorer Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ here for list of supported operating systems and browser combinations.

In the legal vertical, so much relies on IE add-ons, ActiveX controls and just general compatibility.  Most external sites by now support IE11 – or are getting there – but there are some stragglers.  However, the real problem is with the myriad of internal sites, and its not uncommon to run into one or more key legacy web-based applications still in play that is either not upgradable or requires a significant amount of effort to do so.  This makes people uneasy about upgrading to IE11, which is probably the largest hurdle for getting to Windows 10.

Hopefully this is just enough detail to help get you on your way.

Internet Explorer Upgrade Testing Strategy

Dive right in.

  • Get IE11 setup on a machine
  • Expose the ‘Enterprise Mode’ option under the Tools menu by creating an empty ‘Enable’ string value under ‘HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\EnterpriseMode’.
  • Start testing

Testing Document Modes

Internet Explorer supports the following Document Modes:

  • Internet Explorer 11 (Edge)
  • Internet Explorer 10
  • Internet Explorer 9
  • Internet Explorer 8
  • Internet Explorer 7 (Compatibility View)
    Also falls back to IE5 for sites without a DOCTYPE tag
  • Internet Explorer 5 (Quirks)

In addition, Microsoft also added support for:

  • Interoperable Quirks, primarily for public facing websites that were designed to use the quirks mode of other browsers.
  • IE8 Enterprise Mode which provides higher fidelity emulation for IE8.
  • IE7 Enterprise Mode which is essentially Enterprise Mode running in high fidelity emulation BUT running in either IE7 Document Mode if there is an explicit DOCTYPE tag or in IE5 Document Mode if there is not.
    Its an additive version of Enterprise Mode running in Compatibility View.

Hacking a Combination Lock

Launch IE, go to your first site and test.  If all is well your job is done and you’re off to the next one.  But if text isn’t lining up correctly, images not loading, functions not working then you have to go deeper.

Open the Developer Tools (F12) and start by matching both Document Mode and User Agent String in order, leaving the Browser Profile set to ‘Desktop’.

  • You already know Document Mode ‘IE11 (Default)’ & User Agent String ‘Internet Explorer 11 (Default)’ doesn’t work, so move on
  • Next try ‘IE 10’ & ‘Internet Explorer 10’
  • Then IE9
  • Wash, rinse, repeat
  • Document the winning combination.

I’m guessing that 99% of your sites will work with minor to no manipulation.

Testing Enterprise Mode

If none of the Document Modes work, then you fall back on Enterprise Mode because it provides higher fidelity emulation for those older versions of IE.

  • Start by setting the Browser Profile to Enterprise
  • This will default Document Mode to IE8
  • If IE8 does not work, then use IE7 and IE5 doc modes for IE7 Enterprise Mode.

You should know that there’s a little bit of a ‘cost’ with Enterprise Mode:

  • Performance because of its high fidelity capabilities.  However keep in mind:
    • IE11 in Enterprise Mode is an order of magnitude faster than running IE8 natively.
    • Running in IE11 in Native Mode (Standards Mode) is significantly faster than IE11 in Enterprise Mode.
  • Risk – potentially – because deprecated functions have been brought back.

Deploying the Right Configuration

Great you’ve got a list of sites and their required configurations, the hard part is mostly done.  You’ll need to put those configurations into an XML format that IE can understand using the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager .  Find an existing webserver (or share) were you can serve up this tiny XML file, install the Site List Manager & generate your Site List XML file.

In terms of setting this up from scratch, I happen to like Nystrom’s approach, but you can follow the Microsoft process to get this setup with minimal effort.  Once its up and running you’re all set to pilot with a larger audience.

As much as I was interested in trying out Enterprise Site Discovery, it wasn’t something we felt we needed.  I’m mentioning it here as it could be of significant value to some.

I recommend creating a new GPO to set:

  • ‘Let users turn on and use Enterprise Mode from the Tools menu’
  • ‘Use the Enterprise Mode IE website list’

If you’re in a rush just put together a quick .reg file your testers can use

  • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\EnterpriseMode
    • Enable the Tools menu:  “Enable” = “”
      • Or if you want feedback (and I think you do): “Enable” = “{URL}{:port}”
    • Enable the XML site list:  “SiteList” = “{File Path or URL}”

Note:  In case you don’t already know, you can put it in HKLM vs HKCU so all users of the same machine get the settings.  Alternatively you can put it in HKLM\Software\Policies\ or the HKCU equivalent.  Just depends on your environment.

When to use Document Mode vs. Enterprise Mode

Document Mode

While the original <emie> functionality provided great compatibility for enterprises on Internet Explorer 8, the new <docMode> capabilities can help enterprises stay up-to-date regardless of which versions of Internet Explorer are running in their environment. Because of this, Microsoft recommends starting the testing process like this:

  • If your enterprise primarily uses Internet Explorer 8, start testing using Enterprise Mode.
  • If your enterprise primarily uses Internet Explorer 9 or Internet Explorer 10, start testing using the various document modes.

Because you might have multiple versions of Internet Explorer deployed, you might need to use both Enterprise Mode and document modes to effectively move to Internet Explorer 11.

The <docMode> section:

  • only sets the Document Mode for a particular page/website and sends the User Agent String
  • will override what the site itself is asking for.

Enterprise Mode

Enterprise Mode is a compatibility mode that let’s websites render using a modified browser configuration that’s designed to emulate Internet Explorer 8, avoiding the common compatibility problems associated with web apps written and tested on older versions of Internet Explorer.

Through improved emulation, Enterprise Mode lets many legacy web apps run unmodified on Internet Explorer 11, support a number of site patterns that aren’t currently supported by existing document modes.

The <emie> section is higher fidelity emulation of IE8 focused on these compatibility issues reported over the years

  • User Agent String – it’s a faithful representation/replication of the original
    • original IE8 user agent string
    • this includes the versions of .NET on the machine
    • whether the machine is a media center or not.
  • ActiveX Controls – telling the site you’re using IE8 which allows most ActiveX controls to work correctly.  Although you should note that some ActiveX controls query the OS version & browser and as far as I know, you can’t do anything about that.
  • Deprecated Functionality has been brought back like CSS Expressions
  • Turned off some performance improvements to favor compatibility.
  • Fixed things for vertical languages (Japanese, Chinese, Korean etc.)

IE7 Enterprise Mode is effectively this higher fidelity emulation for IE8 running with Compatibility View.  So a site will get either IE7 Document Mode or IE5 Document Mode if it doesn’t have a DOCTYPE tag.  This is useful for some sites and helps organizations as they wean themselves away from displaying all Intranet Sites in Compatibility View because they now have the granular controls they need!

So you can either use:

  • IE7 document mode on the docModes section, because IE7 will fall back to IE5 if there isn’t a DOCTYPE tag which is effectively Compatibility View
  • But if that doesn’t work, you have the higher fidelity emulation within Enterprise Mode to be able to use Enterprise Mode plus Compatibility View.

Once you get a handle on things, you can turn off the ‘Display All Intranet Sites in Compatibility View’ setting allowing your Intranet sites to default to modern standards not old standards.

What Exactly is Compatibility View?

Compatibility View is basically a switch that says:

  • If you have a webpage that has a DOCTYPE tag, it will be rendered in IE7 document mode.
  • If there’s no [explicit] DOCTYPE you end up in IE5 document mode.

Enterprise Mode Site List

This is what the Site List XML file looks like


The XML formatting of the Site List file is fairly easy to understand and the true/false exclude syntax allows for fine-grained control:

<rules version="3">
    <domain exclude="false">crm
      <path exclude="true">/NewModule</path>
      <domain docMode="9">webtool</domain>


I bid you Good Providence in your endeavor to get up to IE11


Non Sequitur: Creating Dynamic Variables on the Fly in PowerShell

I’m only mentioning this because of something that came up recently and I thought it was kind of neat.

To keep things simple, I’m going to break this up into a few posts:

  1. Batch
  2. VBScript
  3. PowerShell


In the last 3 years or so I’ve tried to focus exclusively on PowerShell.  I’m no Jeff Snover, Dan Cunningham or any other PoSh guru you might know.  It’s still very new to me but I’m slowly working at it – so bear with me!

If you read my last two posts on this subject, you’ll know that I was all about creating variables dynamically for various reasons. I started each post the same:

I’m only mentioning this because of something that came up recently…

So here’s that something.

I had a repetitive task that involved doing something in a specific order so I challenged myself to create jobs and have the script wait for those jobs to finish before moving on.  I wanted a way to create a unique enough variable name for the jobs to help keep track of what was going on.  This is what really sparked that whole trip down memory lane of creating variables dynamically, on the fly, and I wanted to see if I could do it in PowerShell.

This is what I ended up with:

[array]$Colors = @('Blue','Black','Silver','Yellow','Orange')
Foreach($Color in $Colors)
        $varName = '$Paint_' + $Color
        write-host "varName [$varName]"

        $tmpVar = $varName + ' = "Paint this car [' + $Color + ']"'
        write-host "tmpVar [$tmpVar]"

        Invoke-Expression $tmpVar
        Invoke-Expression $varName
Remove-Variable varName,tmpVar -force -ea silentlycontinue
Get-Variable Paint_*

This allowed me to retrieve the individual jobs via $Paint_Color which was really useful for the task at hand as it had about 6 different moving parts some of which were dependencies.

Anyway, maybe you’ll find an application for this in your environment and if you do, I’d really like to hear about it.


Good Providence!

Non Sequitur: Creating Dynamic Variables on the Fly in VBScript

Update 2016-06-08: WordPress keeps butchering the code so I’m removing the pretty formatting for now.

I’m only mentioning this because of something that came up recently and I thought it was kind of neat.

To keep things simple, I’m going to break this up into a few posts:

  1. Batch
  2. VBScript
  3. PowerShell



About 4 if not almost 5 years ago, before I learned the ways of PowerShell, I moved up from Batch to VBScript mostly when things got complicated.  I was still getting used to PowerShell, practicing on doing simple things like managing AD objects and doing things in Exchange (mail exports, delegation, tracking down messages etc.) so I relied heavily on Batch and VBScript to get things done because they were languages I was quite comfortable with.

SCCM 2012 (no R2) is my first foray into the System Center ecosystem and I was excuted as it was supposed to solve many of the problems we faced with the imaging process we had then, and address nearly all of our concerns with some of changes we would be making in a year’s time or so.  Like most organizations we have a hefty list of applications on all of our workstations that usually fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Core Apps – These are applications required by just about everyone in the organization like Microsoft Office, FileSite, EMM etc.
  2. Practice Apps – These are applications required by those in a particular practice group (IP, Litigation, Trust & Estates etc.) or a functional group (Development, Admin/HR, Accounting etc.)
  3. Extra Apps – These are usually applications that aren’t necessarily required but are often needed.

When creating the Task Sequence, we had two options for installing applications:

  1. Add the applications to the installation list, or
  2. Install applications according to a dynamic variable list.

The former is great because it allows a friendly interface for selecting, adding and organizing the applications for installation. The biggest drawback here is that each task can only support 9 application installations, which means more install application tasks and a lot of clicking.

The latter is also great because one can define Collection Variables that correspond to applications and install them on the fly.  Its biggest drawback was that it required maintaining a list of Collection Variables in potentially multiple collections and I didn’t want to spend my time renumbering because I removed or added an application since there couldn’t be any gaps in the numbers.  Augh.

Please don’t misconstrue: Both methods work and I’m not trying to knock either method!

Note: It’s possible things have changed since then and maybe there was in fact a solution addressing this exact problem.  I wasn’t an expert then – nor am I an expert now – so I improvised.

I thought to myself “Wouldn’t it neat if I could generate sequentially numbered variables on the fly at runtime?”  Then it dawned on me: my old batch script!  I decided to write a small vbscript that I could use to populate those variables in the TS.

I ended up with something very similar to what’s below.  It was a ‘proof-of-concept’ script running in my, then, lab environment and it worked wonderfully straight through to production.

option explicit

' Lets define our array housing the core applications.
' Easy to add, delete & reorganize.
' NOTE: The application names here corespond to the application
' names within SCCM 2012
dim arrCoreApps : arrCoreApps=Array("Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2099",_
				    "Nuance PDF Converter Enterprise",_
				    "Workshare Professional",_
				    "PayneGroup Metadata Assistant",_
				    "PayneGroup Numbering Assistant",_
				    "Adobe Acrobat Pro",_
				    "Some Fake App",_
				    "Some Real App"_

' With the array populated, lets build sequentially numbered variables with a static prefix
' The prefix here is CoreApps
' This is variable that should be used in the Application Install Task Sequence step.

BuildApplicationVariables arrCoreApps,"CoreApps"

' Lets make sure the Task Sequence Variables have successfully been defined
RetrieveApplicationVariables arrCoreApps,"CoreApps"

' Another example
dim arrExtraApps : arrExtraApps=Array("Java",_
				      "Google Chrome",_
				      "Mozilla Firefox"_

BuildApplicationVariables arrExtraApps,"ExtraApps"
RetrieveApplicationVariables arrExtraApps,"ExtraApps"

Sub BuildApplicationVariables(Required_Application_Array,Required_Prefix)
	dim arrApplications : arrApplications = Required_Application_Array
	dim sPrefix : sPrefix = Required_Prefix

	dim i
	For i=0 to UBound(arrApplications)
		if (i+1 < 10) Then
			Execute "wscript.echo ""Creating Variable ["" & sPrefix & 0 & i+1 & ""] Containing ["" & arrApplications(i) & ""]"""
			ExecuteGlobal sPrefix & "0" & i+1 & "=" & """" & arrApplications(i) & """"
			Execute "wscript.echo ""Creating Variable [" & sPrefix & i+1 & "] Containing [" & arrApplications(i) & "]"""
			ExecuteGlobal sPrefix & i+1 & "=" & """" & arrApplications(i) & """"
		end if
End Sub

Sub RetrieveApplicationVariables(Required_Application_Array,Required_Prefix)
	dim arrApplications : arrApplications = Required_Application_Array
	dim sPrefix : sPrefix = Required_Prefix

	dim i
	For i=0 to UBound(arrApplications)
		if (i+1 < 10) Then
			Execute "wscript.echo vbtab & ""[" & sPrefix & "0" & i+1 & "] = ["" & " & sPrefix & "0" & i+1 & " & ""]"""
			Execute "wscript.echo vbtab & ""[" & sPrefix & i+1 & "] = ["" & " & sPrefix & i+1 & " & ""]"""
		end if
end Sub

Anyway this worked well for us in setting up those dynamic variables on the fly and it’s a piece of code I’ll keep in my back pocket just in case.

Good Providence!

Non Sequitur: Creating Dynamic Variables on the Fly in Batch

I’m only mentioning this because of something that came up recently and I thought it was kind of neat.

To keep things simple, I’m going to break this up into a few posts:

  1. Batch
  2. VBScript
  3. PowerShell



Maybe 5 years ago, before I dunked my head into the vat of PowerShell Kool-Aid™ (or is it ­®?), I was doing some work in the registry on various machines to get some specific data.  I thought it would be neat to create a function that would allow me to reference the data by calling on the value name.

I came up with this little number:

@echo off
setlocal enabledelayedexpansion

rem This happens to be Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 x64 Redistributable - 10.0.40219 - everyone has that ! 😉
Set _Key=HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\{1D8E6291-B0D5-35EC-8441-6616F567A0F7}
Set _QueryValues=Publisher DisplayName DisplayVersion InstallSource

rem execute to generate variables dynamically
For %%b in (!_QueryValues!) do ( for /F &quot;usebackq tokens=2*&quot; %%c in (`reg query &quot;!_Key!&quot; /v &quot;%%b&quot;`) do (set %%b=%%d) )

rem validate dynamicallly generated variables
For %%e in (!_QueryValues!) do ( echo [%%e] is [!%%e!] )

rem clear dynamically generated variables
For %%e in (!_QueryValues!) do (Set %%e=)
set _QueryValues=
set _Key=

Which allowed me to do things like this:

echo Publisher is [!Publisher!]
echo DisplayName is [!DisplayName!]
echo DisplayVersion is [!DisplayVersion!]
echo InstallSource is [!InstallSource!]

Throughout the script wherever I needed to reference one of those varaibles.

Worked like a charm for my needs then and I still think it’s pretty slick.


Good Providence!

If You’re Paranoid, Remove TeamViewer

So, naturally, this is in response to the recent allegations that TeamViewer has been hacked…

While TeamViewer hasn’t admitted to having been breached, and although what they’ve suggested is completely plausible, one thing is clear: What has been reported thus far doesn’t give me the warm and fuzzy … so I’m going to play it safe for now.

I put together a script to remove TeamViewer from not only ma own machines, but also from the machines of friends and family I often support.  I’ve run this on Windows 7+ and so far it works as expected.  If you run into an issue, let me know and I’ll do what I can to troubleshoot asap.


  1. If you’re not using a password manager or are still using easy to remember passwords or are recycling/reusing passwords across multiple sites;
  2. If you’re not using two-factor authentication (2FA)

You really should reconsider.  Check yourself out on to see what accounts may have been compromised in a data breach and take the necessary precautions.

This needs to be run from an elevated PowerShell console or ISE.

# Define TeamViewer Installation directory array for use below
$arrTVInstallDirs = @()

# Define TeamViewer Uninstaller EXE's for use below
$arrTVUninstallers = @()

# Get TeamViewer Install Directories for both architectures
$arrTVInstallDirs += gci $env:ProgramFiles *TeamViewer*
if($env:PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE -eq 'AMD64') { $arrTVInstallDirs += gci ${env:ProgramFiles(x86)} *TeamViewer* }

# Loop through each 'TeamViewer' directory for EXE's and kill those processes
foreach($TVInstallDir in $arrTVInstallDirs)
        write-host "Processing TVInstallDir [$($TVInstallDir.FullName)]"
        Foreach($TVEXE in $(gci -Path $($TVInstallDir.FullName) -Recurse *.exe))
                if($TVEXE.Name -eq 'uninstall.exe') { $arrTVUninstallers += $TVEXE }
                write-host "Killing Process [$($TVEXE.Name)]"
                Stop-Process -Name $($TVEXE.Name) -Force -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue

# Stop Team Viewer services
Foreach($TVService in $(Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_Service -Filter "Name like '%TeamViewer%'"))
        # Stop Service
        write-host "Stopping Service [$($TVService.Name)]"
        $TVService.StopService() | Out-Null

        # Disable Service
        write-host "Disabling Service [$($TVService.Name)]"
        If($TVService.StartMode -ne 'Disabled') { Set-Service -Name $TVService.Name -StartupType Disabled | Out-Null }

        # Delete Service
        write-host "Deleting Service [$($TVService.Name)]"
        $TVService.Delete() | Out-Null

# Loop through the uninstallers
Foreach($TVUninstaller in $arrTVUninstallers)
        $PSI = New-Object -TypeName 'System.Diagnostics.ProcessStartInfo' -ErrorAction 'Stop'
        $PSI.Arguments = '/S'
        $PSI.CreateNoWindow = $false
        $PSI.FileName = $TVUninstaller.FullName
        $PSI.UseShellExecute = $false
        $PSI.WindowStyle = 'Normal'
        $PSI.Verb = 'runas'

        $Proc = New-Object -TypeName 'System.Diagnostics.Process' -ErrorAction 'Stop'
        $Proc.StartInfo = $PSI

        write-host "Uninstalling TeamViewer [$($TVUninstaller.FullName)]"
        if($Proc.Start() -eq $true)
                write-host "Uninstall started - waiting for it to finish..."
                Do { $Proc.Refresh(); Start-Sleep -Seconds 3 } while($Proc.HasExited -ne $true)
                if($Proc.ExitCode -eq 0) { write-host "Uninstall completed successfully! [$($Proc.ExitCode)]" -ForegroundColor Green }
                else { write-host "ERROR: Uninstall completed WITH ERRORS [$($Proc.ExitCode)]" -ForegroundColor Red }
            else { write-host "ERROR Failed to start uninstall [$($TVUninstaller.FullName)] [$($Proc.ExitCode)]" -ForegroundColor Yellow }


Good Providence and be safe!