Tag Archives: Microsoft

Making Microsoft Quick Assist work with VMware App Volumes – Writable Volumes

6 Sep

Microsoft Quick Assist is a tool widely used by service desk teams to take remote control of a computer and help end-users with a screen share. We noticed with the recent changes Microsoft made to Quick Assist, it stopped working when VMware App Volumes – Writable Volumes were present.

Error launching Quick Assist

We tried many steps of installing the Quick Assist offline using various Powershell commands, and nothing worked out. We also got to a point Quick Assist will launch without the Writable Volumes present or local admins with Writable Volumes. In the end, VMware Support GSS, with help from backend engineering, provided a working solution.

Solution (Workaround)

Step 1 – Download the offline version of the Quick Assist App from the Microsoft store and place all the files into C:\Temp\QuickAssist. Following are the steps to download the offline version of MS store apps.

Offline Files MS Quick Assist

Step 2 – Delete the old version of the Quick Assist App (Not part of the MS Store). Start Menu > Settings > Apps > Optional features > Microsoft Quick Assist > Uninstall. 

Uninstall Optional Features – Microsoft Quick Assist

Step 3 – Install the Offline version of the Microsoft Quick Assist package using PowerShell

PowerShell Add-AppxProvisionedPackage -PackagePath C:\Install\MicrosoftCorporationII.QuickAssist_2022.614.2314.0_neutral___8wekyb3d8bbwe.AppxBundle -online -SkipLicense
PowerShell Install Appx Package

Step 4 – Install WebView2 component which is a pre-requisite for Quick Assist. Note this step is quite important and not something that has been emphazied alot.

  reg add HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\EdgeUpdate /v InstallDefault /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
  C:\Install\MicrosoftEdgeWebView2RuntimeInstallerX64.exe
  reg add HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\EdgeUpdate /v InstallDefault /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
Install Microsoft Edge WebView

Step 5 – Launch the Quick Assist App once. Make sure, without launching the app, don’t move to the next step. Please wait at least 10 mins on this step or/else reboot the template VM and launch the app

explorer shell:AppsFolder\MicrosoftCorporationII.QuickAssist_8wekyb3d8bbwe!app
Launching Quick Assist

Step 6 – Create an OS scheduled task to run at every logon. This will launch the Quick Assist and register at every logon.

schtasks /create /RU "SYSTEM" /TN RegisterQuickAssist /SC ONLOGON /TR "C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe Add-AppxProvisionedPackage -PackagePath C:\Temp\QuickAssist\MicrosoftCorporationII.QuickAssist_2022.614.2314.0_neutral___8wekyb3d8bbwe.AppxBundle -online -SkipLicense"
Schedule Task – Register of Microsoft Quick Assist at User Login

Step 7 – Take a snapshot of the golden image and the remaning steps will be performed in App Volumes files.

Step 8 – We need to prepare the template bundle of Writable Volumes (UIA+Profile) to contain a file startup_postsvc.bat with the following contents. Note Alter the file path if you decide to use something else.

  @echo off
  setlocal enabledelayedexpansion
  set WV_Path=none
  for /F "tokens=3" %%A in ('reg query HKLM\System\ControlSet001\Services\svservice\Parameters /v WritableVolume 2^>nul') do (
    set WV_Path=C:%%A
    fltmc attach bindflt !WV_PATH!
  )
  reg query "HKLM\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\Microsoft EdgeWebView" /v DisplayName >nul 2>&1
  if %ERRORLEVEL% NEQ 0 (
    reg add HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\EdgeUpdate /v InstallDefault /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
    start /wait C:\Temp\QuickAssist\MicrosoftEdgeWebView2RuntimeInstallerX64.exe
    reg add HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\EdgeUpdate /v InstallDefault /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
  )

Here is the procedure to update the writable volume’s file – Update Writable Volumes (vmware.com). Zip all the files and push the changes using AV Manager > Writables > Update Writable Volumes

Additional Files for writable volumes startup

Step 9 – Validation login to the virtual desktop (Make sure the updated file – startup_postsvc.bat are pushed onto the WV). After a few seconds, the Microsoft Edge WebView2 Runtime component and Quick Assist should appear in Programs and Features.

PowerShell Get-AppxPackage *assist*

Step 10 – Launch Quick Assist via Start Menu or Explorer and Voila!

explorer shell:AppsFolder\MicrosoftCorporationII.QuickAssist_8wekyb3d8bbwe!app

If you encounter a similar issue, you can follow the above solution. I hope you will find this information useful if you encounter the same issue. A big thanks to my teammate Jishan T for his continuous effort while troubleshooting with GSS over 3+ months.

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari

Azure VMware Solution – Network Connectivity Azure VNet and On-premise

15 Feb

In this blog post, we shall take a deeper look into the Azure VMware Solution network connectivity between the Azure VNet for accessing Azure native services such as Bastion, Azure AD, SQL etc. and further connectivity to the On-premise network to migrate virtual machines or hyrbid setup.

AVS Networking – Image courtesy @Microsoft

Step 1 & 2 – Connectivity between Azure VMware Solution (AVS) – Express Route to Azure VNet

  • After the deploying the AVS we need to connect it to the Azure VNet for consuming Azure Native Services such as Bastion, SQL, AAD etc.
    • Note AVS pre-deploys the ExpressRoute for you (AVS – Manage – Connectivity – Express Route).
  • We need to have a Virtual Network Gateway (VNG) existing on Azure VNet, or we need to create one. All steps to be performed under portal.azure.com
  • Deploy the Virtual Network Gateway (VNG) on Azure subscription
    • Make sure you have a VNG created on Azure VNET
    • Give it a name – AZ104-VNG01
    • Resource Group – Select New or existing
    • Location – Australia East
    • SKU – Standard (for demo and testing purposes)
    • Virtual Network – Select the existing VNET (E.g. 10.0.0.0/16) for Azure. Note it will create the Gateway Subnet automatically (10.x.x.x/24)
    • Type – ExpressRoute
    • Public IP Address – Create New (It will auto assign a public IP)
    • Optional Create Tags
    • Save and Create
  • Under AVS – Connectivity – Express Route
    • Request the Authorization key
      • Name – ToAzureVNET
      • Copy the Key and Express Route ID
  • Open the VNG (AZ104-VNG01) and Settings – Connections
    • Click on Add
    • Name – FromAVSPrivateCloud
    • Connection Type – Express Route
    • Enter the Authorization Key and Express Route ID and paste them here
    • Click OK
    • The Status will change from Updating to Succeeded
  • Now we have the connectivity between the AVS and Azure VNet.

Step 1 & 3 – Connectivity between Azure VMware Solution – ExpressRoute Global Reach to On-premise networks

  • Now we will establish the connectivity between AVS and On-premise networks
  • ExpressRoute Circuits – This is the coming from On-premise into Azure VNet
    • This will depend upon the partner network (Equinix, Telstra etc.)
    • Note there are different type of Peerings available. Select based on your design – Azure ExpressRoute Overview: Connect over a private connection | Microsoft Docs
      • Azure Private – We are going with this option at the moment
      • Azure Public (Public IP address required)
      • Microsoft (Office 365 etc.)
    • Click under Settings – Authorizations
    • Click on Add
    • Name – AuthorizationforAVS
    • Copy the Authorization Key
    • Copy the Resource ID, which is the Express Route Circuit ID
  • Under AVS – Connectivity – ExpressRoute Global Reach
    • Click on Add
    • Select the Subscription and Resource Group
    • Copy and paste the Authorization key and Express Route Circuit ID
    • Click Create
    • It will show as Connected

The intention here is to get you a few useful links on the Networking on Azure VMware Solution:

DescriptionLinks
AVS Network Setup – Video from Trevor DavisAzure VMware Solution – Network Setup – YouTube
VMware Documentation – Using Azure ExpressRoute with AVSDesignlet: Using Azure ExpressRoute with Azure VMware Solution for On-premises Connectivity | VMware
Azure ExpressRoute PricingPricing – ExpressRoute | Microsoft Azure
Previous Blog post – Mindmap AVS Networking guidanceMindmap – Azure VMware Solution – Guidance on Deployment and Networking | AskAresh
ExpressRoute Private PeetingGitHub – microsoft/Deploy-and-Optimize-Azure-ExpressRoute-Private-Peering: This deployment guide is focused on helping you deploy and optimize the Azure private peering, which enables connectivity between your private network and your Azure VNets over ExpressRoute.
Useful Links

I hope you will find this helpful information on your AVS Networking journey. Please let me know if I have missed any steps or good reference links, and I will be happy to update the post.

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari

Mindmap – Part 2 – Managing Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)

21 Jan

This blog post is in continuation of my part 1 – Mindmap – Part 1 – Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) – Quick start guide to virtual desktop/applications | AskAresh where we look at deploying the AVD solution. In this post, I want to share my learnings with you all around the management and #Day2 aspects of AVD. We shall take a look into the following topics:

  • Mind map – Managing Azure Virtual Desktop
    • Scale Out – Add extra Host (VM) to the Host Pools
    • Lifecycle – Update your Master Image – Shared Image Gallery aka Azure compute galleries
    • Drain the old Session Host VM
    • Automatically Power ON the Session host Virtual Machines
    • Monitoring Azure Virtual Desktop

Mindmap for Managing Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)

I have managed to document all the high-level steps involved in managing the AVD on an ongoing basis. The idea here is that the mindmap acts as an excellent visual representation of what to do during ongoing maintenance activities. You can figure out in advance the requirements/steps and pre-requisites.

Disclaimer – This guide is a get you started guide, and the production management may vary. Please make sure you always reference Microsoft documentation. Here is the PDF version if you would like to download and zoom in (Don’t stress your eyes!) –

I hope you will find this helpful information on your Managing Azure Virtual Desktop journey. Please let me know if I have missed any steps in the mindmap, and I will be happy to update the post.

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari

Mindmap – Part 1 – Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) – Quick start guide to virtual desktop/applications

1 Nov

I have been learning Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) from the awesome book DaaS – The Complete Guide: A Step-by-Step Guide on deploying Desktop-as-a-Service solutions from Microsoft, Nutanix, Citrix, VMware, Accops. I want to share my learnings with you all, and in this post, we shall take a look into the following topics:

  • Mind map for Azure Virtual Desktop – Getting started
    • Getting started with Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)
    • Deployment – Pre-requisites for AVD
    • Master Images – (Windows 10 Multi-Session, Windows 10 1909 Enterprise or Windows Server 2019 DC)
    • Template and Shared Image Gallery
    • Host Pools
    • Application Groups
    • Workspaces
    • Windows Desktop Client
  • Quick Start Links

Mindmap for Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) – Getting started

Managed to put together a mindmap on the AVD getting started from zero to a working desktop or application. The idea here is the mindmap acts as an excellent visual representation of what to do during pre-requisites, deployment and you can figure out in advance the requirements/steps and pre-requisites.

Azure Virtual Desktop

Disclaimer – This guide is a get you started guide, and the production settings and configuration might be different. Please make sure you change the settings appropriate for production workloads. Here is the PDF version if you would like to download and zoom in (Don’t stress your eyes!) –

Change log

  • The Mindmap was last updated on 21st Jan 2022 with lots of changes!

The intention here is to get you quickly started on Azure Virtual Desktop Solution:

DescriptionLinks
Azure Virtual Desktop OverviewWhat is Azure Virtual Desktop? – Azure | Microsoft Docs
Azure Virtual Desktop technical (ARM-based model) deployment walkthrough. (Christiaan Brinkhoff)Azure Virtual Desktop technical (ARM-based model) deployment walkthrough. It covers all you need to know and beyond! | christiaanbrinkhoff.com – Sharing Cloud and Virtualization Knowledge
AVD Zero to Hero (YouTube – I am IT Geek)Series 5: Episode 1 – AVD Zero to Hero Introduction – YouTube (Playlist)
AVD PowerShellAzure Virtual Desktop PowerShell – Azure | Microsoft Docs
AVD PricingAzure Virtual Desktop | Microsoft Azure

I hope you will find this helpful information on your Azure Virtual Desktop journey. Please let me know if I have missed any steps in the mindmap, or reference links, and I will be happy to update the post.

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari

Explorer.exe keeps crashing every 3 seconds in Windows 10

19 Oct

It was patch Tuesday time, and we were implementing the Windows 10 1909 Oct October 12, 2021—KB5006667 (OS Build 18363.1854) patch to our base images which are used for VMware Horizon VDI. During our validations, we started noticing the strange behaviour of Explorer.exe crashing and desktop becoming completely unusable.

Update 16th Nov 2021 – The explorer.exe crashing issue is now resolved in November 9, 2021—KB5007189 (OS Build 18362.1916) (microsoft.com)

Issue

The Windows explorer.exe keeps crashing within the virtual desktop of Windows 10 1909. The virtual desktop is entirely unusable. The only way to see the Event Viewer or anything is by using Horizon Client – Options – Send Ctrl + Alt + Del command within the virtual desktop and then opening up the Task Manager.

Cause

Provided by Microsoft – The explorer is trying to update feeds content, and there is a NULL value due to this bug that is causing explorer to crash.

Resolution

We tried performing various steps of un-install and re-installing the patch etc.. However, nothing worked, and we ended up working with Microsoft and seemed like it was a known issue, and they provided us with the following fix:

Option 1 – Registry – Disable News and Interest

Open regedit.exe on the golden image or

 Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Feeds\
 REG_DWORD name: ShellFeedsTaskbarViewMode
 Value: 2

Option 2 – GPO – Disable News and Interest

To access the policy for news and interests on the taskbar, on a device that has installed Administrative Templates (.admx) for Windows 10 October 2020 Update (20H2) – v2.0 ADMX file Feeds.admx is newly added, and we can retrieve it from the below .admx file:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > News and interests > News and interests on the taskbar > Select Disabled

Note – I suspect this fix might be applicable to other Windows 10 versions.

I hope you will find these steps helpful to resolve explorer.exe crashing issue and don’t have to go down the path of troubleshooting the issue.

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari



Mindmap – Azure VMware Solution – Guidance on Deployment and Networking

12 Oct

I have been trying out the Azure VMware Solution (AVS) on the VMware HOL and going through the techzone documentation. In this post, we shall take a look into these topics:

  • Mindmap – Steps for AVS Deployment and Networking
  • Quick Start Links
  • Optional – Deploy AVS via Azure Resource Manager Templates

Mindmap for AVS Deployment/Networking

Managed to put together a mindmap on the AVS deployment and networking steps of the service. The idea here is the mindmap acts like an excellent visual representation of what to do during deployment and you can figure out in advance the requirements/steps and pre-requisites.

Azure VMware Solution

Here is the PDF version if you would like to download and zoom-in

Quick Start Links

The intention here is to get you quickly started on Azure VMware Solution:

DescriptionLinks
AVS TechzoneAzure VMware Solution | VMware
AVS Hands-on LabAzure VMware Solution Hands-on Labs | VMware
AVS PricingPricing – Azure VMware Solution | Microsoft Azure
AVS (Microsoft Doco)Azure VMware Solution documentation – Azure VMware Solution | Microsoft Docs
AVS Logical DiagramAzure VMware Solution Logical Design
Useful Links

Optional – Deploying AVS using Azure Resource Manager

We can also deploy the AVS solution via PowerShell and using the Azure Resource Manager (ARM) template. The advantage here is you have slightly more advanced options that are not available via the GUI. (E.g. You can set the desired password for vCenter and NSX)

{
  "type": "Microsoft.AVS/privateClouds",
  "apiVersion": "2021-06-01",
  "name": "AE-1-AVS-01",
  "location": "Australia East",
  "tags": {
    "Billing": "IT",
    "Department": "IT"
  },
  "sku": {
    "name": "AV36"
  },
  "properties": {
    "circuit": {},
    "identitySources": [
      {
        "alias": "string",
        "baseGroupDN": "string",
        "baseUserDN": "string",
        "domain": "string",
        "name": "string",
        "password": "string",
        "primaryServer": "string",
        "secondaryServer": "string",
        "ssl": "string",
        "username": "string"
      }
    ],
    "internet": "string",
    "managementCluster": {
      "clusterSize": "3"
    },
    "networkBlock": "10.19.0.0/22",
    "nsxtPassword": "yourchoicepassword",
    "vcenterPassword": "yourchoicepassword"
  }
}

I hope you will find this helpful information on your AVS journey. Please let me know if I have missed any steps in the mindmap or reference links and I will be happy to update the post.

Thanks,
Aresh Sarkari