Category Archives: Windows 10

OneDrive, Placeholders, and shared PCs.

OneDrive now with Files On Demand

At their annual Build conference, Microsoft announced that OneDrive was getting a new feature called “Files On Demand”- basically a replacement for the placeholders feature that was present in Windows 8.1’s OneDrive client. The official Office blog goes into more detail about the new features, and there’s a detailed writeup by Paul Thurrott which also includes the history of OneDrive placeholders, but I’d like to discuss the advantages for the education vertical- in particular Student PC labs.

Microsoft kindly offer OneDrive to University students for basically nothing, so it sounds like an ideal replacement for traditional on-premises network file-shares. Rather than the IT department struggling to provide 50 or 100GB of space per student from their budget, they could just point students at the 1 TB of disk Microsoft is providing for free.

Sync Good

A sink. Not a sync

Not this kind of sync


With a single regular user and enough local hard disk space a sync client without placeholders is fine. All the users files are synced to the local disk and available instantly whenever they are required. The selective sync in the current Windows 10 client helps on devices with smaller disks, but is still only really beneficial on a PC with a single regular user.

Sync Bad

On the students personal devices this works great- we’re back at this 1 user:1 device ratio. However in a student PC lab environment there are potentially hundreds of desktops and each of tens of thousands of users could log into any one at any time. We have a x,000:1 user:device ratio. Students don’t want to login to a machine at the start of a class and then wait whilst half a terabyte of data they don’t need syncs before document they need appears. Additionally IT don’t want to have to tidy up all this synced data after every user logs off.

Student Computer Labs

It’s technically possible (although can be a little fiddly depending on your infrastructure) to map your OneDrive to a drive letter using WebDav and then access it as you would a traditional “Home” drive, but this is unsupported by Microsoft. There are third party solutions that will map the drive, basically providing a front end and a support contract around this, but they’re often costly and may require infrastructure changes.

Placeholders FTW

Placeholders (or “Files On Demand”) is the ideal solution here. The student now sits down at the shared lab machine and all their files are listed. They then open the file of their choice and there’s an invisible, seamless, download in the background. When they save the file it’s synced back to the cloud. The user is happy as they no longer has to wait for all their files to sync before they can work and can take advantage of the large capacity (and sharing facilities too). IT are happy because they don’t have to fund (and support, maintain) as much storage.

I know many IT Professionals working in Higher Education will be looking forward to this release in the autumn.


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Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter

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Display Screen With Wireless Display Adapter Connected

Last week a Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter turned up in the post. I’ve tried some wireless PC display connectors before, and the general rule seemed to be they were clunky, unreliable, and not that user friendly. This however, changes that. This is WiDi/ Miracast as it should be; easy to set up and simple to use.
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Find Your Windows 10 Laptop

A new feature in Windows 10 is the ability to locate a missing device. Want to check you left your Surface at the Office and not on the train?- here’s how.

Step 1- Make sure you’ve updated to at least the November 2015 build of Windows 10 (v1511, 10586) using Windows Update.
Windows Update

Step 2- Go to “Settings” and choose “Find My Device” from the left hand menu. If it says “Find My Device is off” then click on the “Change” button and toggle the switch.
Find My Device Settings

Step 3- Visit http://account.microsoft.com/devices and sign in, you should see your device listed- click on the “Find my device” link.
Choose Device

Step 4- You can see where your device was last seen on a map.
Laptop on Map

Microsoft Future Decoded Banner

Microsoft Future Decoded 2015

November 2015 saw the return of Microsoft’s Future Decoded event to the ExCel Center in London. I didn’t make it last year (it was a week after TechEd Europe and I was all Microsofted out!) so I’ve been looking forward to the Tech Day of this event since the registration notice back in May. This is my summary of the day. Continue reading

Running as a different user in Windows 10

Right-clicking on a desktop application on the Start Menu in Windows 10 gives you the option of running this application as administrator, with raised privileges. But what happens if you want to run as a different user?

The quick way is to right-click on the application and instead of choosing “Run as Administrator”, choose “Open File Location”. The shortcut will then be shown in a Windows Explorer window, Now we revert to a Windows 7/8 method. Hold down shift, right-click on it, and choose “Run as a different user”.
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